Holocaust Memorial Day

On Holocaust Memorial Day, we pause to remember one of the darkest chapters in human history. We remember a time of unimaginable evil which resulted in the death of 6 million Jewish people and countless others who perished under a state-sponsored policy of hate and systemic violence.

This year marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz which led to the release of 7000 people and exposed the depth of the horrors committed there and elsewhere.

Although time has moved on, the poison of anti-Semitism has not gone away. Across the globe we are witnessing a worrying increase in anti-Semitic violence. When hate crimes against religious communities rise and when people in the Jewish community speak out about the fear they feel, we must all sit up and act, because any pledge to end division rings hollow if it’s not followed by meaningful action.

History has taught us many hard lessons and although we often repeat the admonition “never again”, the pain of genocide has been experienced in many parts of the world since the Holocaust. As we remember the victims of the holocaust and let’s also remember the victims of subsequent genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur.

This year’s theme “Stand Together” is an important reminder that we all have a duty to stand up to hate. We must all challenge any attempts dehumanise, degrade or demean any community, because a failure to do so could have dire consequences.

Finally, let us recognise the strength and resilience of holocaust survivors and let us resolve to preserve their stories and testimonies. And let us never forget.

Ed Davy signing the signing the Holocaust Memorial Day book

Happy Chinese New Year

I would like to send best wishes to everyone celebrating Chinese New Year!


Across the world friends and loved ones will be coming together, to reflect on the year gone by and look ahead to the future.


Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by wonderful traditions that date back thousands of years. Each year they remind us of how alive and vibrant Chinese culture is in Britain today.


As we usher in a new year, let us also celebrate the ongoing contributions of British Chinese communities who have helped to shape the economic, social and cultural identity of our nation.


This year, we enter the Year of the Rat. Rats are known symbols of wealth and new beginnings and those born in the Year of the Rat are said to be resourceful, quick-witted and adaptable.


Liberal Democrats will work to ensure that the Year of the Rat is one marked by success and prosperity for all our communities.


To all those celebrating, I wish you good health and joy this Chinese New Year.


Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Liberal Democrats are fighting for EU citizens and child refugees

Today kickstarts an important week in Parliament, with votes taking place on key amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, tabled by Liberal Democrats.

In our fight to hold this Conservative Government to account on its Brexit agenda, we are fighting to protect EU citizens’ rights as well as those of unaccompanied child refugees.

Last week, Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates tabled amendments that would automatically guarantee EU citizens’ rights in law.

EU citizens are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. That is why we are urging Boris Johnson to honour his promise and back our legislation to guarantee their rights.

Boris Johnson previously promised to guarantee these rights, but has failed to do so. Under his policies, tens of thousands of EU citizens will be left without legal rights in less than 18 months. This puts them at risk of eviction, detention and even deportation.

Unless the Government changes course, tens of thousands of EU citizens will be left without legal rights – at risk of eviction, detention and deportation.

We’re fighting for EU citizens. We’re calling on Boris Johnson to honour his promise by backing our amendments next week. pic.twitter.com/746HZa8snJ

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) January 18, 2020

EU citizens are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. That is why we are urging Boris Johnson to honour his promise and back our legislation to guarantee their rights.

Tomorrow we will be voting for another amendment, which would protect the rights of unaccompanied child refugees in Europe to be reunited with their families in the UK.

Child refugees who’ve been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we must do all we can to protect them.

Sadly, Conservatives voted to drop the UK’s commitment to support child refugees and their rights to family reunion in the House of Commons.

Liberal Democrats know that we should be expanding family reunion rights, not rolling them back. That is why we are continuing to fight for these children.

Lib Dems pay tribute to Lord Robert Maclennan

The Liberal Democrats have today led tributes following the death of Lord Robert Maclennan.



Lord Robert Maclennan of Rogart, known as Bob Maclennan, was the last leader of the Social Democrat Party before it merged with the Liberal Party. He then became joint interim leader of the new party.



Bob Maclennan was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001. Upon stepping down as MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Bob Maclennan was elevated to the House of Lords.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:



“It is with great sadness that we learn our friend and colleague Bob Maclennan has died.



“Bob was the kind of politician we all strive to be. Considerate, honest and hardworking with an uncanny ability to reach out across the political spectrum to find common ground.



“He was also a great servant, over many decades, to his Highland constituents. A passionate advocate of devolution, he campaigned tirelessly for the creation of the Scottish Parliament and wider constitutional reform.



“As Liberal Democrats, we also pay him a huge dept of gratitude. It was his determined leadership and bravery that proved critical in the formation of the movement we know today.



“I personally owe a huge debt to Bob. He advised me through my own career and was a real source of strength and encouragement. His love of the arts and his commitment to a fairer society shone through so many of our conversations.



“Bob made our politics and our country better. He will be sadly missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Dick Newby, added:

“Bob Maclennan was passionate about Europe, constitutional reform and social justice. He saw them all as interconnected and pursued them with energy and determination throughout his political career. I worked with him for almost 40 years and will miss him greatly.”

Leadership timetable, internal elections & election review – an update from Federal Board

At a meeting of the Federal Board today, the new board made decisions on three key events, the timeline for our upcoming leadership election, the timeline for upcoming elections to party posts and committees and finally the appointment of a Chair of the Election Review and a timetable for that.

Jump to: Leadership Election | Internal Elections | Election review

Leadership Election Timetable

At today’s meeting the Board agreed, after carefully considering the pros and cons of different options, the timetable for the Liberal Democrat Leadership election.

Nominations will open on the 11th of May and close on the 28th of May. Thursday 28 May will also be the deadline to register as a member eligible to vote in the election – so a key date to use to encourage members to renew and supporters to join the party.

The ballot will then open on the 18th of June and close on the 15th of July, after which the party will announce the next leader.

In the meantime, Ed Davey MP and I as Party President will continue as joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats.

I want again thank Jo Swinson for her determined leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats are the home for everyone who shares our vision of an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates diversity and benefits from high-quality public services.

With our party membership at record levels, I urge everyone else who shares our values to join us in the coming days and vote in the leadership election.

If you join as a member today, you’ll get a vote in our leadership election. Join now from just £12 a year (that’s £1 a month!):

Join Here

You can also find out more about the leadership election on our dedicated leadership election hub, here: libdems.org.uk/leadership

Internal Elections

We’re looking for the very best of the skills and experience in our membership to rise to the challenge and help run the party.

It’s a great way to get involved in the party and I’m very keen to ensure we use this round of posts to help improve our diversity – so please do also think about who else you might want to encourage to put their name forward – especially those with great skills who might not otherwise think of these posts at all.

Posts up for election include Vice-Chairs of Federal Board, Committee Chairs for Federal Finance & Resources Committee, Federal Communications and Elections committee and Federal People Development Committee and committee members for those committees. A Chair and Committee members for the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee will also be appointed by the board.

For more information on the posts and how to apply can be found on our internal elections hub at: libdems.org.uk/internal-elections

Election Review

The Board has commissioned a review into both the General election and the European elections.

This review will be run independently of those who ran the elections, with a panel of experts who have a broad range of skills from knowing about grassroots election campaigns through to understanding what the very best decision-making processes in organisations look like.

The Chair is Dorothy Thornhill, who was the elected Mayor of Watford for 16 years, leading a successful turnaround of the council’s administration and quality of services, and was made a Liberal Democrat Peer in 2015.

Watch out for more news soon about how they will be consulting further and there will be many more opportunities for people at all levels to contribute to the review.

We can do more for bereaved families.

Do you think we care well enough for the more vulnerable in our society?

Have we figured out how best to care for people who’ve experienced bereavement, people who get ill in old age, those with mental ill-health or adults with learning disabilities?

My own personal experience tells me we haven’t. Whether in my own life or for many constituents in my advice surgeries over 20 years, all too often the care and support systems either don’t work well enough or aren’t even there at all.

Liberal Democrats must make our voice heard on caring – and lead this debate.

Of course, there are also countless examples of excellent care: from family members, well-run local authority services, parts of the NHS and the voluntary sector.

So we must learn from best practice, both in the UK and abroad. And we must face up to the modern caring challenges, not least our ageing population and the rising number of working-age adults who need support.

Liberal Democrats must make our voice heard on caring – and lead this debate. With new ideas and campaigns for better care.

That’s why I used my first Prime Minister’s Question as Acting Leader to raise one specific caring issue: how we look after bereaved parents and their children.

Bereaved families in the UK recieve inadequate support from the government. @EdwardJDavey asked the Prime Minister to meet with him and charities helping such families to discuss how the government can better care for bereaved parents and their children.#PMQspic.twitter.com/EhmxBslDVd

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) January 15, 2020

It’s an issue close to my heart. My dad died when I was four, leaving my mum with three boys under ten. I remember my mum collecting her widow’s pension every fortnight, and how important that was to help her adjust and look after my brothers and me, even though we weren’t especially poor.

My Prime Minister’s Question focused on recent reforms to the financial support we give to bereaved families.

A key part of those reforms was reducing the length of time these payments are made to widows and widowers.

Under the old system, they were paid until the youngest child left school. So in our case, my mum would have been paid her widow’s pension for 14 years, had she not died early too.

There was a case for modernising this support, and there were indeed many parts of the new Bereavement Support Payment which I and other campaigners welcomed.

The key aim of my campaign is to get the Government to review the whole Bereavement Support Payment system

But the decision in April 2017 to reduce the duration of these payments to just 18 months after a child had lost their mum or dad went too far.

The idea that grieving stops after 18 months, or that a young parent with young children will be back on their feet again so quickly flies in the face of the evidence.

I’ve campaigned on this since 2017, working with charities like the Childhood Bereavement Network, Widowed And Young, CRUSE and the Life Matters Taskforce. For example,a parliamentary motion I tabledin November 2017 received cross-party support.

I made some progress with new statistics to back up our case. After meetings with the Office for National Statistics, they commissioned new analysis and published it in a blog last February:

Read now

But the key aim of my campaign is to get the Government to review the whole Bereavement Support Payment system – so it’s paid for longer and can be claimed by cohabiting couples not just married couples and civil partners.

It’s not a lot to ask that we care for bereaved parents and their young children much better than we did back in 1970.

If you’ve got a caring issue you’d like me to know about, please email me at leader@libdems.org.uk.

Lighthouse Update

Happy New Year!

Over Christmas and New Year, a team of HQ staff and almost 60 volunteer testers from across the party as well as the team at Prater Raines have been hard at work testing Lighthouse, the party’s new Local Party Management tool.

The feedback from those users has been really encouraging, they’ve found the system really intuitive and easy to use.

It’ll also work for all parts of the party – from branches up to state parties and will solve a number of other long-standing issues as well (though not all on day 1!)

Of course, launch day is fast approaching – and you’ll all soon be able to get your hands on it.

This is how we’re planning to roll out Lighthouse:

The launch version should be a like for like replacement for the current portal. You’ll be able to do everything you can do now.

Friday 10th January

The team will be deploying the final Alpha test version on Friday. This should have all of the features the release version has and we’ll be testing it over the weekend to make sure it’s as top-notch as possible.

The launch version should (effectively) be a like for like replacement for the current portal. You’ll be able to do everything you can do now.

Monday 13th January

Once that testing has been completed, we’re planning to launch the closed Beta test of the new system on Monday 13th January. Anyone who was involved with the Alpha testing team or anyone who has registered as a Super User by the 9th January will be sent a login. We expect the logins to be sent out in the late afternoon or early evening.

You’re looking for an email from “Lighthouse” using the email address “membership@libdems.org.uk”. The subject line should begin “You’ve been granted access to”

This will be to the live system with all of your member, supporter and donor data present.

If you’re in this initial group and you spot anything that doesn’t look right with the system, just drop membership@libdems.org.uk an email with “Lighthouse” in the subject line and we’ll take a look.

Friday 17th January

We’re then planning to run that initial closed Beta test until Friday 17th January, when we hope to have updated the system again and from the following Monday 20th January, we’ll start adding on more users and move into an open Beta test.

The open Beta will keep running until we’re satisfied that all of our core milestones are in place and working as intended. We hope this will be completed in plenty of time for the Spring Conference in York.

These dates are obviously potentially subject to some slippage. We’ll update you if that’s the case.

We’re planning to keep adding more features and refining things to make your lives easier and make managing your local party simpler.

Training & support

The team has also been hard at work drafting step by step guides to every feature in the system.

We should have around a dozen of these task guides ready to go and we’re uploading them to www.libdems.org.uk/lighthouse as they’re finished. You’ll also be able to find them in the knowledgebase on Lighthouse.

We’ve also updated the Membership Geek Sheets to reflect the new system and will be producing more of these soon.

Lastly, we’re hosting some webinars to run people through how to use the system and answer your questions. You can find all of the details here: www.libdems.org.uk/lighthouse – and there’ll be more webinars coming.

We’re also hoping to be able to run training at all of the Regional and State conferences (and if you’re organising one of these, please keep a spot open for me!) this spring and will be running two sessions on how to use Lighthouse at Spring Federal conference.

Longer term

The launch next week won’t be the end of development on Lighthouse.

We’re planning to keep adding more features and refining things to make your lives easier and make managing your local party simpler.

Future developments that we’re looking at include allowing bulk import of donations from other party systems and making training that your members are doing visible to you.

If there’s anything else you’d like to see in the system, please do let us know and we can build it into our development roadmap.

Meet our new Commons team

Today I’ve announced my team of spokespeople in the House of Commons.

We’ll speak up for the millions of people who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the general election, and the millions more who are dismayed with the actions of this Conservative government.

The team’s portfolios can be found below:

Ed Davey

Acting Leader, Economy and Social Justice

Christine Jardine

Home Office, Women and Equalities

Alistair Carmichael

Foreign Affairs and Brexit, Chief Whip

Wera Hobhouse

Climate Emergency, Energy and the Environment

Tim Farron

Housing, Local Government, Food and Rural Affairs, North of England

Layla Moran

Education

Munira Wilson

Health, Wellbeing & Social Care, Transport

Jamie Stone

Defence

Sarah Olney

Business and Trade

Daisy Cooper

Justice, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Wendy Chamberlain

Political & Constitutional Reform, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, International Development

We’re going to run positive campaigns on fresh ideas. We must tackle the climate crisis, social injustice and Britain’s poor economic performance.

We’ll continue to oppose Brexit – staying close to our friends in Europe will always be best for our security and prosperity.

Johnson’s populist Conservatives threaten to trash our parliamentary democracy, our freedoms as citizens and the rule of law. We’ll continue to work across parties to stop them.

Our political establishment is out of touch. Trust in politicians is at an all-time low.

Britain needs a party who’ll listen and fight for people’s concerns. Britain needs the Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dems respond to Iran Crisis

Iran is governed by a brutal regime which has been openly hostile to the West.

Donald Trump has yet again radically and recklessly escalated tensions in an area where peace-keeping was already on a knife-edge.

There is a real danger this will stoke further conflict, undermining peace and stability in the region. Given the severity of the crisis, the Prime Minister must make a statement about the UK’s position immediately.

The UK should not automatically follow whatever position the Trump administration takes, but work with a broader group of concerned states at the United Nations.

Sal Speaks – the final edition

As my Presidency draws to an end on New Year’s Eve, I wanted to write to you with a final thank you for the extraordinary help that you have given the liberal cause over the last five years.

To have faced three General Elections and the EU Referendum during these five years – as well as the snap European elections this year – has been unprecedented, draining for everyone who has worked in them. Our candidates and teams, party staff and the many members and supporters who have continuously found that extra bit of energy and effort kept fighting the liberal cause.

Added to this, our local government teams, led by ALDC, have worked consistently hard in elections every year and their success has been rewarded with substantial growth in councillors and councils that we control or run jointly with others. And in Scotland our MSPs hold the SNP to account, and Kirsty Williams is a brilliant Education minister in the Welsh Assembly.

I have been really proud to campaign with colleagues across the UK over the last five years, seeing members building the party in their areas and I want to thank you for your warm welcome over my Presidency. In 2017 alone I covered over 4,000 miles, getting to every part of the country! I have also witnessed the party develop its use of online campaigning, not least honed on the Stop Brexit campaign over the last three years.

In 2015 the Conservatives avowed aim was to kill off the Liberal Democrats but we have proved them wrong. Our membership has grown from 40,000 to 130,000, with a consistently high retention rate. If you joined us over the last five years, thank you for joining us and for campaigning for a liberal democracy, for fair funding for mental health, for fighting the climate emergency, for a fair voting system and for major reform of the House of Lords. Your voice is badly needed as we face five years of Conservative rule not least fighting for the UK’s place in Europe and the world.

Next year the independent review of the General and European Elections will ensure we learn the lessons from our campaigns, so please do respond to their request for comments. In the meantime do join the many local election campaigns near you, including the London Mayoral Campaign. In Scotland and Wales campaigns are also underway for their Parliament and Assembly Elections in 2021.

In the last five years we seen an unprecedented time of constitutional crisis and political chaos. I hope that Mark Pack, my successor as President (and Interim Co Leader with Ed Davey) has a slightly calmer time as he takes up office on 1 January. He and his newly elected Federal Board and Committees are ready for the challenge, and I wish him and them well.

My final word is for you, the members. Liberalism is often under threat when populism and nationalism surge. You have stood firm against the recent onslaught from Brexiters, UKIP and the SNP. As I pass the torch on to you for 2020, I know you will continue to light the beacons of liberalism to protect our democracy and our country. Thank you.