The Liberal Democrats are here for you.

This is an incredibly difficult time for people. Right across our country, coronavirus has caused enormous upheaval and uncertainty.

Too many have lost loved ones. Too many have lost their livelihoods.

In many ways this crisis has amplified pressures in our communities that have for too long been ignored. That must change.

But we have endured three deeply disappointing general elections, in five tough years. At the national level at least, too many people think we’re out of touch with what they want.

We can’t fix this with a catchy new slogan. Or by fighting the same battles, in the same way. The answer is to listen to what people are really telling us. And to change.

That’s why our new leader Ed Davey has been touring the country, meeting people and listening to their problems and fears, hopes and dreams.

We want to help people get on, and build a fairer, greener, more caring future.

That’s who we are. That is what we will be. And that is the future we will build.

If those are your values too,why not join us today?

Black History Month 2020

October is Black History Month – a time to celebrate the enormous contributions Black people have made to our country.

Black History Month – a time to celebrate the enormous contributions Black people have made to our country.

Their contributions have shaped our national identity and are evident in every field from literature, politics, science, business, music and arts.

Throughout this month, we remember icons from the trailblazing composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, to Margaret Busby – Britain’s youngest and first Black female book publisher.

We also celebrate those who helped establish our National Health Service, joined the war effort, marched for justice and worked tirelessly to build a better world for all of us.

Just a few months ago, the world watched in horror as George Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The violence inflicted on him and so many other Black people across America is abhorrent, and it is time everyone woke up to the multiple injustices Black people face – and not simply in America.

It is time everyone woke up to the multiple injustices Black people face – and not simply in America.

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the demand for justice, that Black lives matter, has reverberated around the world and a new generation of activists has arisen in the longstanding battle for racial justice.

We must support these movements and help them provoke reform, in America, in our own country and wherever racial injustice and racial discrimination raises its ugly head.

The shocking reality is, systemic discrimination is a lived reality for Black people; we see it in classrooms, in offices and throughout the criminal justice system.

For example, in the UK a Black person is 47 times more likely to be subject to Section 60 ‘Suspicionless’ Stop and Search than a white person. This is unacceptable. That’s why I have demanded that the government scrap that power once and for all.

It’s upon all of us to start doing the honest, hard, uncomfortable work of dismantling anti-Black racism.

The last few months have made it clear that there must no longer be anywhere to hide for racial injustice: the curtain must be finally being pulled down on systems complicit in the oppression and dehumanisation of Black people.

We can longer be content with the status quo, nor can we merely pay lip service to issues of racial injustice. It’s upon all of us to start doing the honest, hard, uncomfortable work of dismantling anti-Black racism.

As a party, we will continue to stand with Black communities and we will keep affirming the fundamental truth that Black lives matter.

Why the Liberal Democrats voted against the Coronavirus Act

The coronavirus crisis is taking an enormous toll on people up and down the country. This pandemic has caused huge upheaval and uncertainty for families and communities everywhere.

We all want life to get back to normal as soon as possible.

Liberal Democrats worked constructively with the Government to pass the Coronavirus Act back in March. We helped ensure vital emergency measures were in place, such as enabling the emergency registration of nurses and other healthcare workers, and allowing people to receive Statutory Sick Pay from day one.

The Coronavirus Act waters down the rights to care for elderly, disabled children and vulnerable people.

We have also supported, and continue to support, many of the restrictions the Government has introduced – including the lockdowns and face-covering requirements.

But in renewing the Coronavirus Act for six more months without any amendments, we have deep reservations about the serious implications for people’s wellbeing, rights and freedoms.

“The fact that this Act breaches our legal obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – that may not matter to Conservative members opposite. But it should.” @EdwardJDavey on why Lib Dems MPs voted against the Coronavirus Act. pic.twitter.com/0dImnAXwuQ

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 30, 2020

As it stands, the Coronavirus Act waters down the rights to care for elderly, disabled children and vulnerable people. It’s unacceptable that on top of all the other hardships of lockdown, families could have the lifeline of caring support cut off completely.

We must protect the most vulnerable people in our society.

This Act also reduces safeguards for detention under the Mental Health Act, and in duties to provide support to children with special educational needs and disability.

On top of this, the sweeping powers in the Coronavirus Act also provide extra powers for police & immigration officers to detain people. The confusion among police and prosecutors has caused 141 people to be wrongfully charged.

We must protect the most vulnerable people in our society. Without any meaningful concessions from the government to keep them safe, Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the Coronavirus Act.

Hong Kong’s Future

My late friend Paddy Ashdown saw this coming.

When Hong Kong was handed over to China, he campaigned to give Hong Kongers the right to live in the UK should China ever renege on the promises made and enshrined in the Joint Declaration.

It’s up to us to protect the people of Hong Kong and their human rights.

Last year the National Security Law sparked major protests in Hong Kong. The protesters, fighting for their rights, were met with police violence and government crackdowns.

The people of Hong Kong are no longer protected by the ‘one country, two systems’ framework. Beijing has overstepped and encroached on the region’s freedoms. It’s up to us to protect them and their human rights.

The UK Government has recognised that this new law is a violation of the joint declaration between China and the UK. They have pledged that British National (Overseas) status holders and their dependents will be eligible to live and work in the UK for 5 years, and seek citizenship after a further year.

As Paddy showed during the Handover, liberals must fight to protect the people of Hong Kong

But that doesn’t go far enough. The BNO status scheme closed in 1997, and status cannot be inherited. That means many young Hong Kongers are being excluded from this scheme – many of them the same young protesters who have taken to the streets to fight for their rights.

This isn’t good enough. Not only have the Government excluded many Hong Kongers, but they haven’t done enough to ensure accountability when it comes to the Chinese government or Hong Kong police forces.

As Paddy showed during the Handover, liberals must fight to protect the people of Hong Kong. Policy passed at Liberal Democrat Conference calls on the UK government to uphold the promises we made to the people of Hong Kong and:

  • Expand proposals so all Hong Kongers are given right of abode and a pathway to citizenship
  • Develop an international ‘lifeboat’ system if the situation in Hong Kong deteriorates
  • Secure a transparent, independent investigation into the protests, including into police violence
  • Call for the appointment of a UN special envoy or rapporteur on Hong Kong
  • Work with other countries to encourage Beijing to retract the new security law
  • Enact Magnitsky legislation and hold Hong Kong and Chinese officials to account for any gross breaches of human rights

The stakes could not be higher – the UK Government must act now. It is our duty to protect and support the rights of the people of Hong Kong. We can’t set that duty aside when Hong Kong needs us most.

Ed Davey’s speech to Liberal Democrat conference

In his first keynote conference speech as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey shared his vision on rebuilding the Party and how he plans to fight for a greener, fairer country as we move forward through the coronavirus pandemic.

On the government’s failures over COVID-19

Opening his speech with the challenges facing our country right now, Ed slammed the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying:

“Given the enormity of the threat to our country, it’s with deep regret and sadness that I must say: this Government and this Prime Minister have just not risen to this challenge. With unbelievable incompetence, this Conservative Government is failing our people, in one of our darkest hours.”

This Government and this Prime Minister have just not risen to this challenge

On the British people’s resilience

While the government’s handling of coronavirus has been incompetent, Ed praised the public in how they’ve dealt with these uncertain times. He said:

“Coronavirus is causing enormous hardship and forcing all of us to make big changes. But it’s also showing the best of the British people. People’s resilience, kindness and hard work make me absolutely sure we can get through this.”

On fighting for carers

Ed opened up about his personal experiences as a carer; for his mother, his grandmother, and now his son. Reflecting on how care homes have been left unprotected throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he told Conference:

“So let me say this, to all of you who need care. To all of you who are carers. To the parents of disabled children. To the thousands of young people, caring for your mum or your dad. I understand what you’re going through.

“And I promise you this: I will be your voice. I will be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country. It’s you I’m fighting for.”

I will be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country

On the post-COVID economy

After Conference passed a motion that set out a list of proposals to get our country on the right course for a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Ed echoed the importance of building back better as we move forward. He said:

“Liberal Democrats: we must also lead the way to a new economy. One that’s fairer. And greener. An economy offering real hope and opportunity for everyone.”

On the 2021 elections

Ed stressed the importance of getting more Lib Dems elected throughout the UK next year, with a strong focus on ensuring our family of nations stays united, saying:

“Next May, we must get more Liberal Democrats elected to councils across England, to the Assembly in London, to the Senedd in Wales and – crucially – to Parliament in Scotland. Elections often determine the future of our country, but these Scottish elections could well determine if our country has a future.

“Once again, the forces of nationalism threaten to tear our family of nations apart. So it is imperative that we get brilliant Liberal Democrat MSPs elected to Holyrood in May…To reject more division and instead put forward a positive partnership. To work for Scotland and work for a better United Kingdom.”

Once again, the forces of nationalism threaten to tear our family of nations apart.

On taking the Liberal Democrats forward

In order for Lib Dems to start winning again, Ed explained that the party must start listening to more voices and show that the party represents the whole country, not just some people. He told Conference:

“We have endured three deeply disappointing general elections, in five tough years. At the national level at least, too many people think we’re out of touch with what they want. We can’t fix this with a catchy new slogan. Or by fighting the same battles, in the same way.

“The answer is to listen to what people are really telling us. And to change. We know that people want a better future for themselves and their families. So let’s show them that the Liberal Democrats can build that better future.”

What you may have missed from Day 3 of Autumn Conference

We’re in the final stretch of the 2020 Autumn Conference with Day 4 now underway. But yesterday saw the biggest day yet with four policy motion debates, an emergency motion on planning and a speech from Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems Willie Rennie.

Here’s what you might have missed on Day 3, as well as what’s coming up today, the last day of Autumn Conference.

Motion on the UK and Europe is passed

Liberal Democrats will always be a pro-European party. Today, conference called for the Government to protect the UK in its Brexit negotiations #LDconf

Read more about the motion just passed by conference 👇https://t.co/4o2Y2YQwBR

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 27, 2020

The Liberal Democrats fought long and hard to Stop Brexit.

And our values have not changed. At every step of the Brexit process, we have been clear and outspoken in our position that Britain is better off within the EU.

However, we have now left the EU – and our country is facing the chaos of a pandemic that is getting out of control once again. Our job today is to stop the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.

Liberal Democrat conference called for the Government to protect the people of the UK in its Brexit negotiations. They must put country before Party or Leave alliances, and work for the best Brexit deal for Britain. Read the motion in full here.

Motion on racial justice is passed

All too often, we see racism and anti-blackness as a problem specific to America. But here in the UK, many people’s lives are blighted by discrimination and inequality.

With this motion, the Liberal Democrats have reaffirmed our commitment to combating racism – conscious or unconscious, individual or institutional – wherever we find it, including within our own party. Read the motion in full here.

Willie Rennie sets out a ‘third way’ for Scottish politics

In his speech to conference, the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats looked to the Holyrood elections in May, laying out our party as an alternative to Britain under Boris Johnson or independence under the nationalists.

He also called on Scottish voters to use next year’s election to take a stand against the SNP’s independence campaign.

Watch his speech in full here.

Motion for a green recovery from coronavirus passes

The climate emergency is one of the biggest issues facing the UK and the world, but our Government is failing to face up to it.

The case for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is clear. It would create more British jobs, allow our economy to bounce back, and protect our planet for generations to come.

This motion sets out a list of proposals to get our country on the right course. Our government must act now – before it’s too late. Read the motion in full here.

A green recovery from coronavirus would:

👨‍💼create more British jobs

💷 help our economy to bounce back

🌍protect our planet for generations to come.

This motion sets out a list of proposals to get our country on the right course. https://t.co/clAXfovBJU#LDconf

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 27, 2020

Motion to save the BBC passes

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the value of the BBC into sharp focus. Not only have we been able to rely on the BBC’s news and documentary programmes to dispel pseudoscience and rumour about the virus, the BBC quickly adapted its content to help us all through lockdown.

As champions of the UK’s democracy, creative industries, and cultural identities, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to protect the BBC from the Conservatives’ reckless right-wing agenda. Read the motion in full here.

What’s coming up today…

The policy motions up for debate today are:

There will also be an emergency motion on defending the rule of law, a consultative session on The World After Coronavirus and Ed Davey’s first conference speech as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

To find out the times for these sessions, head to the Autumn Conference agenda.

The UK and Europe

The Liberal Democrats fought long and hard to Stop Brexit.

And our values have not changed. At every step of the Brexit process, we have been clear and outspoken in our position that Britain is better off within the EU. We will always stand firm in our pro-European, internationalist values because we know, we are so much better off together than we will ever be alone.

It is our duty to work across the divides of Leave and Remain, to protect the influence, reputation, safety and security of our country

However, we have now left the EU – and our country is facing the chaos of a pandemic that is getting out of control once again. Our job today is to stop the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.

Today, Liberal Democrat conference called for the Government to protect the people of the UK in its Brexit negotiations. They must put country before Party or Leave alliances, and work for the best Brexit deal for Britain.

The Government must honour the commitments it made in the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. No ifs, no buts, no “very limited and specific” excuses. The Conservatives must abide by international law.

No matter whether you were Leave or Remain, or didn’t feel strongly either way, peace in Northern Ireland and the erosion of the world’s trust in the UK are prices too high to pay for any political project.

The rights of UK citizens in the EU, and vice versa, must be protected, and where possible enhanced. The lives of Brits living on the continent and Europeans living here in the UK must not be used as pawns for international political leaders.

As the numbers in Parliament stand, we cannot stop Brexit.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Charter of Fundamental Rights must be respected for all UK citizens. We cannot let the Conservatives take this opportunity to roll back the rights that British people have enjoyed for decades.

And for the sake of UK businesses, our economy, our food and medicine supplies, and so much more – we must maintain the closest possible alignment with the EU towards the customs union, single market and freedom of movement.

As the numbers in Parliament stand, we cannot stop Brexit. What we can do is work to minimise the damage of the country’s exit from the EU to ensure the best deal for the British people, and support the longer term objective of UK membership of the EU

It is our duty to work across the divides of Leave and Remain, to protect the influence, reputation, safety and security of our country, and the livelihoods of British people. Now is not the time to pick sides. It is time to come together and work for the good of our country.

The UK and Europe

Willie Rennie’s Speech to Autumn Conference

Willie Rennie’s Speech to Autumn Conference

In his speech to conference, the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats looked to the Holyrood elections in May, laying out our party as an alternative to Britain under Boris Johnson or independence under the nationalists.

By Liberal Democrats, Sep 27, 2020 5:09

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An opportunity to rebuild for people and the planet

The climate emergency is one of the biggest issues facing the UK and the world, but our Government is failing to face up to it.

Social distancing, face coverings, and ‘bubbles’ may be our new normal – but climate change doesn’t have to be

While coronavirus rightly dominated the headlines, the Government has let what little it was doing to protect the planet slip. Even when the country came to a near standstill during lockdown, our emissions only fell by between 4-7%. It’s clear we need to be much more ambitious if we’re going to really tackle the climate crisis.

Social distancing, face coverings, and ‘bubbles’ may be our new normal – but climate change doesn’t have to be. As we navigate a safe economic recovery from coronavirus, we have an opportunity to rebuild for people and for the planet.

The case for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is clear

Liberal Democrat Conference has agreed on a comprehensive set of proposals to set our country on the right course. We’ve reaffirmed our 2019 manifesto pledges, including a 75% cut in emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045, and we’re calling on the government to:

  • Set out comprehensive plans for a green COVID recovery
  • Work to reskill those who have lost their jobs to work on environmentally friendly infrastructure projects
  • Ensure support packages for business include, where possible, legally binding commitments to reduce emissions
  • Work with the EU and other international partners to tackle climate emergency
  • Ensure the delayed COP26 climate conference sees countries adopting much more ambitious emission targets than in their initial national plans

You can view the whole motion here:

A Green Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic

The case for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is clear. It would create more British jobs, allow our economy to bounce back, and protect our planet for generations to come.

Our Government must act now – before it’s too late.