Election plans and budgets for next year: Steering Group review

Saturday sees the first full meeting of our new Steering Group, created by the Federal Board in a pilot to find ways of improving how we run the party. As the Thornhill Election Review found in frank detail, failing to run the party well hinders our election prospects.

Elections will be very much on our mind as one of our major items of business is next May’s elections. The combination of general elections in Scotland and Wales plus two rounds of local elections in one will make this much more than a usual May. How much normal party activity to put aside so we can focus on the elections will be one of the issues discussed. It’s always tempting to stop everything for the next election, but do that too often and many long-term problems build up. Some careful judgements will be needed.

We’ll also be discussing plans for developing the party’s strategy now that we have a new leader in place, including hearing from our new Director of Strategy and from Ed Davey.

Another big topic will be budget priorities for next year for the federal party. Traditionally, party committees have been involved rather late in the budget process, which reduced the ability of elected people to influence the outcome. Continuing the pattern from the start of this year, we’re making sure that the relevant party committees get to look at the priorities going into the budget and the basic parameters for it. That way, the debates and decisions will have a real influence on the final budget.

We will also be checking on progress in implementing the Thornhill Review and in improving our work on diversity, both important to our success not only next year but in the years beyond that too.

Another area we need to improve is the engagement with and support for party bodies such as SAOs and AOs. The Party Bodies Review Group, set up with a new remit earlier this year, will be presenting its draft recommendations following an extensive round of consultation.

Also on the agenda will be the latest data on how our complaints process is working and whether we need to make any additional rule changes or definitions to help with it. We will also need to set plans for reviewing our internal election rules in the light of our experiences during the leadership election.

I’ll be doing a report back after the meeting. But before then, if you have any questions, feedback or insight to share, please do not hesitate to get in touch: president@libdems.org.uk.

Hong Kong Security Law: two months on

The new law, aimed at stamping out protests that have racked Hong Kong for the past year, can “prevent, stop and punish any acts or activities” that severely endanger national security.” Such charges are often used in mainland China to silence dissidents and other political opponents. It has already been used to silence people.

This new law crushes what was left of the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.

The legislation, which has been described as a “death knell” for Hong Kong, also allows Beijing’s security forces to operate in the city.

Legal observers and human rights advocates say the national security laws not only target protesters and their supporters, but permanently undermine the city’s freedoms and rights as promised under the “one country two systems” framework.

During the Handover, the late Paddy Ashdown passionately argued that the people of Hong Kong should be given the right to live in the UK if they held BNO passports.

From Paddy Ashdown to today, the Liberal Democrats have always shown courage on the issue of Hong Kong – unlike the Conservatives.

It’s our duty to #StandWithHongKong and uphold the promises the UK made. Add your name to back our campaign > https://t.co/ZELgzFejchpic.twitter.com/fcZf9ibvhP

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) February 25, 2020

The UK Government’s extension of visa rights for BNOs is welcome news.

However, it is not good enough for this offer to only apply to BNO status holders and their dependents, as the Government have so far suggested. This leaves behind many young Hong Kongers who have been at the centre of the calls for democracy.

The Government need to go further. All Hong Kongers must have their rights and freedoms protected, regardless of BNO status.

It is time to step up and stand with Hong Kong.

That’s why Alistair Carmichael has tabled a Bill that would re-open the offer of a British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the “right of abode”, allowing a person to live or work indefinitely in the UK.

We are calling on the Government to support our Bill, which will have its second reading in Parliament on 23rd October 2020.

The UK government to ensure that no one is left behind. It is time to step up and stand with Hong Kong.

Reforming the Associated Organisations of the Party

Our Party is going through a period of change. The General Election Review was one of the reviews commissioned by the Party, to look at how we organise ourselves for elections and how we can do things better.

The Party has also asked for a review of Party organisations – known as AOs, Associated Organisations and SAOs, Specified Associated Organisations. These are organisations in the Party that cover everything, from Green Liberal Democrats to Liberal Democrat Women and everything in between. If you are a member of one of the Party’s organisations, then this survey is for you. We want your views both on the support the Party gives to your organisation and what changes can and should be made.

We really want to know what you think. It is important to say that if you complete the survey, your response will be treated anonymously.

So, if you are a member of one of the organisations below, then please do the survey and help create a better way of doing things.’

Flo

Remembering Alan Kurdi

Alan, his mum and his five-year-old brother had drowned as they attempted to cross from Turkey to Kos in a small inflatable boat, having fled the violence of ISIL and Assad’s civil war.

The Conservatives voted against providing a safe haven for children who’ve been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families.

When that photo appeared on front pages the next day, politicians around the world could no longer ignore the awful human tragedies happening every day as refugees like Alan and his family make perilous attempts to cross the Mediterranean in search of sanctuary.

Here in the UK, the Conservative Government was forced into action at last. The Prime Minister promised to resettle 20,000 refugees from Syria – a commitment that the Government will finally fulfil this year. But still, the Conservatives resisted calls from the Liberal Democrats and others to offer sanctuary to refugees already on the move across Europe – those like Alan Kurdi’s family.

They even voted against the Dubs amendment, which would have committed the UK to take 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees. That’s right. They voted against providing a safe haven for children who’ve been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families.

Thankfully, we defeated the Government and forced them to implement the Dubs scheme, providing a route for the children in Calais camps to come to the UK safely.

But the Conservatives closed that scheme in July, after resettling just 480 child refugees. Without safe routes, desperate people – including children – will continue to take unsafe ones: including attempting to cross the Mediterranean and the Channel in small boats.

We must do all we can to protect vulnerable refugees and safe lives

And we will continue to see more tragedies like the death of Alan Kurdi. Just a fortnight ago, the body of a young Sudanese man, Abdulfatah Hamdallah, was found on a beach near Calais.

He had drowned while trying to cross the Channel in a little rubber dinghy with his 16-year-old friend.

We must do all we can to protect vulnerable refugees and safe lives. The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, and we cannot let this Conservative Government turn its back on them now.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are fighting to secure safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK.

That must include a new long-term commitment to resettle refugees directly from conflict areas like Syria and the surrounding region. And the Government must reopen the Dubs scheme, with a commitment to resettle 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years.

Five years ago, we responded to that photo of Alan Kurdi with compassion and urgency. Five years on, both those impulses are needed as much as ever. We cannot let them fade now.

Ed Davey announces new Lib Dem Spokespeople

Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey has announced a new team of spokespeople who will hold the Government to account and rebuild our party.

Layla Moran

Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & International Development

Layla Moran

Delighted to announce the @LibDems spokespeople for the great offices of state:

My friend @LaylaMoran has agreed to take a role in my top team. As Foreign Affairs Spokesperson she will bring the energy and enthusiasm she brings to all her work & hold Dominic Raab to account.

1/4

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) August 31, 2020

Pleased to have accepted the role of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the @LibDems. I look forward to speaking up for marginalised groups, human rights and Britain’s place in the world, and to holding this Government to account at a time when we need to be building bridges.

— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) August 31, 2020

Christine Jardine

Spokesperson for the Treasury, Brexit, Europe and Trade.

Chrstine Jardine MP

The formidable @cajardineMP will be Treasury Spokesperson and put forward the case for a greener, fairer UK. Christine will show that now is the time to build back better.

2/4

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) August 31, 2020

Delighted to take on this important role innEd’s team for @LibDems looking forward to getting to work on that greener, fairer UK. #libdemshttps://t.co/OUU3yOzvlK

— Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) August 31, 2020

Alistair Carmichael

Spokesperson for Home Affairs, Political & Constitutional Reform, and Northern Ireland

The fantastic @amcarmichaelMP will take over the Home Affairs brief and shine a light on how this government is failing to keep our country safe.

3/4

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) August 31, 2020

Daisy Cooper

Spokesperson for Education

Daisy Cooper MP

Delighted to announce that @libdemdaisy will take on the education brief for @LibDems. Her drive and determination will keep the Tories accountable for their failings in our schools. Daisy will hold the PM to his words that when it comes to education the “buck stops with me.”

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

My priorities are to:

✅ campaign to extend #FreeSchoolMeals and end #HolidayHunger

✅ campaign to sort out #SEND

✅ ensure Govt plans give children & young people a safe & supportive return to education this Autumn #schoolsreopening 2/2

— Daisy Cooper MP 🔶 (@libdemdaisy) September 1, 2020

Wendy Chamberlain

Chief Whip and Spokesperson for Scotland, Wales and Work & Pensions

Wendy Chamberlain MP

.@wendychambLD, who has been a powerful force since becoming an MP will be our new Chief Whip. Wendy will also take on the Scotland and Wales brief and fight for social justice as our Work and Penions spokesperson.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

Hoping that there will be more call for my HR skills than my policing ones…

Seriously though, it’s an important role – not just about how MPs vote. There’s a great team of people here supporting and I’m committed to making @LibDems a great employer and Parliament a safe place

— Wendy Chamberlain MP 🔶️ (@wendychambLD) September 2, 2020

Finally, DWP is a new portfolio for me, but #COVID19 and issues with Universal Credit and other benefits and the devastating impact they can have are sadly not. I’ll be working hard to raise and highlight injustices.

— Wendy Chamberlain MP 🔶️ (@wendychambLD) September 2, 2020

Jamie Stone

Spokesperson for Defence and Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Jamie Stone MP

The inimitable @Jamie4North will keep the govt honest when it comes to looking after our troops and shine a light on the mental health of veterans as our Defence spokesperson. He will also look after the Digital, Culture, Media and sport brief.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

Thrilled about DCMS. Will wave the flag for broadband rollou, support for the arts and entertainment industry (looking at you @RishiSunak), and ways to make social media a nicer place…

As for sport, you might as well know now that my bias is @RossCounty!

— Jamie Stone MP (@Jamie4North) September 1, 2020

Sarah Olney

Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Business & Energy and Transport

Sarah Olney MP

.@sarahjolney1 has already done a great job as Business Spokesperson she will do Transport and the Climate Emergency too. @LibDems will be fighting for the country to build back better. Sarah, will be focused on campaigning for new green jobs.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

Tim Farron

Spokesperson for Housing, Communities & Local Government, and Food & Rural Affairs

Tim Farron MP

There are few people who have done as much for our party and our communities, particularly rural communities, than @timfarron. I have asked him to look after the Communities, Local Government, Housing, Food and Rural Affairs brief.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

Wera Hobhouse

Spokesperson for Justice and Women & Equalities, Shadow Leader of the House

Wera Hobhouse MP

.@Wera_Hobhouse has already shown herself to be a passionate campaigner and blazed the trail for legislation on upskirting. Wera will lead on Justice, Women and Equalities and the Leader of the House portfolio.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

I’m very pleased to be taking over the Justice, Women’s and Equalities brief. I look forward to fighting on behalf of under-represented groups, and working to make Britain a more equal and fair society. I’ll also be holding the government to account as Shadow Leader of the House! https://t.co/C3j8LINFJm

— Wera Hobhouse MP 🔶 (@Wera_Hobhouse) September 1, 2020

Munira Wilson

Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care

Munira Wilson MP

.@munirawilson has done an extraordinary job holding the govt to account through this Coronavirus crisis. I am delighted she will stay on the Health & Care brief. She’ll press the govt to prepare for a second wave of Coronavirus & solve the endemic issues in our care sector.

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) September 1, 2020

Delighted to be continuing as @LibDems Health & Care spokesperson. I’ll continue to challenge govt over their poor handling of the #COVID19 crisis, I will be pressing for urgent overdue social care reform and the desperate need to improve children & YP’s mental health services. https://t.co/JPGieEW3Rk

— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) September 1, 2020

My Bill to give coronavirus heroes the right to stay

Those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it.

Like the rest of our wonderful NHS and care staff, hundreds of thousands of people from other countries are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we get the care we need.

We cannot thank them enough for the brave and tireless work they are doing in such difficult circumstances and under such intense pressure.

The Government has announced a one-year visa extension for around 3,000 health and care staff with visas due to expire before 1st October. However, this excludes many of those on the front lines, such as hospital porters, cleaners and social care workers.

Even those who are included will be forced to renew their visas next year – at a cost of around £700 per person – or leave the country. That’s not good enough.

The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it.

The idea that anyone who has worked so hard to save lives during this emergency might one day be forced to leave should be unthinkable.

“All of us in the UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for us and our loved ones are welcome to live here.”

Today @cajardineMP is proposing her bill to give NHS and care workers the right to stayhttps://t.co/sEO5yL8RD4

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 1, 2020

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are fighting to give all NHS and care staff from other countries the right to stay in the UK.

I’m tabling a Private Members’ Bill to grant them and their families the right to settle here

And today, I’m tabling a Private Members’ Bill to grant them and their families the right to settle here without the costs or bureaucratic hurdles that usually involves.

We’ve already secured support from MPs of other parties for our proposal, and I really hope the Government will back my Bill.

It would be a small way to recognise and celebrate the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our NHS – and to our society, our economy and our communities more broadly.

FCEC Update – August 2020

Party Reform

This month we received a report on progress against the Thornhill Report and we felt that the party was making good progress on some of the key points raised.

Whilst there is still much to do, there is a feeling that what we are setting in place will be good for the future. The Party is improving its ability to work across different parts of itself (HQ, ALDC, the States and Regions) and, despite the challenge of Coronavirus, is ploughing on with the reforms necessary to elect more Liberal Democrats.

Winning elections

The Committee has been considering the ongoing development of the ‘Winning at every level’ strategy which is being led by the senior teams at HQ and ALDC. This strategy aims to reduce the duplication of work, improve internal communications, and plan for a more coherent and effective approach to future elections.

We discussed the massive set of elections coming in May 2021, including two General Elections (in Wales and Scotland), and how we will deploy our resources most effectively. As ever, FCEC’s remit is to ‘paint the map gold’ with elected Liberal Democrats and that is what we intend to do.

We also discussed our approach to by-elections and our approach to developing local parties. As activists know, building our strength and capabilities from the bottom up is key to winning elections in the long-term: something FCEC takes very seriously.

The Committee looks forward to two upcoming reports, one on Unite to Remain and its impact on the election and the Party, and another on how the Party handled defectors in the run-up to the 2019 General Election. There will be important learnings for us all.

Communications and future working

Following the recent Twitter Boycott, the Committee discussed how we ought to approach, practically as well as philosophically, the issue of boycotts. We very much look forward to the input of our newly in-post Director of Strategy, Messaging and Research – who brings with her a depth of knowledge and experience of online communications.

You can read more about the exciting appointment of Mimi Turner here.

Reforming SAOs and AOs

Our Party is going through a period of change. The General Election Review was one of the reviews commissioned by the Party, to look at how we organise ourselves for elections and how we can do things better.

The Party has also asked for a review of Party organisations – known as AOs, Associated Organisations and SAOs, Specified Associated Organisations. These are organisations in the Party that cover everything, from Green Liberal Democrats to Liberal Democrat Women and everything in between. If you are a member of one of the Party’s organisations, then this survey is for you. We want your views both on the support the Party gives to your organisation and what changes can and should be made.

We really want to know what you think. It is important to say that if you complete the survey, your response will be treated anonymously.

So, if you are a member of one of the organisations below, then please do the survey and help create a better way of doing things.’

Flo

It is time for us to start listening.

I’d like to start by thanking my friend Layla Moran. Layla, you fought a passionate campaign, full of energy.

I’d like to start by thanking my friend Layla Moran.

Since becoming an MP, you have inspired so many people, particularly young people. Your future is bright and I look forward to you playing a big role in my team.

To members of the Liberal Democrats, thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago.

And I want also to thank a whole host of people who’ve run this campaign – whether in party headquarters alongside the Returning Officer, or in my own amazing campaign team.

The thousands of people who’ve volunteered time to campaign with me. Who’ve donated to my campaign. Who’ve championed our vision of a greener, fairer, more caring society.

I’d particularly like to thank Claire Halliwell, my Campaign Manager. Claire, you’ve been fantastic.

Thank you for putting your faith in me and giving me the honour of leading a party I joined 30 years ago.

And of course Emily, my wife and our two beautiful children, John and Ellie. Thank you Emily for your amazing support, patience and love.

I am sure I am speaking for many people when I say that – for all the stress and uncertainty of the last few months – one positive has been the chance to spend more time with our families. And so I’d like to thank Ellie in particular, for appearing as a surprise cameo in so many of my zoom calls and online hustings.


I want to talk now about the future of the Liberal Democrats.

I joined this party 30 years ago. I met Emily here. I have made so many good friends here.

And with those friends, I have campaigned across our country, knocking on tens of thousands of doors, delivering hundreds of thousands of leaflets.

The reason I have done all this is simple.

I love our party. And I believe in it.

I love our party.

I believe in it.

I stand for all the things the Liberal Democrats stand for:

Social justice, political reform, equality and protecting our environment.

I stand for fairness and for fighting to protect the rights of ordinary people.

I’m determined our Party backs a Britain that works with other countries across the world for peace and prosperity.

But we have to wake up and smell the coffee.

But, it is my love of our party that makes me recognise that we have to change.

We have to wake up and smell the coffee.

Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters.

Yes, we are powerful advocates locally.

Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results.

But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.

The truth is…

Voters don’t believe that the Liberal Democrats want to help ordinary people get on in life.

Voters don’t believe we share their values.

And voters don’t believe we are on the side of people like them.

Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening.

Nationally, voters have been sending us a message.

But we have not been listening. It is time for us to start listening.

As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now.


Whether you’re from the North, South, or somewhere in between

Whether you voted for Brexit or Remain, or just wanted the whole thing settled

Whether you voted Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, SNP or Plaid

My message for you is this:

I will travel up and down our country to meet you.

To hear about the things that matter most to you.

Your problems and fears, your hopes and dreams.

I will face up to uncomfortable truths. And I will make your concerns my own.

I will face up to uncomfortable truths.

And I will make your concerns my own.


Our country is going through one of the most extraordinary and difficult periods for generations.

The challenge of Covid will affect our country and the world for decades to come.

Millions of people are suffering.

As Leader of the Liberal Democrats, I want to reach out to help you and your community get through this.

Whether your concerns are your families’ health, your children’s education or your livelihood.

I want to understand the new future you want after all this – and help to deliver it.

My job from today is to rebuild the Liberal Democrats to national relevance

So my job from today is to rebuild the Liberal Democrats to national relevance so we can deliver this future for you, for your family and for the people who need it the most.

None of this is going to be easy.

None of this is going to be straightforward.

And none of it is going to be quick or simple to achieve.

But I want the Liberal Democrats to represent the whole country, not just some people, and to stand for fairness and opportunity for all.

That is my commitment to you as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The hard work starts today.

Reports to Conference

The booklet of party reports for our autumn conference has now been published. It has been an unprecedented year and your help in keeping the party going through those challenges is greatly appreciated.

These reports give you updates on everything from how conference is run to the latest on our policy-making process, the state of our finances, the working of our complaints system and the Federal Board’s work on your behalf.

As part of our program of improvements to how the party is run, the booklet includes reports from a wider range of party bodies than has been traditional. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to these reports and to expanding their range. It is a small, but I hope useful, step in improving our internal accountability and so giving more meaning to our internal democracy.

You don’t have to register for conference to read the booklet and please do pop me any questions at president@libdems.org.uk. But if you do register for conference (and I hope you will!), you’ll get the chance to take part in several report back sessions where you can hear the latest updates to several of the reports in the booklet, ask questions about them and vote on whether or not you are happy with them.

I hope to see as many of you as possible during our first virtual conference and look forward to hearing your views.