The Tories’ handling of Brexit is a national embarrassment.

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Today Theresa May announced that she was open to extending the transition period – a clear admittance that her Brexit deal is unworkable.

The Prime Minister is now left to defend a policy she doesn’t really believe in, which her cabinet are still squabbling over – and which is it increasingly clear she can’t deliver.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Theresa May once argued that we didn’t need a transition period at all. Admitting that an extension is on the table, and the billions it would cost, is yet another in a long list of embarrassing climb downs for this Tory Government.

“The blame for this mess falls squarely at the Prime Minister’s feet. Over the last two years, her Government has failed to find solutions to the Irish border, failed to protect businesses and put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.

This Conservative Government is in chaos. MPs from across parties must stand with the Liberal Democrats and fight for the people to have the final say over Brexit, including the option to remain.”

How we stop Brexit

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

What’s been happening?

The Liberal Democrats have dedicated more money, and more time and more of our key campaigners to stopping Brexit.

We’ve still got time to stop Brexit and we’re ramping up our campaign. Big time.

And it’s working. So far we have:

  • Sent 355,000 target letters to voters
  • Reached 2,200,000 voters online
  • Recruited 150,000 campaign supporters
  • Recruited 60,000 new members because of our Brexit campaigning
  • Held 2 million conversations on Brexit with voters
  • Defeated the government 17 times in parliament on Brexit
  • Been a part of 5 national anti-Brexit marches, with the 6th happening this weekend

A People’s Vote has gone from a fringe opinion to the mainstream, with 51% of people backing giving the people the final say.Ballot box with 51%

And as a result, the number of people who support giving the people the final say on Brexit has grown from 20% to 51%.

A People’s Vote has gone from a fringe opinion to the mainstream.

More and more MPs are joining the Liberal Democrat position and saying they support giving people the final say – and journalists continue to put pressure on those MPs who identify as Remainers – but won’t back the people.

In short – we are winning the argument.

But that was just the first stage.

To stop Brexit, we have to go bigger.

Over the next six months, we are preparing to:

  • Double our digital reach to 4.5 million voters
  • Double the volume of mail we send out to 700,000 mailings
  • Double the size of our movement to 300,000 registered campaign supporters

We’re going to drive our message home with the voters who need to hear it – by taking our campaign of online advertising and direct mail to the next level.

The Tories’ squabbling and in-fighting on Brexit is a national embarrassment.

They are not acting in the interest of the country.

And Labour aren’t any better. They aren’t acting like much of an opposition – in fact on Brexit they aren’t saying much at all.

So it’s down to us.

Businesses should be clear how they help people with mental health needs

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Businesses with 500+ staff should be forced to reveal how they help employees with mental health issues if they fail to disclose the information voluntarily.

The Companies Act should be amended so employers have to report on workplace mental health.

Firms must become far more transparent about how they support staff with mental health issues, as well as better measure key mental health indicators such as absences.

Only one in nine of our biggest employers disclose any information on mental health in their annual reports, according to Business in the Community. To ensure that best practice is shared across industry, improving the workplace for all employees, they all must.

This transparency would also drive standards through competition, with large employers forced to prove that they are leading on an issue that is finally being more openly discussed in society.

If big companies won’t voluntarily disclose this information or produce a thorough, publicly published plan of action, then the government should take heed of the Stevenson/Farmer review and amend legislation to force employers to do so.

Sal Speaks: October 2018

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Once again we’ve seen us winning a fantastic by-election victory, this time up in Chesterfield on 4 October, with Tony Rogers increasing our vote share to 47% and gaining the seat off Labour, proving that once again where we work hard and find strong local champions, we win. Tony and his team did everything needed to get our message out, find out where our supporters were, and then getting them out to vote on polling day. Congratulations to him and his team, and also to our other winners in local government by elections.

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Next May is the biggest cycle local elections we face because we have the largest number of council seats up for election. We need to find around 9,000 candidates to fight elections up and down the England, as well as getting teams together to support them. If you have never have thought about standing before, I can tell you that as someone who was a councillor for eleven years there are few things more rewarding than working for your local community and improving your area at the most local level! We also need people to stand in seats we may not win this time, to give voters the chance to hear from the Liberal Democrats in your area. Please consider either standing or supporting a candidate standing in your area: the Lib Dem team needs your help now! Talk to your local party chair or councillors about how you can help.

Over the last four weeks since Federal Conference the party has been running a series of consultation events on Vince Cable’s proposals to establish a Registered Supporter Scheme. We also asked members to complete an online survey, and your Federal Board is meeting to look at the results of the survey and the consultation events in order to decide on what will happen next. Some of the proposals will need to be agreed to by members at a debate at conference, and I will be in touch with both the results of the survey and exactly what the next stage of the process will be in the next week or two.

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I went to speak at some of the consultation events in York, Lancaster and Aberystwyth. The latter two were at the heart of Storm Callum, and well done to everyone who turned up, despite the deluge of rain over many hours, as well as lightning and thunderstorms. Some of you may have seen on Twitter that I had a seven hour journey to get from Lancaster to Aberystwyth, involving two taxis able to take wheelchairs (no trains) and two trains, but I was so pleased to be able to join members to hear your views on the supporter scheme proposals. Problems with trains are commonplace for those of us in wheelchairs but I was really grateful for all your many comments, keeping my spirits up on a day when the weather was determined to confound our events. Typical Lib Dems – we battled on!

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Stopping Hate Crime

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Recorded hate crimes are up 17% from last year, and have more than doubled in the last 4 years.

Racial hate crimes have increased 14% year on year, while those based on sexual orientation have risen a terrible 27%. Attacks on people based on religion, disability and transgender people have also risen year on year.

We must redouble our efforts to prevent hate crime, because its effects go well beyond physical harm to victims. It can inflict lasting psychological damage, divide communities and beget further violence.

The Liberal Democrats are therefore calling for the definition of ‘aggravated offences’ to be extended, so that it covers hate crimes motivated not only by racial or religious hatred, but also by hostility based on gender, sexual orientation and disability. That would send a clear message that no form of hate crime can be tolerated and ensure that all victims are properly protected.

This is not the Britain we believe in. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight against prejudice and discrimination, and ensure full equality and protection for people of all backgrounds and beliefs.

Preventing hate crime isn’t just a matter for lawmakers

But preventing hate crime isn’t just a matter for lawmakers and law enforcement. Politicians, commentators and others in public life must never engage in the stereotyping, scapegoating and demagoguing that inflames hatred. Instead, we must use our platforms to expose and confront such prejudice wherever we find it.

Earlier this year Jo Swinson called for a new approach to hate crime against women. It is unacceptable that women are targeted by vile and offensive language, and we must do so much more to rid the country of this behaviour. We need this change to happen now.

Each of us – whether we have a public platform or not – can do our part to build a society of tolerance and decency, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and no one suffers persecution or discrimination.

We demand better for Britain. We demand a Britain where hate crime is a thing of the past.

Come to Kickstart!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Kickstart is the name of the Association of Liberal Democrat Campaigners and Councillors (ALDC) residential campaign training weekend. It runs twice a year – in the summer and autumn.

Attendees get tailored, professional advice; training and bespoke mentoring from experienced and successful Liberal Democrat campaigners and councillors.

“Kickstart played a huge part in us taking control of South Cambridgeshire District Council in May this year,” says Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, Group Deputy Leader, South Cambridgeshire Lib Dems.

He adds: “Over the last three years, four councillors have attended, all of whom were re-elected this year; and five candidates, four of whom were elected. Our core 2018 campaign team went. Some of us have been involved for a long time, while others have just joined, but each of us gained a huge amount from the training, the mentors and from meeting fellow campaigners from across the country.”

The weekend caters for everyone; whatever your role in a campaign, and regardless of your experience. You’ll leave having improved your campaigning skills and with a well-developed campaign plan ready for your next set of elections.

As Aidan attests: “We all knew how the campaign should be run and about the most effective techniques to use. We drew on the trainers’ experience to refine our campaign plan. We learnt about canvassing techniques, producing good literature, fundraising, running a full GOTV operation, PV GOTV, volunteer motivation…”

The weekend also provides an opportunity to meet and network with like-minded Lib Dems, who want to campaign to get the best deal for their communities.

Aidan concludes: “The margins of some of our wins were small: one seat was won by four votes, another by 12, a third by 58. We’re certain we only won them because we had a focused and coherent team able to execute an effective campaign. This team spirit and campaigning knowledge was underpinned by the amazing experiences we had at Kickstart.”

The weekends are held at Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire, a dedicated training centre with leisure facilities and a bar. All food and accommodation are included, plus a three-course dinner and guest speaker on the Saturday night. The early-bird discounted rate for ALDC members is £160. Find out more about joining ALDC.

Upcoming dates: 23-25 November 2018 and in 2019, 28-30 June and 22-24 November.

Find out more, watch a promo video or book your place.

Maesbury Road junction is dangerous | Clive Geary

Clive Geary, a Driving Instructor from Weston Rhyn, says: "New Maesbury road junction is dangerous"

My name is Clive Geary. I am a Driving Instructor from Weston Rhyn. I believe the new Maesbury Road junction is dangerous and needs urgent action to remedy the problem. There have already been accidents, including an accident on the day the junction opened, after months of safety work. It simply isn’t good enough to hope people get used to the junction. Problems can and should have been designed out of the junction. Locals may get used to it but what about the 1,000s of vehicles that aren’t local. We should all demand better from Highways England.

Maesbury Road junction is dangerous- the lines are confusing drivers

The dividing line for the lanes has been extended out onto the A483.

New Maesbury Road Junction still an accident risk

Clive Geary, a Driving Instructor from Western Rhyn and Liberal Democrat campaigner explains some of the issues with the new Maesbury Road Junction which whilst sorting some issues has created other issues that have and could lead to further accidents 1 of 2

Posted by North Shropshire Liberal Democrats on Tuesday, 9 October 2018

On several occasions now, I have witnessed vehicles passing the red traffic light, going beyond the stop line and actually stopping out on the A483, in the path of oncoming traffic from the Mile End direction.

Drivers are seeing the traffic light on the far side of the A483, which repeats the traffic light that they should have stopped at. The line dividing the lanes has been extended out onto the A483 making is less clear where you need to stop. Removing those unnecessary lines would make it easier for drivers to see where they should stop when they see a red light.

Traffic Lights are badly sited causing confusion

On approaching the traffic lights from the Welshpool direction, the first set of lights are poorly sited. The first traffic light on the left-hand side of the road is obscured by traffic signs, this means that if a high sided vehicle is in the right-hand land a vehicle in the left lane can completely miss the first set of lights and think the next set, protecting the turn for the industrial estate are for them and therefore pass a red signal.

Clive Geary Maesbury Road unsighted traffic lights

Clive Geary, a Driving Instructor from Western Rhyn and Liberal Democrat campaigner explains some of the issues with the new Maesbury Road Junction which whilst sorting some issues has created other issues that have and could lead to further accidents 2 of 2 (Unsighted traffic lights)

Posted by North Shropshire Liberal Democrats on Tuesday, 9 October 2018

In addition, the set of lights protecting the right turn onto the industrial can be confused with the very first set of light protecting the traffic entering the A483 from the Maesbury entry.

I have already witnessed several occasions where different vehicles have passed the first red traffic lights, thinking that the next set of lights, being at green are from them and nearly hitting traffic entering the A483 coming from Maesbury.

There is also a slip road on the A483 to allow traffic coming from the Welshpool direction direct access onto the industrial estate. This slip road is not traffic light controlled. But due to the location of the 2nd set of traffic lights, vehicles are confusing a red stop signal which is not for them and stopping when they do not need to, leading to the risk of rear-end collisions. Or when they are entering the slip road, as it is not clear, they are failing to give way to traffic making a right turn onto the industrial estate from the Mile End direction.

Good design ‘designs out’ these problems

 

Any traffic junction should be readily and quickly understandable by motorists.

This junction was modified as the previous layout was deemed to be unsafe. The new layout is confusing and therefore is also unsafe.

The council has stated that drivers will get used to the new layout in time!

So, will the council be writing to every motorist in the UK, should they pass through or visit the Oswestry area, with a map of the new junction and instructions of what they need to do?

Surely a cheaper and safer option requiring less maintenance would have been a roundabout.

We should all demand better from Highways England. Maesbury Road junction is dangerous… fix it!


If, like Clive, you want to Demand Better from Highways England then please contact us a let us know what you think

What’s it like being at the centre of a By-Election?

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Q – I’m sure being at the centre of a parliamentary by-election is impossibly exciting, but also busy, exhausting and overwhelming, with huge highs and lows. What stands out the most for you from the campaign?

A – It really was! But incredibly exciting at the same time. I had seen Liberal Democrats gear up for a by-election before, but until you are at the centre of it you really can’t appreciate the extent of the support, the enthusiasm and sheer hard work we do as a team to have these great results at by-election. Seeing Lib Dems come together and campaign together – that is definitely what stands out for me.

Q – What was the biggest high and the biggest low?

The biggest high was the result! Labour may have won but they certainly didn’t look like it on the night.

The biggest high was the result! Labour may have won but they certainly didn’t look like it on the night. Taking the fight to Labour was what we were there to do and we certainly did that. We can see so clearly the impact of their complacency in Lewisham, it was important to me that people were shown that it isn’t just a choice between the two main parties. The result showed that people will not continue to vote for a party that fails to deliver when they are given a better option.

The low was definitely when the hustings were shut down.

It was clear early on that Labour and the Conservatives were not likely to attend. As the hustings got closer there was pressure to ‘no platform’ the event because Ann Marie Waters – a far right candidate – had been invited. In the end neither the Greens, nor Ann Marie Waters herself, turned up either.

The hustings was shut down because protesters outside were so aggressive and disruptive that the police could no longer guarantee public safety, and in the end we had to leave under a police escort. All of us were verbally abused as we walked in and many people were too scared to try and attend.

Between Brexit and the erosion of our political culture there has never been a more important time for the Liberal Democrats to be in politics.

I knew that our political culture had taken a turn for the worse, but seeing groups that talk so much about a ‘new style of politics’ aggressively shutting down the only public debate was a terrible indictment of where we are. There was an upside though, I know for me and others, the experience left us with a renewed sense of purpose. I was proud to be a Liberal Democrat that day and it made me even more determined to campaign harder and louder. Between Brexit and the erosion of our political culture there has never been a more important time for the Liberal Democrats to be in politics.

Q – You were previously the Parliamentary Candidate for Southend West, did that prepare you at all?

It really did. I’m grateful for the team in Southend for being so welcoming to me and enabling me to get stuck in like I did. Spending time in Southend West helped me realise how important the team is and how good that team spirit is really what carries you through. It also gave me important comparative experience of what it is like fighting the Tories.

Q – How did you balance being the candidate of a national parliamentary campaign with your life outside of politics?

There is no doubt that our political system needs radical change. Research is coming out now about how much it costs and the impact on our personal lives that running for public office can have. I am really fortunate that I’ve been able to structure my life to enable me to run for office and take the time to do so, but I’m aware that these barriers are still keeping lots of good people from taking part, and its important that we find ways to tackle this.

Q – It’s been 4 months since the end of the by-election – have you recovered yet?

I don’t think you ever recover!

Q – Would you like to stand for election again?

I think it is fair to say I have caught the campaigning bug!

Q – What would you say to someone who was considering standing as a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate?

If you are thinking of being a candidate someday, don’t let that stop you getting stuck in today.

I would say go for it! But do so with your eyes open.

This party is fantastic for the support it can give you in being a candidate so if you are interested, do talk to people and make the most of the knowledge and encouragement around you.

That said, I think we forget that politics is a team sport – even if you are not keen on being a candidate or you do not want to be one yet, there are so many parts that go into our successful campaigns and we need more good people taking on those roles too. So if you are even thinking of being a candidate someday, don’t let that stop you getting stuck in today.

Demanding Better for Civil Liberties

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Government’s Counter Terrorism Bill has now moved to debate in the House of Lords. The Liberal Democrats opposed the bill in the House of Commons for a simple reason: this bill does little to keep us safe, but a lot to erode the individual freedoms of people in the UK.

In the future we might have a Government who are prepared to ride roughshod over our freedoms as citizens.

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the human rights group Liberty have both said that this bill is wrong in balancing security and individual freedoms.

It’s a huge authoritarian overreach. This is a bill that seeks to:

  • Create a new offence of “entering or remaining in” areas outside the UK designated by the Home Secretary punishable by up to ten years in prison
  • Make it illegal to view online material that is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”, with those convicted facing up to 15 years in prison
  • Expand existing powers to detain people at ports and airports and for the police to retain innocent people’s DNA.

During the debate Lib Dem peer Jonathan Marks said:

We must balance the security imperatives to protect the public and to combat terrorism against the liberal imperative to safeguard our freedoms as citizens in a democratic society.”

“While our Government struggle to improve domestic counter terrorist legislation, they nevertheless risk through Brexit abandoning most of the UK’s international work in this area over decades.”

The solution is not this dramatic overreach by the Conservative Government, running roughshod over civil liberties in the process.

At the close of the debate, Lib Dem Peer Brian Paddick stated:

We believe that large parts of the Bill are unreasonable, disproportionate and could potentially make us less safe.

“We on these Benches will support any necessary and proportionate measure that makes the United Kingdom safer or will help defeat terrorism, but we will not support measures that we consider to be disproportionate and counterproductive.”

Liberal Democrats demand better than this broken bill.

We agree that it is vital to combat terrorism and keep the British people safe. But that requires a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy, including working with communities to tackle the sources of radicalisation – not legislation that sacrifices our fundamental British values.

Join our fight against this assault on civil liberties.

We’re standing up for civil liberties

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Government’s laws do nothing to address the real challenge of fighting terrorism. Instead, the bill contains worrying and wrongheaded measures that are unnecessary and attack individual freedoms.

  • criminalise “reckless” speech
  • make it a crime just to travel to certain places
  • criminalise what you read on the internet
  • allow police to hold innocent people’s DNA for longer
  • give officers more power to detain people at airports without suspicion.

None of these new laws are necessary to combat terrorism.

Instead, they pose a serious threat to the civil liberties of innocent people.

This Bill does little to fight terrorism, and a lot to destroy our freedoms.

This bill has drawn criticism from Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, which said it “strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty”, and the human rights group Liberty, which warns that it “poses several significant threats to civil liberties and human rights”.

Liberal Democrat MPs voted “No” on Third Reading of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill in the House of Commons. They were joined only by Caroline Lucas.

Jeremy Corbyn was nowhere to be seen when it came to opposing this draconian law. Despite all his talk of holding the Tories to account, he was absent from this bill just like the Snoopers’ Charter. Meanwhile the Labour front bench voted with the Government.

So despite Corbyn squirming away from the vote Labour supported the Conservatives to pass the Bill by 376 votes to 10.

The Liberal Democrats demand better than this broken bill.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, said:

The Liberal Democrats are determined to combat terrorism and support action that will keep Britain safe. But the Government has failed to provide evidence that most of these new laws will help in the fight against terrorists. This Bill does little to fight terrorism, and a lot to destroy our freedoms.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We’re standing up for civil liberties and calling for a real, evidence-based response to the threat of terrorism that actually makes us safer.”