Last call – contribute to the election review by midnight on Friday 17th April

Amidst the current turbulence, we wanted to let you know you still have a chance to contribute towards the Liberal Democrats election review.

Hundreds of members, constituency teams, donors, door knockers and other activists have sent in their own reflections and submissions; all have been read

The panel has been working intensively since appointment earlier in the year, and the process is a thorough one; submissions have been requested from all current MPs, all former Lib Dem MPs, as well as candidates in key target seats (both Conservative and Labour facing). All Regional Chairs have been asked for submissions, and both Welsh and Scottish parties have contributed. Many individual local organisations and party bodies have conducted their own reviews which have been subsequently sent into the panel. There have been many hours of 1-2-1 interviews between the panel and key decision-makers in the Parliamentary Party, at HQ and with other team members across the organisation, including ALDC.

Hundreds of members, constituency teams, donors, door knockers and other activists have sent in their own reflections and submissions; all have been read, as have many external reports and research.

All this is on top of more than 22,000 survey responses – which have been divvied up among the panel to digest – and a full analysis of the key documents and decisions leading up to December 12th 2019. While it was disappointing not to be able to have input from Conference, the quality and quantity of input has been significant!

The panel has reflected on the period covering both the course of the election as well as over the months and years beforehand and is starting to compile the final report. While we’re not finished yet, we’re getting a good idea of the changes needed to get our Party back into winning form. The new President, CEO and the new Leader when they’re elected will have a full understanding of where they will need to work together on the changes needed.

If you would still like to contribute to the review then please do put together a submission and send it through to me at my Parliamentary address, thornhilld@parliament.uk by Friday 17th April.

A Passover like no other

Tonight, at sundown, Jewish communities across the globe will mark the beginning of Pesach/Passover. Over the next eight days, in the UK and around the world, Jewish people will commemorate the liberation of their ancestors from slavery in ancient Egypt.

The story of Passover teaches that freedom is coming, our current situation will not last forever, and out of our trauma grows new strength

However, this year’s Passover will be like no other in recent memory.

As a global community, we are all grappling with the outbreak of COVID-19. Social distancing and other emergency measures mean that our daily lives have been interrupted in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. And I know that this will impact Jewish customs, which centre so much around coming together with loved ones.

Typically, families, friends and even strangers gather at the Seder table to share festive meals and to recount the story of the Exodus. However, this year many Seder meals will be held over video calls, and many people will find themselves weighed down by the emotional, physical and mental burden of this pandemic. Thousands have lost loved ones, and many more face financial insecurity.

Although we are separated in our individual homes, we must never lose our sense of community

However, at times like this, I am reminded that Passover carries a message of hope. The story of Passover teaches that freedom is coming, our current situation will not last forever, and out of our trauma grows new strength.

Let us all, therefore, move forward with kindness and generosity. Although we are separated in our individual homes, we must never lose our sense of community. When the storm passes – and it will pass – let us value our families, our communities and our freedom even more.

This year let us also recognise the hard work of Britain’s Jewish communities, many of whom work in our NHS and other frontline services. Thank you for all you do.

I wish the best for everyone celebrating Passover. Chag sameach!

Lib Dems lead cross-party call for improved mental health support amidst Covid-19 crisis

Social distancing means millions are now home alone, facing the prospect of only the most minimal contact with another soul for months. This isolation is likely to have a grave impact on their mental health.

Millions more, without being completely isolated, will still be struggling with the rapid changes the coronavirus has wrought upon our way of life. People’s anxiety will be further fueled by concern for the health of loved ones, or stress resulting from the impact of the pandemic on jobs and livelihoods.

Given the unprecedented events we are living through, the need for mental health support could not be clearer. That’s why the government must signpost the appropriate support services to every household, and adequately fund the charities that provide those services.

Isolation is likely to have a grave impact on the mental health of millions across the country – the government must boost mental health support to help those hardest hit by social distancinghttps://t.co/ywHkAY8WKY

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) April 5, 2020

Writing to the Secretary of Health, Munira Wilson MP and a cross-party group of Parliamentarians have expressed fears that government advice to stay at home will leave people “worried about coronavirus, their jobs, housing” and “anxious about their family’s health and their own.”

Over 40 MPs from across the political spectrum have signed the letter highlighting the “inextricable link” between mental and physical health and urging the Government to:

  • launch a publicity campaign signposting the mental health support available during the coronavirus crisis.
  • send public health leaflets, which include advice on looking after mental health and signposts to organisations that can offer mental health support during the crisis, to all homes.
  • increase the level of funding for mental health charities offering support during the coronavirus crisis, to reduce pressure on the NHS.

The Mental Health Foundation and Campaigns at Young Minds have both supported the cross-party efforts.

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Supporting and protecting people’s mental health will be critical for people to endure and recover from this pandemic. Peer support approaches and prominent advice should be central to the government’s plan, with a particular focus on reaching those most at risk.”

Tom Madders, Director of Communications and Campaigns at Young Minds said:

It is crucial that young people are able to access support at this time and know where to find good quality information and resources on how they can look after their mental health at home.

Now is the time for us all to work together and support those most at risk in our society.

The Government must fully recognise the growing mental health impact that COVID-19 will continue to have on children and young people, and ensure that those professionals and organisations providing mental health support are well enough resourced and supported to do so.”

For more information about how you can take care of your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, the mental health charity Mind has some useful guidance here.

Need something to read? Lib Dem Image has you covered

I’m sure many of us have said that we’re going to use lockdown as an opportunity to catch up on some reading. Well, we’ve got the perfect thing!

A good book or two provides a wonderful escape from these uncertain times

Lib Dem Image, the official supplier of Liberal Democrats merchandise, is still open for business. As well as t-shirts, buttons and banners, we’ve got a generous array of books from and about various Liberal personalities – so why not take the chance to learn a little more about them and our party?

We also have oodles of content related to the party’s best practice. This includes hard copies of the 2020 Boost Guide, starting at just £12. It’s stuffed with tips and tricks to help your local party reach its fullest potential – a great place to start!

Boost Guide

We’ve got a wide range of books by various party figures, too:

  • Bad News: What The Headlines Don’t Tell Us, by Party President Mark Pack, a must-have guide to deciding fact from fiction in the modern media.
  • Equal Ever After, Lynne Featherstone’s account of her successful fight for equal marriage in the coalition government
  • Open Arms, by Vince Cable – which features some, ahem, discreetly racy scenes and was nominated for an award.
  • Equal Power by Jo Swinson, your guide to making society more equal
  • British Liberal Leaders, a history of Liberal leaders from Gladstone to present

All of our goods are sent by Royal Mail or Parcel Force, who are still operational and will deliver them in line with social distancing guidelines.

A good book or two provides a wonderful escape from these uncertain times. We can make the most of the additional downtime – whether that’s by emerging as better read activists or by sending some cosy Lib Dem house socks to your isolated local members!

Visit now

Ed Davey Responds to Keir Starmer Being Elected Labour Leader

At this moment of national crisis, the role of all opposition parties must be to support measures to tackle the coronavirus, whilst also standing up for the most vulnerable by properly scrutinising the Government. I look forward to working with Keir Starmer on that task.

Saving lives from coronavirus remains the absolute priority. Vital issues such as expanding testing capacity, access to adequate protective equipment for frontline health and social care staff, and ensuring the most vulnerable are not left behind as a result of the economic uncertainty are at the top of the agenda.

Liberal Democrats will always work with whoever we can to pursue our liberal values, to fight for action on the climate crisis and to build a more caring and just society. In those areas where we share common ground, Liberal Democrats and Labour now have an opportunity to work together, along with other progressive forces.

BREAKING

Congrats @Keir_Starmer

We all now have an opportunity to move forward & away frm divisive politics of recent yrs@LibDems will always work w whoever we can to pursue our liberal values, build more caring, just society, tackle #ClimateEmergencyhttps://t.co/I2txIXugbj

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 #StayHomeSaveLives #ProtectNHS (@EdwardJDavey) April 4, 2020


As the chapter closes on one Labour leader,we hope the new one can see the Labour party play a constructive role in building an effective multi party opposition. That will be the litmus test of Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Migrant NHS heroes should be given indefinite leave to remain

The call follows reports that doctors, nurses and paramedics will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year.

The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat and people are rightly worried. In times like this, we cannot thank front-line staff enough for going above and beyond to look after us all.

Extending the visas in the NHS is welcome, but the Government must also do so much more for the social care system and urgently rollout adequate PPE and testing.

If someone is prepared to risk their life for this country, they must be allowed to live in it with indefinite leave to remain. https://t.co/itdMUPA3cN

— Lib Dems (@LibDems) March 31, 2020

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“There is a moral principle here. If someone is prepared to risk their life for this country, they must be allowed to live in it. All foreign national NHS workers fighting for our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic are heroes. They should be awarded indefinite leave to remain.

We can do better than that can’t we? How about automatic indefinite leave to remain or citizenship if they wanted it? The least we could do surely. Imagine if the Home Office kicked them out after what the service they gave? These are the NHS equivalent of Gurkhas @JoannaLumleyUKhttps://t.co/ejtNSjDVI2

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

Plans for Autumn Conference on hold

Plans for Liberal Democrat autumn conference on hold, online options to be explored instead

In the light of the coronavirus epidemic, the Federal Board has decided to put on hold plans for the preparation of a traditional party conference in the autumn and will make a final decision on whether to cancel the event in May.

In the meantime, the Federal Conference Committee will consider the feasibility of an online event, which might include some elements of a formal conference.

Part of that will be the way in which the key elements of party accountability might operate online if a traditional party conference did not go ahead.

A final decision will be made in May once those plans have been developed, taking into account both what is practical to organise online and the latest state of public health advice about large groups gathering together.

In the meantime, party members, supporters and other attendees are advised against booking any travel or accommodation for the autumn conference.

Postponing our Leadership Election

Not only are we going through what could become the country’s biggest crisis since 1945, but we’re also entering a very new world that will persist once the immediate crisis is over.

I’m proud of what we have achieved so far by championing NHS workers and pressing the Government on issues such as offering a better deal to the self-employed.

Throughout our history, we have always put the national interest first.

Our Federal Board has decided that we will not have a leadership election until May 2021, so that we can focus on dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

We know that coronavirus will have many implications for our society, public services, economy and day-to-day lives.

It will also have important implications for how we operate as a political party. In particular, even when current lockdown restrictions are relaxed, we still be living in a world where for months, if not years, to come it is possible lockdowns will have to be reintroduced at short notice.

That risk will hang over us all until we have a vaccine or effective and widespread treatment.

The Board therefore also started to address how the work of the Lib Dem HQ operation needs to adjust.

But it isn’t only the Board and the party centrally which needs to adjust to this new reality.

It’s a new reality that will require every part of the party to adjust too. If you are involved in running any other part of the party and have not yet started thinking this through, I hope you and your colleagues can start soon.

We also finished the appointments to the Party Bodies Review Group, with Steffan Aquarone, Flo Clucas and Bess Mayhew joining Tim Pickstone.

Amongst its roles is to undertake a strategic review of party bodies, the way they operate and how they interrelate with the rest of our organisation. Though, of course, this work will not be at the forefront of minds at the moment, this is going to be an important piece of work to ensure we build a broad and healthy movement to fight for our values.

Thank you to the NHS

The NHS takes care of us and keeps us safe every day.

Coronavirus is affecting every part of our lives and is already putting a huge strain on the NHS and NHS workers. We want to say thank you to the people working so hard to keep us all safe.

We are so lucky to live in a country where we have access to such high-quality healthcare that’s free at the point of use. It’s saved countless lives and, over the coming weeks and months, it’s going to save many, many more.

To everyone working in the NHS and in our social care system: every doctor, nurse, carer, paramedic, health care assistant, manager, cleaner, administrator, pharmacist, those on the front-line and those keeping the NHS working behind the scene – thank you.

The best thing we can do for our healthcare staff right now is to follow the official NHS advice. That means staying at home if you’re not a key worker, keeping your distance in

supermarkets, and quarantining yourself when you’re showing symptoms.

Not all of these are easy steps to take – but we owe it to our NHS to help them help us.

We are also circulating a letter of appreciation to NHS staff, to show our thanks to them for putting themselves at risk to keep us all safe.

If you’d like to add your thanks, you can do so by signing the card:

Sign the card

How to help in a lockdown

This week, the UK has gone into lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Those of us who can are staying at home and adapting to a new way of life, where we work from home, have hobbies at home and socialise only through video calls.

It is an uncomfortable transition, butit is absolutely worth doing to slow the spread of coronavirus, preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed and saving thousands of lives.

We need to do all we can to encourage our friends and family to stay home and save lives.

It is all of our responsibility to make sure that this happens– and we need to do all we can to encourage our friends and family to stay home and save lives.

We need to get that message out. We’ve made a graphic that you can share on social media reminding people to stay at home to save lives.Will you share it with your friends and family?

Share this graphic

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

We’ll also be releasing more graphics and ways to help over email and also in our Online Champions Facebook group (you can join the champions here) over the coming days.

In these troubling times, I’ve found that the best thing that I can do to ease my worry over what the future holds is to reach out to others and offer assistance. And that’s what I want us to do, party-wide.

That’s why we’ve set up the Liberal Democrat Community Taskforce.Our taskforce will coordinate the efforts of local Lib Dems across the country, suggesting tangible ways to help those who need it most – the vulnerable, those in quarantine, and our key workers.

Our taskforce will coordinate the efforts of local Lib Dems across the country, suggesting tangible ways to help those who need it most

We are continuing to add lots of resources for campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic(you can find them here:https://www.libdems.org.uk/coronavirus) and we have updated our guidance for campaigning now that we are formally in lockdown.

There are resources for phone banking, for how to help your neighbours who may be quarantined and fighting off COVID-19, or may be a key worker in need of assistance. We hope these are helpful to you as we continue to do what Liberal Democrats do best – serving our communities.