Liberal Democrats say NO to unpaid internships

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Sutton Trust estimates 40% of young interns are working for free. Many of them are probably entitled to the National Minimum Wage. But a loophole in the law lets employers pass their roles off as “voluntary” unpaid internships.

They’re common in the modern job market – I actually interviewed for one after I graduated. What would I get in return for 40 hours a week of work? Travel and lunch expenses.

That’s little better than nothing, compared to my £1,000 a month living costs. I’d have been living entirely off my savings, or had to dip into the bank of Mum and Dad.

Now, when I was applying for jobs, I also applied for a lot of paid positions. But I found that these so-called “entry level” jobs all required previous experience in the field. Experience that I could only have obtained by working for free.

And therein lies the problem. Long-term unpaid internships price out people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They take away social mobility from all but the most well off – who don’t even need it.

Many internships aren’t even offered through regular channels. Knowing someone high up in an organisation can get you that crucial first placement, proving that

Something has to change. Liberal Democrats demand better for young people.

I’m delighted that we’ve just passed policy to combat this at conference in York. Our motion calls for:

* a ban on unpaid internships of more than 4 weeks

* a crackdown on roles that aren’t really voluntary being passed off as such

* an end to nepotism in the job market – for all internships to be advertised properly through the same channels as paid work

You can read the whole motion here:

Read now

From climate change to the housing crisis and our rigged job market, my generation’s received a raw deal from political leaders. I’m pleased that our party is committing to making things fair – this policy is a step in the right direction.

Tara Copeland is Policy Officer for the Young Liberals, the party’s youth and student wing. You can find out more about their work here: www.youngliberals.uk

Why become a supporter?

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Liberal Democrats are changing.

Politics is utterly broken right now. Labour and the Conservatives are being dragged to the ideological extremes, leaving millions feeling powerless and frustrated with the direction our country is taking.

That needs to change. Liberal Democrats will be that force of change.

For all those who feel frustrated with our political system, who feel that we’re not making the progress we desperately need on climate change, housing, NHS funding, and improving our schools, the Liberal Democrats are their home.

Liberal Democrats will be that force of change.

Ed Davey

At Spring Conference our membership approved steps to create a new Supporter Scheme.

We are opening our doors to new people to get behind our liberal campaigns, work with us to deliver real results for people across the country, and shake up the system.

What does that mean? As a Supporter you can:

  • Help shape party policy
  • Take part in our bold campaigns for a liberal Britain
  • Get involved with Conference
  • Work with the party to help shape the direction of the Liberal Democrats

If you are sick and tired of this outdated, dysfunctional politics, and believe Britain deserves better, now is the time to act.

Sign up as a Supporter and help us change the course of Britain’s Future.

Ed Davey

Read the Leader’s Q&A

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Q: In view of Labour’s abstention on a People’s Vote, is there any avenue to resubmit a vote on a People’s Vote? Now Jeremy Corbyn has betrayed Remainers, what will the Liberal Democrats do?

A: On the parliamentary side of things, we didn’t get close to winning because Jeremy Corbyn abstained. The Labour Party has committed to supporting a People’s Vote but he refuses. He is personally committed to delivering Brexit, in keeping with his political philosophy. He is worried about his party which is now falling apart and he doesn’t want to antagonise the Brexiteers in his party.

The simple answer is yes, we can bring a People’s Vote back. The procedure on this is very flexible. There is no question – it will come back to Parliament. The immediate process is as follows: on Tuesday, Parliament votes again. The deal is unlikely to get through. If it gets through, we get a three-month extension. It is much likelier that it will be defeated. Theresa May will go and ask for an extension. The EU will say that it needs to be a long term extension such as a year or two years, that we must prepare ourselves for European elections in the meantime. All of this adds time to building a case for a People’s Vote. Our role is in giving leadership to a People’s Vote. We’re being vindicated and proven right, even if we don’t get credit. We will keep leading this fight.

I think the mechanism for a People’s Vote is this: I do not believe in waiting around for Jeremy Corbyn. If Theresa May can’t make any progress, the penny will drop at number ten and they will know they have a better chance of getting a resolution by going to the country and giving them the choice between Theresa May’s deal and Remain. When we met with them, the ministers surrounding Theresa May were taking detailed notes for a People’s Vote very carefully. When Tom Brake met with them, they talked at length about the mechanics of a People’s Vote. They are definitely thinking seriously about it. If they have no choice, the government will come forward for a People’s Vote. This is what I feel in my bones will happen.

Q:The People’s Vote was our idea and we have been consistently leading the fight on it. How do we take credit for a People’s Vote?

A: People have noticed it’s us that’s leading the fight. We have to accept that we’re only going to achieve it by working with others. One of the good things coming from this situation is that there is less tribalism and we are all recognising the commonalities between each other. This opens the way to a new kind of politics. We shouldn’t be shy about claiming credit – we were there first – but we will win by working with others, which is the most profound change.

Q: Is the Labour amendment from two backbenchers about a People’s Vote still a possibility?

A: Even if Corbyn allowed his people to vote, it wouldn’t be enough. We would need more. The way this will come is by us keeping the fight alive and pushing the government against the wall until they give the People a vote. We mustn’t wait around for Labour. They’ve sold out. We didn’t do well with young people during the coalition years but I have been going to plenty of colleges where there are more Liberal students than Labour ones, and this is because they know they’ve been sold out by Labour.

Q:How do we translate support for a People’s Vote into support for us in elections?

A: A lot of it is translating into support for us. We haven’t tested national opinion but actual election results show a healthy swing in our direction. It isn’t just opinion polls though. YouGov polls a few weeks ago showed that in a General Election where Labour is no longer recognised as a pro-remain party, the Liberal Democrats poll at 25%. We are back at a level of support from just before the 1997 election. It’s coming through. In local elections, these are about local issues, so it’s not just about Brexit but also about keeping up our reputation as local champions. There are parts of North England where fighting Brexit is not a selling point but we still do well in local government and this is reflected in votes. We shouldn’t hide our commitments but ultimately, local government is about local issues.

Q:The pledge by Nick Clegg on tuition fees is still on young people’s minds. We’ve missed an opportunity to educate the country about coalition and as the junior partner, compromises had to be made. Although Nick made that clear in a broadcast, it came too late after the coalition. We should win back young people’s support in this way.

Q: Lots of people care about Brexit and join the Liberal Democrats because of it. They then speak to local parties who only focus on local issues and subsequently, they walk away. How can we engage them?

A: Young people are coming over to our side. Amongst young voters, I now rank well above Jeremy Corbyn and better than Theresa May. Young audiences do want to hear about Europe and climate change and homelessness. We shouldn’t just think globally. There’s a saying – think global, act local. We have to translate global issues into things that affect people locally. A lot of people just think it’s a big thing that doesn’t relate to them. The political challenge is to translate our principles into local action and show how it’s working. It’s about connecting the dots between the big picture and local community action.

Q:Do you think that TIG is only start of more breakaways from Labour and the Conservatives? What should our response be?

A: This is definitely part of something bigger. Just a minute ago, another Tory MP left the party, Nick Boles. There is now a real chance that the Tory party will crack. The strains are beginning to show. A lot of people drifted away from UKIP and have joined local conservative parties that are small and geriatric. They only require a small number of people to take them over and they’ve been turning their fire on Lib Dem MPs. It’ll come to a head when Theresa May steps down, which is certainly only a few months away. If they elect a hard-line leader like Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg, a lot of them will come over to us. With regard to the Labour party, they have applied a measure to stop people leaving – it’s called Tom Watson. He’s mobilised the moderate, sensible Labour MPs and is trying to stop large scale deselections. He will probably fail at this, and then we will get a big migration over from Labour. There’s enough damage on both sides anyway to suggest a need for something new. The MPs in TIG were always going to be independent. We must reach out the hand of friendship to TIG. Anna Soubry speaking here yesterday made it clear there’s a lot in common. I want to take forward this relationship. We can tap into the energy and novelty value of TIG and combine it with our roots to create something huge. That’s why these supporter reforms are so important. We must embed them in our own party. The decaying Labour and Conservative structures are breaking up.

Q:Part of this upheaval is the birth of the European movement. Its membership has increased hugely.

A: We should be part of this and ahead of this.

Q:When it comes to elections, if TIG face elections and by-elections, should we not field candidates against them?

A: There is a decision-making process that this membership is part of and contributes to. I think it would be foolish for two parties who agree on a lot of things to be slitting each other’s throats in an election. Anna Soubry, yesterday, didn’t see any point in TIG standing against us. In seats like Totness and Cambridgeshire, this might be an issue and we will have to make difficult decisions. If we’re to develop a relationship with TIG, they will have to make these decisions too. We’re not at that point yet but we should be thinking about it.

Q:How can we promote employee shared ownership?

A: Something very nasty has happened. A few years ago, there was a strong case for welfare reform to incentivise people to work. We created a system that was much simpler. The Tories have taken a lot of money out of it and made it much meaner and nastier. The process is really brutal. As an MP, I have cases every week of people’s lives who have been totally wrecked by Universal Credit. They’re evicted, de-housed, rehomed constantly. There is a latent issue of a million people who are in absolute poverty, who have to use food banks, who are let down by the benefits system. The government is utterly insensitive to it. We took up a good position when the budget went through to insist that the government puts more money in it after Osborne took millions from it, and we should also cancel tax relief for the higher paid in society. We see enormous hardship and it’s easy to get desensitised when it’s commonplace. But there are horrific things happening. We can address this problem in practical ways. I went to a hostel in York yesterday that the Lib Dem council have put together and they’ve got excellent facilities for families and rough sleepers. We can do this on the ground to address these problems. We must act proactively, not reactively, to poverty. We need comprehensive reform of the way companies function and their social responsibilities. When I became party leader, I continued being voluntary chair of a bus company. We find that by operating as a company without an obligation to shareholders, we can pay a decent wage. Many of our bus drivers are ex-prisoners and we operate socially and environmentally. If this model is more common, it removes some harshness from the system.

Q:I want our party to endorse Philip Austen’s European Raconteur report. It showed the callousness of the government towards people, families – an alienated society, because the government has allowed this to go on. It is the attitude of the government that there is no way out of poverty except by work.

A: A lot of these problems are due to the iniquitous testing of disabled people. This didn’t come about just under this government. It’s also Labour governments that have allowed this in the past to get through. There’s a mindset that disabled people have to be pushed into work regardless of whether they are ready for it. It’s done in a crass and insensitive way. We need to change the way disabled people are dealt with.

Q:When will the Liberal Democrats give the biggest challenge facing the world, climate change, the attention it deserves?

A: The side effects of Brexit mean that big issues are not being dealt with. Climate change is at the top of the list. The recent children’s strikes in schools is admirable. We’re being put to shame by them. Climate change is not a problem, it’s an emergency. It must be at the top of all our lists. The problem we have politically with climate change is getting a connection between this massive issue and linking it into real things people can do. We must identify practical campaigns where individuals can make a difference. The Young Liberals started a campaign five years ago to get plastic bags taxed. They brought it to us while we were in coalition and we pushed it through. Plastic bag usage has been cut by 80%. When we had power in coalition, we used it to focus on climate change issues. I ran the Green Investment Bank and Britain is now the leading source of wind power in the world. The Tories sold it off. If we were in government, it would be one of the first things that I would bring back. We achieved a lot. We must engage with people who are in favour of tackling climate change and create jobs related to this as well. A combination of agitation and practical action is the way forward.

Q:Do you think we could tackle climate change without imposing lifestyle changes on people that might be seen as illiberal?

A: Look at what’s happening in France. Macron was trying to take a huge step to penalise pollutive motor vehicles. The yellow vest movement has been close to bringing him down. We must learn from this that there are many people who are caused a great deal of hardship if they have to deal with these rules. There has to be a change in lifestyle but it must be done in a way that helps those who are least able to handle it.

Q:With a wealth of experience in business and in politics, what three key pieces of advice would you give others?

A: Stamina is key. Life is long distance, not a sprint. You will have to take knocks and defeats and keep smiling and persisting. I had plenty of defeats before getting into Parliament.

Have a clear set of beliefs and philosophy. This party is brilliant for this on big issues like Iraq war, Brexit etc. You must always have a grounded set of beliefs to hold onto.

Thirdly, have a life. Politics is not everything. I have a wonderful family. You’ve got to have something else. I’ve managed to keep up my weekly dancing lessons going, even through coalition. I try and read a novel a week. You always have to have something else to switch off with.

Cleaning up the air we breathe

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

We can’t afford to ignore the health problems caused by roadside air pollution. 42% of primary school children attend schools in areas which breach the legal limit of toxins from traffic exhaust.

Our children breathe this toxic air every day. It means an increased risk of asthma and other breathing problems. Not to mention health problems that can last a lifetime.

The highest percentage of these schools are state-funded nursery schools. I’m appalled that we’re sending kids barely older than toddlers to schools being choked by poisonous exhaust fumes.

The EU is the body that regulates air pollution. I don’t trust the Conservatives to actually enforce their own air pollution limits if we leave.

They’re fixated on promoting travel by car above everything else. They’ll move the goalposts for what is legal. They’ll put convenience above the wellbeing of our children.

The Liberal Democrats demand better.

At our spring conference, we’ve just passed a motion calling to prioritise the health of our children.

We’ll:

  • encourage drivers to use hybrid or electric cars
  • fight for better testing of air pollution
  • push councils to prioritise electric/hybrid charging points in future planning.

You can read our full policy here:

Read more

The Conservatives’ single-minded pushing of fossil fuel powered cars is wrecking our environment and endangering our children. With this policy, we’re setting out an alternative – will you join our campaign for a better, cleaner future?

Supporter’s Scheme Debate

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

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Brexit is too important to be left to politicians

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for an Exit from Brexit since the day after the 2016 Referendum. This motion reaffirms our policy of a public vote between the Governments deal and remaining in the European Union.

This motion also calls on the Government to:

  • revoke Article 50 if no deal is agreed a week before we are due to leave the European Union.
  • remove the deadline for settled status applications, provide additional support to those who need it.
  • create an emergency Brexit Support Fund of at least £7.5 billion to mitigate job losses caused by Brexit uncertainty.
  • ensure the UK’s participation in the 2019 European Parliamentary Elections, if any -extension of Article 50 means that the UK is still a member of the EU at the time of the election.

This week Jeremy Corbyn stuck two fingers up at Remainers.

When the time came to vote on the People’s Vote amendment, he sat on his hands and ordered his MPs to do the same. My colleagues and I were livid – and judging by the reaction on social media, so were millions of Remainers.

If we’ve learnt anything this week, it’s that Brexit is too important to be left in the hands of the politicians – a People’s Vote is the only way forward.

Brexit has become a national embarrassment.

News outlets all over the world were leading with one thing last week – “UK Commons Chaos”. It’s a farce.

Last week’s votes prove, once again, that the Government hasn’t got a clue what it’s doing. In the absence of an actual plan, her authority long gone, Theresa May’s going to throw her botched deal at MPs over and over again.

So why does Parliament get to change its mind, but not the people? It’s double standards of the highest order.

Liberal Democrats demand better.

We’ve fought to stop Brexit for nearly three years now. We’ve campaigned, lobbied and marched (and we’ll be marching again – do join us on the 23rd March in London!).

And now, at spring conference in York, we’ve passed new policy to:

  • Reaffirm our commitment to give you the final say on Brexit
  • Call for the Government to revoke Article 50 if we’re heading for no deal a week before we leave
  • Remove the deadline for applying for settled status in the UK. We’ll also provide physical paperwork to those who apply – this country is their home. Over-zealous future Governments can’t be allowed to kick them out on a whim.

You can read the full policy motion here:

Read more

There’s no deal better than what we have as members of the EU. We’re not giving up – join 260,000 Remainers in our campaign for an Exit from Brexit today.

Read Christine Jardine’s Speech to Spring Conference!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Morning Conference.

It’s fantastic to be back here in York… and a bit eerie for me.

You see making a speech on this stage to all of you was the very last thing I did before my selection process in Edinburgh West.

A lot of things have changed since then… and there is a lot more we want to change.

Some of them are about the party…. Some are about the country.

And then there’s Brexit,… but let’s not bring the mood down.

Certainly, that is one of the things we are working to change.

But on a personal level, I’ve been focussing on three things…

Asylum seekers …. DWP …. And the thing I’ve had the most fun with…

The Pink Tax.

Taking multi-national corporations to task for thinking its ok to charge women and girls more for everything from deodorant and disposable razors to clothes and services.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be lining up meetings with some of the big manufacturers and retailers to persuade them that they really.

They’ve seen what we did to the Gender Pay Gap and well if they don’t fix the Pink Tax…

I’ll set Jo Swinson on them…that’ll teach them.

I didn’t think I’d be fighting the big corporations the last time I was in York…

So it’s all very different… from the last time, I was in York.

But it is wonderful to be back here in York…

I was going to make a joke about Vikings … or maybe Rowntrees Fruit pastilles… I do love them

But isn’t it strange for us.

Liberal Democrats…

To be holding our conference so close to Theresa May’s spiritual home… and the area from which her Government must be drawing its guiding principles…

The Shambles…

Well, actually I’m being too kind to them.

Not York… York, on the other hand, deserves a better comparison than this Government…

It’s a fantastic city and has given us some wonderful people…

Dame Judi Dench…

…Sir Vince Cable…

And Joseph Rowntree.

I know you’re thinking fruit pastilles again…

I’m not

You see like Vince and I hope most of us… Rowntree was a fierce champion of social reform.

In the late 18 hundreds when he was building his fortune…in what was a largely Dickensian Victorian society… he actually looked after his workforce.

They had free education, health care and pensions…

Here was a man who embodied that true British value…

A Liberal British value…

of looking out for those more fortunate than yourself…

Theresa May and her Government could do with taking a leaf out of that book…

There is one particular shambles of theirs that I am now working on…

The Department of Work and Pensions…

It’s difficult to know where to start with them…

It’s the department which those who are most IN need… NEED most…

It’s there to help us through the toughest of times…

And MOST of us will have those times when what we need is an official shoulder for comfort…

BUT the REALITY is… the Department for work… ISN’T working

Take the assessments for Personal Independence Payments… They’re Not fir for purpose…

And the Benefits Freeze.

Its been described as the biggest cause of Poverty in modern Britain…

That is an outrage…

And as for Universal Credit…

That’s a universal Failure…

And the most annoying thing is that it might have worked… it might actually have simplified things … got people back into work…

If the Tories hadn’t dipped into the pot and syphoned off 3 Billion pounds…

Yeah in 2015 as soon as we weren’t there any more

Looking over their shoulder,… checking their work

They started fiddling about with the figures…

Oh, they’ll say Phil Hammond put half of it back… yes, HALF OF IT…

There is a chink of hope tho…

Credit where it’s due…

Amber Rudd the latest Secretary of State.. at least acknowledges that Universal Credit has contributed to the

Distressing growth in the use of food banks in this country…

But she is the sixth Work and Pensions Secretary in 8 years… This lot can’t even make work pay in their own departments…

None of them… none of them … have gotten to grips with the problems in the system…

Late payments… budgeting problems … compounding the stress for those already suffering… creating rent arrears and contributing to putting more people on the streets…

You know every Monday when I arrive in parliament… or when I go home at night … I walk past people sleeping rough at the entrance to parliament…

Not so very long ago one of them died…

In the doorway of the mother of parliaments…

In the fifth largest economy in the world….

Oh I know the Tories will say… DWP spends a quarter of all spending

And yes that’s the scale of the challenge we face…

But as MPs… or actually just as people who give a damn…

We have a duty to be careful with our language… to be sure that the story we tell about poverty isn’t one that blames the victims…

That we accept responsibility for people who are homeless and don’t

Somehow make it sound like their own fault…

That we recognise that the whole point of DWP is to help people out of poverty…

To support them into work

And to provide them with security in their old age…

But conference… that is Nt what current government policy and actions reflect…

No the 5 week waiting time for Universal Credit just reinforces the feeling among claimants that actually the state doesn’t want to help them…

What they see is a delaying tactic

In my constituency of Edinburgh West we are only just beginning to feel the impact of Universal Credit and we don’t like it

Sometimes it seems like it’s just another problem for people to cope with…

And believe ME there’s plenty of them already…

And there are thousands of people out there… who are looking to us to fight their corner…

People like a constituent who came to me because she had been told that she wasn’t entitled to the motability car she had had for a year

No she didn’t need it because if she could drive, well she could obviously walk…

So she didn’t need the motability car… The car was specially adapted SPECIFICALLY because of a disability she was born with that affects her legs… makes it difficult to walk…

We fought her corner, raised her case with ministers in Parliament and eventually, thankful she was told she could keep her car…

No sorry that she could keep her LIFELINE…

But NOW…. NOW they seem to think that her disability will somehow end and so they’ve put an end date on how long she came claim fo….

Amazing powers they have in DWP

Time and again we see it… they can end disabilities at the stroke of a pen…

Well they cant

But here’s a suggestion that might work…

And it may be a wee bit radical…

Instead of wasting money on an assessment system that isn’t fit for purpose…

Handing over millions to private companies to make ludicrous decisions…

Decisions that deny people the help they so obviously deserve…

And the majority of which get overturned on appeal…

Invest that money in people…

Bring the assessments in-house and make sure the budget is spent where it’s meant to on helping people…

But perhaps the most important thing the Government could do is

End the benefits freeze…

He single biggest single driver of poverty in this country could be the biggest single change…

Next month it goes into its final year…

Oh, it would have cost money – 1.4 billion pounds… and the most annoying things is that the Government decided to spend that money on giving tax cuts to the highest earners…

How does that decision happen… who decides to help those who need it least… rather than the people who could benefit most…

Conference it is not now… and never could be…

Morally justifiable to balance the books on the backs of the most vulnerable…

You see for me this is also personal

I have had quite a lucky life

I know people look at me and see a middle-aged, middle-class professional woman whose relatively comfortable…

But that’s where I ended up it’s not where I started.

For my first decade and a half, I lived in rented accommodation in Clydebank in the heart of shipbuilding country… just as the industry was sinking…

My father didn’t work in the sector but my Mum did, part-time to make ends meet… and eventually paid a heavy price for it…

Her name is on a shiny, stainless steel memorial across the road from where the shipyard used to stand…. A memorial to the victims of asbestos poisoning…

My sisters and I were provided for. A comfortable, happy, working-class life.

But two things happened in those years which, much later, shaped where I stand today…

First, my Dad was made redundant. Thankfully, he was able to get another job, and at the time I didn’t notice any difference…

But now I see all too clearly that there were sacrifices my parents made, the corners that were cut and I am in awe of how they coped without missing a beat…and I’m in awe of those facing the same situation today.

But by then they had three girls… and every time I think now about the two-child benefit cap… I think of those days… what it might have meant for us…

Supposing my Dad hadn’t made ends meet/hadn’t got that job/the government would have only paid for us…

You see, the Tories love to tell us that they are the defenders of the family.

But this immoral, punitive and discriminatory cap shows otherwise…It reveals their true colours.

And even if you do buy into their argument that oh well you should be able to afford a third or fourth child before you think about having one, well I say… things change.

Life is uncertain, and your financial situation can be flipped upside down in a heartbeat, just like it did for us.

So what do we say to those people? Your child will have to suffer because you’ve run into some bad luck?

From Thatcher to May, we see it time and time and again: families are not safe under the Conservatives.

And the other thing that happened to my family…. When my sisters were just 13 and 8 my Dad died.

By then my parents had bought their own house and moved out of Clydebank… but overnight we went from that increasingly comfortable existence to being a one parent family…

And that’s where my admiration for my mother and every other parent who finds themselves in that position comes from…

Oh technically I’m a single parent myself now but I have never had to cope with worrying how I would feed my girl, keep us warm and make sure I could pay for the roof above our heads…

I look at other single mothers who I aren’t as lucky as me and I know I owe it to them to make this government recognise the support they deserve for their children….

Without it how on earth will we ensure that the next generation gets the chance to fulfil their potential …

We are already in the unacceptable situation where 2 thirds of the children living in poverty in this country come from a household where at least one parents is working…

That’s not just unacceptable …..that’s failure…

A failure by Government to look after those who need its help most

A failure by Government to give our children the best start in life

A failure to protect the welfare state.

Now we have a responsibility as Liberals…

Those failures by this Tory Government undermine the drive towards a fairer society that this party, our party…. The Liberal Party has always held as its most defining principle…

Lloyd George originally laid the foundations and Beveridge laid out the vision of the welfare state…

So today I want to make a special plea to Amber Rudd…

Assuming she’s still in the job…

In the short time she’s been there we have all noticed the step change at DWP…but it’s not enough…

While this Secretary of State has at least acknowledged some of the problems with Universal Credit, ESA and PiP… it’s not enough

Amber you need to fix it…

Stop all those who are finding ways to reduce payments, making it difficult to claim or not recognising that poverty can affect those working too…

Fix it.

Stop the freeze

Abandon the two child benefit cap.

Help families caught in that ridiculous trap: they find work, but childcare is too expensive to allow that job to actually transform their lives,

Take these families out of poverty.

At least Amber Rudd is acknowledging that there are problems.

I wish that were true of all her colleagues…

Why won’t they acknowledge the skills and talent that asylum seekers bring to us and allow them to work?

Why instead of valuing people who have taken the enormously courageous step of fleeing persecution, leaving everything behind…

why do we rob them of the one thing they have left… their dignity…

Instead of helping them to work, to contribute, to feel valued… we push them to the margins living on a pittance of a fiver a day.

Conference, these are the things I got into politics to change…

And I know you did too…

If we are going to do these things we need change…

But it isn’t going to happen on its own…

And if we are going to drive it now the way Liberals did 100 years ago… we need help…

We need to grow, and encourage people to support our movement in the way that is best for them…

And we need to work with anyone out there who yearns for the progressive change this country needs.

If we do that… then maybe

Just maybe we will get that Pink Tax outlawed…

We will get the ban lifted on asylum seekers working and feeling valued…

We’ll end the benefits freeze…stop the immoral cap on benefits for children…

And introduce a better way to help people dependent on disability payments without robbing them of their dignity.

Maybe then we can then restore some humanity to a system we were once so rightly proud of.

And maybe … just maybe… this generation of Liberals can finish the job that previous ones started…

We can stop the Tories dismantling that fairer society, the welfare state those generations worked so hard to build…

Reject the politics of this rudderless, morally indefensible, shambles of a Government…

Conference, we demand Better.

We demand a Liberal Future

How we are going to eradicate race inequality for good

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

This statement, from the LD party constitution, has been our guiding principle since the party was formed in 1988.

Which is why it is so crushing and enraging that racial inequality still exists in the UK in all walks of life.

We see it in the representation of our MPs in Parliament – and the Liberal Democrats need to be much better on this issue too.

But we also see it in hiring statistics, ethnicity pay gaps, conviction and incarceration rates, mental health support, and child poverty. We have a long way to go.

The first motion we’ve debated at conference has been called ‘Eradicating Race Inequality’.

I’m not so naïve as to think that we can eradicate institutional racism in the UK any time soon, if ever. But this motion would help us take big steps in that direction.

We can be proud that these are now Liberal Democrat policies:

  • Immediately ending this government’s hostile environment policy, and repatriating people who have been forced to leave the UK unjustly like the Windrush generation.
  • Exposing and confronting stereotyping in the media and supporting those organisations that fight against hate crime.
  • Developing freely available, high quality training tools on unconscious bias and requiring all public bodies and organisations that receive public funds to ensure that every employee has received unconscious bias training. This will go a long way to improve hiring and promotion of ethnic minority staff in the workplace.
  • Requiring employers with more than 200 staff to annually report their ethnic minority pay gap as they do for gender.
  • And prioritising funding projects that will promote ethnic minority role models across all fields – changing attitudes and giving inspiration to the next generation.

Remember, it is also in the interests of employers and shareholders to have an integrated and diverse work force. The potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market has been estimated to be £24 billion a year which represents 1.3% of GDP!

You can read the whole motion for yourself here:

Read more

Catch the highlights of Jo’s Spring Conference Speech

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Jo started out with a heartfelt tribute to those killed in the Christchurch mosque shooting this morning. “The forces that sow hate and division and seek to turn fellow citizens against each other must not and cannot win”

She then paid tribute to outgoing leader Vince Cable – “a powerful champion for liberalism”

She carried onto Brexit “the word omnishambles doesn’t do it justice.”

“At every stage the Conservatives have put the interests of their party ahead of the country”

Brexit’s distracting us from the other issues that we need to tackle – all of which will be made worse by Brexit

She spoke about our fight for a People’s Vote: “Together, we’ve been fighting since 2016 and still are.”

She paid tribute to our councillors delivering local wins up and down the UK – “millions for geothermal energy in Cornwall.”

“Liberal Democrat councillors are working hard every day delivering liberal policies for liberal Britain”

She rallied party members for a last push before the local elections in May: “Let’s get out there and knock on doors. Let’s deliver letters and Focus leaflets, let’s reach out on social media.

“Together, we can demand better for our environment.

“We can demand better for our children.

“Together, we can build a better future

Jo handed over to two council candidates Ali and Christina – both originally European citizens. Their message to us was simple but powerful: “Don’t be stopped by your gender. Don’t be stopped by your accent. Don’t be stopped by your age.”

I’m mad as hell

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

I thought if I slept on it, I’d be less angry. I’m not. I’m still as mad as hell.

In ordering his MPs not to vote for a People’s Vote, Jeremy Corbyn betrayed his Party members, Labour voters and remainers across the country.

But we know it’s worse than that. In refusing to support a People’s Vote, Jeremy Corbyn has betrayed the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. The very people he claims to represent are the people who stand to be hit hardest by Brexit.

Well let me be very clear: Liberal Democrats haven’t abandoned vulnerable people, and we haven’t abandoned fellow remainers. We never will.

But we need to urgently up our game. That’s why I met with our national campaigns team last night. They’ve drawn up a plan that will massively increase our campaign ahead of crucial votes in Parliament. They want to reach more voters and mobilise them to take action to lobby their MPs.

To deliver this ambitious plan, they need £100,000 by the end of next week, can you help us get there?

There’s still time to stop Brexit and with your support that’s exactly what we’ll do.