Mark Pack and Mike Dixon Q&A

by Greg Foster on Fri, 14 Aug 2020

On Thursday 13th August, Mike Dixon and Mark Pack sat down with Mimi Turner and 150 activists for a quick run-through of the party's response to the Thornhill review, party objectives and strategy.

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Don't let the Conservatives make refugees the enemy

by Tim Farron on Fri, 14 Aug 2020

This week the country has seen harrowing images from the English Channel. Desperate people in tiny plastic dinghies, some desperately emptying water from their sinking boat, forced into a perilous journey as they flee their homes to escape war and persecution.

It’s a disgrace that the Government has chosen refugees as their next distraction from their mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, an impending economic crisis, and failure to protect jobs. 

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives want us to turn our attention away from how they’ve failed our country, and towards refugees. So let’s see how they’re failing refugees, too. 

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives want us to turn our attention away from how they’ve failed our country, and towards refugees.

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Back in July, Boris Johnson finally agreed to our demands to hold an independent inquiry into the Government’s response to coronavirus.

The Prime Minister accepted his Government will “learn the lessons of this pandemic” and confirmed there will be in independent inquiry.

Almost a month later we have heard nothing from the Prime Minister about when this might take place.

Teachers and pupils are preparing to return to schools across Britain. People are trying to resume some semblance of normality, returning to shops and restaurants. NHS and care staff continue to fight the virus wherever it returns.

The Government clearly made mistakes

Meanwhile COVID-19 cases are rising in parts of Europe, the disease is tearing across Latin America, and the Government is enacting local lockdowns in parts of Britain.

With a potential vaccine months away from being verified and ready to distribute, the threat of a second wave of coronavirus hitting our country must be taken seriously.

It is the Government’s duty to prepare for a potential second wave. To do that, they must learn the lessons of their initial response to the outbreak through an independent inquiry.

Back on 24 July, Boris Johnson admitted “there are things that we need to learn about how we handled it in the early stages.”

That is certainly true; the Government clearly made mistakes.

From the slowness of the initial reaction, to the tragedy that has struck our care homes, to the shortages of Personal Protective Equipment and testing, the Government must be honest and open about its failures if it is to retain public trust.

Families and communities across the country are hoping for the best this autumn and winter, but the Government must demonstrate that it is prepared for another wave of coronavirus should it happen.

We cannot wait any longer – we must learn these lessons now and protect lives during a potential second wave.

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Due to the coronavirus crisis, young people have not only had to adapt to a new system of at-home learning, but many have also missed out on sitting crucial exams that would decide their university fate.

Now, many of these students across England have been left rightly worried about their futures over the government's decision to use a botched grading system in their A-level results. 

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Could you be our candidate for Mayor of London?

by Simon McGrath on Thu, 13 Aug 2020

the combination of a higher poverty rate than the rest of England, Brexit, COVID-19 and an ineffectual Mayor have presented Londoners with huge challenges

Nearly nine million people, 300 languages, the second largest financial centre in the world, a power house of culture, media and business and the driver of the UK economy: London is a fantastic place to live and work. But the combination of a higher poverty rate than the rest of England, Brexit, COVID-19 and an ineffectual Mayor have presented Londoners with huge challenges.

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Statement on the Radical Association Hustings

by Alan Masters on Tue, 11 Aug 2020

Getting children back to school

by Liberal Democrats on Mon, 10 Aug 2020

The past few months have been incredibly difficult for pupils and teachers. We must ensure no child’s opportunities are diminished due to this terrible pandemic – that means getting children back to school safely.

However, school leaders, teachers, parents, and pupils need to feel confident that their schools will be COVID-safe once term begins in September.

Boris Johnson needs to step up and take action if this is going to happen. We must have a comprehensive test, trace, isolate system in place. The current NHS Test and Trace service is failing to reach enough close contacts; we need to see significant improvement before September if we are going to safely reopen schools.

The Government must also address the practical and financial support requirements that are involved with fully reopening schools. School leaders and teachers will be under serious pressure to adapt to making schools COVID-safe – they deserve a Government that fully supports them through this difficult time.

Liberal Democrats want to see radical steps to support education providers, from making community spaces available to schools, to a Teach for Britain campaign that can bring in new staff in this difficult time.

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The world has watched in horror as the persecution of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang has been revealed. From the initial reports of mass surveillance, to evidence of up to 3 million people forced into so called re-education camps, the situation is bleak and all too familiar.

We remain clear that the UK has a duty to act.

In just the last few months, drone footage believed to be from Xinjiang in China, showed Uyghurs kneeling and blindfolded, waiting to be led onto trains. At the same time, the Chinese Government is also accused of undertaking a programme of forced sterilisation against Uyghur women.

The situation is abhorrent. Over the course of the last three years, Liberal Democrats have urged the UK government to do more to stop this gross violation of human rights. We have led cross-party letters, parliamentary debates, and parliamentary motions.

We remain clear that the UK has a duty to act. That is why we have led on a cross-party letter this week to Priti Patel urging her to do the right thing and automatically give refugee status to the Uyghur people.

As Liberal Democrats, human rights are at the core of who we are as a party.

Internationalism, as well as our fundamental belief in equality and civil liberties, drives everything we do.

We cannot sit idly by while the Chinese government seeks to carry out a genocide on the Uyghur people.

That is why we are calling on the government to offer the Uyghur population asylum in the UK, so that they can flee the unthinkable horrors of the situation in Xinjiang and find safety here.

We are also urging the government to immediately bring forward Magnitsky legislation so that those individuals who are found to have committed human rights violations can be sanctioned.

History is watching us. We cannot sit idly by while the Chinese government seeks to carry out a genocide on the Uyghur people.

There is no justifiable excuse for failing to act. Liberal Democrats will keep pushing the government to do the right thing.

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Honouring our debt to Afghan interpreters

by Jamie Stone on Fri, 07 Aug 2020

During the war in Afghanistan, a number of Afghan civilians served with British troops as interpreters. These brave men and women risked their lives to enable our Armed Forces to do their jobs.

It was our own Paddy Ashdown who fought to ensure that the Government didn’t forget the service of these Afghan heroes.

Many of them were no longer safe in Afghanistan, facing reprisals for their service to the UK.

So I was proud that, when the UK began withdrawing our forces in 2012, it was our own Paddy Ashdown who fought to ensure that the Government didn’t forget the service of these Afghan heroes.

Back in 2013, he spoke powerfully about the “debt of honour” we owe them, and argued that they must be offered the chance to live in the UK.

Thanks to Paddy’s campaign and the efforts of Liberal Democrat Ministers, we secured a scheme to allow interpreters to move to the UK.

However, they faced fierce resistance from Conservative Ministers, who set tight limits on who could benefit from the scheme.

Only those who were still working for the UK in December 2012 were eligible, and they could only bring family members with them if they moved at the same time – spouses and children could not join them later.

This left far too many interpreters stuck in Afghanistan and at serious risk of violence, or in the UK but separated from their families.

So we kept campaigning and, in 2018, the Government promised to expand the scheme to include all interpreters who have served on the frontline with British troops since May 2006.

It claimed that up to 200 more people would be able to benefit from the changes – but, two years later, just two translators have been able to come to the UK under the new rules.

The Government also promised in March last year that interpreters who have relocated to the UK would now be able to bring family members to join them.

Brave individuals in Afghanistan who put their lives at risk for our country deserve the right to stay in the UK.

Sadly, however, not a single family member had been relocated to the UK under the new rules more than a year after that change came into force.

These failures represent an appalling breach of the debt Paddy spoke of back in 2013.

These courageous interpreters must not be left to live in fear of reprisals for their service, nor must they be cruelly separated from their families.

So, along with my Liberal Democrat colleagues and a number of MPs from other parties, I have written to the Defence Secretary and the Home Secretary, urging them to put this right without further delay.

We are calling for a comprehensive relocation scheme that allows all those who served as interpreters for our Armed Forces in Afghanistan – and their families – to come to the UK if they choose.

Just as those who have faced coronavirus on the frontline deserve the right to stay in the UK, so too do the brave individuals in Afghanistan who put their lives at risk for our country.

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There are no quick fixes to rebuilding our party

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Thu, 06 Aug 2020

In this campaign, I’ve really been put through my paces. Through 20 hustings, with more to come, and hundreds of media interviews for newspapers, blogs, TV & radio, I’ve been making my pitch for the leadership.

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5 ways we have fought to protect jobs during coronavirus

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 05 Aug 2020

Throughout this terrible disease, people have not only faced heartbreaking loss of life, but also crushing anxiety over their livelihoods.

Lockdown has been necessary to prevent an even greater catastrophe, but the economic shutdown has thrown millions of people into financial hardship.

Liberal Democrats have been fighting to make sure people do not feel left behind as the country slowly recovers. We cannot allow this to create a new wave of inequality in Britain; the damage done to businesses and jobs falls harder on some than others.

Here’s how we’ve been fighting to ensure no one is left behind.

1. Pushing the Government to help the self employed

Back in March, as the Government announced its financial support plans for businesses and employees, there was one group of workers that was conspicuously left out: the self-employed.

Over five million people - cleaners, taxi drivers, hairdressers, builders - all of these people faced tremendous uncertainty with the lockdown, but were not initially included in Rishi Sunak’s plans. We spoke out and pushed the Government to go further.

It worked. The Government expanded their offer, and we urged them to move even quicker to ensure that these people had enough to get by throughout the hardest period of lockdown.

2. Fighting for the furlough scheme to be extended

In early May, Rishi Sunak suggested he was hoping to “wind down” the furlough scheme in the coming weeks.

The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for millions of people this year whose employers were shut down or suffering dramatic loss of business.

In fact, it is estimated that the furlough scheme covered around a quarter of all jobs. The fact is that the scheme prevented even greater numbers of redundancies than we have seen - it has been essential in preventing cruel mass unemployment. Yet Rishi Sunak wanted to wind it down prematurely.

That’s why we spoke out against his plans and launched our “Safe to Return to Work” scheme that would give people that time and that confidence and help avoid further large-scale job losses.

3. Speaking up for the hardest-hit sectors

The economic turmoil of COVID-19 has not been felt equally across all sectors. That’s why we’ve spoken out for those who are feeling the pinch the hardest.

Take the creative industries.

We enjoy a world-leading creative sector, but without additional support they risk emerging smaller, weaker and with lasting damage.

That’s why in July Daisy Cooper called for a package of support to reinvigorate creative industries. Daisy’s plan, Power of Creativity: Recovery and Renewal, pushed the Government to take ambitious action to address the specific needs of a vulnerable sector.

4. Standing up for the 3m Excluded

We have heard too many heart-breaking stories from those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of coronavirus and are excluded from the Government’s support

Jamie Stone MP

Even now, there are too many people not receiving the help they need.

There are still around 3 million people who are not currently covered by the Government’s support.

New starters, newly self-employed people and freelancers all face difficulty getting the help they need.

But these people cannot be left behind as our economy begins to recover - that’s why we’re campaigning hard to get the Government to go further for the 3 million excluded.

Jamie Stone led the creation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group dedicated to helping these people, and as a party we’re going to keep pushing the Government to take action to support these people

5. Calling for an extension of the Brexit transition period

Instead of acting in the national interest, Conservative Ministers have been content to drive the UK towards a disastrous Brexit in the midst of a pandemic.

Refusing to extend the Brexit transition period not only threatens our vital medical supplies during this crisis, but also risks a huge economic hit.

Liberal Democrats have been speaking out against this reckless behaviour from the Government, calling for an extension of the Brexit transition period in order to protect jobs in Britain for those only just recovering from lockdown.

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Returning Officer's Ruling 5th August 2020

by Alan Masters on Wed, 05 Aug 2020

A complaint has been made about Ed Davey’s campaign’s conduct in its communication with members as to their voting intentions, specifically that they instructed canvassers not to disclose the identity of the campaign they were actually calling on behalf in calls made on the 11th and 14th of July 2020.

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by Layla Moran on Wed, 05 Aug 2020

Like many young people and students in the early 2000s, I first joined the Liberal Democrats because of Charles Kennedy's brave stance on the invasion of Iraq.

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Returning Officer's Ruling 31st July 2020

by Alan Masters on Fri, 31 Jul 2020

What are the Liberal Democrats calling for?

We’re calling on the Government to grant indefinite leave to remain in the UK – the right to stay – to all foreign nationals currently working in the NHS and social care, and their families.

How many people from other countries work in the NHS and social care?

About 1 in 7 people who work in the NHS are foreign nationals, according to the latest data from NHS digital.

In England alone, that’s 171,000 people – including 36,000 doctors, 59,000 nurses and 40,000 clinical support staff.

Meanwhile, figures from Skills for Care show that 1 in 6 of the adult social care workforce in England are foreign nationals: 249,000 care staff.

As these numbers demonstrate, there are hundreds of thousands of people from other countries on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic here in the UK. Like the rest of our wonderful NHS and care staff, they are putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure we get the care we need.

Surely they already have the right to stay?

You’d think so, but no.

Some do already have the right to stay, but many others face having to reapply or being forced to leave the UK – some as soon as October.

First, there are the EU citizens (68,000 in the NHS and 115,000 in adult social care in England), most of whom have come to work in the UK thanks to free movement. Under the Conservatives’ plans, they will lose that right when free movement ends at the end of 2020. Boris Johnson promised them the automatic right to stay, but has reneged on that – instead forcing them to apply for Settled Status and putting them at risk of a new Windrush-style scandal.

Then there are those from outside the EU (103,000 in the NHS and 134,000 in social care). Many of these are on “Tier 2” general work visas, often lasting for just two or three years at a time. When their visas expire, they will either have to reapply or leave the UK.

So what is the Government doing about this?

The Government has announced a free one-year visa extension for around 3,000 health and care staff with visas due to expire before 1st October.

However, the Government has excluded many of those on the frontlines, such as hospital porters, cleaners and social care workers, from this offer. Even those who are included will be forced to renew their visas next year – at a cost of around £700 per person – or leave the country.

And then there are the NHS and care workers whose visas are due to expire after the end of September. The Conservatives are doing nothing for them, which means frontline workers could find themselves being forced to leave the UK as early as October.

That’s simply not good enough.

The idea that anyone who has worked so hard to save lives during this emergency might one day be forced to leave should be unthinkable.

What’s the solution?

The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are fighting to give all NHS and care staff from other countries the right to stay in the UK. The Government should grant them and their families the right to settle here, without the costs or bureaucratic hurdles that usually involves.

This would be a small way to recognise and celebrate the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our NHS – and to our society, our economy and our communities more broadly.

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New restrictions in northern England

by Munira Wilson on Fri, 31 Jul 2020

Throughout this crisis, the Government’s communications have been an utter disaster.

Yet more mistakes reveal how necessary it is for an inquiry to be launched now

To announce a regional lockdown of millions of people not only just hours before it’s enforced, but with no clarity on the new rules coming into place, is beyond comprehension.

Considering their ability to tackle this pandemic relies on the clarity of messaging coming from the Government, it is unsurprising that just yesterday it was announced that England has had the highest excess mortality across Europe.

If the Government want the British public to follow the rules they are announcing, then they must be clear, ahead of time, and they must have forewarned local authorities.

It remains unclear at what point Boris Johnson’s Government will finally manage to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis.

Yet more mistakes reveal how necessary it is for an inquiry to be launched now – so that Ministers can learn the lessons ahead of a potential second wave.

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Eid al-Adha

by Mark Pack on Fri, 31 Jul 2020

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I would like to send best wishes to all Muslims celebrating Eid al-Adha. 

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim's test of faith. It also marks the end of Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. 

I hope that all of us will take this opportunity to reflect on those values of selflessness, charity and community which are at the heart of Islam

The voyage to Mecca is one of the most significant moments in a Muslim’s life but, with the continuing need for social distancing, I know that many British Muslims had to cancel their plans to make the journey this year. Many other customs and traditions will also be suspended as the battle against the coronavirus continues.

But although so much remains uncertain, I am confident we will get through these challenging times together. 

I hope that all of us, regardless of our background, will take this opportunity to reflect on those values of selflessness, charity and community which are both at the heart of Islam and also so relevant to those of us of other faiths, or no faith. 

This is also an important opportunity to honour the contributions of British Muslim communities and to celebrate the rich diversity of our country. Our country, and our party, benefit greatly from those contributions.

Wishing everyone celebrating a wonderful Eid. Eid Mubarak!

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Read the leadership candidate's election addresses

by Greg Foster on Thu, 30 Jul 2020

Voting opens today for the Liberal Democrat Leadership Election!

You might get your ballot by either email or post and it might take some time on the 30th or 31st to be sent, as delivery is being staggered through the day. Postal deliveries may take longer, especially if you're overseas.

If you haven't had a ballot by 10am on Friday 31st July, please feel free to drop an email. Votes have to be cast by 1pm on Wednesday 26th August 2020.

To help members make up their minds, each of the candidates has prepared an election address, which you can read here:

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We’re in a tough spot.

by Layla Moran on Wed, 29 Jul 2020

Let’s be honest with ourselves - we’re in a tough spot. Our average polling figure currently stands at 8%, a far cry from the late teens or early 20s we previously enjoyed as recently as last year.

I won Oxford West & Abingdon from the ground up. Nobody knows the potential of Liberal Democrat activists like I do.

But this isn’t just because of the coalition, or Brexit, or the 2019 election. A vast array of factors have led us to where we are now, and to turn things around we need change. Not only within the inner workings of the party as a whole, but in our public-facing approach, to ensure that our party can survive and then thrive in the years ahead.

Our country needs a strong liberal voice representing it in Parliament. And there’s nobody who can deliver that better than us. I’m standing for leader because I can set us free from the past that’s weighing us down. I want to send a clear signal to voters that we have learned from the mistakes of the last decade, and rebuild trust by listening.. I have a positive, inclusive vision - not just for our party, but for our country. We can only deliver it by winning again.

At our heart, we are an organisation that empowers people to make their own decisions in their community. There is a level of trust in the party to control councils in local government that just isn’t apparent in the national picture.

We owe it to our country to elect a leader who can enact effective change

I won Oxford West & Abingdon from the ground up. Nobody knows the potential of Liberal Democrat activists like I do. Our team succeeded because we believed in our activists. We gave them the tools they needed to get the job done, and I want to bring that to my leadership. 

We can’t recover without reaching out to people who don’t currently vote for us, too. That’s why I went and knocked doors across from Cornwall to Wales, to Yorkshire after the 2019 election, before the pandemic hit. That’s the approach I will take in my first year of being leader. I want to ask the electorate how we can win back their trust - rather than tell them. I wanted to listen to our grassroots members who give us so much, too - I’ve spoken with nearly 300 local parties and party bodies since the start of lockdown. We must learn from them.

I’ll level with you. Success will take time. But we owe it to our country to elect a leader who represents a progressive change, who takes a lead on developing our incredible activists and builds a rapport with voters across the UK. I believe I’m the right person for the job - put your trust in me to lead our party, and let’s move forward together.

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Your Leadership Election Ballot

by Greg Foster on Wed, 29 Jul 2020

Voting opens in the Liberal Democrat Leadership Election at 9am on Thursday 30th July.

To help you know when and how you'll be voting, we've put together a quick guide to voting in the Leadership Election, which you can read below.

Most members will vote online, but around 1 in 20 will vote by post. If you haven't had your ballot by 10am on Friday 31st July, please feel free to drop an email to and we'll be happy to help!

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