The Brexit Crisis and stepping down on a high note

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

A decade ago we all knew that there was an economic crisis. Banks were collapsing. Credit was drying up. Bankruptcies. Job losses. Escalating budget deficits. A big drop in the currency. You didn’t need a Nobel Prize in economics to realise that something was terribly amiss. It was the biggest financial crisis in over a century, and the biggest drop in production and incomes since the interwar period.

Six years on: the end of the Coalition.

Were we still in crisis mode or not? On the one hand: a rapid recovery in the economy; a big drop in unemployment; lots of investment, business start-ups and general optimism. But also wages (accounting for inflation) lower than before the crisis, the pain of years of cuts in public spending; austerity.

We are now in a very unusual economic environment.

My preferred metaphor was that the economy had suffered the economic equivalent of a heart attack. It had survived but was still attached to the life-saving drip feed of ultra-cheap and abundant artificial money.

Then to the EU referendum.

Armageddon didn’t happen. But there was the biggest devaluation since the war and subsequent cuts in living standards from the cost of imported goods. A lot of uncertainty, leading three years later to the present state of extreme political uncertainty, paralysis of decision-making in government and Parliament and investors stalling on investment.

We are now in a very unusual economic environment which doesn’t easily fit with what most of us see taught or teach, and appears in economic textbooks.

First of all, there appears to be emerging, based on particular data, a recession defined as two successive quarters of falling output. But it is an economy very close to full employment. The popular view of recession is of slump and long dole queues. That may be to come. But we seem to be entering a different kind of recession in which output falls, not because of a lack of demand-spending, but because of restrictions in supply: labour and skill shortages; lack of ability or willingness by companies to invest in the capacity to produce more goods and services.

The likelihood is that what we are seeing is a pre-slump.

The big shock of a ‘no deal’ or ‘hard’ Brexit – if a new PM were to succeed in making it happen – will produce a very sharp fall in the economy. The new enthusiasm from leading Conservatives, as well as Labour, for populist, deficit financed budgets will further erode confidence in the economy.

The Bank of England will be under intense pressure both to raise interest rates to stop currency collapse and to cut them further to keep the economy afloat: an acute dilemma which could open the way to a more politically pliant Governor, and further loss of confidence.

Mr Johnson may be leading us into a wasted decade.

As the currency tumbles, import costs rise cutting living standards. With weak domestic spending, little investment, EU markets disappearing and other overseas markets closing because of trade and currency warfare we are then set fair for a full-scale slump. Add in some highly leveraged companies and property and – still- high government debt levels, the risks are increased and the freedom to manoeuvre reduced.

Mr Johnson may be leading us into a ‘wasted decade’ worse than the financial crisis.

On a personal level I have been preparing for the handover to a new party leader.

A lot of warm words and genuine affection from colleagues, party activists and members of the public who give me credit for going out on a high, with the prospects for a big breakthrough for the party after the local and Euro elections.

I have been undertaking a final round of leader’s visits across the country, celebrating the real heroes of our campaigning and our success – the grassroots activists.

I have been to Brecon where a major by-election victory is within grasp. Then to Coventry to visit the massive Bhattacharya centre at Warwick University, where 1000 engineers are working on a new generation of electrical and autonomous vehicles: this is one of the really solid Coalition legacies from the industrial strategy and the catapult network. And finally to the Westcountry, to Taunton and Wells in Somerset where the Lib Dem revival is in full swing and parliamentary gains for Gideon Amos and Tessa Munt are in prospect.

On Monday, we shall know who our new leader is.

I look forward to working with them, and with members all round the country, to build on our present success, to stop Brexit and to bring about a liberal, social democratic, internationalist Britain of which we can all be proud.

Join us on polling week!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Polling week is coming up and we need you in Brecon and Radnorshire to help us win and get Jane Dodds elected to Parliament.

It’s incredibly helpful for the team if we know where volunteers are going so we can best prepare leaflets, canvassing packs and clerical work.

So RSVP here to let us know when you can join us.

Join us on the final weekend

Or join us on polling week

If you can’t be here, can you help by making some calls from home?

Or chip in £5 to help us win in Brecon and Radnorshire!

Thank you!

Will you be nominating someone for party awards?

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Do you know someone special who deserves to be recognized for their service to the party? Yes, it’s party awards time again!

Every year at Autumn Conference we hand out prestigious party awards to members who have done some of the most outstanding work in the party. Going above and beyond the call of duty time and time again.

But, as always, we need you to nominate the people that you think are blazing the way in the party. The deadline for nominations is the 24th July and the nomination and submission details are available here:

There are four awards.

The President’s Award is open to any party member elected to public office and who has demonstrated excellence and commitment over the years.

The Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award is open to any member never elected to public office who has demonstrated longstanding and outstanding service to the party.

For both these awards, the panel will be looking for outstanding commitment and service to the party. We are seeking people who deserve recognition for their hard work, long service and demonstrable dedication to the party at any level.

The Belinda Eyre-Brooks Award is given to recognize and celebrate the efforts of people who work for our elected representatives in their local areas – from local party employees to political assistants to council groups, to people working in MP’s constituency offices.

The Dadabhai Naoroji Award is presented to the local party that has done the most to promote BAME participants to elected office as councillors, Assembly Members, MP’s, MSP or MEPs. Please note – this award is to a local party, not to an individual, so please think about those local parties that are making a great effort to involve different communities in their work. Regions and States nominate local parties, so tell them of a local party who should be nominated.

Also awarded is the Patsy Calton Award, in memory of the brilliant former MP for Cheadle, the details for the award can be found here: http://www.libdemwomen.org.uk/patsy_calton_award

You can download the awards pack here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/46225/attachments/original/1563463783/Awards_2019_PDF.pdf?1563463783

Four days left to vote for our next leader

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

There’s just four days left to cast your ballot in the Liberal Democrat leadership election.

All ballots must be cast by 1pm on Monday 22nd July to count.

It’s quick and easy to vote – all you need are your Unique Voting code – which has been emailed or posted to you – and this website: https://www.mi-vote.com/

What if your ballot hasn’t arrived yet?

If you’ve not yet had an email or letter with your unique voting code on it, then here’s what to do:

  1. Search your inbox for email from elections@libdems.org.uk – there should have been 3-4 with your UVC in by now.
  2. Search your junk/spam/promotions folder for email from elections@libdems.org.uk
  3. Check your unopened post for a letter from us containing your UVC.

If after all that, you still can’t find your UVC then you should email elections@libdems.org.uk – and please include your name, email address and membership number (if you know it) to help us locate you faster.

Please remember that only people who were members, or in their grace period as of the 7th June 2019 are eligible to vote in the leadership election – so if you lapsed before then or joined after, you aren’t going to be able to vote in the Leadership Election, unfortunately.

What if I can’t decide between the candidates?

There’s still a couple of ways you can get more information to help you decide how to vote. Here are just a few of them:

Watch the last TV debate – the BBC are hosting a final debate on Friday 19th July at 7pm on BBC2. There’s more information here: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0006xfg

Watch a hustings – we recorded some of the hustings meetings earlier in the campaign and you can watch one here (more can be found on the party’s YouTube channel): libdems.org.uk/online-leadership-hustings

Read the candidate’s pitches on the website: libdems.org.uk/leadership-election

Read the candidate’s pitches in AdLib Magazine: libdems.org.uk/adlibmag

But please, don’t wait too long and lose your chance to have your say. Cast your vote before it’s too late!

Less than a week to have a say on our party’s future

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

This time next week, Vince Cable will be the former leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Ballots close at 1pm on Monday 22nd July. That means you have six days to have your say on where our party goes next.

Later that day, either Ed Davey or Jo Swinson will be announced as our party’s new leader. They’re both fantastic candidates and either would make a fine leader for the Lib Dems going forward. You can find out more about their plans for our party here:

Find out more

Our new leader will inherit a much stronger party. We have nearly 800 more councillors, 15 new MEPs and we’re surging in the polls. We have over 10,000 new members in the last 2 months alone – it’s a great time to be a Liberal Democrat.

Bumped into our @LibDems leadership candidates @joswinson & @EdwardJDavey whilst at the BBC recording The Week In Westminster (here 22mins in https://t.co/Lh42OqJ8F2). Our contest has been thoughtful, respectful and full of optimism – compare and contrast to the Tory shambles! pic.twitter.com/DR4cHs3t6J

— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) July 14, 2019

That makes this leadership election important. Politics is in flux – with the way things are going you could well be electing our next Prime Minister. It’s important you have your say.

Haven’t had your vote yet? Get in contact – it’s not too late to have your say. Email us at elections@libdems.org.uk and we’ll get you sorted out.

Find out more about the Lib Dem leadership election

Find out more

Why I’m standing to be MP for Brecon and Radnorshire

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

It’s been equal parts incredible, exhausting and humbling to be at the centre of a massive Lib Dem parliamentary by-election.

I’m honoured to join a select group of people who get the full national parliamentary by-election treatment, with the best of the best Lib Dem campaigners in the country fighting to get me elected.

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And I am ready to go to Parliament, to represent the people of Brecon and Radnorshire, and to be a progressive, liberal voice for my community and for our country.

We need a strong liberal movement in government and we need it now.

The pledges of the Conservative leadership candidates have been as ludicrous as they have been cruel. After years of treating Wales as an afterthought, as huge amounts of money have been taken out of our local governments, our justice system, our transport infrastructure and key environmental projects like the Tidal Lagoon in Swansea are abandoned.

And after all this, the Conservatives have found money to give tax cuts to the rich? They can’t be trusted to run our country.

That means the result of this by-election matters for all of us. The Government is teetering on the brink – if we win, we cut their majority with the DUP to 3. Just 2 Tory MPs rebelling would be enough to defeat it.

The people of Brecon and Radnorshire deserves better than an MP who’s been convicted of making false expenses claims. And we all deserve better than a Government that’s trashing our environment and public services to benefit a super-rich minority.

Only the Liberal Democrats will stand up to them. We need a strong liberal movement in government and we need it now. So come and campaign with us.

I’m hungry to get into Parliament and I’m hungry to make a difference.

I am truly humbled by how many members have already come to Brecon and Radnorshire in the past few weeks.

It’s actually nearer than many people think. It takes about 2 hours to get here from the South East and the West Midlands – and around three hours from London and the North West (and yet we’ve had the most number of volunteers from Yorkshire and the Humber after Wales itself – thank you Yorkshire!).

Brecon is closer than you think

Postal votes are landing on doorsteps from Thursday 18th July. About a third of all ballots cast will be done by post – and postal voters are more likely than most to remember to cast their vote. If we’re going to win, we need to win as many of their votes as we can. And to do that we need you here, campaigning with us, between now and Thursday.

Despite the fact that the Tory MP is re-standing after being recalled by his constituents after falsifying his expenses, his vote is holding up stronger than we expected. We need to fight this by-election with everything we’ve got – and that includes you!

The campaign offices are open every day from 9 am to 7 pm.

We have two offices on either side of the constituency, the addresses are:

Llandrindod Wells Office

Haslemere, Park Crescent, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 6AB

Brecon Office

26 High Street, Brecon, LD3 7LE

You can drop by any day – there is a huge amount of leaflets to deliver, canvassing to do and clerical work to do in the offices.

We also have a particular need for a lot of experienced stake borders to join us. We are lucky to have been inundated with offers of people willing to have a stake board go up to say they are supporting us, and we’ve sourced stake boards from many kind local parties – but we don’t have the capacity to get them up across the constituency yet.

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If you have experience with stake boards, please get in contact with the Brecon team on brecon@libdems.org.uk

If you can’t join us in Brecon and Radnorshire, you can also help by making calls wherever you are. However, we have a limited number of phone numbers for Brecon and Radnorshire residents who we have consent to call, so coming and joining us canvassing is going to be vital.

There is no limit on what we can do if you can join us

And finally, we need more money to help our campaign.

The Greens, Plaid Cymru and Renew have all courageously stepped aside in the interest in progressive politics to give the Liberal Democrats a clear run at this seat – thank you! However, the Conservatives, the Labour Party and the Brexit Party are all running big campaigns.

Following on from the Peterborough by-election, where the Brexit Party came within a few hundred votes of winning, we expect them and the Conservatives to do well here. They both have serious financial resources at their fingertips, and they will be spending up to the limit in this election. If you can help us match their spending to give us the best possible chance of winning us, you can donate here: www.janedodds.wales/donate

But there is no limit on what we can do with people who join us – so please make the time to get here.

Thank you so much to the many, many people who have been part of my campaign so far. This by-election matters on so many levels and I’m determined to make it count. I hope to see you here soon.

What a whirlwind 2 months!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

After a time-warp 6 week campaign, an 18 hour polling day marathon and an incredible win on 26 May, the sixteen of us went to Brussels in June to take up our new positions as MEPs. You might have heard about the furore we caused!

Image result for lib dem meps bollocks to brexit t shirts

The Liberal Democrat cohort are sworn in as MEPs. If you like our tshirts, you can get your own here

Between setting up offices in Brussels, Strasbourg and home constituencies, hiring staff, filling in forms and receiving hundreds of messages, we ran from meeting to meeting and started to home in on key policy targets.

For me, that meant fulfilling a lifetime passion for human rights work. In my previous life, I had volunteered for a number of charities and hosted refugees. But my day job did not allow me enough time to make a real impact. Being an MEP enables me to work with private organisations, governments and individuals from all over the world to drive an agenda of change. We have the power, and the responsibility to speak up for the weakest members of society – those who have been displaced, discriminated against or persecuted by their own governments. As Vice Chair of the Human Rights Committee, I am determined to fight for their rights.

I’m also delighted about what The Express have called the “Lib Dems EU Takeover” – our own Chris Davies and Lucy Nethsingha have both been elected committee chairs, of the Fisheries and Legal Affairs committees respectively.

Apart from committee work, there is so much else I want to do: a Young Visitors programme for UK apprentices, an arts competition for school children, and a series of documentaries about some of the many unknown EU-driven benefits to London citizens.

Of course, none of this possible if we leave the EU. Brexit hanging over us like a dark cloud, and the prospect of a sudden end to our dreams is tough. Surely, few others have a more pressing personal as well as political incentive to Stop Brexit than the sixteen of us. That’s why we were elected, that’s what we promised to do and with your help, we will do.

Best wishes from the Eurostar

Sal Speaks

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

As I write this on Friday, I am about to set off for Brecon and Radnorshire, to help the brilliant Jane Dodds campaign in the by-election. It will be my third visit since the Recall petition first started. Make no bones about it, Jane is a brilliant candidate and our team there is outstanding, but we need more people to help over the next few weeks: we have a tough fight on our hands in a very rural seat. We need more people to help deliver leaflets, knock on doors and help with clerical work. Please, please, come and help. Postal votes land on doorsteps, and we need to call on postal voters this coming weekend, before many voters go on holiday.

Jane is a good friend. As Leader of the Welsh Lib Dems she has been reinvigorating the party, and we need her in Parliament in Westminster. Please do whatever you can to come and help!

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Come to Brecon and Radnorshire ➜

On your behalf I attended the Executive Committee of ALDE (our European sister party alliance) in Zurich at the end of June. We were celebrating the wonderful success of liberals in the European Parliament elections, and planning for the next five years. Leaders of our sister parties were absolutely delighted that our result with 16 brilliant MEPs helped secure that result, and they join us in believing that we can stop Brexit. It was uplifting to know so many politicians across Europe are fighting with us.

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And last weekend, again on your behalf, I was at the Liberal International Executive Committee in London. It was a pleasure to welcome members of our 47 sister parties from around the world and to train and learn from each other in campaign techniques, as well as conduct our usual business. But for me, as ever, I was heartened with the stories of those liberal politicians across the world for whom democracy is a constant battle against autocracy and dictatorship.

I met colleagues again from our sister party in Cambodia (the Cambodian National Rescue Party) whose Leader, Kem Sokha, has been imprisoned by the Prime Minister Hun Sen. Our colleagues are living in exile, at risk of attacks, with reports of torture and killings inside Cambodia. These brave people aren’t just fighting for their beliefs, for some they are fighting for their democracy and their lives. We stand strong beside them and will continue to do whatever we can to help them.

Glad to offer support to our Cambodian sister party, asking the Cambodian Gvt to free Kem Sokha, President of CNRP, from detention and to allow his colleagues to return and take part in politics without fear of arrest or worse. ⁦@liberalinternat⁩ ⁦@LibDems#humanrightspic.twitter.com/e9S1AGNmfE

— SalBrinton (@SalBrinton) July 6, 2019

I hope that you all get a good break over the summer – after the Brecon and Radnorshire polling day on 1 August! – and come back fighting fit for the Autumn. A new Prime Minister will not change the arithmetic in Parliament, and we need to continue to fight to stop Brexit. Who knows what will happen? I know one thing: the Liberal Democrats are resurgent because of you and your hard work. We remain at over 20% in the polls, and everything has changed. Let’s keep campaigning, growing and winning!

World Population Day

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

World Population Day is an opportunity to put reproductive rights and issues of gender equality firmly on the global agenda. This year, period poverty must be front and centre of the conversation.

If the UK Conservative government are serious about eradicating period poverty by 2030 then they must use this opportunity to ensure ending period poverty is in the minds of every single world leader. The Conservative government have a duty to do all they can to end the injustice and stigma surrounding periods in the UK and across the globe.

Established by the United Nation Development Programme in 1989, the internationally recognised day has helped to highlight the importance of population issues and amplify calls for reproductive health as a priority. A key pillar of reproductive rights, menstrual hygiene impacts women and girl’s access to education, and often has a big effect on their overall health.

Around half of all women and girls across the world do not have access to safe sanitary products and the stigma and taboos surrounding periods persists globally.

Around half of all women and girls across the world do not have access to safe sanitary products and the stigma and taboos surrounding periods persists globally. The reality for many is that they are forced to use dirty rags, grass, plastic, or overuse a pad or tampon, due to a lack of access to sterilised sanitary products. The everyday reality and cost of periods is putting lives at risk and perpetuating inequality. So too is the cycle of misinformation and taboos that surrounds periods.

Just this year, a Nepali mother and her two children were found dead after the woman was banished to a “menstruation hut”. In this heart-breaking instance, the cause of death was smoke inhalation as she lit a fire in a desperate attempt to keep her children warm, but there have also been cases of women dying from snake bites, and others being subject to criminal attacks. These unnecessary, shameful cases are as a direct result of a lack of education surrounding periods. Associating periods with bad luck or impurity is not uncommon in cultures across the world, with devastating consequences.

In the UK, a lack of understanding and education also leads to persistent stigma. Nearly half of those who get their period for the first time don’t know what’s happening to them and almost 60% report feeling embarrassed about their period. A failure to provide effective education about menstrual health to those of all genders is keeping taboos alive and perpetuating inequalities. Health issues including endometriosis often go undiagnosed because people aren’t clued up on warning signs or symptoms.

Just this year, a Nepali mother and her two children were found dead after the woman was banished to a “menstruation hut”.

Providing sanitary products in hospitals and schools in England is a step in the right direction, but we should be leading on this issue. The Tories must pledge to roll our free products across other spaces too, including shelters, hostels, libraries, and leisure centres. The campaign to end period poverty globally by 2030 is crucial, but to do this we must protect our UK aid commitment and keep the issue on the global political agenda. Today is a chance to do that.

It is time to eradicate period poverty wherever it exists. This World Population Day the Conservative government must use their voice to break the silence surrounding periods and ensure they are taking the most effective steps possible to bring an end to period poverty. No one, no matter where they live, should lose out on an education or have their health and wellbeing put at risk because of their period. Eradicating period poverty will take funding, it will take education, and it will take unwavering commitment. This World Population Day, I am calling on the Conservative government to use their influence and resources to help ensure the fight gets all three, at home and abroad.

It’s time to stop Brexit

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

When we think of great moments of political upheaval, social change and protests for justice, the images which often come to mind are marches. There is something acutely powerful about seeing so many come together to create, for one moment in time, a community of like-minded people. A crowd which passionately believes in a common cause will have its cause noticed. Marches become beacons of free speech and spawn mass movements which captivate people’s attention.

These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today’s challenges.

We saw this recently in Westminster with the march for climate change, and at the pride marches around the country, as a rainbow of people flow through the streets of Britain every summer. These marches can seize or reinforce an agenda and create a new public narrative for how we view today’s challenges.

While their disruptive methods caused frustration and, for some, may have overstepped the mark, no one can deny that Extinction Rebellion made people start discussing the environment around the kitchen table. It couldn’t be clearer that when people take a stand, they become impossible to ignore.

I was so proud to join more than a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People’s Vote.

My first march was 30-and-a-bit years ago with Amnesty International, highlighting the plight of prisoners of conscience abroad. Last month, as one of over 100 MPs I strode in solidarity to meet Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy, during his hunger strike in protest at his wife’s continued shocking and unlawful detention. I was also incredibly proud to be at the largest march this country has ever seen, back in 2003, against the Iraq war, when Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats led the political protest in the face of overwhelming criticism from the Tory and Labour parties.

But I was even prouder, earlier this year, to be part of the largest march seen in the UK since then – when over a million people took to the streets of London to show their support for a People’s Vote.

And that’s why I’m delighted the Lib Dems will be joining thousands of others on July 20 at the March for Change – unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.

We’re unequivocally demanding this Brexit mess be stopped.

Again the Lib Dems were prominent, just as we have been dominant in the fight against Brexit since the day after the referendum three years ago. Back then, many people described our position as desperate, out on a limb while Jeremy Corbyn urged that Article 50 be triggered immediately. Yet over time, more people joined our cause, our rallies became bigger and we made more allies in our fight against a government increasingly committed to the most chaotic of Brexits. Our message has grown louder and more people have taken to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name and not what the majority want.

We will take to the streets to shout loud and clear to Labour and the Conservatives that the Brexit they want to deliver is not in our name

Some will disregard the marchers’ voices. The Tory candidates to be our prime minister are putting rocket boosters on their campaigns to reach the dreaded No Deal cliff-end sooner. Jeremy Corbyn is choosing to bury his head even deeper in the sand.

We the Lib Dems not only hear those voices, we are channelling their energy.

I am proud to be the anti-Brexit spokesperson of the largest, loudest and proudest party committed to demanding better than Brexit and diverting us from the disastrous trajectory we’ve taken. More and more people are rallying behind our banner as we inch closer than ever to stopping Brexit.

So, when we march in just a few weeks’ time on July 20, we will do so with a more purposeful stride. I hope you will join us.

The march for change are organising coaches to the march from across the UK. You can book a coach here: https://www.marchforchange.uk/assembly_points