A sneak preview of the new Ad Lib

In the next few days, a relaunched version of Ad Lib magazine will be landing on all Liberal Democrat members’ doorsteps.

It has been redesigned in accordance with feedback received from subscribers. It’s bigger, brighter and bolder than before.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 17.30.26

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What Liberal Democrat Councillors do – highlights of #ourday

Today has seen the annual celebration of local government on Twitter organised by the Local Government Association in England and Wales. Using the tag #ourday council employees and councillors have been tweeting about the work that they do. The ALDC website has some more information:

LGA Lib Dem Group Leader Gerald Vernon Jackson is encouraging Lib Dem councillors who have twitter accounts to support the LGA in raising the profile of local councils in England and Wales and the hard work you do locally as Liberal Democrat Councillors in your wards. It’s also a good opportunity for you to use social media to let communities know the extent and breadth of the work councils undertake.

This year #OurDay, the day when we ask people working in local government to tweet about what they’re doing to serve their community, is taking place on 26 November. Last year’s #OurDay saw over 3,500 people participating on twitter, sending more than 11,000 tweets.

Here’s a wee sample of some of the tweets from Liberal Democrat councillors which range from the political to practical to ultra cute.

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Simon Hughes writes… Counter-terrorism bill – the Liberal Democrats are on the right track

The rise of the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is one of the most serious and dangerous issues we have had to face since we came into Government. Whatever we call this organisation – IS, ISIL or Da’ish – we can’t ignore their brutal activity. The graphic and disturbing images of violence coming from Syria and Iraq show the barbaric way this extremist group has perverted the Muslim faith.

We also need to face up to the reality that this group has publicly announced its desire to bring its murderous ideology to the streets of Britain. The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby is a stark example of the potential threat from extremist ideologues. It is estimated that around 500 British citizens have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIL and other military groups. Around half have returned and others will continue to do so. This presents a new and unique challenge to the UK security services and police, and earlier this year the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, run by MI5, raised the threat level from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’. This means that an attack in the UK by violent extremists is highly likely.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Israeli government proposes law defining nation-state of Jewish people

Israel Jews Wall Photo by Premasager Rose
The Guardian reported this on Sunday:

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Mental health is top of our list

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsWriting in the Express, Nick Clegg explains why he is making mental health a top priority for the Liberal Democrats:

I have ­decided to make mental health one of my priorities for the next parliament, something no political party has ever done before.

I want this commitment to ­continue to overhaul our mental health services on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto at the next election.

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Norman Lamb picks up an “Oscar” for his work on mental health

imageMinister of State for Care and Support Norman Lamb MP picked up the prize for the “Best Use of Evidence” at the Political Studies Association Annual Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of Westminster”. These were handed out at a dinner which took place last night at Church House, Westminster.

The MP for North Norfolk was presented with the award for his work on mental health by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone in front of a packed audience of high-profile academics, politicians, political campaigners and journalists.

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Gulags in the UK? – “no” says Simon Hughes

Solzhenitsyn being painted - photo by thlerry ehrmannOn Monday, Theresa May introduced some new counter-terrorism measures to Parliament.

Let’s take two specifics which were mentioned:

Requiring ISPs to retain and disclose user IP address details

May announced:

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Election for Lib Dem Party President: who will win, according to our exclusive survey

libby on the wall3Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. The survey closed at 10am today. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’ll be publishing the full results here.

Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President finishes at the end of this year. The contest to succeed him was a three-way election between three female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, and Liz Lynne.

We asked a series of questions about the party presidency in our survey…

91% in our survey say they will vote! (That won’t be the turnout.)

Three candidates are standing for the post of Party President, an election which is being decided by a ballot of all party members. Do you plan to vote in this election?

Posted in LDV Members poll and Party Presidency | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

Independent inquiry to probe handling of allegations against Councillor Alex Folkes

On Sunday, LDV’s Stephen Tall raised serious questions about the handling, by Cornwall Council, of allegations against Councillor Alex Folkes. Now BBC Cornwall reports a new development:

An independent inquiry will examine a council’s handling of allegations that one of its members was a “risk” to children, the BBC understands.

Cornwall Council warned schools and clubs in Alex Folkes’ Launceston ward not to allow him near children.

Mr Folkes has denied any wrongdoing and said he was cleared by police in 2006 after his credit card was cloned.

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Open season on Facebook is unfair

Does Sir Malcolm Rifkind actually understand the internet? As chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee he has pointed the finger at an un-named internet giant, later revealed to be Facebook, for failing to report a threat by Lee Rigby’s killers.

There seems to be an assumption, in the coverage of this, that Facebook actually knew about the threat.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – ensure there is no benefit abuse while retaining free labour movement

Nick clegg rally glasgow 2014
Writing in the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg argues in favour of immigration for work purposes from the EU, but lists a range of restrictions on benefits for those coming to the UK:

Overwhelmingly, European migrants come here to work and pay taxes.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 37 Comments

It’s International Day for the elimination of violence against women. Lynne Featherstone highlights need for men and boys to act. What do Liberal Democrat MPs do?

Today marks the start of 16 days of action, from today’s International Day for the elimination of violence against women to Human Rights Day on 10th December, when events all over the world will raise awareness and take action to stop violence against women.

Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone have been speaking to students  at an NUS event aimed at Kings College London about the importance of changing the culture and the role that men and boys need to play in that.

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Liberal Democrat members and ministers talk mental health for Channel 4’s political slot

Last week, the Liberal Democrats used their Political Slot with Channel 4 to talk about mental health. Norman Lamb said that it was “morally wrong and economically stupid” to deny people with mental ill health speedy treatment and talked about Liberal Democrat plans to introduce waiting time targets over the next five years.

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The ‘nowcast’ for May 2015 which gives the Lib Dems 28 MPs

Over at the polling website May2015 (part of the New Statesman stable) Matt Singh has asked the straightforward question, ‘How are the Lib Dems polling and will they survive in May 2015?’ Except it isn’t all that straightforward…

First, there’s the issue that the different polling companies don’t agree on what the current Lib Dem rating actually is. In the last fortnight, the party’s been rated as low as 5% (Opinium) and as high as 11% (ICM): that’s a difference outside the margin of error you might expect.

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A cute cross-party christening

Tom Watson is Labour MP or West Bromwich and general scourge of the Murdoch empire, which is no bad thing. He’s pretty much with us when he talks about the need to tackle politicians’ deference to the media.

He’s an old friend and university sparring partner of long-standing Liberal Democrat Federal Executive and Federal Conference Committee member James Gurling and this weekend became godfather to Gurling’s incredibly cute 9 month old son.

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Lamb urges online therapy for teenagers with Depression and McInnes urges Scottish Government to improve mental health services for young people

Norman Lamb has been talking to the Times (£)  about different ways of helping children and teenagers with Depression. This could include accessing therapy via an internet app. This would augment, to replace traditional face to face therapy:

MPs on the health select committee said this month that mental health services for children and teenagers were inadequate from prevention to crisis care, as they reported increasing concerns over cyberbullying and self-harm websites.

Mr Lamb wants to use online tools to solve some of these problems, including computerised cognitive behavioural therapy, online counselling and peer support networks for the mentally ill.

“If you’re a teenager and your world revolves around digital access, we must make sure you get access to therapy online. So these programmes are being developed. We’ve got a taskforce looking at how we can modernise children and young people’s mental health and that’s one of the key elements to it,” he told The Times.

“What I want to achieve is a much more seamless service that allows you access online, face to face or over the telephone, whichever is appropriate.”

Some programmes had already been shown to work, he said. “These platforms are evidence-based so the risk is very low that they’re not appropriate. Some people may need more than that so you have to have access to a gradation of different type of service.”

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LibLink: Ibrahim Taguri: Immigration – do you want the truth or something beautiful?

Brace yourselves. Brent Central Liberal Democrat candidate has written a hard-hitting and heartfelt article for the New Statesman on immigration. He expresses his anger at what passes for debate on the issue:

This country has been built on the blood, sweat and backs of immigrants. This is the story of immigration in this country. It’s about time the political establishment recognised this. Not make us feel like foreigners in our own country.

The disenfranchised working classes are being whipped up over the issue and after being long abandoned by Labour are turning to Ukip.

Our country is being betrayed by politicians who are too weak and too self-serving to make the positive case for immigration. Instead it’s a testosterone fuelled race as to who can be hard, harder and hardest on immigrants.

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Opinion: ALDE Party Council: Bouncing Czechs, “which Slovenes are the liberals?”*, and a prospective rise in the price of cod…

Whilst you might not have guessed it from those manifestos you read from candidates for places on the Party’s ALDE Council delegation, the policy debates were still in our future when Council made an early start on Friday morning.Our task was a straightforward one, debate changes to the constitution, including a revision of the membership structure, authorise the creation of a business club, consider six membership applications, receive and approve the 2015 budget and debate the report of the Bureau… in two hours (English Council, please note).

The constitutional changes were adopted, although there were concerns over the apparent absence of a code of conduct for fundraising. Luckily, a helpful British member of the Financial Advisory Committee was on hand to both reassure and clarify the position – there is one, it was available for circulation, and it could be applied to the proposed business club, a means for corporate sponsors to fund events without directly funding a political party’s campaigning activities.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

What do do if you haven’t had a ballot paper in the party Presidential Election

Over the last few months, the party has had the best Presidential election contest it’s had in years, with first four, then three candidates travelling the length of the country to meet and engage with members and answer their questions.

Now it’s almost over. Voting closes tomorrow at noon.

Ballot papers were sent out at the end of October to all members by post. Each member had an option of returning the green ballot paper, or using the unique information in it to vote by post.

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…Lords push for a stronger Modern Slavery Bill

Parliament is never short of Bills coming from the Home Office, but the Modern Slavery Bill is different.  At the end of the second reading in the Lords last week, the Minister pointed to the warm reception given by every speaker who followed this with seven minutes on all the things that could be added to it.  The view on the Lib Dem benches, like others, was to welcome the Bill both for what it is and for the opportunity it provides to do even more to address the abomination (and very big business – this is often highly profitable …

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Opinion: The assessment boycott and the need to protect students with disabilities

I have just started university and all is going well, except in one particular area. I have not received a single piece of work back from my university tutors since my course began. This because of a assessment boycott instigated by the University and Colleges Union (UCU). They are is a dispute with the group that represents the heads of most universities in the UK (UUK) over pensions. I am in the same boat as thousands of other university and college students in the UK. this is not only very annoying it is also very disruptive the my university education. As a student with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), this includes myself as I have Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. This is putting a massive amount of undue extra pressure on me and many others at the beginning of our university lives. I have made a brief video which explains this further:

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Opinion: ALDE Congress: Après le deluge, liberalism reclaimed?

Rainy Lisbon by vidixitIt had been raining in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. Indeed, it had been raining for so long and so hard that local taxi drivers couldn’t remember it being worse. Not, perhaps, an auspicious opening for a meeting of European liberals, although for the Germans and ourselves, the notion of poor political weather might well have been vaguely familiar.But, gather we did, and amongst our midst were strangers, hoping to be friends, and some of the new MEPs and European Commissioners, showing their faces and networking. There were emerging issues to discuss – what to do about Russia, how to grow the economy, what to do about the digital economy, privacy and data protection – and a desire to reclaim liberalism from those who use it as a term of abuse.

The first order of business was the ALDE Party Council meeting, but I’ll cover that separately.

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In full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference

Willie Rennie speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008Here is Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference in Dunfermline this Saturday.

Thank you to everyone who sent kind wishes following my period of absence from the political stage. I was undergoing an operation to replace a mangled disc in my neck.

It was an emergency, not for any medical reasons, but because our campaign director Adam Stachura said it was hindering my canvassing technique.

Lying on the theatre trolley as the needle was about to be injected into my hand the doctor declared she knew exactly who I was.

It was even more alarming that she looked remarkably like Nicola Sturgeon.

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Opinion: What’s that you say, Mr Robinson?

Peter robinson by alan in belfastThis weekend,  Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson addressed his party conference for the last time before the General Election and launched his ire at losing his seat in Westminster last time out. Talking of the DUP candidate’s chances for East Belfast next May he said:

There may be other unionists in the field, but they will only serve to divide the pro-union opposition to the flag-lowering, parade-stopping, gay marriage-supporting, pro water-charging, holier-than-thou Alliance Party.

It’s an interesting choice of words, which drew applause from his audience but needs a serious look at the implications of what they mean, for our sister party in Northern Ireland.

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Recalling MPs – how to let the public recall MPs who have committed misconduct

Today, the Recall of MPs Bill comes back to the House of Commons for further consideration.  During its Committee Stage, David Heath and I proposed improvements, which would ensure that constituents could access the recall process without the involvement of any parliamentary committee (link to previous article).

Greg Clark, the Government Minister responding to our proposals, told MPs that it was an “important suggestion much to commend it” and that he would “reflect carefully on the amendment.”  This is usually parliamentary parlance for “I like this idea and will bring it back in my own name at the next stage”.

However, …

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Nick Clegg taking questions on mental health on Mind’s Facebook page today

nick clegg live tweet town hall 1st may 2014In a Facebook first, Nick Clegg will be taking questions on mental health over on Mind’s Facebook page this lunchtime, starting at 12:30 pm.

He put this brief video on his own page to explain why he thinks this is important and is quoted on Mind’s website:

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An overview of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Scottish liberal democratsFor the first time in 5 years, and only the third in the almost 15 years we’ve been back in Scotland, I missed a Scottish Conference this weekend. I had a particularly unpleasant bug that kept me in my bed for almost 3 days. Be gentle with me because I’m still not quite recovered.

The event had keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael and leader Willie Rennie, a discussion on the manifesto led by Jo Swinson and motions on subjects such as access to mental health services for young people and putting more NHS resources in areas of deprivation – a patient premium. The conference also passed a landmark motion calling for decriminalisation of sex work. You can have a look at the motions up for debate here. There was, I am told, even a good old-fashioned tammy on amending Conference Standing Orders which the Establishment won – but only after a counted vote.

My colleague Dave Gorman, from Falkirk gave a brief summary of the day on Facebook and I have his permission to reproduce it here:

My experience of being a Liberal Democrat, and the vitriol and nonsense written and spoken about us, causes me to write this. Today we agreed policy on, inter alia, widening participation to democracy including giving a duty to electoral officers to stimulate voting; providing new rights to sex workers and decriminalising it; extra funding for GP practices based on special funding in deprived areas; new support for poorer workers and much more. I remain proud to stand with fellow Liberal Democrats to promote opportunity and to promote the rights and opportunities of the minority, the oppressed and the poorest. So there.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #399

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 399th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (16-22 November, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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Alex Folkes: Cornwall Council and its chief executive have serious questions to answer

Many Lib Dems will know Alex Folkes. He’s a Lib Dem councillor on Cornwall Council, and was a member of its cabinet until earlier this month, when he stood down to “deal with a personal issue”. I noticed it at the time, hoped it was nothing too bad, thought no more of it.

Then on Thursday night I read Alex’s 1,500-word blog-post, ‘The truth about why I resigned and the claims being made against me’.

It is an extraordinary account which, if shown to be true, must surely lead to the resignation of Cornwall Council’s chief executive, Andrew Kerr. It was Mr Kerr who has asked Alex to resign from the council over claims he poses a “potential risk” to children. Last week, without giving Alex any advance notice, the council wrote to all schools and youth clubs in his ward about him and issued a press release to say they had done so. Why? Here’s how Alex tells it:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 25 Comments

Should Liberal Democrat Voice put up a post if and when a blogger leaves the party?

charlotte henryIn a spasm of madness a few weeks ago, from their conclavial confinement, the Liberal Democrat Voice team saw fit to emit a puff of white smoke in favour of myself, concerning the vexed matter of who would be Wednesday Editor of this august and elegantly barnacle-clad ship of the cyber-seas.

In the course of my duties last Wednesday, my not-very sophisticated news gathering antennae became aware of the news that Charlotte Henry had left the party. Newsmoggie kindly published a post concerning that. An interesting comments debate ensued under said post and it was one of our most popular offerings for this week.

Posted in Humour and Site news | 43 Comments
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  • User AvatarDavid Allen 27th Nov - 1:05am
    "They have all of this mega-technology already, they currently use it to read your posts and target massive mega-advertising at you!" Yes, and that's easy....
  • User AvatarAmalric 27th Nov - 1:00am
    I hope we will make it are our policy that we will restrict in-work benefits including housing benefit. I would say immigrants can only receive...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 27th Nov - 12:48am
    The key problem is that Nigel has the clearest and most convincing narrative - simply, that Britain cannot control immigration from the EU unless it...
  • User AvatarCharlie 27th Nov - 12:35am
    Conor McGovern What happens if muslim terrorists take hostages in a school or cinema ( as in Russia ): what do we say to the...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 26th Nov - 11:55pm
    Thanks Stephen. No one who puts loyalty to the values of the party above support to a mere leader can be accused of being disloyal.
  • User AvatarConor McGovern 26th Nov - 11:48pm
    ^Aren't we meant to be liberals? Just a thought.