Olly Wells

Former Liberal Democrat Councillor for Knaphill Learn more

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International Women's Day

by Daisy Cooper on Mon, 08 Mar 2021

This year we honour the women who are paving the way for future generations.

We celebrate Kamala Harris: the first female, first Black and first Asian-American Vice President of the USA. We celebrate Zara Mohammed who just became the first woman to be Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. We celebrate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and the first African person to head the World Trade Organisation, and we celebrate Prof Sarah Gilbert, the lead professor behind the Oxford coronavirus vaccine.

We also celebrate all those women working on the frontline of this pandemic. The women working tirelessly in the NHS, the women who work as paid or unpaid carers, committed teachers, retail staff, and dedicated researchers and scientists developing vaccines: thank you for everything you’re doing to build a safer world.

But these trail blazing women are just one side of the story.

Before the pandemic, women were already picking up more of the unpaid and undervalued work than men, but with additional domestic chores, family care and home-schooling, women are picking up proportionally even more.

UN Women estimates that the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 25 years of increasing gender equality. Before the pandemic, women were already picking up more of the unpaid and undervalued work than men, but with additional domestic chores, family care and home-schooling, women are picking up proportionally even more.

This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge - a call to action for each of us to challenge gender inequality and bias; to champion the women whose achievements are overlooked, to object when a woman is talked over and to challenge the build back better narrative, to put equality at its heart.

Today, let us remind ourselves of what can happen when women and girls are able to fulfil their potential. Let us think of the ways we all benefit when we are able to tap into the talent, creativity and leadership of women.

To the women of the past on whose shoulders we stand, to the women breaking new ground today and to every woman helping herself and others to simply get through each and every day - thank you and happy International Women’s Day.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Why we need more Lib Dems elected

by Mark Pack on Fri, 05 Mar 2021

Campaigning steps up...

I’ve just been in touch with one of the Liberal Democrat councillors for the ward up the road from me to line up a Focus delivery round on Monday, 8 March. That’s the date from which the latest change in guidelines in England comes in. It gives the go-ahead to a much wider range of leafleting and also to doorstep canvassing.

We will all still need to be mindful of keeping our distance, wearing masks, using hand sanitizer and other safety measures. But we can significantly up our campaigning all across England this month. That’s vital with the huge round of elections coming up in May.

The importance of those elections is all the greater in Scotland and Wales with their own general elections, though of course they have different health guidelines. The party’s latest guidance for campaigning in all three countries is on the party website.

That wasn’t a Lib Dem budget

The Chancellor’s Budget this week has shown how important it is to get more Lib Dems elected. As Daisy Cooper put it:

“Nothing for 3m #excluded entrepreneurs. Nothing to ease debt facing small businesses. Nothing to fix the broken business rates system. Nothing for exporters hit badly by Brexit. Nothing to tackle climate emergency. Nothing on education or for young people. Nothing to fix NHS & social care. Nothing to help those living in or on the edge of poverty.”

The May elections

These contests will also be the first opportunity to see the benefits of the big investment we’ve made in increasing the size of our field campaign team. Thanks to cooperation across the party we’ve got a much larger team than before. There is a common plan being worked to by regional parties, state parties, ALDC and Lib Dem HQ. That includes a bumper set of training coming up at Spring conference.

Good luck to everyone who will be campaigning for these May elections. A special thank you to the families of all our candidates and agents in particular for whom elections are a big intrusion into their lives.

Our plans for the May elections were one of the main agenda items at the February Federal Board. We reviewed the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC)’s plans to ensure appropriate support is available to every local party. Target seats are of course the most important in the immediate weeks before polling day. But for long-term, sustained success we also need to build up our strength in a wider range of seats.

Later in the year we will look at the plans from our new Chief Technology Officer for improving our use of data and technology.

Better and cheaper: a new HQ

More immediately, the February Board also gave the final sign-off to our plans to move to new offices. As long as nothing goes wrong at the last moment, and after giving careful consideration to different options, we will be moving to much nicer yet also much cheaper offices.

This year the vast majority of HQ staff have been working from home. They have told us that post-lockdowns, splitting their working week between home and office is their preference. We support them in that choice of doing their work, their way. This has allowed us to secure a smaller office space which will considerably lower our costs.

We have found a space that will give us the flexibility to expand into a general election operation without having to relocate. That will be a major benefit given the Conservative plans to scrap the Fixed Term Parliaments Act and return us to the days of having to anticipate when a Prime Minister may spring a snap election on everyone without warning.

Developing our strategy

Coming up at Spring conference is the next round of consultation with members on our evolving strategy. The February Board had a first look at the new business plan we’re developing for the federal party. It ties together all our different strands of activity into one plan to deliver our political goals.

This sort of integration behind a common aim is one of the major gaps in the way we run the party identified by the Thornhill Review. So we’re also now running quarterly briefing sessions for those in leadership roles across the party. These are being used to share and get feedback on the directions we’re taking and the reasoning behind them.

Two priorities in this work are improving our diversity and our internal communications. On the former, we are working with the experts at Diversity Matters to produce a specific plan to turn good intentions into results. On the latter, we’ve recruited someone to a new post in HQ.

Improving our handling of complaints

Our complaints system also featured at the February Board. Among other matters, we considered proposals to re-open the previous decision to introduce a definition of transphobia. This proposal was rejected and the definition remains as is.

Steps to improve the working of the system will be coming to Spring conference. In particular, at the moment changing even one comma in the detailed rules requires a measure to go to conference. That makes the system cumbersome and slow to improve. So conference will have the chance to vote for a streamlined process that maintains safeguards over who has to approve changes and how they are reported back to members.

In addition, a new casework management system to improve the administration of the system has been introduced, and a new member of staff has started in the HQ team. Thank you to all the volunteers and staff who work so hard running the system.

Other Board business

The Board agreed improvements to our standing orders, including confirming limits on the powers of the Steering Group. We’ve also clarified how the Board elects people to various posts, addressing queries that have come up.

Following feedback from party members in last year’s consultation, the Board introduced a pilot mechanism for recorded votes so that on big issues people can see which way Board members have voted.

Paul Fox has stood down from the Federal Finances and Resources Committee (FFRC) as he now has the work of being a regional treasurer. We elected Mayor Dave Hodgson to succeed him and appointed Caris Doig to fill a vacancy on the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC). The FFRC has also co-opted Shelley Snelson in a pilot for having a Deputy Registered Treasurer.

Thank you both Dave and Shelley for putting your names forward, and to everyone else who applied.

Federal Appeals Panel

Having an effective internal party appeals process is one of those tasks which, if it goes wrong, has knock-on effects all through the party.

That’s why last year the Board put a lot of effort into recruiting high quality names for membership of the Federal Appeals Panel (FAP). It’s also why FASC has reviewed how the Panel works.

The Board met with the new chair, David Graham. We discussed his plans for improving how the panel operates, including implementing the FASC recommendations.

David has a very welcome focus on transparency. That can be seen already with the new regularly updated list of rulings on the party website. More on his plans is in his report to conference.

His panel is not the only appeals process in the party. I encourage everyone involved in other similar processes to look at the approach he is taking and see what can be usefully applied to their processes too.

Congratulations

Thank you to everyone who has been taking part in our big ‘maraphone’ telephone canvassing drives.

Congratulations to our colleagues in Hull who topped the rankings for speaking to the most voters in the last one. I’m assured that the numbers have been independently verified and in no way influenced by our Director of Field Campaigns being a Hull councillor himself...

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Today's Budget must support small businesses on the brink

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 03 Mar 2021

Small businesses up and down the UK are in danger.

906,000 businesses could go bankrupt by April unless they receive additional support.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, one in seven small firms – a massive 906,000 businesses – could go bankrupt by April unless they receive additional support.

This would leave 2.5 million people without a job, and have a catastrophic impact on our communities.

Small firms are also struggling under a mountain of red tape, imposed on them by Boris Johnson’s terrible trade deal with the EU, with many now facing a nightmare of new expenses, such as duties, brokerage charges and new VAT costs. 

The Government has shown that it doesn't care about small businesses

The Government has shown that it doesn’t care about small businesses.

The Chancellor is too busy talking to huge multinational corporations about how they have coped in the pandemic, rather than focussing on the needs of the hardworking people up and down the country who run small businesses which our communities rely on.

Small businesses have been treated appallingly unfairly by the Government - all Coronavirus business support schemes are set to expire in March, creating huge uncertainty for companies.

Last October, the Chancellor left businesses and their employees hanging by a thread when he refused to extend furlough until the last minute.

The Government has left 700,000 of the smallest companies excluded from any real support, as owner-managers of limited companies are excluded from the SEISS and business grants.

The priority of the Conservatives is on tax-exempt freeports and watering down workers’ rights, not supporting the UK’s 5.9 million small firms.

Small businesses are the key to creating opportunities for people

But small businesses are the key to creating opportunities for people, and powering our recovery from the pandemic.

They will create the jobs that will solve the unemployment crisis. And they will lead the growth that will take us out of the economic crisis. 

That is why we are demanding the Government use this budget to give small businesses a fair deal and make sure they survive the next few months. They must: 

We are demanding the Government use this budget to give small businesses a fair deal

  1. Establish a Revenue Loss Scheme for small businesses, to compensate them for the money they are losing while they have been forced to close.
  2. Zero Business Rates for Small Businesses in 2021-22.
  3. Give businesses in the retail, hospitality and live events sectors relief on their deferred VAT payments, so that cash is available as working capital when they are able to open back up.
  4. Extend the CJRS and SEISS schemes until the end of 2021, and bring the Excluded under government support in line with the recommendations of the APPG for Gaps in Support.
  5. Extend all current business support schemes until the end of the year.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →

At a time when millions of small businesses are struggling to survive, to offer them just £5 billion would be an insult.

We need to see a budget with a bold and ambitious compensation package

From beauticians to builders, florists to café owners – the small businesses in our communities are on the brink and the Chancellor must do more.

It is now or never to save the millions of businesses in our local communities and the Government must put their recovery first.

Those who have been left with no financial help must be brought under the umbrella of Government support.

We need to see a budget with a bold and ambitious compensation package for those who are facing crippling losses, and coping with hardship through no fault of their own.

And we must see those who have been left out in the cold, with no financial help, brought under the umbrella of Government support.

The Liberal Democrats have set out how the Government can do this, but it will require considerable amounts more in support, to provide what our local businesses and the people who depend on them deserve.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Weekly Whip

by Peter Munro on Fri, 26 Feb 2021

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come. 

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Weekly Whip - Lords edition!

by Humphrey Amos on Fri, 26 Feb 2021

There’s no time to waste - Scrap the Vagrancy Act

by Layla Moran on Fri, 26 Feb 2021

For years, the Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to scrap the archaic Vagrancy Act, which makes it illegal to sleep rough.  I began this campaign in response to a petition by the Oxford University Student Union and Oxford-based homelessness campaign group On Your Doorstep.

And yesterday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick conceded that we were right, and that it’s time to get rid of this cruel and outdated law.


Last year, I introduced a cross-party Bill for the second time that would scrap the Vagrancy Act. The Government can pick it up and scrap the act in a heartbeat.

And there’s no time to waste.

COVID-19 has seen a sharp rise in homelessness and rough sleepers are at a much higher risk of catching the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp rise in homelessness. Rough sleepers are at a much higher risk of catching the virus and have no reliable way to self-isolate if they do. The Everyone In policy during the pandemic has helped an incredible number of rough sleepers, but it won't last forever.

But homelessness is not new, and is not going away once we defeat Covid.

Rough sleepers have been falling foul of the cruel and outdated 'Vagrancy Act' for 197 years. It has been used to move rough sleepers on, issue fines and put people in prison cells for the crime of not having a home.

In 2021, sleeping rough should not be a crime.

Scrapping this archaic law represents the first step in a journey to taking a more compassionate and holistic approach to homelessness.

So let’s make sure Robert Jenrick follows through on his promise and scraps the Act once and for all.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

10 reasons the world needs liberals

by Layla Moran on Wed, 24 Feb 2021

25 years ago our former leader Paddy Ashdown laid out the stakes for Britain’s position in the world:

Britain’s role as the bulwark against tyranny in two wars this century was not a product of isolationism. It was the natural response of a nation used to engaging in the world and certain about its role as a European power.

25 years on, Paddy’s vision is more important than ever.

Our liberal values are under threat across the world. As proud liberals, it is our duty to stand against the scourges of warfare, authoritarianism, and inequality.

Here are 10 reasons why the world needs liberals:

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Boris Johnson must put those hit hardest first

by Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Mon, 22 Feb 2021

Millions of people across the country have made untold sacrifices in the past year.

Boris Johnson must not squander the months of sacrifice by millions of people and businesses across the country

People have been isolated from their families, hundreds of thousands of businesses have been shuttered and our precious freedoms have been curtailed.

As we begin to recover the Prime Minister must put people hit hardest by this pandemic first: the most vulnerable people in our communities, small businesses and the self-employed.

It is deeply concerning that the Prime Minister has failed to set out plans for a functioning test, trace and isolate system – particularly a failure to support people enough to stay at home if they are asked to self-isolate.

This time, the Prime Minister must not squander the months of sacrifice by millions of people and businesses across the country, as he did so recklessly last year.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our fight to support carers

by Liberal Democrats on Thu, 18 Feb 2021

During this pandemic, carers have stepped up in very difficult circumstances to look after elderly, disabled and vulnerable people.

Carer's Allowance is just £67 a week. It's just not nearly enough.

Unpaid carers in particular are doing a remarkable and important job looking after our loved ones.

But many carers are facing extreme financial hardship.

900,000 full-time unpaid carers rely on Carer’s Allowance – but at just £67.25 a week, it’s just not nearly enough.

It is the lowest benefit of its kind – another example of how carers are too often an afterthought for many politicians.

Many unpaid carers have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for.

That's why back in November, we called on the Government to raise Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, the same as the uplift in Universal Credit.

Most carers are simply exhausted during coronavirus. Most haven't had a single break since the pandemic began.

But we must go further - the pressures of coronavirus has placed enormous strain on carers.

A recent survey by Carers UK found that 81% of carers are spending more time on their caring responsibilities during the pandemic, mainly because the needs of the person they are caring for have increased or because the local care services they rely on have been reduced or closed.

Most carers are simply exhausted. Most haven’t had a single break since the pandemic started.

The Government must provide funding to councils so they can offer every unpaid carer the support they need to take a weekly break

The brutal combination of lockdowns, shielding requirements and reduced support services have made the pandemic especially tough.

Another survey by Carers UK found that 64% of carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic.

74% said they feel exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during Covid, and 44% said they are reaching breaking point.

We must do far more to support our wonderful carers.

So we launched a new campaign, calling on the Government to give carers a break by providing immediate emergency funding to councils so they can offer every unpaid carer the support services they need to take a weekly break.

The Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

What is LGBT+ History Month and Why Does it matter?

by LGBT+ Liberal Democrats on Thu, 18 Feb 2021

Just like with Black History Month (October) or Disability History Month (which runs from November into December), it's typically filled with events (check ours out here) and discussion. LGBT+ History Month reminds us of the progress we've made, but also warns us about the injustices that we have only recently escaped - and injustices that are still with us.

Back in 2005 when LGBT+ History Month was first introduced in the UK, things were quite different. Section 28, which "prohibited the promotion of homosexuality" by public authorities, had only been off the statue books for two years in England; there was no same sex marriage (and civil partnerships only came into effect in December 2005); and the life blood donation ban for men who have sex with men was in full effect. In 2021, things are different in lots of respects (see the Plus and Stonewall timelines of changes).

But we still have ongoing challenges, and the wounds of the past - which are in living memory! - are still with us and shape our community and perspectives.

LGBT+ people deserve better than to be written out of our cultural memory. To be without their stories is an affront to their dignity, and does nothing to help us tackle the biases and stigmas that still pervade in our society today.

Stories do matter - whether they're represented in fiction or non-fiction. This year we've experienced the huge cultural impact of Russell T Davies' 'It's A Sin', which has been hugely impactful for many LGBT+ people. This has been true for people who lived through the period as well as those who didn't.

These stories do really matter: they personalise and they humanise. LGBT+ people deserve better than to be written out of our cultural memory. To be without their stories is an affront to their dignity, and does nothing to help us tackle the biases and stigmas that still pervade in our society today.

In the UK we might focus primarily on the decriminalisation of sex between men (1967), the introduction and scrapping of Section 28 (1988-2003 in England/2000 in Scotland) and same sex marriage (2013).But there are stories from right across the world for us to explore and understand.

Same sex sexual activity is still illegal in at least 72 countries. Of those, 11 have the death penalty as a possible punishment. And at least 15 countries criminalise the free expression of one's gender identity (with many more than 15 proving a hostile environment to trans people) (See Human Dignity Trust for more).

Throughout February we'll be writing and talking much more about LGBT+ History - from darknesses that we cannot let be repeated to iconic figures and their work to make the world a more just and equal place. LGBT+ people infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Their stories are not monolithic, or constrained to a few niche areas.

LGBT+ people exist and always have existed throughout our societies. Their stories matter and they deserve to be told.
---
Learn more about LGBT+ Lib Dems at lgbt.libdems.org.uk or get in touch at pluslgbtld@gmail.com. You can join as a member here, and support our fighting fund for LGBT+ candidates here.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

We must give carers a break

by Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Mon, 15 Feb 2021

During this pandemic, millions of people have stepped up heroically to look after elderly, disabled and vulnerable people.

Most carers are simply exhausted during coronavirus. Most haven't had a single break since the pandemic began.

A recent survey by Carers UK found that 81% of carers are spending more time on their caring responsibilities during the pandemic, mainly because the needs of the person they are caring for have increased or because the local care services they rely on have been reduced or closed.

But now most carers are simply exhausted. Most haven’t had a single break since the pandemic started.

The Government must provide funding to councils so they can offer every unpaid carer the support they need to take a weekly break

The brutal combination of lockdowns, shielding requirements and reduced support services have made the pandemic especially tough.

The survey by Carers UK found that 64% of carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic. 74% said they feel exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during Covid, and 44% said they are reaching breaking point.

We must do far more to support our wonderful carers.

So Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to give carers a break by providing immediate emergency funding to councils so they can offer every unpaid carer the support services they need to take a weekly break.

The Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Chinese New Year: Year of the Ox

by Chinese Liberal Democrats on Mon, 15 Feb 2021

For all of us, 2020 was a difficult year; some of us touched by death and many by loss of income, wellbeing and self-worth. So much has changed, and yet not changed.

Those of us with memories of SARS watched in concern at the British Government late and botched efforts to tackle COVID. We saw COVID-related hate crime spike as Chinese people were shunned, and verbally and physically assaulted. Internet memes depicting Chinese people as sources of COVID were widely shared.

The ox symbolises strength, determination and hard work. Certainly, qualities needed to rebuild our communities, our economies, our families and ourselves.

Many people appear numbed to news that would have horrified us 12 months back - over 100,000 deaths, job losses, business closures and billions of pounds spent on PPE half of which were awarded dubiously. We cannot carry on as before and we must change the trajectory that has shaped growth and prosperity over the last 200 years since the Industrial Revolution.

Fundamental changes are needed from the way we govern to the way our economy works, the way we consume and the impact of technology on our lives, our jobs and our societies.

We have also watched with concern the situation in Hong Kong but continue to call for a more balanced response and an evidenced-based Chinese foreign policy within the Liberal Democrats. We are sad that Paddy Ashdown was not able to witness the first Hong Kong citizens use rights he called for decades ago to allow BNO passport holders the right to live in Britain.

So, will things get better in 2021? The ox symbolises strength, determination and hard work. Certainly, qualities needed to rebuild our communities, our economies, our families and ourselves.

Many Liberal Democrats have been actively helping others through the difficulties of the pandemic. We can bring a message of hope, that by working together we can reshape our society, economic and governance systems. We can create prosperity, fairness and justice.

Wishing everybody a fulfilling, prosperous and safe Year of the Ox.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Weekly Whip

by Peter Munro on Fri, 12 Feb 2021

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come. 

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

We must stand against China's crackdown on the BBC

by Layla Moran on Fri, 12 Feb 2021

Silencing the BBC shows that the Chinese government has no intention on stopping its human rights abuses.

The Chinese government’s BBC ban, in response to their reporting on the Uyghur genocide and other abuses, marks their latest move in an unacceptable crackdown on fundamental freedoms.

We've already seen the consequences of this in Hong Kong.


The role of media outlets such as the BBC is crucial to ensuring high-quality reporting of events around the world.

What is happening to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang is a genocide, and silencing the BBC for reporting on it shows that the Chinese government has no intention on stopping its appalling human rights abuses.

We urge the UK Government to stand up for the BBC and work together with our international allies to stand up for human rights, the rule of law and democracy in China and across the globe.

We can't allow the genocide in Xinjiang to continue.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Tackling Vaccine Disinformation

by on Fri, 12 Feb 2021

Mass vaccination is our best way of pulling through this terrible pandemic.

Sadly there has been a worrying rise in fake news and disinformation about the vaccine. Often this is spread by social media, with no scientific evidence.

That's why it's so important that we have dedicated councillors like Rabina Khan going into her community, meeting with people in a socially distanced way, and addressing their concerns directly.

We will pull through this together - but we must tackle vaccine disinformation.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Chinese New Year

by Edward Davey on Fri, 12 Feb 2021

This year we welcome The Year of the Ox - an animal known for its strength, diligence and hardworking nature. These are positive values to which we should all aspire to live our lives by.

The New Year is usually a time of large family get-togethers. This year however, intimate, virtual celebrations will be the norm. I know the adjustment won’t be easy but let us keep doing our part to suppress this virus.

This year we welcome The Year of the Ox - an animal known for its strength, diligence and hardworking nature. These are positive values to which we should all aspire to live our lives by.

As we welcome the New Year, we must also honour the immeasurable contributions of British Chinese communities to our country. Thank you to the generations who have helped build our country and made it the success it is today.

Let us also recognise the hard work and sacrifice of those working on the frontline, the dedication of those looking after their families and the commitment of those supporting their local communities.

Celebrations like this remind us of what makes Britain unique; the diversity of our nation, the rich mosaic of people, cultures and backgrounds who all come together to carry forward the work of making this a country we can be proud of.

So, to everyone celebrating, I wish you happiness and good health in 2021. Xin Nian Kuai Le! 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our values work best

Tackling the coronavirus epidemic, and minimising the tragic loss of life, is primarily a public health issue. But there’s also a consistent political lesson from it too.

The approaches that work best use international cooperation. Viruses don’t stop at borders, and scientific cooperation and vaccine supply chains work best when they don’t either.

The approaches that work best involve giving power and responsibility to those on the front line. That’s why localised public health services in Germany have done so much better than our centralised track and trace fiasco. It would have worked far better to trust councils and their existing expertise at local track and tracing for environmental health work.

The approaches that work best involve a generous society, one that supports those who most need help during such tough times. As with internationalism and devolution, such generosity of spirit and of government lies at the heart of liberalism and Liberal Democracy.

Our party’s challenge is to become a more effective political force for those values which are so needed to overcome the big challenges of our time.

Improving how we work

That is why both implementing the Thornhill Election Review and the other reforms I have talked about in previous reports is so important. Dorothy Thornhill has reported directly to members on how we are doing at implementing the review. She concludes, “I believe the review has been recognised, that the process of making changes has started, and that the path to success is starting to emerge”.

With brief exceptions, for a decade now we have been in single digits in the opinion polls. That shows how the challenges we need to overcome are long-term ones.

The good news is we’ve recovered before. There’s a common trigger in previous recoveries: winning elections, whether Parliamentary by-elections or (especially now that such contests are rarer) the big rounds of May elections. It was a stunning performance in the May 2019 elections, remember, that propelled us to those great European results and a polling surge.

That’s why we’ve made a big switch of resources to investing in a hugely increased grassroots campaign support operation. Many thanks to colleagues in state parties, regional parties and ALDC who have cooperated so positively in making similar and coordinated efforts.

Frustratingly, we have only had the very occasional council by-election since all that work started being put in place. This May’s elections are a great opportunity for us with general elections in Scotland and Wales and two rounds of local elections rolled into one, including for many Mayors.

It is an opportunity that the Conservatives in Westminster are cynically trying to stifle by insisting on both holding elections and also trying to ban much campaigning. If it’s not safe for people to go campaigning, it’s not democratic to hold an election. It should only be dictators who try to hold votes without letting the opposition campaign properly.

Our advice on what campaigning can be safely, responsibly and legally done is kept updated at libdems.org.uk/covid19. Training, resources and bulk-buy deals for paid-for delivery and digital advertising are all being made available by Lib Dem HQ and ALDC. To make sure you always get the latest information on them, please ensure that the key campaigners in your area are on the party’s special campaign news email list.

It’s never been more important to innovate in our campaigning, which is why the new Campaign Innovation Fund has been launched to fund measurable experiments so that we learn better what does and does not work.

As well as getting our campaigning right, we are continuing to fix things behind the scenes, and have had two Steering Group meetings so far this year ahead of a one of our day-long Board strategy sessions at the end of February.

You’ll see some of the outcome of our work coming to spring conference, including in the Board report and in business and constitutional motions. Spring conference registration is open and I look forward to the discussions, debates and votes. You can always also get in touch directly with any questions.

At that Board strategy session we’ll be looking at how our political and organisational plans fit together into one coherent overall plan. A plan that we can use for guiding the work of the federal party and one that members and supporters across the party can use to understand what we’re doing, why, and how they can contribute to it. I’ll report back on the plan in more detail next time.

Other Steering Group work this month has included examining how the party manages risk, with a proper risk register and risk management system now in place, along with appropriate oversight of the changes being made at HQ, including ensuring we continue to provide the right pastoral care support to staff and members. Our February Board will also be looking at both the complaints process and the work of the Federal Appeals Panel, meeting with its new chair.

As well as getting in touch with myself directly, you can always also find details of the Board and Steering Group members up on the party website and reports from federal committees appear regularly in the AdLib section.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Spring Conference Motions - Explained

by Geoff Payne on Wed, 10 Feb 2021

Scrap the new Cumbrian coal mine

by Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wed, 10 Feb 2021

The Liberal Democrats have long called for a rethink on plans on for a new coal mine in Cumbria and I am delighted that’s exactly what has happened.

If Boris Johnson is serious about climate action he will call on Cumbria county council to scrap the mine

Cumbria County Council now need to do the right thing and throw these plans out, or the Prime Minister must intervene to make sure the coal mine is scrapped.

It’s astonishing that a new coal mine in Britain is even being considered - particularly the year we are hosting the vital COP26 conference.

If Boris Johnson is serious about climate action he will call on Cumbria county council to scrap the mine.

The Government needs to transform its attitude to the climate emergency. That is why I have proposed a £150 billion green coronavirus recovery plan, reshaping our economy to protect the future of our country and our planet.

This is a once in a lifetime chance to solve the massive crisis we are in, we can’t afford to miss it.

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