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Conference - Monday Highlights

by Liberal Democrats on Mon, 17 Sep 2018

Gina Miller's Speech

Gina Miller delivered an impassioned speech on the need to continue with a unified fight against Brexit.

Let’s be clear, in the debate we had in 2016 about Europe, there was scant idealism. Lies were told.

Miller called on people to put the national interest ahead of political divisions:

"Even though I am now politically independent, I am here to cheer you on, and to walk side by side with you all as Liberal Democrats seeking to stop the decay in our democracy, to stop the politics of division, to unite rather than to divide, to offer hope and to recognise that we must defend liberal values founded on equality of opportunity, tolerance, respect and humanity.
Above all things, humanity."

The Liberal Democrats are proud to have fought Brexit since the referendum, and we will continue to fight for an exit from Brexit.

Jane Dodds' Speech

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds took to the stage today.

We demand a Wales free from discrimination and bigotry.

Dodds took aim at divisive identity politics running rife across Wales:

"Too much of our politics attempts to divide our identities, as if having more than one identity is a betrayal of all of them."

More broadly, the Welsh Lib Dem Leader called for new reforms across the NHS, and developing a new green economy in the UK.

"There is huge potential to build an innovative green economy that provides clean, affordable and reliable energy for generations to come. However, the UK Government neglected this fact yet again and cancelled the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project."


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Conference - Sunday Highlights

by Liberal Democrats on Sun, 16 Sep 2018

Jo Swinson's Speech

In her keynote speech Jo Swinson declared that the Liberal Democrats are the only party who will put people at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

When society demanded better, it was liberals who delivered. The Fourth Industrial Revolution gives us the same opportunity, and Conference - we must deliver again.

The Deputy Leader explored how the fundamental basis of the social contract has been broken in the U.K. People are struggling to make ends meet while the rich and powerful play by a different set of rules.

On the topic of Brexit, she had a clear message for Jeremy Corbyn: "grow a backbone, stand up for the millions of people who voted for you and help us stop Brexit."

As for the SNP, the MP from East Dunbartonshire had this to say "The reality is that Scottish nationalists have a one-track mind. While the country edges closer to the precipice, they’re manoeuvring to turn Brexit into the breakup of the UK."

But there is hope. Swinson explained how the revolutionary technological impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution could be harnessed with true liberal leadership. 

Sal Brinton's Speech

The President of the Liberal Democrats addressed Conference with a rallying cry to keep fighting Brexit:

"A year ago at Conference in Bournemouth I urged you to hold firm for our demand for a vote on the final Brexit deal, and that as a party we would still fight for our place in the EU because we knew - and still know - that it is best for Britain, and also best for the European Union."

Looking ahead, the President asked members to think to local elections next year and to retain an open mind towards Vince Cable's party reform proposals, building off the amazing local election results from earlier this year.

Check out Sal Brinton speaking on Brexit here:

Vince Cable Q&A

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats took questions from members this afternoon in the main auditorium. The topics were wide-ranging, but one interesting question cropped up - are the Liberal Democrats being too nice?

Find out below:

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Conference - Saturday Highlights

by Liberal Democrats on Sat, 15 Sep 2018

Tom Brake's Speech

The Liberal Democrat (anti-Brexit) Spokesperson set out a vision for the UK staying in the EU with a real Brexit dividend of getting out of this madness. He also had a few words for some of the individuals responsible for this continued mess:

On Boris Johnson:

"If that is our PM’s vision of No Deal Brexit Britain, what is the Brexit Britain vision of the man widely tipped to be the future leader of the Tory party, Boris - punishment-beatings, Road to Mandalay, prosecco - Johnson?

We don’t know. Because he is a man of many words, but no Brexit plan.  All mouth and no trousers.  A charlatan who spent more time currying favour with Steve Bannon and sucking up to Donald Trump than he did reading his Ministerial briefs."

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"Are you leader or a mouse? Can you give a clear statement on where Labour stands on Brexit or, as with your position on anti-antisemitism, do you need a 500 word addendum to qualify it?"

On Jacob Rees-Mogg

"His Brexit vision of borders and security checks chimes with his social vision taking Britain back to the 1920s."

On where we go from here

Tom brake ended his speech with a call to arms for those unsatisfied with the current political status quo:


Layla Moran's Speech

We must scrap Ofsted. Where a school is struggling, an inspection system should support that school to improve, not punish it. 

The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education gave an impassioned speech on ending cuts to crucial youth services, pledging more money for special needs education and ending the toxic "exam culture" that damages both teachers and students.

Layla Moran called for a forward thinking education policy - declaring that "whatever their background, we demand better for every single child."

The MP for Oxford West and Abingdon also attacked Government plans to expand grammar schools, despite them failing to improve social mobility. "What a waste of money."


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Lib Dems stand up for civil liberties

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 12 Sep 2018

The Liberal Democrats are opposing Government proposals to:

  • criminalise “reckless” speech,
  • make it a crime just to travel to certain places,
  • criminalise what you read on the internet,
  • give police more power to hold innocent people’s DNA, and
  • allow officers to detain people at airports without suspicion.
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Giving Everyone a Stake

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 12 Sep 2018

The party expects these reforms to raise an additional £15 billion per year, though this is likely to grow as the rate of wealth passed down increases in the coming years.
Liberal Democrat members will debate and vote on the proposals at the party’s Autumn Conference in Brighton next week. 

Proposals include:

  • Overhauling inheritance tax – taxing recipients progressively on all large gifts received at the same rates as income from employment, above a generous tax-free lifetime allowance, instead of the current system of levying tax on the value of an estate left behind
  • Taxing capital gains and dividends – equalising the tax treatment of wealth and work by taxing capital gains and dividends through the income tax system
  • Reforming pension tax relief – introducing a flat rate of relief on pension contributions, thus rebalancing relief towards lower earners; and limiting the tax-free lump sum the wealthiest can withdraw from their pension pots
  • Lifelong learning and a “Citizens Wealth Fund” – using the revenues from wealth taxation to invest in public services, fund an ambitious programme of lifelong learning to prepare workers for the future economy, and establish an independent Citizens Wealth Fund to invest on behalf of the country

Download the full proposal here.

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Upskirting to be made a sexual offense

by Wera Hobhouse on Fri, 07 Sep 2018

Over a year ago, I started work on making ‘upskirting’, the practice of photographs up a person’s skirt without their consent, a specific criminal offence.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Party Reforms

by Greg Foster on Fri, 07 Sep 2018


What are the proposed reforms?
The introduction of a supporters’ scheme. This is expected to be free of charge and supporters will have the right to vote in leadership elections.

Dropping the requirement for people to have been a member for a certain length of time before they can stand for selection. At present, members must be a fully paid-up party member for 12 consecutive months in England & Wales and nine consecutive months in Scotland before they can be assessed for approval to be Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. Removing the restriction of the party leader having to be an MP. All members and registered supporters would be able to choose from a wider pool of candidates.
This is arguably the most crucial point in British politics for more than 70 years. Why are we doing this now?
By engaging our supporters and growing our base, we strengthen our voice against Brexit. These proposals signal our openness to new people and will bring extra energy at a time of national crisis, reinforcing our efforts.

There is also political realignment, with the emergence of broad campaign groups involving many or all parties, such as the People’s Vote and More United. Numerous parties have been labelled as ‘centrist’, ‘moderate’ or even ‘liberal’. We need to be at the heart of that political realignment and show that the Liberal Democrats are the natural party for people fed-up of the extremes of British politics. The Liberal Democrats are changing British politics. We’re opening up our party to new supporters and listening to our members about how best to do it.
Why have you sprung this on the party?
These proposals flesh out the strategy passed at the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Southport this year. We passed a motion that promised to “create a political and social movement which encourages people to take and use power in their own lives and communities” and to create “a much larger base of long-term, loyal supporters”.
What data do you have to support this proposition?
A newly "open" Lib Dem party would be two to three times more popular than it is presently, according to research we commissioned from Data Sciences. The poll has a +/- 2% margin of error.
Is this just a poor man’s Momentum?
No. This is a much more comprehensive set of reforms that will provide a home for those millions who are uncomfortable with the polarisation of British politics.

Momentum is a movement of the far left. We are creating a movement for people from the centre who believe in a free, fair and open society and oppose extremism and nationalism.

We must not be afraid to try something new to attract moderate people who want a better politics.
Are these proposals set in stone?
No, this is a democratic party and the leader cannot impose his proposals on it. However, the leader has made a series of recommendations that he believes will open up the party and enthuse membership and supporters.

There will be a consultation session, led by Vince, at the annual conference in Brighton. There is a consultative fringe meeting at conference solely about the supporters scheme.

There is also a consultation of all members, which will be published on the Liberal Democrat website shortly after Friday’s speech. Its launches on 7th September and will closes on 14th October. When the consultation closes, Vince will ask the Federal Board to commission an all-member ballot. Final proposals will be subject to a vote at conference.


Why is a supporters’ scheme a good idea?
Anything that makes it easier for people from all backgrounds to get involved with the political process is good for democracy. By creating this free-to-join scheme, we bring together people in the liberal centre ground and build a movement that can become bigger than the Labour or Conservative parties.

We believe there are many people who do not like the idea of joining a party but would nevertheless be willing to signal their support for us, because they like what we stand for, particularly if they thereby gain a say over the election of the leader. Many local parties already have lists of people who help without being members.

Creating this category and giving them power over the leadership election strengthens the ties between them and the party and encourage further activism. It helps the party explain our message in greater detail to a larger number of people. It makes it easier for them to express their views to us, and thereby for us to gauge the mood of a larger proportion of the electorate.
Aren’t you at risk of entryism?
There’s a huge opportunity to get thousands of people to work with us. There is a risk, but as Vince says, you can’t open a window without letting in some flies. Given we don’t have any recent fights or extremes that threatened to split the party, it’s unlikely that we would have tens of thousands of people who would want to disrupt a Lib Dem leadership election. Plus, all any ‘entryist’ supporter would be able to do is vote between genuine Lib Dems as candidates. Members would continue to decide who will get on the ballot paper. We will be building in safeguards against entryism as part of the consultation process.
Aren’t you diluting the value of being a member?
Members would still have considerably greater powers than supporters: selection of council and parliamentary candidates; the opportunity to be a candidate; speaking and voting rights at conference and in any party ballot; voting rights over local party, state and federal committees.
It’s very easy to join the party, and you only need to pay as little as £12 a year. Are there really so many people out there who would become supporters but wouldn’t pay £12?
The experience of our sister party in Canada and our research shows that creating a free-of-charge supporter scheme vastly increases the number of people it attracts. Removing any obstacle – even as simple as removing the need to enter card details - makes such a scheme far more effective.

The barrier to joining an organisation is often psychological rather than financial.


Why remove minimum membership time to stand for election?
This would see the federal party catch-up with local government where there is no such requirement. Typically, members are at their most enthusiastic when they first join the party and we want to make sure that we don’t present any obstacles to their immediate progression. Plus, these time limits are completely arbitrary.
Wouldn’t this mean that we lack a proper assessment of the standards of candidates?
No, we already have a robust and lengthy approval process which would continue to make sure we have high calibre candidates. The choice of candidate also remains in the hands of party members – if they don’t like them, they don’t have to select them.
Again, isn’t this opening up the party to entryism?
No. Any such individuals would have to join the party, go through the same checks, and accept all the rules applicable to parliamentary candidates.
But why should we trust defectors from other parties who have spent their careers opposing us?
There are many members of both the Labour and Conservative parties who are deeply unhappy over their leaderships and the extreme nature of their parties, particularly over Brexit. They are often more aligned with our views and, if they can prove that, there is no reason why we should not welcome them.


Is this an admission of defeat, that with 12 MPs the party does not have enough talent in the House of Commons to form a leadership?
Vince has highly talented colleagues who would clearly make excellent leaders or have already previously fought impressive leadership campaigns. But there is nothing wrong with widening the pool for the party to choose from and it will also engender a lot of interest and excitement.
But is it an admission that you will either be wiped out or still have very few MPs after the next general election?
No, our recent record shows there is a steady recovery. We have a membership of around 100,000, have the most net gains and vote share increases in local government by-elections over the past year, gained four councils and 78 councillors at the local elections, and put 20% on our vote at the Lewisham east by-election.

But it is illiberal to block people from standing for the leadership just because they have not followed the unusual career choice of entering Parliament. There are also plenty of leaders across business society, be it charity, business or in the community and we must welcome that talent.

We’re opening the field to other great leaders who share our values.
If the leader is from outside the House of Commons, who would be the Prime Minister if the Liberal Democrats win the next general election?
We’re an ambitious party, but the reality is that this is a big step in building the party rather than forming an immediate government. It should also be remembered that when a general election is called there are no MPs. If we win enough seats to form the government, then a leader who was previously not an MP could become one of them.
Would anyone pay any attention to a leader not based in the Commons?
There are leaders who aren’t MPs who have nevertheless commanded significant media interest, including Nigel Farage and Ruth Davidson.
Does the leadership candidate need to be a member of the party?


Where did these reforms originate?
Our party strategy was passed in March and we have been talking to people inside and outside of the party about how to deliver this. We’ve met extensively with En Marche.

We have been working with Tom Pitfield and his firm, Data Sciences, on a number of projects, including modernisation of our operations, since the general election. Pitfield was formerly Justin Trudeau’s chief digital strategist and his firm has also worked with En Marche. Over the past year, our conversations with Pitfield and the analysis by his firm led us to develop ‘Project Ozark’.
What happened in Canada?
Thanks to the decision to create a new, free supporter category for leadership votes in 2012, the Liberal Party of Canada saw nearly 300,000 members and supporters join the party by the end of the subsequent leadership contest in April 2013.

This helped propel the party from third to first.
Wasn’t Canada all about Trudeau? You don’t have someone like that do you?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ to creating a movement. But we are learning the lessons from Canada, France and even the USA and working out how to make this fit to the UK model.

We don’t have anyone in mind. Also, Trudeau in fact emerged as an unfancied candidate from a field of nine, so it was not ‘all about’ him but a result of the reforms themselves.



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Vince Cable's speech: Building a Liberal Democrat Movement

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 07 Sep 2018

We returned this week from Parliament’s long summer recess.

I used the break to give some thought as to the role my party should be playing in the British political system.

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Letting fees to be left behind!

by Wera Hobhouse on Wed, 05 Sep 2018

In an interview with The Guardian, I set out our ambitious plan to fix the UK’s broken immigration system, end the Conservatives’ hostile environment and celebrate the positive impact immigration has had on the United Kingdom.

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Which Lib Dems have made the biggest difference to you?

by Liberal Democrats on Tue, 04 Sep 2018

Over the weekend, member Ruby Chow started a thread on Twitter asking Lib Dems who the top ten most important people in the party were to them.

What followed was a thread full of love for Lib Dems across the country who have encouraged, supported or inspired others.

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Taxing Land, Not Investment

by Liberal Democrats on Thu, 30 Aug 2018

The report – “Taxing Land, Not Investment” – calls for the abolition of business rates and its replacement with a tax on land values, the Commercial Landowner Levy (CLL). The levy would remove buildings and machinery from calculations and tax only the land value of commercial sites, boosting investment and cutting taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities.

This ground-breaking research was led by founder of the Lib Dem Business and Entrepreneurs Network (LDBEN) Andrew Dixon, in response to mounting concerns about the negative impact of business rates on struggling high streets and the wider economy.  

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Business rates should be abolished and replaced by a Commercial Landowner Levy based on the value of the land only
  • The levy should be paid by owners rather than tenants
  • Non-residential stamp duty should be scrapped to improve the efficiency of the commercial property market
  • Commercial land should be taxed regardless of whether the buildings above it are occupied; the tax should also apply to unused and derelict commercial land
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All set to knock on your first door?

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 24 Aug 2018

Our Exit from Brexit Summer Campaign is in full swing. Across the country, Liberal Democrats have been speaking to voters in their area about how disastrous Brexit is going to be.

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Call out Corbyn

by Christine Jardine on Thu, 23 Aug 2018

Yesterday, I sent you a video of Corbyn refusing to answer a question about whether we would be better off after Brexit five times.

Already this has been seen fifty thousand times on Facebook thanks to you all sharing it online – and with no sign of it slowing down.

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Sal Speaks: August 2018

by Sal Brinton on Wed, 15 Aug 2018

It may be mid-August but the bad news about Brexit is increasing by the day! Senior Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg continue to peddle their populist nonsense, against the facts: the pound dropping against the Euro; international organisations moving their EU HQ out of Britain; and even the Governor of the Bank of England confirming Brexit will not be good for the economy. Only Vince Cable and the Lib Dems remain totally committed to an Exit from Brexit, and giving the people a Final Say on the deal, with more regions that voted leave now changing their minds.

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Bigots are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats

by Vince Cable on Tue, 14 Aug 2018

The last ten days have seen major stories of racism in both of Britain's major parties.

What is happening in the Labour party - and Boris Johnson's comments this week - are frightening to many Jewish and Muslim people living in Britain.

This is a reflection of the way the politics of identity dominates politics today and attracts comments, sometimes critical or offensive, about particular groups.

I expressed this concern 2 decades ago in two pamphlets for the think tank, Demos. I would stress now, as then, that liberals view people as individuals, rather than through the prism of their race, religion or sexuality.

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The 2017 General Election Review

by Nick Harvey on Fri, 10 Aug 2018

After the 2015 election disaster, a comprehensive post-mortem led by James Gurling analysed what had gone wrong and made a huge number of detailed recommendations of what should be done differently next time.

However, the snap election of 2017, coming just two years later and out of left field, meant that we were still recovering from 2015 and had not had much chance to implement many of those changes.

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Why conscience led me to leave the Conservatives

by Kishan Devani on Fri, 10 Aug 2018

I say no - conscience comes before one's own ambitions and equality, tolerance & justice are far more important that one's own career path. The future of our great United Kingdom and our future generations is far more important than anything else in my view and worth fighting for every step of the way.

Politics surely should be about policies and not personal attacks - what a shame it hasn't remained that way? What I did not realise is that this was just the beginning of a long and rocky ride over the coming months where I saw a real lurch to the right, in the words of the former Tory MP Stephen Phillips QC the party has started to mould itself into ‘UKIp-Lite’.

This lurch to the right began to be visible to me during the EU Referendum campaign. Having been instrumental in setting up ‘British Indians for In’ with the now Employment Minister Alok Sharma MP, I travelled up and down the country talking to the British Indian Community about the benefits of remaining in the EU.

Currently the only political leader and party outlining the inconsistencies in the Brexit argument are the Liberal Democrats & Sir Vince Cable - everyone else seems to have vanished & with them their 'remain' arguments too. That for me is still not the issue (even though some would say it remarkable how 'remain' politicians are now silent) – the issues are the by-products of the referendum vote for example a rise in hate crime in London and across the country.

Ethnic minority communities in particular the youth in these communities have been subjected to abuse which has divided our strong and united country. This has in my view been brought about by this constant lurch to the right by the Government.

This surely cannot be correct? Would we like our children or family members being treated differently just because they have a different accent? It is unfortunately where we currently are in our country. Whilst over 17 million people voted to leave the EU, over 16 million voted to stay.

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