by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 22 Oct 2021
Conservative MP Philip Davies has started taking a surprising interest in the Liberal Democrats' commitment to an equal parliament, and our internal selection procedures.
Perhaps he has decided to turn his back on his sexist views, or perhaps he has a different motive.
Read Philip Davies' letter to Ed Davey, and Ed's reply:Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Layla Moran on Wed, 20 Oct 2021
by Greg Foster on Thu, 14 Oct 2021
In collaboration with the Liberal Democrat European Group, the Federal Policy Committee are organising regional events giving members a chance to shape our policy on Europe. We want to hear your thoughts on what our priority areas should be, what solutions you might have to problems raised and how we can continue to promote a close relationship with Europe.
Members and Supporters all get the opportunity to help make party policy
Below is a list of topics we will be discussing. Come to our Liberal Democrat European Group consultations to have your say!Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Mark Pack on Wed, 13 Oct 2021
The autumn party conferences traditionally mark the start of the new political season. They are a time to reflect on the past year and set out plans to succeed in the coming year.
Both politics and coronavirus have made it a tough time since the last round of conferences. But we can look forward to this new political season with confidence that if we continue to raise our game, we can prosper. We’ve seen signs of that already, including with Sarah Green’s fantastic win in Chesham and Amersham and also with the latest net favourability leadership polling from Savanta ComRes:
To achieve success in the run of elections to come, we will need to think big. We need to convince wavering Tories, Labour and nationalist voters that backing us isn’t solely a protest. It’s also a vote for something positive. The antidote to the strains of the present is a liberal future. So we must paint a picture of the society we want to build, rather than merely the society we want to prevent.
We’ve made a good start on that with the debates, motions and speeches at our autumn Federal Conference. There will be more to come in the next few months too from the federal party, as we develop the emphasis on a fair deal that was at the heart of Ed Davey’s speech. (Plans for next year’s conference have been announced by conference committee chair, Nick Da Costa.)
Our conference closed with the party awards. We now run these twice a year in recognition of how important it is for us to thank and be inspired by our colleagues. You can read all about this time’s winners - including a lovely family connection for one award - here.
We’ve also started sending out 'top canvasser' pin badges to thank those who contribute, either on the doorsteps or on the phone, to one of the most important election-winning tasks. Each quarter we’re also inviting those who have canvassed the most to a special call with Ed Davey, our Director of Campaigns Dave McCobb and others so that what people are hearing on the ground gets fed directly in. This is to make sure we never repeat the 2019 campaign mistake of people on the ground knowing a message isn’t working, and it taking too long to change it from the centre.
I’m keen that we continue to look for other ways to recognise people who contribute so much to the party. We’ve made changes to the party awards to recognise a wider range of contributions but I’m sure we can do more. Ideas very welcome.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Nicholas da Costa on Wed, 13 Oct 2021
The Federal Conference Committee recently met to discuss the Conference format for 2022.
We considered a number of options for next year’s conferences and took the difficult decision to hold Spring Conference as an online conference and only returning to an in-person event for Autumn Conference. The dates of Spring Conference will be 11-13 March 2022 and we will announce the dates and venue for Autumn Conference in due course.
The Committee discussed several options with regards to the format of Spring Conference and, whilst there was a strong desire within the Committee to return to in person meetings and events as soon as possible, our challenge was that the COVID situation remains uncertain and therefore still causes significant concern. While we are seeing more in person events happening, we have also seen the Welsh Labour conference in November cancelled due to COVID concerns.
If we had taken the decision to hold an in person Spring Conference, this would have taken place in York – a venue which we usually operate at full capacity. Enforcing social distancing and COVID measures would therefore have been extremely difficult with the potential number of attendees. Furthermore, the danger that a large number of people may not have felt safe attending a crowded in person event meant there was a significant risk of a drop in the number of members attending Conference.
As a party we are very reliant on revenue from registrations to make Spring Conference financially viable. The risk of a significant shortfall in revenue, coupled with the potential loss had we been we forced to cancel the event at a later date, meant the committee had to take the very hard decision to continue with an online conference format for Spring 2022.
That said, the Committee strongly felt that this should be the final online-only conference, if at all possible. For that reason, the Committee strongly endorsed holding an Autumn Conference in person next year.
We have also established a Hybrid Working Group to look at the options for hybridisation of Conference and to take forward some of the better elements from an online conference, including greater accessibility and wider participation for people who would not normally be able to attend conference. While we were not confident this could be implemented in time for Spring Conference, we are committed to finding a solution which works for Autumn Conference 2022 and beyond.
Finally, we strongly welcome any local or regional parties who might be interested in organising in-person events in their areas to coincide with Spring Conference. There were a number of successful in-person events which took place on the fringe of this year’s Autumn Conference and the Committee would welcome this being replicated and expanded for Spring Conference 2022.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Mark Pack on Wed, 13 Oct 2021
On Monday 18th of October the Board will hosting a surgery for all Party members.
This is an open invitation to everyone, whether you have a burning question for us, would just like to get to know the Board a bit better, or have an issue you'd like to raise. We are all ears.
The session will run from 18:00-19:00, please feel free to drop in and out as best fits your day, and you can register here.
There will also be a breakout room facility, if you would like to have a more private chat with one of us.
Joining me on the day will be Board Colleagues Caron Lindsay from Scotland and Bill Powell from Wales. If this trial is a success more colleagues from the Board will be taking part in future events.
In the meantime, if you ever have any questions for me please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Henry McMorrow on Fri, 08 Oct 2021
As seats begin to elect new Parliamentary election candidates, now's the time to get your stationery stocked up.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Jack Coulson on Wed, 06 Oct 2021
This Autumn, we say goodbye to Isabelle Parasram, our Vice President responsible for working with ethnic minority communities.
Isabelle has been a tremendous advocate, leader and example in the Party and she will be greatly missed. We wish her all the best in her new role as Chief Executive of Social Value UK, which has led to her making the difficult decision to step back from the demands of the Vice Presidential role. The resulting by-election will therefore elect a successor to take Isabelle's place until January 2023.
Autumn Conference passed a business motion finalising arrangements for the direct election of this Vice President role, and we are delighted to be firing the starting gun next week.
The timetable for the election is below, the rules are available in our Constitution and the Returning Officer's team will issue more detailed instructions to anyone expressing an interest in the role. With nominations opening next week, why not consider encouraging someone to put their name forward?
Anyone interested in running to be Vice President should submit their consent to nomination here. Anyone who signals their consent to nomination will be contacted by the Returning Officer's team and provided with further information about the election process.
Candidates require the nomination of any Local Party, any Regional Party, any State Party, any Specified Associated Organisations (SAO), or any ten party members. Individual members wishing to nominate require a nomination code, available on request here. Any party or SAO wishing to make a nomination should contact email@example.com.
This is a by-election and the winner will hold office until January 2023.
Yes! Hustings are being coordinated centrally by the Returning Officer's team and a full slate of events will be publicised by the close of nominations. Candidates will only be required to attend the eight official hustings sanctioned but other events will also be taking place.
If you would like to organise an official hustings, please make your application here, and the Returning Officer's team will consider it. We cannot guarantee that your application will be selected as we expect high demand.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Lisa Smart on Tue, 05 Oct 2021
The Federal Communications and Elections Committee met this week to discuss some key challenges and opportunities ahead for the Pary.
The Campaign Innovation Fund team, supported by ALDC and others, presented to us on the results of a set of experiments conducted to test what does, and doesn't, help us win campaigns.
The work is impressive and, alongside the wider literature, feedback from activists, and experience of our committee members, serves to help us make evidence-based campaign decisions.
A few highlights we should all note:
The fund will be continuing its work next year and we look forward to its findings.
We never get tired of talking about our amazing win in Chesham and Amersham, but the Committee is also attentive to the lessons that can be learned from all of our by-election experiences.
With Dave McCobb, Director of Field, presenting we discussed a range of issues, including how we communicate our objectives in such elections and how we effectively work across teams.
Of particular importance to the Party is making sure we have skilled Election Agents. Being an election agent is an important and rewarding role and we need great agents if our candidates are to win. If you're interested in getting more involved in elections, why not find out if this is a role for you?Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Jane Carr on Mon, 04 Oct 2021
Nazir risked his life working with the British Forces in Afghanistan as an interpreter from 2009 - 2012.
In 2021, he and his family were forced to leave behind their former lives in Kabul for fear of Taliban retaliation against him and his loved ones.
He can’t show his face in interviews because it would endanger his relatives who were left behind.
“My relatives back in Afghanistan are not safe," he said.
"They feel no security. They are concerned about their future. They are being intimidated. They are being threatened. They are being warned, asked about us and where we are."
Having to uproot your whole life and move half the world away to escape danger is a terrifying thought.
But Liberal Democrats won’t leave Nazir and his family to rebuild their lives alone.
Liberal Democrats won’t leave Nazir and his family to rebuild their lives alone."
We’ve welcomed over 200 refugees into our community with new relationships being nurtured through local activities and cricket games. Residents of Newport Pagnell and across Milton Keynes have donated toys, shoes and clothes in droves to support families like Nazir’s. They deserve the chance to begin to take some control over their lives by choosing what they want from the items.
The community response to our campaign has been incredible - we’ve had so many donations that our pick-up points have been overwhelmed!
I am so proud of my town and borough’s incredible efforts and compassion.
It’s taken us four weeks to sort and distribute due to the sheer scale of the project. Little has been wasted, with unsuitable items being shared among many other charities that serve the wider community in Milton Keynes, including charities that support veterans and the homeless. We’re now working on a model with partner charities to offer support in other emergency situations, such as flooding or fires.
Helping these families embed their lives into our communities has been an honour. But it’s also a personal thank you. People like Nazir and his countrymen worked with and protected my brother and sister-in-law when they toured Afghanistan with the British Army.
Nazir and his countrymen worked with and protected my brother and sister-in-law when they toured Afghanistan with the British Army."
Our compassionate communities all across Milton-Keynes are helping nearly 1000 refugees, with many more families expected to join us. We want to make sure all of them can see the UK as their new home.
“This is a new society for us. A new country. This is our country now. We believe we are going to settle here. We will have a bright future here for our children.”
We will continue to do all we can for those who have had to make such steep sacrifices. Local councils have a key role to play in ensuring refugees get the help they need and we are proud to do so. But we need the government to commit to providing the funding to enable us to support them properly in the long term.
we need the government to commit to providing the funding to enable us to support them properly in the long term."
Far more needs to be done.
They have given up everything to help us.
Now, Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights and protection they deserve.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done in Milton Keynes to welcome Nazir, his family, and the other survivors of this crisis.
Will you join the Lib Dem campaign to do the same for refugees across Britain?Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Sat, 02 Oct 2021
October is Black History Month — an opportunity to celebrate the enormous contributions that Black people have made across our country.
From Mary Prince to Paul Stephenson, so many Black pioneers have transformed our society’s cultural and political landscapes. We owe a great debt to everything they have achieved.
by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 01 Oct 2021
With COP just weeks away, the Prime Minister has been urging countries to announce meaningful cuts to emissions.
But his speech hides something entirely different. His Government are failing to make progress on cutting emissions and are instead going backwards.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Mark Pack on Wed, 29 Sep 2021
Questions 1-3 are on a similar topic so have been grouped together, they were also answered orally during Conference.
I like the disciplinary proposals, but the system still does not deal satisfactorily with complaints about councillors. Will you discuss this with local government representatives?
Why does the disciplinary system allow complaints about London Assembly members to be referred initially to their group but not allow the same for councillors?
How will you deal with the bad feeling about the disciplinary system because of its failure to understand or value council groups or council issues?
Thank you to Prue, Alan and Joe for raising this issue. As your questions point out, it is important that the party’s own independent complaints process works sensibly alongside those of other organisations, including that of councils and council groups.
There are some decisions that only the party’s own processes can make, such as whether to expel someone from the party, but the rules set out in the Board report rightly provide for items to be handled primarily where appropriate by the existing external processes that govern, for example, MPs or London Assembly members.
Local government isn't included in this at the moment for a couple of reasons:
First, when we consulted with local government organisations in preparing the changes to these rules, we got some feedback requesting the removal of reference to referring matters back to council groups from them, so that was done in good faith. But clearly from these questions and other feedback, there’s more to discuss.
Second, many Lib Dem council groups use model standing orders which state that, where a matter relates to a question of whether behaviour could bring the party into disrepute (which is also the test in our complaints procedure) it should be referred for investigation by the party and internal group procedures should be suspended until the external review has been completed. So we didn’t want to create a circularity in our rules by having the independent process refer something to a council group that then refers it back to the independent process and so on. Conversations have already started with ALDC to see what we can do to align these rules and avoid any endless loops.
So, I’ve consulted with the chairs of the Disciplinary Subgroup and they have already been in discussions with our local government community on how to address these issues - and thank you Prue in particular for your part in those.
I’m glad to say that based on that the DSG co-chairs have told me they are happy to commit to recommending updated rules in order to address this issue.
And I will do my best to follow up on that too, so I hope we will have a positive outcome to report back on at conference next year.
Questions 4-12 were not answered during Conference and so are being responded do in written format now.
How is the Federal Party engaging with SocialMediaCheck.com regarding the issue of GDPR and Security regarding Social Media Checks on Prospective Parliamentary Candidates?
The party uses this firm as part of our due diligence checking so that, for example, if someone is wishing to stand in a Parliamentary election for us and has a track record of making anti-Semitic tweets, then this can be spotted and dealt appropriately in advance, rather than become something where the first thing the party knows about it is when a journalist rings up with questions in the middle of a campaign.
We carefully selected this supplier to ensure that we are using a reputable firm, which fully complies with legal protections over people’s data such as GDPR and has appropriate levels of security. We’ve been working closely with them to address any teething issues as this new system gets up and running.
Their service also allows us to be restrictive in what is looked at, so that we can ensure we are combining necessary due diligence with our liberal values around people’s privacy and freedom of speech.
How do the Federal Board intend on tackling the lack of Disabled Candidates, especially at Parliamentary Level, when Scope are saying that 20% of the population is considered Disabled, and only 0.5% of MPs consider themselves as Disabled?
It’s an important point that we need to continue our efforts to improve the diversity of our candidates and our elected public officials, both so that we are giving every member an equal opportunity to play their part in our party and also so that we better reflect the communities we seek to serve. We have had, and do have, some brilliant candidates and elected public officials who have disabilities, but we need to increase their numbers.
Our party has consistently supported the restoration of the government’s access fund to provide help to candidates with disabilities for the extra costs they incur in running for election. There was promising news on this from the government over the summer.
We run an extensive range of training to support would-be candidates and I hope that the changes to how party bodies operate being debated at this conference will help with that, by strengthening the role of party bodies that work to improve diversity, and improving our diversity is a consistent priority of our federal party staff team.
I’m always very happy to hear suggestions on other steps we can take, and if anyone listening has some by all means drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the advent of the Maraphone, would the Federal Board consider a whole party effort to complete a membership census to improve member engagement?
This is an excellent idea, and indeed such an excellent idea that the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC) is already working on a series of phone calls to randomly selected members in order to better understand what is and isn’t working with our general efforts at membership engagement. If anyone is happy to help with making those calls, please do let me know and I can put you in touch with the team.
The Boost Guide does contain details of how local parties can organise their own member engagement calls and the FPDC & membership team is always happy to help support local parties that want to do these to build engagement by forming local connections.
We also have a regular schedule of email surveys of party members, such as to gather important data on how we are doing at improving our ethnic diversity. If anyone gets one of these surveys or calls, I’d really encourage you to take part.
What progress, if any, has been made towards decarbonising party operations?
Our move to a smaller London office means lower energy bills, while the shift towards more home working by party staff and remote meetings for many committees has also cut down on carbon emissions from travel.
Initiatives such as the one by Halifax Liberal Democrats to plant trees to balance the paper used in Focus newsletters are a very welcome grassroots accompaniment to this and I encourage other local parties to think about taking similar measures.
Questions 8 and 11 are on a similar topic so have been grouped together.
The President agreed with my question at last conference but the party website remains unfit for members' use. There is no search facility and it is difficult to navigate. Will anything be done?
When will work on the party website be completed so that both public and party members can find up-to-date information that they need, with ease?
Improvements to the website’s content have continued to be made since last conference, including the additional transparency around the work of the Federal Appeals Panel mentioned in its chair’s report. However, we also need better technology behind the scenes to further improve the site and so are currently tendering for an alternative content management system. Decisions on this will require careful consultation and communication given the knock-on effects.
It's likely we'll move the existing site to an archive and start building up a simpler site to replace it. This helps improve search and helps make sure we get it right. This will be a continuing process rather than a one-off process that’s complete when done.
In the meantime, the Join and Donate pages are being refreshed in the next few weeks.
When press releases are launched, can they be put onto the party website at same time so it is possible for links to them be used on social media?
Advice before from the party’s press and digital teams has been that doing this is of very limited benefit given that, for example, press releases are not designed to be effective digital content in their own right. Therefore the previous conclusion has been that the resources for doing this are better spent on directly producing digital content. However, I’m happy to ask them to consider the issue again in case the balance of factors has changed.
Will those developing the website ask for views on how it works from party members who haven’t been part of its development before launching?
Yes. We'll test and iterate as we go.
When consultation was undertaken for the Thornhill Review some made detailed submission on phone banking. What is the latest progress on this and is there feedback?
The Thornhill Review published its findings based on the consultation it undertook and the Board continues to prioritise implementing its recommendations. We have used and developed phone banking capacity a lot during the pandemic. In the year since our last autumn federal conference, volunteers have made more than 500,000 phone contact attempts through phone banking, speaking to more than 180,000 people. Innovations such as the Maraphone formats have greatly helped with this and will continue to be developed.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Greg Foster on Mon, 27 Sep 2021
Yesterday, Apple released iOS15, the latest version of their operating system for iPhones and iPads.
In that is a new feature called “Mail Privacy Protection”. (MPP)
It’s a very sensible and reasonable change that will improve your online experience and privacy and is something to be welcomed.
But for people sending email in the party, it’s going to mean rethinking some of how we measure success in emails.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →
If you’re currently using email opens as a metric for an email being successful, you should probably stop.
by Ryan Cairns on Thu, 23 Sep 2021
Autumn Virtual Conference 2021 was a smorgasbord of policy-making, debate, fringe sessions, training and incredible speeches. So you'd be forgiven for missing something or other. Catch up on all the weekend's major events with our Autumn Conference 2021 Recapped.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Robin Rea on Thu, 23 Sep 2021
In our new film, Ed Davey sets out a vision for a fair deal for future generations.
Boris Johnson's failure to defend children's education meant that his Government spent the same amount in one month on Eat Out To Help Out as in a whole year for our children's school catch-up.
We're offering a new bulk-buy deal for England on digital advertising to show the film to voters in your area.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 22 Sep 2021
Boris Johnson's failure to defend our children's education meant that his Government spent the same amount in one month on Eat Out To Help Out as in a whole year for our children's school catch-up.
Imagine a future where our children’s education is a priority. Where schools raise their mental well-being and their maths grades. Where they can excel at English and find their talent for music or sport. Where they grow into happy, healthy, adults.
We all fear that in the end, it will be our children who have paid the price of this pandemic."Ed Davey
The Liberal Democrats are calling for a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government’s former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.
As part of this, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents’ hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.
We heard that loud and clear on the doorsteps of Chesham and Amersham - a typical “Blue Wall seat.” They told us that too often this Government hasn’t listened, has taken people for granted, has ignored the people who work hard, and pay taxes.
When we won the Chesham and Amersham by-election, people told us Boris Johnson was taking them for granted. They told us our victory was the first time in years they'd been listened to. Britain needs a party prepared to listen.
It is time Boris Johnson’s Conservatives stopped taking people for granted, time people got a fairer deal, time we guaranteed a better life for future generations.Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Mark Pack on Tue, 21 Sep 2021
The President's award seeks to recognise people for their hard work, long service, and demonstrable dedication to the party, at whatever level.
This year's winner is Cllr Mel Allcott.
Mel first stood for election to the City Council in 2014 where she received 794 votes, 250 short of the winner. She stood again in the area in 2015 and 2016, increasing her vote share each time, and in 2019, in a by-election, she finally won with 1,307 votes. A fantastic achievement after 6 years of tenacious campaigning, always listening to the voters and focusing on the issues that mattered to them.
In 2021, as a testament to her work in the constituency, voters elected her to the county council with a stunning 400 majority on a 48% turnout. Not only did she win the seat but as we are now the largest opposition party in the county. Mel was selected as the Liberal Democrat group leader and Leader of the Formal Opposition group with Labour. With 45 Conservatives, 4 Lib Dems, 3 Labour, 3 Greens and 2 independents on the county council, Mel's task is not an easy one, but she is a leading light for liberal values and, we hope, the start of a sea change in the area.
With her years of dedicated local campaigning she has led the way in taking the fight to the Conservatives in Worcester.
We present this award to the Local Party that has done most to promote ethnic minority members to elected office.
This year's winners are the Warwick District Local Party, with a special mention of Cllr Mubarik Chowdry.
The Warwick District put in sustained effort reaching out to the local Muslim community, building links with the Mosque and so attracting to the party someone who went on to be elected as the first ever Muslim town councillor in Royal Leamington Spa.
Local teams working with local Mosques and Islamic Centres, not just in advance of elections but in a sustained and engaging way to build trust with the Muslim community is an example to any Local Party.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Dan Schmeising on Mon, 20 Sep 2021
What a conference we've had!
From motions to keynote speeches to training, there was something for everyone and the quality of debate was, as ever, excellent.
We also got a huge amount of press coverage. Our stunning win in Chesham and Amersham has put us back in the spotlight - and the media are beginning to see that only we can dismantle the Tory Blue Wall.
Here's just a few of the stories we secured this weekend:Read this article on www.libdems.org →
by Liberal Democrats on Mon, 20 Sep 2021
In 2019/20, 4.9 million women were victims of sexual assault in England and Wales. This statistic is appalling. We must put an end to this.
The justice system is failing victims of domestic abuse. Only 2.4% of reported rape cases end in convictions. Out of 139,000 rapes estimated by the ONS, only 58,848 were reported to the police.
Sexual harassment is even in our schools. A third of 16-18 year old girls report unwanted sexual touching at school.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →
These crimes cannot be allowed to continue.