Winning in Hull

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

In Hull last May we confounded expectations and swelled our councillor numbers on the Guildhall benches from 17 to 24 – winning seats off Labour heavy-weights right across our City.

Forlorn looking faces of Labour councillors and candidates stood looking shell-shocked around the count tables as ballot papers tipped out of the boxes – their Council majority has been slashed to just five. They could not comprehend what had happened.

It was an incredible night.

But it was an incredible night not just for us as a party, but most importantly of all, an incredible night for the communities we fight for and represent.

Up and down the country Liberal Democrats are making a difference every day in their cities, towns and villages. They are making a difference for each and every resident.

Here in Hull, I am so proud of what our councillors and campaigners do day in and day out to help people. From the small issues and quick fixes right through to the complex, enormous decisions that have an impact across our city, I know that every one of our team will do what is right for the people they serve.

And, over 15 years as a councillor in a northern city, I can say with confidence that this is an approach unique to the Liberal Democrats. It is an approach which puts residents and communities at the forefront of what we do rather than tribal politics.

This May, here in Hull, we have another huge opportunity to win again and we’re determined to make it happen.

On weekday evenings and at the weekends we have teams of campaigners out on the streets, talking with residents, finding out their issues and concerns, talking to them about how the Liberal Democrats are demanding better for our city. But we can’t do this on our own as just 24 councillors. We rely on our local members and activists coming out and campaigning with us.

I know that without the incredible 60-strong volunteer team in my ward, I couldn’t do what I do. I also know that your Liberal Democrat councillors and candidates will need you this April and May so that they can fight for their communities.

So, if you’re not yet helping out in your local election campaign – go along and get involved and help fight for your local communities. And if you don’t have local elections this May have a look at where is holding events on the local election National weekend of action in Februaryand go and get involved and help a Liberal Democrat team make a difference in their area.

… and if you fancy a trip to Hull, just let me know, we always welcome new volunteers!

The Leader – vol 3

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Brexit latest

Westminster is in a strange state of lassitude. We know there is a massive Brexit storm ahead; but nothing much is happening. Theresa May’s statement to the Commons yesterday was largely an exercise in repetition, including the ludicrous assertion that we might ‘accidentally’ leave the European Union without a deal.

Corbyn seems comfortable with Brexit, but a Brexit without his fingerprints on it.

In truth, the Government is ‘counting down the clock’ to March 29th in the hope that everyone will jump into line, behind the May deal, when no alternative is in prospect. Jeremy Corbyn seems comfortable with this outcome: Brexit, but one which doesn’t have his fingerprints on it.

I took advantage of inactivity in Westminster to pay a visit to the Lake District: Tim Farron’s constituency. He arranged for me to meet the local Chamber of Commerce which turned out in force. I was prepared to walk carefully on eggshells in a divided community and expected Brexit fatigue. I needn’t have worried; business was engaged, worried and angry at the Government and urging me to be (even) more militantly Remain!

At the weekend, I was committed to speak at a People’s Vote rally and march at the other end of the country in Winchester. Any worries about flagging enthusiasm were misplaced – turn out and commitment exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic of the organisers.

I think the Westminster bubble may be missing something here. As Brexit approaches, out in the country people are swinging behind Remain and demands for a referendum. Polls reinforce anecdote.

This time, Lib Dems find themselves on the right side of public opinion. Having spent the best part of nine years battling against political headwinds we are beginning to feel the wind behind us.

In other news

I am trying to build up a political conversation around subjects other than Brexit. I managed to obtain a long debate in Westminster Hall about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and the funding problems it presents for local councils.

The dilemmas are acute. There is a rapidly rising demand for special teaching provision for conditions like autism and ADHD as well as physical handicaps from parents who, quite rightly, want the best for their children and are entitled in law to demand it.

But the level of government grant funding is growing more slowly than the demand – so councils are being put in the invidious position of rationing SEND provision (which usually means parents having to go to tribunals which are expensive and exhausting) or raiding ordinary school budgets or piling up bigger and bigger deficits.

There is no end to austerity – just a continuing battle over demand for services and too little money to deliver them

My own local council in Liberal Democrat controlled Richmond faces a financial crisis over SEND provision. In many ways this issue illustrates the uncomfortable truths behind the Government’s proclaimed ‘end of austerity’. There is nothing of the kind; just a continuing battle over too much demand for services we all agree are needed and too little money to deliver them.

And finally

This week I am reading Simon Sebag Montefiore’s ‘Letters that Changed the World’: over 100 personal letters from the writings of Ancient Egyptian pharaohs and Roman emperors to Mandela, Stalin, Churchill and Trump. Some – like the love letters of Napoleon, Catherine the Great and James I – are remarkable.

My other excitement has come from dancing.

I have managed, somehow, to keep up my weekly lesson with the hope that, by the summer, I may be ready for a ballroom competition in Blackpool. And I am getting thoroughly hooked on the new BBC series ‘The Greatest Dancer’. The judges’ comments are often inane. Everything is ‘amazing’ – they need a Craig Revel Horwood – but some of the dancing is spectacularly good. I fancy the chances of the 14-year-old Scottish solo dancer, Ellie.

The government needs to act on female genital mutilation

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Last week a Private Members’ Bill aimed at protecting young girls from female genital mutilation was brought to the Commons.

The bill would clear up a loophole in the law. Currently, female genital mutilation doesn’t count as one of the conditions for a temporary care order to be issued. This means it’s harder to get at-risk girls away from families looking to mutilate their own children.

Remember Christopher Chope? He objected to the ‘upskirting’ bill I brought to Parliament last year and he objected to this one too.

Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chode

He claims he objected because he doesn’t agree with private members’ bills on principle. He wants to see all legislation given “proper scrutiny”.

But did he object to his friend Peter Bone’s two bills brought up in the same session? Of course not.

His excuses are just that – excuses. They suit the government because they don’t want other parties getting credit for introducing progressive and popular legislation. Even though they’re are so blinkered by Brexit that they aren’t responding to any of the other urgent issues facing the UK.

Female genital mutilation is a horrific crime that affects thousands of girls up and down the UK. Liberal Democrats demand better than dinosaur Conservatives who refuse them the protection they need. That’s why I tabled an Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities yesterday.

My urgent question yesterday on #FGM. Government are taking the bill in to their own time, like they did with my #upskirting bill which becomes law today! Shame it takes a media storm for them to act in a progressive manner. Politics shouldn’t be like this.

— Wera Hobhouse MP (@Wera_Hobhouse) February 12, 2019

If the Government tables legislation during normal parliamentary time Chope can’t shout it down. I’m urging them to do that. The protection of women and girls across the UK is so much more important than the ancient views of a dinosaur Tory MP.

Two big wins 🙌🎉🎉🎉

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Tomorrow sees two parliamentary bills become law.

Two bills that the Liberal Democrats have been fighting on, to improve the lives of those living in Britain.


Back in June last year, my Private Members’ Bill making upskirting a specific criminal offence was kicked out of Parliament by a Tory dinosaur – for no good reason. But we didn’t give up.

We kept the pressure on the Government and forced them to bring back my Bill.

I’m pleased to say the bill has progressed all the way through Parliament, and today it becomes law.

It gives people who wear skirts the strong legal protections they deserve.

It gives people who wear skirts the strong legal protections they deserve.

It’s a victory for women across the country, and a victory for progressive, forward-looking politics.

Tenancy Fees

For too long, landlords have been able to impose huge unfair charges on renters with little government oversight.

Three years ago, my colleague Olly Grender introduced a bill to the House of Lords on renters’ rights, to ban letting agents from charging excessive admin fees and protect tenants from rogue landlords.

This bill was left unfinished when the snap election was held in 2017, but we have continued to fight for renters’ rights.

The bill gives giving a fairer deal in the private rental sector and protecting them from unaffordable deposits and extortionate fees.

Our campaign led the Government to introduce a new Tenant Fees Bill last year, and we won a number of important amendments to prevent renters being charged unfair fees, cap tenancy deposits at five weeks’ rent and requiring more transparency when the deposit isn’t returned.

Tomorrow that Bill becomes law, giving renters a fairer deal in the private rental sector and protecting them from unaffordable deposits and extortionate fees.

Our members make our policies and they fuel our campaigns. I want to say thank you to all of them for coming together and securing these successes.

Want to be part of demanding better from Britain?

Click the big yellow button ⬇️

Another Corbyn Brexit Betrayal

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Despite telling Labour conference he would pursue a People’s Vote if he could not secure a General Election, Jeremy Corbyn is now offering support for Theresa May’s Brexit.

His support is coming at the cost of people’s jobs, our NHS and the environment – he’s just missing in action. We’ve had enough.

Jeremy Corbyn’s letter setting out Labour’s demands for supporting a Brexit deal is a further betrayal of many who voted Labour and all of those who voted remain.

What happened to listening to his party members? They made their voices heard at conference, while Corbyn keeps his fingers in his ears.

Jeremy Corbyn had the opportunity to do what was right and reverse this national embarrassment. He should be calling for a People’s Vote – it’s what the Lib Dems have been demanding for over two years.

Labour are feeling the pressure in the polls as he fails to stand up for party members, 70% of whom would support a people’s vote as well as the many voters who believed that Labour would act as an opposition party to Theresa May’s disastrous deal.

And last week footage has emerged from 2009 of the Labour Leader making the case against the EU:

Corbyn’s weak opposition to Brexit has helped Theresa May get this far. Demand the final say on Brexit and the option to stay in the EU >

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) 8 February 2019

Time and again we have seen that Corbyn’s heart isn’t in this fight, so he’s chosen to let the Tories off the hook again. He’s badly letting down the people who supported him.

We’re ready to welcome Labour members who rightly feel betrayed.

The polls are clear – a majority of the British people want a People’s Vote. It’s time Corbyn backed the manywho want to have the final say on Brexit, instead of the few who are happy to see our futures put at risk.

200,000 people have signed the Liberal Democrats’ petition calling for an exit from Brexit – will you join them?

Children’s Mental Health Week

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

When the Liberal Democrats were in Government, I had the privilege of being Minister of State for Care and Support at the Department of Health. As Health Minister I worked to ensure that mental health was treated with the same priority as physical health, introducing the first ever access and waiting time standards for mental health. We also secured more money for children and young people’s mental health services.

Almost half of all LGBT+ pupils still face bullying at school for being lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender. Half have self-harmed.

But for me one of the things I am most proud of from my time in Government, and which I believe had a huge impact on people’s mental health, was voting for same-sex marriage.

This week is children’s mental health week and there have been a lot of positive conversations about the high numbers of young people suffering with mental health conditions and how society supports them. With 50% of mental health problems starting by the age of 14 and 75% by age 18, providing the right support at the right time is vital for ensuring people receive the right care.

But this week is not only children’s mental health week, it is also the first week of LGBT+ history month. LGBT+ history months looks back at the journey LGBT+ people have taken in the fight against prejudice, discrimination and violence. For everything that has been achieved for LGBT+ equality, it is vital that we keep moving forward and fighting for more – not just for equality, but for the future of people’s mental health.

Almost half of all LGBT+ pupils still face bullying at school for being lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender. It is therefore heart-breaking yet unsurprising to hear that of 14-year-olds who are gay lesbian or bisexual, half have self-harmed.

Eating disorders, like self-harm, disproportionately affects younger people. And again like self-harm, LGBT+ young people are much more likely than their peers to develop an eating disorder.

We have made strides in recent years both in mental health and in reducing societal prejudice towards LGBT+ people. But more needs to be done. Yes it is good that seven in ten LGBT+ young people now report that their school says that homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong – but that means there are still three in ten LGBT+ young people whose schools do not. And yes 60% of LGBT+ pupils say they have now been taught about LGBT+ issues at school – but that also means 40% have not.

On #TimeToTalkDay it’s so important we encourage everyone to talk openly about their mental health and be willing to have conversations with friends and loved ones we are concerned about. Only then will we end the stigma attached to mental ill health.

— Norman Lamb (@normanlamb) February 7, 2019

The same-sex marriage act was a hugely significant step for equal rights with positive mental health reverberations. But the Liberal Democrats want to do more; we will continue to demand better for our children and young people.

That is why we would not only invest more than any other party in mental health, but we would also ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support.

We would train counsellors and those in mental health provision in LGBT+ awareness so that when our LGBT+ young people turn for help, those providing the help will understand the impact their words and actions can have, and the impact bullying based on sexuality and gender can have on a person.

The Liberal Democrats would also ensure that schools not only provide teaching in relationships and sex education, but that that teaching covers LGBT+ relationships, gender stereotypes and sexuality.

Vince Cable announces changes to top team

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

I am pleased to announce today our new spokespeople who will speak out on the most important issues we face in Britain today.

While Parliament is consumed by Brexit, we need to remember that people are also affected by a whole host of other challenges.

We will continue to speak up for them as we continue our fight for the public to have a say on the Brexit deal with a People’s Vote.

Former leader Tim Farron will be taking over the Communities and Local Government spokesperson role, with Bath MP Wera Hobhouse moving to cover Environment and Climate Change.

Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine will now cover issues relating to Work and Pensions, with Jamie Stone taking on the Scotland brief. Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael will speak on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

You can see the full list of spokespeople here:

Liberal Democrat Spokespeople

Securing a people’s vote

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

As the battle over Brexit in Parliament reaches its final stages, many people are asking me, “what has happened to the People’s Vote”?

Behind the political manoeuvring and procedural wrangles at Westminster, there is still everything to play for. The People’s Vote is alive and well.

The next step to securing it is to narrow the options, by removing a massively disruptive ‘no deal’ from the table.

To be clear, allowing ‘No Deal’ to happen is a choice by the government. It cannot happen ‘accidentally’. But Theresa May seems determined to run the clock down and try to con people that the only alternatives are her deal or the EU without one.

So Liberal Democrats are working across the parties to on a co-operative basis to stop ‘No Deal’.

With no deal off the table, Parliament and the country will then have a clear choice between Theresa May’s deal, which MPs have already overwhelmingly rejected, or the deal we already have as a member of the EU. At that point a People’s Vote – to give the public the say on those two options – will be the most logical way forward.

While these parliamentary manoeuvres are taking place, we must keep up public pressure on MPs – and Jeremy Corbyn in particular – to support a People’s Vote.

There is now a huge movement of people who are demanding better than Brexit Britain has to offer, and Liberal Democrats are leading from the front.

Eradicating FGM

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Back in 2013 when I was a DFID minister, together with campaigners like Nimco Ali and Efua Dorkeeno, we kicked off the original government campaign on FGM. We succeeded in securing the biggest ever spending commitment in the world of £35 million to work towards eradicating FGM worldwide.

I am delighted to let you know that legacy has continued.

The current Secretary of State for the Department of International Development recently announced that an extra £50 million will go towards eradicating FGM worldwide.

On this occasion, I am delighted to be overtaken.

In the last week, we also saw the first conviction of FGM in the UK, paving the way for further convictions.

I was clear then and I am clear now – female genital mutilation is child abuse, and now it is beyond all doubt that it is against the law in the UK.

We will continue to shine a light on this issue and make sure that future generations of girls do not suffer.

Join the nature of public debate working group!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

We are currently seeking applicants for a new policy working group on the Nature of Public Debate.

The Federal Policy Committee is setting up a new working group to develop new Liberal Democrat Policy on the Nature of Public Debate.

The working group will look into the developing challenges to high-quality public debate, including:

  • The role of facts and truth in public debate, and how promoting their central importance can be balanced with freedom of speech.
  • How “balance” should be understood in public service broadcasting.
  • The manipulation of news and information as a tool of state warfare.
  • Tackling extremely hostile online behaviour
  • The role and regulation of social media companies
  • The viability and future of traditional journalism (local and national)

As a member of the working group you will contribute to regular meetings (usually 10-12 meetings over the course of a year) and online discussions among the group, take evidence from experts, and help produce the final policy paper.

The role is voluntary. Unfortunately we cannot cover expenses for attending meetings, but you can join meetings by video.

The working group is likely to start meeting in March, will produce a consultation paper for Autumn Conference 2019 and produce a policy paper for Spring Conference 2020.

The deadline for applications is 1pm Tuesday 29 January.

Please apply using the link below.