Future Leaders at ALDC Kickstart

Last year I attended ALDC (the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigns) Kickstart weekend as part of their Future Leaders scheme.

15 or so young people in the party are offered individual mentorship to help them get to where they want to be in the party – whether that is an MP, a Councillor, or something else.

And then they attend their choice of wider training sessions on campaigning alongside the other attenders of Kickstart. There are huge range of courses – such as on how to find volunteers, how to use data for your campaigning, and social media masterclass. The courses are also divided up into beginners, intermediate and advanced so you can go to the course that’s best pitched to you.

Our Future Leaders cohort was divided up into groups depending on how they wanted to be a future leader. I said I wanted to work for the party.

Having said this, I sat one-to-one with one of the trainers and discussed my current job, my previous experiences working for the Liberal Democrats, the different jobs the party offers, and what else I should be looking at doing to build up my CV.

Over the rest of the weekend – I was introduced to many brilliant people, especially brilliant women, and learned about their party roles.

I sat down with party staff in the bar one evening and talked through where I wanted to be – and got yet more advice.

Thanks to this advice and the networking I got to do at Kickstart, six months later I have a job in the membership team in Lib Dem HQ.

And this year I return to Kickstart as a trainer.

Not enough people know about the fantastic training the party runs. I’ve been very lucky to benefit from a run of great weekend training courses. Future Leaders, being at Kickstart, means that it is also attended by the best campaigners in the party and that there are so many people to speak to about advice for your future.

Now I work for the party – I know that we are always on the lookout for talent, and so often it’s a case of there being more opportunities for the people we have come across. Standing up, being present, being clear that you are ready to stand for office or you want a job or whatever it is – this is how to get what you want.

Future Leaders is a perfect opportunity to get noticed, to attend some of the best training in the party for free, and to build relationships with key campaigners.

Apply to be a Future Leader at the next weekend here: https://www.aldc.org/2018/06/could-you-be-a-future-leader-2/

Or apply to Kickstart here: https://www.aldc.org/events/

Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill

It’s wise to choose for a private member’s bill a discrete topic to address a problem which has been identified and can be relatively easily solved – and which the Government might be prepared to see implemented. But sometimes the concern to take forward a cause overtakes wisdom – thus my Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill which finished making its way through the Lords on 3rd July and has been taken up in the Commons by Tim Farron.

Most cultures recognise the importance of family, for day to day support, practical and emotional, as well as at significant dates in the calendar. We do in the UK, but there is a shortfall. Recently a number of parliamentarians heard from two teenagers who know what it’s like to be separated from their family: pain, stress, worry about the safety of loved ones.

My Bill will reunite more refugee families.

Maya and Khalil represented the many young refugees whose stories are hard to hear without emotion. Like almost every other refugee I’ve met, people who have often survived the most extreme experiences, they talked about how keen they are to get an education and how they are determined to contribute to society: model citizens, who have contended with everything that being a refugee means, and separated from family too.

My Bill will help more refugee families to be reunited. Under the current rules, adult refugees are only allowed to bring their partners and children under 18 to join them in the UK. This can present the invidious choice of leaving some family members behind, or putting their lives in the hands of people smugglers and traffickers.

Siblings aren’t allowed. Take a young man who has lost the whole of his family in war, apart from a brother of 16. He could reach the UK and be recognised as requiring refugee protection, but wouldn’t be able to sponsor his brother to join him.

The Bill will also allow refugee children in the UK to sponsor their closest family to join them. The UK is almost alone within Europe in not allowing child refugees to be joined by family members. Despite accepting that it is not safe for these children to return home, the Government prevents them from being with their parents, forcing them to grow up in a new country without the support of their family.

I believe my Bill goes with the grain of current public opinion – as demonstrated by the outrage over the treatment of the Windrush generation. Government ministers warn of a “pull factor” and of children being sent to the UK so that their families can follow. But when you listen to refugees and hear about the dangers they face on the way… well, frankly I’ve never bought that argument.

When I was waiting to go into the chamber for the last stage of the Bill in the Lords, I commented to a doorkeeper that it’s quite an emotional moment when you say, “My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass”. “When will it get through the Commons?” he asked. “It won’t. The Government opposes it”, I explained. “Oh, what a shame.” “Yes, but it’s all part of a campaign. I’m not the only person calling for this.”

We’re still fighting for the Bill in the Commons – it is scheduled for its second reading on 26th October.

The points made in debates on the Bill, and in other debates, have added up to a loud, clear call on the Government to amend the UK’s rules to allow more refugee families to be reunited; to better reflect the reality for families separated by war and persecution; and to accept that families belong together.

Baroness Sally Hamwee is a Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Home Affairs in the House of Lords.

Why I joined the party

I want to tell you why I joined the Liberal Democrats and to encourage you to make the same journey.

As first-generation immigrants, my parents could have barely imagined the journey they or their children would make in the mother country. As an immigrant from South Asia, barely able to communicate in English, my mother built up a real estate business in London, in a country which has increasingly diversified in the intervening years.

Although many immigrants in this country may no longer live ‘on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity’, we still have a long way to go and we must never cease to celebrate and promote ethnic diversity especially in these divisive times. We have seen the Windrush generation scandal, in which those who worked hard to build our economy, health service and the Britain we have today, threatened with deportation and lives made incredibly difficult because of the Home Office policy of hostility.

We are also witnessing the rise of far-right politics, which undermines the valuable contributions made by minorities and threatens people’s basic rights on the basis of race, creed, and religion. Like Martin Luther King, we must refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. Now is the time to lift our nation, from the quicksand of racial injustice, to the rock-bed of our party – equality and unity.

Today I urge those who are in a minority of race, creed, or religion to join the liberal Democrat party, whose existence has been based on fighting for justice, for the rights of those who have historically been undermined and shall continue to do so, without wavering.

So, if you want a Britain in which every child has equal opportunity, a Britain with a population that is educated, understands and appreciates other cultures whilst maintaining its own. If you want a Britain that leads the way in equal rights and opportunities, then the Liberal Democrats await your membership.

Thank you and as-salāmu ʿalaykum.

Changes to the Membership Incentive Scheme

Since its launch in 2013, the Membership Incentive Scheme has helped our party not just grow, but thrive.

The money from it has helped local parties grow their membership, fight campaigns and demand better for their communities.

In recent years, we’ve seen a worrying trend developing though. More and more local parties stopped actively recruiting new members.

This is concerning – because part of the original intent of the scheme was to help build strong, local teams that would win elections.

At the request of the relevant State Party Committees, we have therefore been exploring options to revise the current incentive scheme.

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Government backs down on medical cannabis

Today the Government reported that patients in need of cannabis-based medicines will be allowed access to them in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

This is very welcome and long overdue change, which will be a relief for many patients and their families. It is disgraceful that people have been left to suffer for so long, because the Conservative Government have refused to accept evidence of the benefits of cannabis based medicines.

Following todays announcement there must be no further delay in getting these medicines to the people who need them.

However it is disappointing that the Government have refused to commit to a wider review of the outdated and harmful laws around the recreational use of cannabis as well. The Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for a regulated cannabis market in UK, which would mean a robust approach to licensing, rather than leaving the market in the hands of criminals.

What will the party debate in Brighton?

Federal Conference Committee met this weekend – unusually at Amnesty HQ in London rather than LDHQ – to set the Agenda for Autumn conference in Brighton.

If you have not yet registered, please don’t forget – conference runs from the 15th to 18th September, and you can sign up athttps://www.eventsforce.net/autumnconference2018. Or, if you’d like to take advantage of our new refer-a-friend discounts, seehttps://www.libdems.org.uk/refer_a_friend

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5 Things You Need To Know About The New Brexit Secretary

1. He approves of a higher pay rate for men

His statements on the gender pay gap are shocking. He stated, “men work longer hours, die earlier but retire later than women.” He expanded, saying “from the cradle to the grave, men get the raw deal”.

Raab’s comments are completely out of touch with reality, plain and simple.

2. He wants to dismantle the Human Rights Act

Dominic Raab has referred to the legislation that grants every UK citizen fundamental rights and freedoms as “rushed” and “flawed”. He attempted to dismantle human rights by introducing a British Bill of Rights which was quickly rejected.

Dominic Raab only values certain liberties and freedoms, and he misses the mark on an entire system of rights that maintains a sense of checks and balances on state abuse of power.

3. He calls feminists “obnoxious bigots”

Let us not forget Raab’s ignorant comments calling feminists the “most obnoxious bigots”.

Raab thinks it is unnecessary to close the equality gap amongst men and women. In fact, he believes if there is an equality gap, it’s men who get the short end of the stick and that we need to focus on the issue of improving men’s rights.

He thinks that if women were to be seen as equals in the workforce, many men would be turned off by a women obtaining more success than their male peers. It’s the 21st century, Dominic…

4. He blames immigrants for q housing crisis that the Tories have done little to solve

Raab falsely claimed “immigration put house prices up by something like 20% over the past 25 years”. This is not only a very limited view, but also plainly wrong as his assessment was based on an outdated model regarding the impact of immigration on house prices.

5. He wanted a second referendum in 2016 if Leave lost

In 2016, Raab tweeted his views on the European Union membership referendum and called for a second referendum “if the verdict is to stay in the EU, and it’s close” he told House magazine.

Yet after the outcome was in his favour, he considered a final say on the deal to be “a plain attempt to block Brexit by people who are out of touch with the country and refuse to accept the result […] they should not seek to obstruct it”. Clearly, Raab is not a man of integrity.

This is the man Theresa May has chosen to lead Brexit negotiations?Britain deserves better than Dominic Raab.

The people deserve the final say on the Tory Brexit deal, and the option to stay in the EU.

Mandela Day

It is a day when we must remember that every person has the power to change the world.

It has been 100 years since Mandela’s birth. His dedication to the service of humanity and his contribution to the struggle for democracy continue to inspire millions of people.

Global inequality remains a serious problem facing in the world and protecting human rights is an ongoing struggle of immense importance.

Liberal Democrats International Office are committed to ensuring justice and equality for people around the world.

The International Office together with the work of the Africa Liberal Network promote the engagement of women and youth in the political process as well as strengthening liberal parties.

You can also make the world a better place by spreading kindness and helping people – not just today, but every day.

There are no depths to which the Conservatives won’t stoop

Two weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. His name is Gabriel and we adore him.

My situation isn’t typical – I’m an MP. I’m not only an MP, I’m the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

And our party’s goal right now – above all else – is to stop Brexit. We want to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the EU.

At first I was lost for words, now I am angry.

Last night there was a crucial vote. When I knew I couldn’t be there, I made sure I was ‘paired’. This happens all the time in Parliament. As I could not vote, a Conservative MP agreed not to vote as well, balancing things out.

But then, at the last minute, the Conservatives went back on their word. The MP I was ‘paired’ with turned up and voted.

At first I was lost for words, now I am angry.

It seems that there are no depths to which the Conservatives won’t stoop to deliver their destructive, divisive Brexit.

We can’t let the Conservatives decide the Brexit deal on their own. We have to give the people the final say, including the option to remain in Europe.

Please join our campaign today.

Exit from Brexit Campaign Pack

Campaign Pack

I’m excited to announce our summer campaign pack is coming off the printer and I wanted to share this news with you now so you can begin planning how you are going to use yours.

Our efforts to stop Brexit are beginning to make waves but, as Parliament readies itself for the summer break, we must redouble our efforts on the ground and make this the biggest summer of action – but in order to do this, we need your help.

Are you up for the challenge?

Here are three ways you can help the fight against Brexit this summer:

  1. Click here for your copy of the Summer Campaign Pack or get in touch with your local party to see if they’ve ordered a hard copy of the guide. This pack enables you to plan your 8-week summer campaign with a handy guide with loads more info to get you up and running, a Connect script, leaflet templates and much more.

  2. Get knocking on doors and delivering leaflets. We need to keep growing our movement and there’s no better way to do this than by making contact with people. All the information about how you identify the right people to talk to can be found in the pack – so there’s no excuse not to get door knocking and delivering!

  3. Host an Action Day on 8th-9th September. The Summer Campaign Pack walks you step-by-step through the process of holding a successful action day. This is the weekend before Autumn Conference and we want to make as much noise as possible. What better way to give us the confidence to fight Brexit going into Conference than a massive day of action up and down the UK just days before?

Thanks again for all you’ve done so far – our Exit from Brexit team is constantly spurred on by the amazing things our members are doing.

But I need to ask you to keep going. By doing all the above, you’ll help make this the biggest summer of action ever.