Pride Month: fighting for equality across the United Kingdom

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

This month is Pride month. This year, June is also 50 years on from the pivotal Stonewall riots. We’ve come a long way, yet still couples in Northern Ireland are still denied the right to marry the person that they love.

Internationally, huge progress has been made when it comes to the rights and freedoms of LGBT+ people. Just this summer, Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage while Botswana decriminalised homosexuality in a landmark ruling. But we still have so far to go. In the UK many LGBT+ people still face a grim reality in which discrimination, both socially and in the eyes of the law, blights their everyday reality. The shocking image of a young lesbian couple covered in blood having been subjected to violence on a bus in London this month was a stark reminder that bigotry and prejudice persist.

The shocking image of a young lesbian couple covered in blood having been subjected to violence on a bus in London this month was a stark reminder that bigotry and prejudice persist.

That image made me sick to my stomach. It also strengthened my resolve to fight for equality for all. We cannot let hate win. It will not win. Liberal Democrats have always been clear that LGBT+ rights are human rights and that these rights are at the core of who we are as a party. It is why we pushed forward the amendment to repeal Section 28, it is why we legislated for same-sex marriage, and it is why we are now continuing to campaign for same-sex marriage to be expanded to Northern Ireland.

The murder of journalist Lyra McKee was heart-breaking and deplorable. This heinous act not only put the tensions in Northern Ireland into stark relief but also served as a painful reminder of this government’s failure to roll out same-sex marriage to the whole of our country. After Lyra’s murder, her partner spoke out, urging the Conservatives to ensure that couples in Northern Ireland can marry the person they love at home and have that marriage legally recognised, regardless of gender.

It is clear that Westminster must act to help give couples in Northern Ireland the rights and freedoms those in the rest of the UK have.

Frustratingly her calls, along with those by countless other campaigners, have so far fallen on deaf ears. Earlier this year, I co-sponsored a Bill in Parliament that would bring same-sex marriage laws in Northern Ireland in line with those in England, Wales, and Scotland. While I would prefer that local politicians in Belfast take this decision, with the collapse of the Assembly it is clear that Westminster must act to help give couples in Northern Ireland the rights and freedoms those in the rest of the UK have.

Earlier this month Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable did a video for Pink News where he reiterated the Liberal Democrats’ clear support for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. I am proud to be in a party that has been unequivocal in our support for equality and I know that whoever takes over from Vince as our party’s next Leader will ensure that the fight for equality remains at the top of our agenda. This Pride month, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, celebrate our sexual and gender diversity, but let’s also recommit to tackling discrimination and prejudice wherever it exists.

Demand better for unpaid carers

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

In the UK currently seven million people are carers. That is one in ten people and the figure is only rising as demographics change and people live longer with more disabilities and illnesses.

Three in five of us will be carers at one point or another in our lives.

That is why it is so important this week, Carers Week, that we understand and recognise the contribution carers make to society.

Carers are more likely to suffer with mental health and physical health problems. Young carers miss days of school. And carers are more likely to struggle financially and have lower rates of employment.

Yet in the UK one in three carers have missed out on benefits they are entitled to because they did not realise they could claim them.

That is why I am using Carers Week to challenge the Conservative Government. This week in the House of Lords I asked the Government what steps they are taking to ensure unpaid carers receive the support to which they are entitled.

We need to being doing much more for unpaid carers across the UK.

The Liberal Democrats have also repeated called for the Carer’s Allowance to be raised and for the number of hours required to qualify to be reduced. We would also make it a legal duty for the NHS to identify carers to ensure unpaid carers have access to support and flexible visiting hours. We would develop a Carer’s Passport to ensure carers are informed of their NHS rights.

Liberal Democrats demand better for unpaid carers. We all need to be doing much more to support some of the most hardworking and undervalued people in our society.

A record-breaking few months

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

We’ve had an exceptional two months, winning elections, breaking records and growing our movement. Get the low down here:

Local Elections

We saw our party’s best ever local election results, taking control of twelve councils and winning 706 council seats across England.

We took control of Vale of the White Horse, Hinckley & Bosworth, North Norfolk, Winchester, Bath and North East Somerset, Cotswolds, Chelmsford North Devon, Mole Valley, North Devon, Somerset West & Taunton and Teignbridge Councils.

We also took big strides forward in Southport, Hazel Grove, St Albans and Cheadle and we made real, tangible progress in many more – including Dacorum, Welwyn Hatfield, Broxtowe, Wokingham, Brentwood, Southend, New Forest, Barnsley and Sunderland.

The European Elections

We came second, with a vote share of 20.3% and beat out both Labour and the Conservatives.

And we elected sixteen fantastic MEPs!

🔶 Catherine Bearder (Group Leader), Anthony Hook and Judith Bunting in the South East

🔶 Barbara Gibson and Lucy Nethsingha in the East of England

🔶 Bill Newton Dunn in the East Midlands

🔶 Caroline Voaden and Martin Horwood in the South West

🔶 Irina Von Wiese, Dinesh Dhamija and Luisa Porritt in London

🔶 Jane Brophy and Chris Davies in the North West

🔶 Phil Bennion in the West Midlands

🔶 Shaffaq Mohammed in Yorkshire and the Humber

🔶 Shelia Richie in Scotland

This result marks a sea change in British politics.We are the biggest, strongest Remain party.We are the real opposition to the damaging Brexit pushed by Nigel Farage and his sycophants in the Conservative Party.

Membership Surge

People joined us in their thousands during the local and European elections. And these numbers just kept growing as people joined us to get their say in our leadership election.

We ended last week on 105,480 members – the highest number of members in our party’s history – and still growing!

A warm welcome to Chuka Umunna

Having left the Labour party in February to start Change UK/The Independent Group, this week Chuka Umunna has decided to join the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats have proved that we are the defining progressive, Remain and liberal force in British politics – and our door is open to anyone who shares our values.

Join us in wishing Chuka a very warm welcome here:

And read his article about his decision to join us here:

Leadership Election

And now we have a leadership election – a chance to choose the person to lead our party and build on these successes.

Hear from the candidates, find out about hustings near you and see the full election timetable here:

The Leadership Election

Why I joined the Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

I went into politics to put something back into the community I am from and to take our country in a progressive direction. My progressive values lead me to strive to work for a fair and open Britain, which has a strong, mixed market economy, in which everyone can achieve their dreams regardless of their background.

I went into politics to put something back into the community I am from and to take our country in a progressive direction.

I am unapologetically an internationalist which is why I oppose Brexit and am fighting for the UK to remain in the European Union. These are very much the values of those I represent in Streatham and the same things that I stood on at the last General Election.

Our country is one of the greatest in the world and has so much potential. But too many people in my constituency and across the UK face barriers in fulfilling their aspirations and people don’t get the support they need.

Unfortunately, we are deeply divided and unequal nation in 2019. As the fallout from the 2016 vote to leave the EU has illustrated, Britain is crying out for change.

Our politics is broken and the two main parties, which sit at the heart of the system, are simply not up to addressing these challenges because they are part of the problem, which is why I left the Labour Party earlier this year – I was not prepared to stand idly by and do nothing.

They have exacerbated the problems and are fuelling the divisions not only within their parties but in our country too. They have failed to provide the leadership and clear direction which the UK desperately needs, and to properly fulfil their constitutional duties as a government and opposition.

As the fallout from the 2016 vote to leave the EU has illustrated, Britain is crying out for change.

The local and European elections illustrated that millions of voters agree with this assessment about the appalling state of the two main parties. It is clear the tectonic plates are shifting and the public is now more in favour of upending the two party system than at any time in my lifetime.

This provides a historic opportunity to realign, change the system, fix our broken politics and resolve the problems which caused people to vote for Brexit in the first place.

After leaving Labour, I had thought that Britain needed a new party and I believed that was what the millions of politically homeless people in Britain wanted. I was wrong.

You have your ups and your downs in politics. Politicians are all human, and we have our flaws. I have plenty! The important thing is to learn the lessons from your mistakes, to listen to what your constituents and the electorate are telling you, and to strive to do better.

I massively underestimated the challenge of building a new, fully fledged party like Change UK in the midst of a national political crisis and attempting to do so at the same time as running a national election campaign.

Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was right to point to the importance of having a party infrastructure and existing relationships with hundreds of thousands of voters which hugely contributed to the party’s recent election successes.

There is also no doubt that under the First-Past-The-Post electoral system used in Westminster elections, there is space for only one main centre ground offer. That is clearly the Liberal Democrats.

Beyond Brexit, many have pointed out to me that the progressive values that I champion and hold dear, and the policies I have advocated, are almost exactly the same as those promoted by the Liberal Democrats.

There is no denying this fact, so what more was stopping me from joining?

I found it hard to come to terms with the impact of the public spending cuts which were instigated by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of 2010-2015.

I did not disagree with the need to reduce the public sector deficit and debt – indeed Labour’s last Chancellor Alistair Darling accepted this.

But I did disagree with the speed and severity of fiscal consolidation, and the extent to which cuts to public spending as opposed to tax increases were made to carry the burden.

Four years on from their time in office, things have changed.

The Liberal Democrats have voted against every Tory budget since 2015. They stood on an anti-austerity manifesto in 2017 with, for example, commitments to end the public sector pay cap, increase tax to pay for the NHS and reverse cuts to housing benefit and Universal Credit.

Four years on from their time in office, things have changed.

Senior figures – including Vince – have since said that, although they curbed George Osborne’s worst excesses, they should not have allowed measures like the bedroom tax to be introduced.

They also accept that a major mistake was made in making and then breaking a pledge on university tuition fees, which should never happen again.

Most importantly, the biggest impediment to ending austerity currently is pressing on with Brexit.

According to the Conservative government’s own economic impact assessment, the UK will be poorer under any form of Brexit. In every Brexit scenario tax receipts will be hit hard, depriving the Exchequer of much needed revenue to invest in public services.

Both Labour and the Tories are committed to facilitating Brexit which will make ending austerity virtually impossible.

The Liberal Democrats are not – they were committed to a People’s Vote and remaining in the EU from the start.

For all these reasons, I have joined the Liberal Democrats because it is at the forefront of a renewed, progressive and internationalist movement in British politics that shares my values.

For all these reasons, I have joined the Liberal Democrats.

I am convinced the Liberal Democrats, as the spearhead of a broader progressive movement in civil society, offer the best chance to improve the lives of those I represent as well as countless other citizens across our country.

The time has come to put past differences behind us and, in the national interest, do what is right for the country. So I urge others to join the party too.

Chuka Umunna joins the Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Leaving a political party is never an easy decision – nor one that one makes lightly. I know that from my own experience nearly 40 years ago!

Tonight, Chuka Umunna announced that he has joined the Liberal Democrats.

And I am delighted to welcome him to our party, as the Liberal Democrat MP for Streatham.


For the last three years, Chuka has worked by our side as one of the most redoubtable anti-Brexit campaigners.

We have worked together effectively and defeated the Government dozens of times in Parliament– and helped to ensure Brexit was delayed until October.

I know that over the next few months Chuka will be a great asset in our fight to stop Brexit.

In February, the 11 MPs who formed “The Independent Group” were right in their diagnosis that politics in the shape of two old parties is broken.

I’m pleased that Chuka has seen that the solution – the Liberal Democrats – has been here all along. We are clearly the pro-European, liberal, centre-ground party.

With 20,000 new members in the past month, our movement is growing fast. Will you be part of what comes next, and join us today? You can join here: www.libdems.org.uk/joining-us

In the last few months, we have conclusively demonstrated that our party is a powerful force in British politics.

Thank you for all that you have done – and will do to bring about that success.

Join one of our new working groups!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

We are currently looking for members for three new policy working groups on the future of work, the natural environment and utilities.

The working groups will take evidence and prepare policy proposals to submit to Autumn Conference 2020.

Working group members are expected to attend meetings (in person or by dialling in), input their ideas for policy, and play a role in drafting the policy paper. The position is voluntary.

The deadline for applications is 1pm on Wednesday 3rd July.

You can find out more about the working groups, and apply here:

Find out more

Apply now

We’re looking for volunteers for our new disciplinary process

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

As a Party we depend on our volunteers – members like you – to run things. We are introducing the new Liberal Democrat Disciplinary Procedure this Summer and need members to volunteer to make it work.

As part of the new disciplinary procedures we need teams of members to volunteer for the four roles that need filling. These are Adjudicator, Investigator, Independent Person (Mediator), and Party Mentor.

Adjudicator

An Adjudicator is an individual trained to assess the severity of a complaint and will sit on panels. Each complaints panel is made up of three adjudicators and they may impose sanctions on individuals who are deemed to have brought the Party into disrepute.

Investigator

Investigators are trained to investigate complaints referred to them and are tasked with presenting the complaints they have investigated to a Complaints Panel. Investigators determine whether the complaints are serious enough to warrant such action.

Independent Person (Mediator)

Independent Persons or Mediators are Party members with no personal connection to the event ot conduct giving rise to a complaint to to any of the individuals involved. They are appointed to provide independent advice to either the complainants, or to the person subject to a complaint. They are trained in mediating disputes in the circumstances where the parties can reach an informal solution.

Party Mentor

A Party Mentor is an individual identified by the Party to provide personal support to the person subject to a complaint, in a similar manner to the support provided by the Pastoral Care Officer to complainants.

Can you help with these roles? The workload may be intense for short periods but should not be high across the year. You may be asked to help with cases anywhere in the UK. We will make intensive use of digital communication methods to reduce unnecessary travel. We will also provide training to refresh or increase your skills.

If you would like to find out more or to volunteer for any of these roles further please click here:

I’ll volunteer

It is important that everyone in the Party, and in wider society, has confidence in the way we deal with problems in the Party, so please help us to run a robust system.

Wow! Thank you!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

It has been an amazing week since I launched my campaign to become Leader of our party.

From my campaign launch with young tech apprentices to appearances on the Andrew Marr Show, Question Time, Good Morning Britain and the Today Progamme (twice!), my feet hardly touched the floor.

I am standing because our party, and our country, are at a turning point.

See my manifesto here: Jo’s manifesto

My aim as Leader is to build on our 700+ gains in the local elections and our fantastic success in the European Elections to change Britain’s politics.

As Leader, I will win us the cut through we need to get our strong liberal message across.

As Leader I will reach out to the next generation, bringing new and vibrant talent into our party.

And as Leader I will ensure that the Liberal Democrats lead the liberal revival that our politics so desperately needs.

Please join my campaign today.

Visit JoinJo.org.uk to find out more, to volunteer or to donate.

Find out why Shirley Williams and a whole host of party activists are supporting my campaign.

Thank you for everything you’ve done to help bring the Liberal Democrats this far.

Please support my campaign for Leader to help take us to the next level.

All the best,

Jo

Jo Swinson

Liberal Democrat Leadership Candidate and MP for East Dunbartonshire

PS: Please read my manifesto here: Jo’s manifesto

The planet’s on the ballot

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

We can stop Brexit – we must. For our economy. For our families, friends and neighbours who’ve made Britain their home. For what it says about us, as a country.

You could pick a hundred reasons why we must stop Brexit. Top of my list is the fight against the Climate Change Emergency.

Climate change’s devastation won’t respect borders – you have to work internationally, with other countries, if you want to save our planet.

That’s what I did, as Energy and Climate Change Minister. At the European table and at the UN, I fought for tougher targets to cut carbon emissions.

And I won.

Now – just as we are leading the campaign to Stop Brexit – I want us to lead the fight to solve the Climate Change Emergency. With my radical economic plan, for carbon-free capitalism.

And if you vote for me to be the next Leader of the Liberal Democrats, the environment will be my priority, alongside stopping Brexit.

With our fantastic election results, the Liberal Democrats are back in the game!

And with the tectonic plates of British Politics shifting – as the divided Tories and Labour parties split over Brexit – our Party’s potential has never been greater. So in choosing our next Leader, you may be choosing a future Prime Minister.

The next Leader must be both a proven media performer and someone with the skills and vision to lead our party to win again, at all levels of Government.

If you share my vision to Stop Brexit and solve the Climate Emergency, please back me to be our next Leader.

Best wishes

Ed

Ed Davey MP

Liberal Democrat Leadership Candidate and MP for Kingston and Surbiton

PS. Please tell me you’re backing my campaign to make the Liberal Democrats THE Party that will tackle the Climate Emergency.

The Conservative leadership contest has already gone to pot 😬

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The Conservatives aren’t exactly covering themselves in glory as they decide who’ll be the next party leader.

Michael Gove’s cocaine admission has garnered a lot of press. As education secretary, Gove forced through legislation that banned teachers from the classroom for life if they were convicted of possessing a class A drug.

He’s not the only one. Rory Stewart has admitted to doing opium, and Hancock, Hunt, Leadsom and Raab have admitted to taking some form of cannabis.

We don’t think drug use should bar people from positions of responsibility – but hypocrisy should.

And frankly, he’s not the only candidate for next Prime Minister to have come out with concerning revelations.

It’s particularly astonishing for a former health secretary to believe in restricting abortions.

As one of the UK’s longest serving health secretaries, Jeremy Hunt presumably knows some of the reasons why some women have an abortion in their second trimester, such as:

– they didn’t know their contraception failed for a few months, but they are not in a position to have a baby

– they learnt of health complications at a twenty-week scan

– they are taking time to make the right decision for themselves and decide whether they can provide a good life for a child in their current circumstances.

While women across the UK are campaigning to make abortion legal in Northern Ireland, and women around the world look on in horror as abortion rights are rolled back in the US, it is unacceptable that Hunt is suggesting rolling back women’s rights in the UK – when of all the Tory leadership candidates he’s best placed to know the harm his policy would cause.

Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership candidate @Jeremy_Hunt says he would like to see the legal time limit on abortions reduced from 24 weeks to 12. #Ridge

For more, head here: https://t.co/9ZpbUMWZ2Ypic.twitter.com/e4DkAXzcdf

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) June 9, 2019

Boris Johnson wants to cut taxes for everyone earning over £50,000 – and pay for it by raising National Insurance for the rest of us.

This amounts to a £9.6 billion tax cut for the 3 million highest earners in the UK – which coincidentally, will include many of the people whose vote he is hoping to win.

See @BorisJohnson has devised bespoke tax cut for #ToryLeadershipContest party members. High income pensioners will get full benefit without paying National Insurance. £20 bn cost is £160,000 per Tory member. Bribes don’t come cheap even for Boris.

— Vince Cable (@vincecable) June 10, 2019

BoJo’s policy means the Treasury has far less money in the bank to pay for new homes, the NHS, schools, police, and front-line services. His pitch for being the Prime Minister of the UK is to increase the shocking inequality rife in British society.

And Dominic Raab won’t make it easier for trans people to change their gender.

Despite saying he’s an ally of LGBT people, Stonewall has called the Gender Recognition Act dehumanising, and following a national consultation, the next Prime Minister will oversee changing the legislation that governs the rights of trans people in the UK.

And Raab’s comments suggest that he will pander to transphobes – especially those posing as feminists.

No prizes for guessing why he’s courting that vote.

Dominic Raab says he wants a society that is ‘warm to the LGBT community’ but doesn’t think he would make it easier for people to change their gender, if he became prime minister https://t.co/97wVNes3IQpic.twitter.com/T4tqsCNjcs

— ITV News (@itvnews) May 29, 2019

Britain’s next prime minister should not be determined by a group of Conservative Party members. Many of them voted for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the European Election. Whether it’s a unicorn plan on Brexit or attacks on our rights and essential freedoms, the only consistent line from the Tories has been that they will harm our country, not help it.

Compare and contrast to the policies of the Liberal Democrats.

🔶 We’ll bring in drug law reform and treat addiction as a medical, not a criminal, issue

🔶 We’ll protect women’s rights to their own bodies

🔶 We’ll spend money helping the poorest, not the richest in society – reversing billions of pounds of Conservative cuts to welfare

🔶 We’ll continue to fight for and strengthen the rights of trans people

🔶 We’ll stop Brexit.

Only the Liberal Democrats are opposing the Conservatives on these harmful issues. And you can help us win.

We’re building a huge liberal movement up and down the UK. Over 17,000 people have joined us in the last month alone. We’re surging in the polls – Liberal Democrats are winning again. Join us today: