Ed Davey’s response to the new lockdown

Yet again, Boris Johnson dithered, delayed and ignored expert advice.

People across our country have sacrificed so much.

He was too slow in March and too slow again now, and his failure to lead has cost lives and jobs.

People across our country have sacrificed so much, waiting for Ministers to act and keep our families safe.

Instead, the Government asks even more despite failing to deliver an effective test, trace and isolate system. The priority must be keeping people safe and ensuring no one is left behind.

We need a real plan in place to protect jobs, businesses and the self-employed, not least an immediate u-turn on ending furlough. Unlike before, carers and care home residents must be properly looked after.

If there is to be any chance of a near normal Christmas for families and a recovery in the new year for businesses, we need a coherent plan now. That includes common guidelines agreed by the four governments of the UK and a strategy for fixing the test, trace and isolate system.

BREAKING: Government follows Lib Dems’ calls for UK-wide approach to festive season

Earlier this week, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey called on the four governments of the UK to work together and agree on a set of unified guidelines that would work for families across the UK during the festive season.

We’re glad to see that the UK leaders have listened to the Liberal Democrats’ calls.

In a joint letter from Ed, Scottish Leader Willie Rennie, Welsh Leader Jane Dodds and Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP, they warned that “the interlinked nature of life in the United Kingdom means no one government can devise this guidance in isolation.”

Now, with reports circulating that the UK Government will hold meetings to try to develop this UK-wide approach, it’s more important than ever that Boris Johnson puts the national interest first to help families up and down the UK plan for a Christmas that is as normal as possible.

“If Boris Johnson’s government don’t act now, there is a real danger that Christmas will be under threat.” – @EdwardJDaveypic.twitter.com/s87KDVIVEt

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 29, 2020

With so many families desperate to be back together this festive season, we cannot allow political bickering to confuse people.

We’re glad to see that the UK leaders have listened to the Liberal Democrats’ calls. With so many families desperate to be back together this festive season, we simply cannot allow political bickering and fractured guidance to confuse and divide people.

These meetings must be more than just a publicity stunt. They must result in comprehensive uniform guidance for family gatherings, as well as a common approach to transport, student return and asymptomatic testing – and it must happen urgently.

Ultimately, if we are to both keep people safe and ensure families have any chance of spending holidays such as Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas together, then Ministers across these isles must also get a grip on the failing test, trace and isolate trace system.

The Government must fix failing test and trace system

The recent contact tracing figures show that the current system is still woefully inadequate.

This is despite repeated calls for the Government to fix Test and Trace. The test, trace and isolate system is essential to not only slow the spread of coronavirus, but for people to have any hope of ever getting out of the Government’s restrictions.

The test, trace and isolate system is essential for people to have any hope of getting out of the Government’s restrictions.

It is long overdue that Matt Hancock comes to Parliament to explain what this Government will do to overhaul their shambolic test, trace and isolate system – and answer to why they have failed to do so thus far.

Come the end of Oct, it seems the PM will be haunted by his own Govt’s failure to reach a self-imposed target yet again. Rather than continuing to raise people’s hopes only to disappoint, ministers must focus on getting things right now

My comments in 👇https://t.co/i4Bbw9HTC6

— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) October 28, 2020


If Ministers are to get a grip on this second wave, then tests need to be turned around in 24 hours, tracing needs to be led by experts in local authorities, and there needs to be more practical and financial support to help people isolate.

Otherwise people’s lives and livelihoods remain at risk thanks to this Government’s incompetence.

Local parties getting important extra data

Hundreds of thousands of extra email addresses are being made available via the Lighthouse system. These are from people who have backed at least one of the party’s national campaigns. The email addresses come with the necessary permissions to use them.

Previously, such email addresses were not shared with local parties. But this is changing as part of improvements to our use of data, helping grassroots campaigners.

These email addresses are for a valuable set of people for local parties to be regularly in touch with. Many have already got involved when local parties have been in touch with them on the doorsteps, pre-coronavirus. Involving them and so building a bigger local team has been a crucial part of the story behind some of our spectacular local election successes.

Of course, the standard advice still applies. Direct human-to-human contact is the best way to get people involved. But email is a valuable addition, especially given current lockdowns.

Many thanks to the Membership and Connect teams for making this all happen. It is the latest step in a huge program of work to improve our use of data. With our new Chief Technology Officer starting shortly, look out for more improvements to come.

For more information, there is a thread in the Lighthouse Users support group on Facebook. As well as a Q+A thread, a webinar, email best practice guide and templates are available. Or contact membership@libdems.org.uk.

UK leaders must work together to keep families safe at Christmas

Families across the UK have had an extremely difficult year being separated from their loved ones. They deserve a Christmas that is as normal as possible.

So far, Boris Johnson’s government has been badly prepared and slow to act at every stage throughout the Covid-19 crisis. That can’t happen again, especially for Christmas.

Families across the UK have had an extremely difficult year being separated from their loved ones.

We need a four nations summit to agree on a set of common guidelines for Christmas that works for families across the UK. Ministers across Britain need to start work on it now.

That’s why Scottish Leader Willie Rennie, Welsh Leader Jane Dodds and I have joined with the Alliance Party in writing a joint letter to the four governments of the UK calling for a united approach to keeping family gatherings safe during the festive season.

We need a plan for Christmas now.

2020 has been terribly hard on people – they deserve a Christmas as normal as possible. That’s why, working with the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, I’m calling for a four nations summit to make a plan that works for families across the UK. pic.twitter.com/yGqhl34QRm

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) October 28, 2020

With many families split across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, conflicting measures introduced by the respective governments of the UK nations could cause further confusion and complications.

We are calling for a united approach to keeping family gatherings safe during the festive season.

This year has already seen Muslim communities across the country miss out on reuniting families for Eid al-Adha, with some communities impacted because of last-minute lockdown rules. After months apart, it was devastating news and we must learn from it.

We must accept the inevitability that people are going to travel to be with their loved ones during the festive time of year. The interlinked nature of life in the United Kingdom means no one government can devise this guidance in isolation.

It therefore falls on the governments of the UK to work across together to explore workable solutions that can enable travel to happen safely.

To manage the implications for public health, we are urging them to work cross-party to cooperate on:

  • Students’ return from university
  • Agreeing on uniform guidance on the number of people who can gather
  • Exploring how best to expand travel options to allow social distancing

This way, families up and down the UK can plan for a Christmas that is as normal as possible. It’s what they deserve.

Learning from 2019 and packing a punch in target seats

This committee knows that to get ourselves back to winning ways, we need to be ambitious going forwards and honest about the recent past.

In that vein, this month we discussed the internal investigation we commissioned into the Liberal Democrat response to the Unite to Remain campaign, and its structural and electoral implications for the Party.

The discussion was frank and robust, and it was agreed that we must ensure that lessons are learned and in particular that prior to any future negotiations we must have a clear objective together, with protocols established to protect the democratic, administrative and political interests of the party, and full administrative support for the negotiation team.

Speaking as the Chair of the FCEC, I am keen to highlight my, our, commitment to making sure that these recommendations translate into real action.

Looking forwards

There was a spending options paper looking at how money we do not have might be spent if it is gifted to us. For 2021 this is predominantly about appeals for funding our Scottish and Welsh Parliamentary campaigns.

We received clarification on G8 funding for the massive slate of elections coming in 2021, while also reinforcing our intention to prioritise any additional resources we may gain on saving the United Kingdom. That said, we are excited by and supporting the work to paint the map gold with elected Lib Dems in Wales and across England.

To that end, we received a report on the tiering of seats. We recognise that most seats in which we stand are not target seats and are now working to clarify how we can help and support these seats. One aspect of this work will be to ensure that every local party and all seats have a pathway to step-by-step improvement and political development – not just target seats – and use each GE as an opportunity to leverage campaign activity.

Finally, we received an update on the work of the new Chair of the Joint Candidates Sub-Committee, Alison Suttie, who will be working hard to make sure we can field excellent, trained, and supported candidates in target seats and beyond.

The Weekly Whip

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come.

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 19th October

Monday 19th October

Before we moved onto the main business of the day, we had two Ministerial Statements.

The first, from Michael Gove, was the latest instalment of the Brexit drama. This was earlier in the week when the Government was insisting the talks were off. Christine asked an important question about the supply of medicines after the transition period ends.

Access to medicines is a fundamental right and I received assurances from the minister that my constituents and those across the country who are worried about #medicine shortages in the event of a no-deal #Brexit will be able to get them come 1st January- pic.twitter.com/STQPbKyRIC

— Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) October 19, 2020

Matt Hancock then followed with his usual update to the house on the latest development with Covid. As usual, Munira led for us, and asked to see the memorandum of understanding between Test and Trace and the Police on their use of T+T data. Paul Scriven followed up in the Lords with a similar questions, something the Lords Minister has committed to providing.

Today @munirawilson confronted the government over the weekend’s alarming news that Test and Trace data would be handed over to the police.

Public confidence in the system is key to success, but this will worsen if the government doesn’t take privacy concerns seriously. pic.twitter.com/0SPEZgi6F7

— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibDemWhips) October 19, 2020

The main business of the day was the hugely important Immigration Bill. Specifically, we were debating and voting on the amendments we had received from the Lords. 3 of these amendments were tabled by Lib Dem lords, see more information on them here.

Today we consider Lords Amendments to the Immigration Bill. We are supportive of all amendments but let us focus on the three from our friends at @LibDemLords.

1.

— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibDemWhips) October 19, 2020

We voted on a number of amendments, but they were unfortunately all defeated. The Government voted down Jonny Oates amendment, which would have required the Government to provide physical proof of settled status. The Government also voted down the Alf Dubb’s amendment, which would have provided protection for child refugees.

Tuesday 20th October

A very busy Monday was followed by a quieter day in terms of votes. Most of the day consisted of a passionate general debate on Black History Month. Wera, as our equalities spokesperson spoke for us.

“We cannot condone a selective view and teaching of our nation’s history; one that leaves some people out and negates and invalidates their experience.” – @Wera_Hobhouse

Lib Dems are calling to expand the national history curriculum to cover a wider range of black history. pic.twitter.com/jg5JfsGWkO

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 20, 2020

Mid way through the day, we were given notification that the Government intended on making a statement at 7pm. This was to announce that Manchester had moved to Tier 3. Christine as our Economy spokesperson made the poignant point ‘what happened to whatever it takes.’

What happened to “Whatever it Takes”? The British people won’t forget that.

People are worried about losing their jobs and feel abandoned by this government. @cajardineMP spoke after the news from Manchester. pic.twitter.com/4F8pfV8SAE

— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibDemWhips) October 20, 2020

Wednesday 21st October

Wednesday was Opposition Day and Labour chose to focus on regional support measures (following the Manchester Tier 3 announcement) and Free school meals.

But before that we had 3 of our MPs asking the Prime Minister a question, Ed, Daisy and Sarah. They covered very varied topics including, financial support for families supporting disabled children, free school meals and Hammersmith Bridge.

Pleased to have Boris Johnson agree to look into the rules that prevent family members managing the finances of severely disabled people – people like Mikey, a disabled 18 year old saving for a specialist tricycle, who’s unable to access his Child Trust Fund savings. #PMQspic.twitter.com/Rchk7l5vEG

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) October 21, 2020

At #PMQs@libdemdaisy pushes Boris Johnson to follow the lead of the Welsh Government & Kirsty Williams, Lib Dem Welsh Minister for Education, & provide free school meals during holidays to stop children going hungry.

Back the fight for free school meals⬇️https://t.co/3Tdxf3TrrIpic.twitter.com/umMKJ4kY5E

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 21, 2020

Questioned @BorisJohnson about the proposed new transport charges and #hammersmithbridge. Infuriating to hear how they are using people’s livelihoods as part of their political game-playing #PMQspic.twitter.com/HTCKxiMB9D

— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) October 21, 2020

Both opposition motions were hugely important debates that we were supportive of. Most importantly, our MPs made the point that we should follow the lead of Wales, and the Lib Dem Education Minister, by offering free school meals for children over the upcoming holidays. We were proud to support Labour motions and disappointed the government didn’t support them. All our MPs were in support of the motions, Sarah Olney and Ed Davey, couldn’t be present in Parliament for the day, so were paired with two conservative MPs.

Thursday 22nd October

Thursday, as usual, bring Business Questions. True to form, Elliot Colburn continued with his strange obsession of the Lib Dems by focusing his question around the Lib Dem Council in his constituency.

https://twitter.com/LibDemWhips/status/1319248321320538112?s=20

We also had the Economy Update from Rishi Sunak announcing his latest U-turn and his latest package of measures. Christine had her second opportunity this week to press the government on their economic support

“The Chancellor told us he would do whatever it takes to support people. This is not it.” – @cajardineMP

It’s clearer than ever that the furlough scheme must be extended.

Back our campaign to protect jobs now: https://t.co/1OjjeLgF1Lpic.twitter.com/sk4nD6RusV

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 22, 2020

We had another statement from government, on the disparate impact of Covid-19. Munira covered for us and asked about the support for the disabled community and the worrying impact Covid-19 has on them.

Munira had a busy Thursday as she was involved afterwards in the general debate on Covid.

Friday 23rd October

A quiet day of private members bills. The main thing to note is that Alistair’s Hong Kong Bill will now be getting it’s second reading on 15 January 2021.

Next week is Recess, an opportunity for MPs to go back to their constituency and catch up on local issues.

All Hong Kongers must be offered a pathway to UK citizenship

If ever there was a time for us to act in support of Hong Kongers, it is now.

Many Hong Kongers have suffered grave persecution at the hands of the Chinese Regime.

With repeated reports of police brutality, the UK has a moral and legal duty to stand with Hong Kongers and ensure no one is left behind to suffer under the Chinese Communist Party.

My Bill to grant all Hong Kong Citizens a pathway to UK citizenship was due to have its second reading today but unfortunately we ran out of time. It has now been postponed to 15 January 2021 – just two weeks before the government’s recently announced (but still not detailed) visa scheme is due to come into force.

This issue may have been postponed but it will not go away until we win justice for Hong Kongers with BNO Passports.

By expanding British National Overseas (BNO) status to all Hong Kongers, the Bill goes well beyond the Conservative Government’s current citizenship commitments, which extend only to specific groups currently eligible to claim BNO status.

This clear route to citizenship for all Hong Kongers will strengthen the UK’s historic bond with the people of Hong Kong and show our continued commitment to the Joint Declaration, something that the Chinese regime has utterly betrayed.

We also need to make sure that the citizenship offer is affordable.

The Home Office’s claim that it will only cost £250 is deceptive given the upfront costs of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The UK has a moral duty to act.

We urge the Conservatives to do the right thing for all of the people of Hong Kong and back this Bill.

In addition, we need to see measures to put in place an international lifeboat system as a matter of urgency, should the situation deteriorate further.

In recent months it has become politically fashionable to stand with the people of Hong Kong, but people fighting for their rights and for democracy need more than words. I was proud to introduce the Hong Kong Bill this year – time for the government to take it up and act. https://t.co/Cc1zGyPpog

— Alistair Carmichael (@amcarmichaelMP) October 13, 2020

The Government is failing to protect jobs and livelihoods

Despite the massive effort people have made to fight coronavirus it’s clear that the road to recovery is going to be rockier than we first feared.

With millions of workers worried about their livelihoods, the British people deserve a Government that listens to their concerns and does everything in its power to protect them. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

Millions of workers are worried about their livelihoods.

Today Rishi Sunak has announced his third economic support package in a month. How can businesses and workers across Britain plan for the future with such a chaotic approach from the Government?

Businesses need a clear strategy – not chop and change, knee-jerk reactions. That’s why we are calling on the Chancellor to expand furlough support urgently and across the whole economy until June 2021.

“The Chancellor told us he would do whatever it takes to support people. This is not it.” – @cajardineMP

It’s clearer than ever that the furlough scheme must be extended.

Back our campaign to protect jobs now: https://t.co/1OjjeLgF1Lpic.twitter.com/sk4nD6RusV

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 22, 2020

This includes extending furlough support to the 3 million tax-payers across the country who have previously been excluded from any help, as well as anyone who has been told that their job is not ‘viable’.

It’s not good enough for the Chancellor to say that he can’t protect every job. He should be fighting as hard as he can to make sure nobody is left behind.

It’s not good enough for the Chancellor to say that he can’t protect every job.

It is insulting for thousands of workers up and down the country to be told that their jobs are simply ‘not viable’. They deserve better.

With the furlough scheme currently set to end on October 31st, generations will judge whether this Government has taken every conceivable step to protect people’s livelihoods and futures.

It’s time for them to do the right thing and extend furlough.

Getting our new party team in place

Improving our candidate process

Following the issues with our Mayor of London selection and in response to a request from the London Lib Dems, I asked Alison Suttie – a Liberal Democrat peer and the new chair of the Joint Candidate Subcommittee (JCSC) – to do an investigation to learn the lessons, not only for London but for our selections more generally.

She has turned around an excellent review with admirable speed, ensuring that her recommendations on how we vet would-be candidates can be considered in time to inform our Parliamentary selections for the next general election too.

Candidate selections are run by English, Scottish and Welsh Parties, so it will be for them to decide how to react to Alison’s recommendation. If acting on any of them requires assistance from the federal party, I am committed to ensuring we find ways to do that.

The London selection itself is now over. Many congratulations to Luisa Porritt for winning the support of members to be our candidate in next May’s elections.

Getting our central team right

One of the key lessons from the Thornhill Report into what went wrong in 2019 is the importance of getting our management structures and team right in the central party operation, as unless we do that we’ll just be endlessly caught in firefighting the latest problem.

Part of that is about how the Leader, CEO and President work together. As well as having established very productive working relations between the three of us, the relevant party bodies are coming to the end of consulting on a new scheme of allocation of responsibilities between these three roles, as recommended by the Thornhill Report.

In addition, following the previous appointment of Mimi Turner as our Director of Strategy, Messaging and Research, Trudy Church has been appointed our Chief Operating Officer and Cllr Dave McCobb our Director of Field.

With a new Chief Technology Officer currently being recruited and Fern McLurg and Sian Waddington continuing as Financial Controller and Director of Operations respectively, we have an excellent new senior management team in place alongside our CEO, Mike Dixon.

It’s also good to see that our talk about how other organisations need to improve their record on diversity is matched by us making progress in improving our own. I’m very much looking forward to working with them as we tackle the next set of changes needed to raise our game and to help you win.

Changes on federal committees

On the Board itself, we have welcomed two new members recently. Cllr Anita Lower (Newcastle Council) is a new directly elected member following Ruby Chow standing down. Bess Mayhew has been elected the new chair of the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC) following Barbara Gibson’s departure.

Best wishes and thank you for their work to Ruby, Barbara and to Kevin Lang, also standing down from the Board as Scottish representative. Scottish members are voting to elect his successor. Bess was already a member of FPDC so in addition to her becoming chair, Nicola Clark has been elected to join the FPDC.

As you will see from this, there is a steady trickle of posts that need filling all through the year. They are advertised on the party website in the ‘work for us’ section, alongside paid vacancies.

October Board meeting

The big issue at this Federal Board meeting will be our budget for 2021. Coronavirus has had a big impact on fundraising across the charity and not for profit sectors. Political parties have not been immune from this. This will require some tough decisions. It’s important that we take those with a clear view of the route through to political and so financial success.

So we will be looking at proposals which prioritise investing in electoral success, improving our diversity and enhancing our technology. We currently have the largest field team for the first year of a Parliament in the party’s history, and I’m very grateful to the different parts of the part that have worked positively with the federal party to ensure we have a team much larger than what the federal party could have done on its own.

As part of the work to maximise our membership income next year, we are seeking agreement from the English, Welsh and Scottish parties on a package of support and incentives for local parties to renew members who have not responded to renewal requests from HQ. Local knowledge and local conversations are crucial for persuading such colleagues to renew their membership.

We will also be reviewing the feedback from members to our consultation over governance reforms, such as how to respond to the comments made about the (lack of) transparency around how individuals vote at Board meetings.

There will also be what is now a regular quarterly review of party performance, measured across supporter engagement, messaging and our public standing, campaigning capability, and people and culture.

Comments, questions and feedback very welcome as ever – president@libdems.org.uk.