May statement open thread.

Well, the crest is still on the lectern. So no General Election then. But… Unless she whips off the crest partway through, Bucks-Fizz-style… — Jo Swinson (@joswinson) March 20, 2019 In the Land Of Make Believe 🎶 — Bill Alexander (@BillAlexander4) March 20, 2019 And she said absolutely nothing new. Blaming anyone but herself for […]

Well, the crest is still on the lectern. So no General Election then.

But…

And she said absolutely nothing new. Blaming anyone but herself for the mess.

Basically, no say for the people, no participation in the European elections. She wants to be out by June 30th.

She says that MPs haven’t said what they want. Not sure how much clearer our lot could have been – People’s vote…That at least is achievable, even if the Labour unicorns are not.

Not sure I understand what on earth the point was in all of that statement.

It’s so clear that she is the one who is not prepared to listen.

I remember a Conservative PM forced to quit for not listening about the poll tax….

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Vince tells Sky that Corbyn walked out of meeting with PM because TIG were there

Vince Cable has just been on Sky News to say that the opposition leaders’ meeting with Theresa May was courteous but just went round in circles. She was not willing to move at all. So far so unsurprising. But what was incredible was his revelation that Jeremy Corbyn was going to meet her with them. […]

Vince Cable has just been on Sky News to say that the opposition leaders’ meeting with Theresa May was courteous but just went round in circles.

She was not willing to move at all.

So far so unsurprising.

But what was incredible was his revelation that Jeremy Corbyn was going to meet her with them. But as soon as he saw Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry there, he legged it.

So the country is in crisis and he is not prepared to behave like a grown up. I remember this sort of game playing in student politics days but not when the country is about to crash and burn.

It’s unbelievable.

I can’t actually believe the horrors that we have as PM and Leader of the Opposition.

I could not believe it when Theresa May said at Prime Minister’s Questions today that the Commons should stop indulging itself on Europe. Without a trace of irony.

It’s almost as if she had forgotten that we are in this mess purely because of the self indulgence of her party on Europe. David Cameron called the referendum to face own the right of his party and now we are all paying the price.

The really annoying thing is that this is all really easily fixable. You know when a toddler is in mid tantrum and can’t see reason? That’s what Theresa May is like now. If she accepted the Kyle Wilson amendment, which is really clever, and calls for a public ratification of the deal, we’d be home and dry. But why won’t she? Is it because she knows fine that she wouldn’t win, and that people would vote to remain?

Vince stated our position clearly:

He said people might be angry if we revoke Article 50 but it would be preferable to leaving without a deal.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Isabelle Parasram elected as Lib Dems’ first Vice President BAME

Barrister Isabelle Parasram has been elected by the Federal Board as the party’s first Vice President BAME. I was delighted by this result because I voted for her and encouraged others to do so as I had been really impressed by her clear vision for the role. She talked a lot of sense about how […]

Barrister Isabelle Parasram has been elected by the Federal Board as the party’s first Vice President BAME.

I was delighted by this result because I voted for her and encouraged others to do so as I had been really impressed by her clear vision for the role. She talked a lot of sense about how to change the party’s culture. I’ve seen that her previous work, the report into dealing with complaints of sexual impropriety,  has been thorough, clear and fair.

In an email to members, Miranda Roberts, Chair of the Federal People Development Committee, welcomed Isabelle’s appointment.

At our Spring Conference over the weekend, Party President Sal Brinton announced that Isabelle Parasram has been elected as our new Vice President BaME.

This position has been created to encourage more BaME representation and participation across the party.

I am delighted that Isabelle is taking on this new role. Her election is an exciting and important step towards building a more inclusive and diverse party.

As well as being a top class barrister professionally, Isabelle has been incredibly active within the party. As a former PPC, local party exec member, spokesperson on Brexit in the West Midlands and Vice Chair of London Region, she has a wide range of experience to draw from.

You can read her plan here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

By Friday, we should be talking about revoking Article 50

Dangerous moments are like buses. You have decades free of them and then loads come along all at once. And every day our country’s future is in the hands of a gruesome coalition of extreme right and left  – the ERG, DUP and the Corbynistas – it gets more and more dangerous as Brexit day […]

Dangerous moments are like buses. You have decades free of them and then loads come along all at once. And every day our country’s future is in the hands of a gruesome coalition of extreme right and left  – the ERG, DUP and the Corbynistas – it gets more and more dangerous as Brexit day just a week on Friday looms.

We’ve kind of running out of road as far as Brexit is concerned. As things currently stand, we crash out without a deal in 10 days’ time.

That’s right. The biggest economic catastrophe ever will be underway next week unless someone does something.

We have constantly been demanding a People’s Vote pretty much since the referendum.

Theresa May has made it clear that isn’t happening.

Our policy passed in York last Saturday was clear:

Conference calls for the Government to revoke the Article 50 notification if the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving (relating to) the negotiated withdrawal agreement one week ahead of the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU.

So, this Friday, we have to start talking about revocation, assuming nothing else changes.

And we have to be quite loud about it. It is a nuclear option, but we’re in the most dangerous moment for our country in 80 years.

I would prefer the democratic symmetry of a People’s Vote. I know that many of my friends are sceptical about it and I loved Alisdair Calder McGregor’s rousing speech in the Europe debate on Saturday when he said that we just had to make this all stop.

I think a People’s Vote could be won.  Without the restraining influence of No 10 and the lack of enthusiasm of the Labour Leadership, the Remain campaign would be free to portray a  hopeful and optimistic alternative to Brexit and after the last two years, boy does the country need that. If we get a long enough extension it is still possible.

But we have to lead the calls to revoke if we are still in the same situation by Friday. It is a mark of incredible shame that this Government could be prepared to lead us into a dangerous no deal situation. They have already conducted themselves with a level of irresponsibility that demeans this country and makes them unfit for office.

I think that if we revoked Article 50, most people would just be relieved it was all over. You might get a few idiots causing trouble, but since when was pandering to the extreme right good or sensible policy?

We need to bring this Brexit story to a close, stay in the EU, and then sort out politics.

That’s quite the to do list, but it’s what our country needs and Liberal Democrats need to step up to it.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

London Region recruiting a Development officer to boost local campaigns

Looking back to last May, there was much to celebrate in London’s election results. Winning back control of Kingston and Richmond was very welcome , as was retaining our control of Sutton. And then there were excellent results in Haringey – our group grew from 9 to 15 – and Merton leapt up from just […]

Looking back to last May, there was much to celebrate in London’s election results. Winning back control of Kingston and Richmond was very welcome , as was retaining our control of Sutton. And then there were excellent results in Haringey – our group grew from 9 to 15 – and Merton leapt up from just a single Lib Dem councillor to 6!

Looking closely at the areas that make such great progress, we can see how beneficial it is to have full time staff – and volunteers – working on our campaigns over a long period. Their hard work and skills correlates with good results.

The other side of this particular coin is in 22 out of London’s 32 boroughs we don’t currently have any Lib Dem councillors, alongside 4 boroughs with less than a handful. In many boroughs we have keen and enthusiastic campaigners, but many people have full time jobs, family responsibilities and maybe long commutes. There may be little time in the evening to prepare for a weekend activity although actually quite amazing stuff does get done! But It’s clear that it’s very difficult to compete when our opponents have more in the way of resources than we do. We feel that if we make things a bit easier we can help those keen campaigners achieve more.

So, London Region have decided to set up a new support role which will be called the London Development Officer. To quote from the job ad, the purpose of the new role is “to drive growth in Liberal Democrat activity across London, with particular focus on groups with few or no elected councillors”. Our aim is that the new person will help ensure all local parties have an effective campaign plan. Part of that plan will be working out to make best use of volunteers’ time – and finding new ones! We expect to able to share example materials and templates. Spotting areas where training useful will also feature.

The closing date for applications is this Friday (22nd March) so if you or someone you know coulkd be the person to help drive growth in London, let’s hear from you.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Looking forward to our party’s next chapter

I’m just in the door, home from a wonderful weekend in York at Conference. It is a miracle that I am  able to write this, given that I left the Novotel Bar at 4:15 this morning after a night of great fun with friends. You may or not be impressed to know that when I […]

I’m just in the door, home from a wonderful weekend in York at Conference.

It is a miracle that I am  able to write this, given that I left the Novotel Bar at 4:15 this morning after a night of great fun with friends. You may or not be impressed to know that when I got back to my horrible little room, I laid out my clothes for the morning and plugged in everything to charge that needed to be charged.

I was back at Conference by 9:15 this morning feeling a lot better than I deserved.

These are anxiety inducing times but there is an excitement too. We know that we are about to enter a new phase of our party’s story.

I am very grateful to Vince for stepping up and showing authoritative leadership for two years.

He has made us the party of Remain and in his speech today he was clear that we will not be watering down our core values to satisfy any authoritarian centrist group that might appear although we will work with them to change our politics for the better.

I am incredibly excited by the prospect of the upcoming leadership campaign. I know who I will be backing if they stand. The last contest in 2015 was conducted while the party was consumed by grief after the horror of the election. We had gone beyond denial to anger and sometimes pure rage by the time it had finished.

This one will be much more positive and dynamic. I am looking forward to it.

The big decisions on Vince’s party reforms took place. Vince wanted to set up a scheme for registered supporters who would be able to vote for leader, he wanted us to enable non MPs to become leader. He also wanted to enable people to become candidates within 12 months (or 9 months in Scotland) of them joining the party.

Before we went to York, I had thought that the reforms might just get through. There was a question mark over votes for leader, which had never been that popular amongst  most people I had spoken to over the last few months. I wondered if it could get the required two thirds majority.

There was quite a lot of debate round this point. In my speech, I said that we didn’t have the resources to protect ourselves against entryism, especially if we allowed members of other parties to become supporters and vote in our leadership elections. I reminded Conference that there were only 500 votes separating Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne in 2007.

To be honest, I wasn’t fussed about any of the package. The supporters’ scheme on its own, is a fine model, built by the Federal People Development Committee, but I feel that the opportunity cost to us of ploughing resources into it that could be going into training or winning elections was too much of a distraction.

Christine Jardine proposed the motion, saying that she would have liked the chance to be able to sign up to be a supporter when she was working as a journalist and not allowed to be a member of any party. She also said that she would have loved the chance to vote for Charles Kennedy as leader. She argued that it was important to open up our party.

In a series of 7 votes, conducted with extreme competence and clarity by Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne, Conference approved the supporters’ scheme but voted down votes for leader and non MP as leader. In fact votes for leader didn’t look as if it even had a simple majority.

Geoff also deserves credit for being able to ascertain a 2/3 majority. He called the waiting time to become a candidate vote as having passed. People asked for a count and, sensibly, he agreed. It passed 513-245, which is 68%.

The other counted vote was on whether registered supporters could be on policy working groups. That went through 453-327.

An amendment explicitly forbidding supporters being allowed to be members of other parties was passed.

Got to say something about this debate. Pretty much 800 people sat in a room for the better part of two hours talking about the constitution of the party on a day when there were  rugby matches going on. I know some people skived off to watch the Scotland England game (and how amazing was that Scottish comeback?), but that showed how engaged people were in the issue.

The debate was also conducted with passion and good humour and mostly showed our party at its best.

It was a super weekend in York and there is so much more to tell you over the next few days.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

What’s on at Spring Conference today?

Friday 15 March 15.00-17.30 Consultative sessions: A Fairer Share for All Crime and Policing Health and Social Care You can read the consultation papers here. If you are thirsty after that, there is a Civic reception at the Barbican at 5:15 and then the rally at 6:30. Now I was going to ditch the rally […]

Friday 15 March

15.00-17.30 Consultative sessions:

A Fairer Share for All

Crime and Policing

Health and Social Care

You can read the consultation papers here.

If you are thirsty after that, there is a Civic reception at the Barbican at 5:15 and then the rally at 6:30.

Now I was going to ditch the rally and go to the pub with my friends because I was feeling like a bit of a rebel. However, I then discovered that my wonderful friend, Borders candidate Jenny Marr is speaking. Now, when she introduced Willie at Scottish Conference a few weeks ago, she let slip that she’d seen him in his Superman pyjamas… On an exceptionally cold Winter’s day canvassing in the North East a few years back, apparently, Willie showed the assembled crowd that he had pyjamas on under his clothes to keep warm.

Who knows what revelations she will make at the rally…

So, Vince, Ed and Jo will be speaking. And they’ll be great. But you need to go to the rally to see Jenny. Because she’ll be brilliant, inspiring and funny. She is campaigning up a storm in the Borders. Five minutes into one of her first canvassing sessions, a dog sank its teeth into her leg. Like a trooper, she got the data before heading for a tetanus jab…

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Breaking…Vince to step down in May

EXCLUSIVE: Sir Vince Cable to step down as Liberal Democrat leader in May https://t.co/9vl3XKOa8D — Claire Ellicott (@ClaireEllicott1) March 14, 2019 Party members got an email at the exact same moment the tweet was posted. This has been a dramatic week in Parliament with Theresa May’s Brexit proposals heavily defeated, and a very clear statement […]

Party members got an email at the exact same moment the tweet was posted.

This has been a dramatic week in Parliament with Theresa May’s Brexit proposals heavily defeated, and a very clear statement that a ‘no deal’ Brexit must be avoided. It is now clear that Brexit will be postponed, and very possibly stopped.

The future is very uncertain but despite Labour’s continued prevarication, there is still a real chance of securing a People’s Vote and, indeed, of stopping Brexit.

The fact that these possibilities are still alive is a great tribute to our Party. Unlike the Tories and Labour, we never saw it as our duty to ‘deliver Brexit’.

The tribute is primarily to you as members, for marching and campaigning so energetically. Thank you for securing the progress we have made.

I indicated last year that once the Brexit story had moved on, and we had fought this year’s crucial local elections in 9,000 seats across England, it would be time for me to make way for a new generation. I set considerable store by having an orderly, business-like, succession unlike the power struggles in the other parties.

So I wanted you, our members, to know that, assuming Parliament does not collapse into an early General Election, I will ask the party to begin a leadership contest in May.

At our spring conference this weekend, members will have the chance to make that contest the biggest and most open leadership election British politics has ever seen. It’s a real opportunity for our party to seize the radical and liberal centre of British politics. We can and should invite hundreds of thousands of new supporters in, with the chance for us to choose a new leader together.

It has been my great privilege to lead the Liberal Democrats at this crucial time.

I inherited the leadership after two difficult and disappointing General Elections. But I take pride in seeing the party recovering strongly, with last year’s local election results the best in 15 years, record membership and a central role in the People’s Vote campaign.

And long after my period as your Leader ceases, I will continue to work with you and my successor to make sure the Liberal Democrats are at the centre of Britain’s rapidly changing politics. By building a movement of voters who share our values, we can help rescue the country from a profound political crisis and give hope of a better future.

Thank you for all your support.

Vince

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Don’t get too excited about tonight’s votes…

So, it was quite surprising that MPs backed the stronger No Deal amendment, especially after one of its Tory proposers bowed to the pressure of the whips and tried to pull it. But John Bercow, who gives zero hoots when it comes to preserving the rights of the House against the Executive, refused to allow […]

So, it was quite surprising that MPs backed the stronger No Deal amendment, especially after one of its Tory proposers bowed to the pressure of the whips and tried to pull it.

But John Bercow, who gives zero hoots when it comes to preserving the rights of the House against the Executive, refused to allow her to withdraw it.

The rebel majority was just 4.

It was certainly a dramatic moment and yet another key defeat for Theresa May.

But I wouldn’t get too excited about it.

In fact, while we may be closer than ever to a People’s Vote, the balance might tip in favour of May’s deal as the ERG realises that a backstop is better than a step back from Brexit.

And tonight’s vote wasn’t binding. The actual law of the land says that we leave on 29th March unless that changes. We can see sunshine through the trees but we have to get past a few wolves before we are safe.

Tomorrow’s vote is still only a part of what needs to happen.

So it’s a dangerous moment.

To be honest, I think if MPs straight-up revoked Article 50, most people would just be relieved. And by most people, I’m thinking maybe three quarters. There would be a few idiots who would cause some trouble but since when did we pander to right wing extremism?

There is a certain symmetry about the People’s Vote. It means that It always strikes me as ridiculous when Brexiteers say it’s anti-democratic. Surely giving the people a vote is the essence of democracy?

Anyway, unsurprisingly, Vince called for a People’s Vote

It has been obvious for months that there is a clear majority in the Commons against leaving the European Union without a deal.  Doing so would be deeply irresponsible, and would junk all the false promises made to Leave voters about a smooth, seamless exit.

But Parliament cannot keep fiddling while British credibility burns. MPs across the House must face up to the real choice:  leaving with the Withdrawal Agreement or retaining all the benefits of staying in the European Union as full members.

Since only the public can make that choice, the Prime Minister could now rescue her authority, and give purpose to tomorrow’s proposal to extend Article 50, by calling a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the EU.

This has a long way to go. Don’t be complacent. We could still end up leaving with May’s awful deal.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Brexit vote open thread: Government defeated again 242 – 391

Well, more than by I thought. That was pretty emphatic. Theresa May is making a statement and is now making the No Deal vote tomorrow a free vote. That means that Cabinet members will be able to vote against no deal and keep their jobs. She confirms that the No Deal vote goes ahead tomorrow […]

Well, more than by I thought.

That was pretty emphatic.

Theresa May is making a statement and is now making the No Deal vote tomorrow a free vote. That means that Cabinet members will be able to vote against no deal and keep their jobs.

She confirms that the No Deal vote goes ahead tomorrow night and if the House declines to leave with no deal, the extension to Article 50 vote will happen on Thursday.

Surely this just shows the need to put this back to the people.

Vince’s first comment:

The Prime Minister’s authority is in tatters while Brexit as a project is also in tatters.

We now need to move quickly to extend Article 50 and for the Commons to consider legislation for a People’s Vote, just as the Liberal Democrats have argued for over two years.

Public opinion now looks to be firmly behind remaining in the EU rather than accepting this friendless deal.

Our MPs knew it was coming:

I wondered on Twitter if a Government had ever been defeated so comprehensively twice and stayed in office.

Richard Gadsden, because it was always going to be him who came up with the answer, said:

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings