Eradicating race inequality

At Conference last weekend, my maiden speech as Vice President was in support of a Motion on a race equality policy paper: Eradicating Race Inequality produced by Merlene Emerson, Baroness Hussein-Ece and the Race Equality – Policy Working Group.  I talked about my experience, as a young barrister, of seeking to comfort a Caribbean grandma […]

At Conference last weekend, my maiden speech as Vice President was in support of a Motion on a race equality policy paper: Eradicating Race Inequality produced by Merlene Emerson, Baroness Hussein-Ece and the Race Equality – Policy Working Group. 

I talked about my experience, as a young barrister, of seeking to comfort a Caribbean grandma who couldn’t bear to watch her young, black grandson being sentenced for possession of a knife. 

A knife he’d felt forced to carry to protect himself from gangs. 

I assured her then that her grandson would be treated fairly, but had no idea that my words were as hollow then as they would be if I said them now, some twenty years later. 

The statistics are shocking:

  • BaME people are the most likely in our society to become a victim of crime or to fear becoming a victim* (leading to disproportionate numbers of BaME people feeling forced to carry a knife for protection)
  • rates of prosecution and sentencing for black people are three times higher than for white people **

It is clear that our criminal justice system, like politics, is broken.

I am glad that the Motion was passed and that there was such overwhelming support for it. It provides an excellent blueprint for our policy work in this area going forward. 

Registered supporters’ scheme

I later had the chance to speak in support of a registered supporters’ scheme. 

I acknowledge that there were many aspects of the Motion that were controversial and I will leave it to those better qualified to address those particular points. 

My viewpoint was in relation to attracting more BaME voters, members and candidates to our Party.

I spoke about a research article published in the Western European Politics Journal, which sets out factors that clearly distinguish members from supporters (expressed in my own words):

  • Being male, better educated and coming from higher up the social hierarchy
  • Having a sense that their voice should and will be heard
  • Not being overly deterred by the time commitment of being a member.

Applied to BaME communities, these factors would go some way to explaining why there is less political engagement than we would like from BaME communities within politics as a whole and, by corollary, within our Party. 

I believe that a registered supporter’s scheme, with palpable benefits to being a supporter – balanced with the checks necessary to prevent abuse of any such scheme – is a key way to grow our BaME representation across the board. 

I support the broader argument that becoming a supporter can be a ‘soft way’ for someone to get involved with a political Party. Opening the doors to BaME supporters would naturally increase our vote share, membership and candidate representation from BaME communities. Hence I am pleased that we will be establishing a registered supporter’s scheme. 

Diversity – the way it should be

My final speaking contribution at Conference was at the LDCRE fringe event on diversity. I was seated next to Dr Mohsin Khan, the Vice Chair of LDCRE, who happens to be a forensic psychiatrist. Whilst listening intently to what he was saying, I was also wondering whether he was simultaneously reading my body language and pondered whether I was sending good or bad signals to him by the way I was sitting, blinking or tilting my head. 

Aside from those random musings, I was fascinated to hear his persuasive arguments setting out the background for a potential campaign in relation to airport security checks. He explained that statistics show that security checks are being disproportionately imposed upon members of BaME communities, thereby leading to disproportionate financial and other (unrecoverable) losses being incurred by BaME travellers. Knowing of a family that was kept in a holding pen at a UK airport on suspicion of trafficking their own children, I am grateful, on behalf of all of us, that Mohsin was able to extrapolate the figures to demonstrate why the wrong that felt wrong is actually wrong. 

I’m impressed by this and other creative and unusual angles being taken by the LDCRE in relation to potential campaigns. Their approach reflects my belief that, before we can share our politics with BaME voters, we need to show that we are relevant to them. And campaigns like these are one such way we can do this. 

In a forthcoming blog, I will tell you more about myself and my plans for my Vice Presidency over the next few years. In the meantime, thank you for contacting me with ideas and offers of support – please keep them coming.

 

* Isabelle Parasram is the Vice President BAME of the Liberal Democrats

Layla responds to rumours about 2013 incident

In a tweet last night, Layla Moran set out what happened at the 2013 Autumn conference. There had been rumours and speculation about it for some time.

Hi everyone. I have a story I want to share…. pic.twitter.com/iy9uKOCKau
— Layla Moran …

In a tweet last night, Layla Moran set out what happened at the 2013 Autumn conference. There had been rumours and speculation about it for some time.

Excitement builds ahead of pro EU march

They’re coming from all over the country to London to make their voices heard. Have an amazing day, everyone! One coach left Inverness a couple of hours ago and another 3 are leaving Edinburgh in the next half hour. @richardpbacon #PVRoadTrip https://t.co/CTlOjETiGV — Scotland for a People’s Vote (@Scotland4pv) March 22, 2019 En route to […]

They’re coming from all over the country to London to make their voices heard. Have an amazing day, everyone!

Welcome to the party, Clifford.

 

Great hold in Durham with increased vote share

I’m on by-election duty for ALDC tonight. And the first result of the night’s six by-elections was a cracker. Great result from Durham’s Esh and Witten Gilbert ward. Bev Coult holds seat for @libdems with 62% of the vote, up 9.5% Lib Dem Bev Coult: 1115Lab: 366Indi: 155Con: 128 — ALDC (@ALDC) March 21, 2019 […]

I’m on by-election duty for ALDC tonight. And the first result of the night’s six by-elections was a cracker.

Nicely done, Bev. Congratulations to you and your team.

There were two by-elections with no Lib Dem candidate.

Here’s the first result.

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

Supporters Pack now available

Voice received the following from HQ: On Saturday at our conference, members voted to create an registered supporter’s scheme for the Liberal Democrats. In the first 24 hours after we launched the scheme, more than 2,000 people joined in almost every single Westminster constituency in Britain. More supporters are joining every hour. To help you […]

Voice received the following from HQ:

On Saturday at our conference, members voted to create an registered supporter’s scheme for the Liberal Democrats.

In the first 24 hours after we launched the scheme, more than 2,000 people joined in almost every single Westminster constituency in Britain.

More supporters are joining every hour.

To help you make the most of these new supporters, the Membership team at HQ have produced some resources for you – which you can access here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/supporters-local-party-guide

The launch pack covers everything you’ll need – from an explanation of what supporters are to template emails and social media graphics to help recruit even more supporters.

It also includes how to find the people that have become registered supporters in your area.

We want to make sure these new supporters feel valued and part of our party – and local parties are best placed to make that happen.

You’ll get the contact details of every single supporter that signs up so you can get them involved in your local campaigns.

So please, help use the resources we’ve provided to help bring more people into our party – especially if you have local elections in May.

And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Just email help@libdems.org.uk

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

Vince and other (non Labour) opposition leaders play hardball with May

Vince Cable, Liz Saville-Roberts, Ian Blackford and Caroline Lucas have been meeting the Prime Minister this evening. And they went in with intent to argue with her pretty robustly. They basically said that Parliament should sit in continuous session until they can sort this out. MPs would not be bullied into making a choice between […]

Vince Cable, Liz Saville-Roberts, Ian Blackford and Caroline Lucas have been meeting the Prime Minister this evening. And they went in with intent to argue with her pretty robustly.

They basically said that Parliament should sit in continuous session until they can sort this out. MPs would not be bullied into making a choice between a disaster and a catastrophe.

And they added that they would bring forward a vote to revoke Article 50 “as a last resort”.

They issued a joint statement before going in to No 10.

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Green Party have been working together and meeting regularly for the past two years since the EU referendum.

“We agree that the House of Commons must formulate a plan that will give the EU Council the confidence to agree a longer extension beyond 30th June, so that by the end of next week legislation can be in place to prevent a No Deal exit.

“Parliament should now sit in continuous session until it can reach a decision and set out a clear plan.

“We will be pushing for the House of Commons to support a referendum on remaining in the EU, others will put forward their own positions. If the Commons cannot agree, as a last resort we would be prepared to take steps to secure a parliamentary vote on the revocation of Article 50.

“The Prime Minister must not be allowed to bully MPs into a choice between her bad deal and no deal. That would make Brexit a choice between disaster and catastrophe, and that would be a failure of truly historic proportions.

“The UK – and all of its people and nations – deserve better.”

More opposition in this lot than in Jeremy Corbyn’s entire front bench.

A fairer share for all – ending poverty in the UK. Part Three

On Friday afternoon at our Federal conference, there was a consultation session on A Fairer Share for All – consultation paper. The consultation period continues until Sunday 31st March. I think members should email their comments rather than answer the questions the working group asks as I don’t think the questions cover all the areas […]

On Friday afternoon at our Federal conference, there was a consultation session on A Fairer Share for All – consultation paper. The consultation period continues until Sunday 31st March. I think members should email their comments rather than answer the questions the working group asks as I don’t think the questions cover all the areas that need commenting on.

The consultation paper doesn’t talk about levels of benefits (which I have done mainly in a-fairer-share-for-all-ending-poverty-in-the-UK-part-two-60199. The working group asks about reforming or scrapping Universal Credit. I think Universal Credit should be scrapped and replaced with a Working Credit for people of working age in work and all the old benefits kept. This new benefit should keep the 63% taper of Universal Credit but apply it to the new rates of benefit I set out in part two, where for every pound of net income a person loses 63 pence in benefit. However, the “work allowances” should be replaced with disregards and they should be the same for people no matter if they are receiving housing benefit. Instead of restoring the three ‘higher work allowance’ rates of £734, £536 and £647 a month I would replace both the higher and lower rates with £140 a week for claimants with children and those receiving Employment and Support Allowance.

Moreover, instead of the £110 a month for those without children, I would set it at £50 a week for each adult who is in work (therefore if both parents were in work they would have a weekly disregard of £190 [140+50] a week. I wonder if the taper on housing benefit which would be the last element to be reduced should be higher. A very complicated system would be to apply to say a 70% taper to the first £70 of housing benefit a week, 80% of the next £70 and 90% of the rest (over £140 a week). The new Working Credit could be calculated every two weeks or every month as chosen by the claimant.

The paper talks of childcare. I think a radical solution would be to pay out a new benefit called Childcare Benefit and it should be a means-tested benefit available to all parents which cover the cost of day childcare for working parents for children aged over nine months. Single parents and parents who are couples if in work and receiving the new Working Credit would earn enough money to pay for their childcare needs to enable them to work the hours they wish to work. Parents who don’t receive the new Working Credit (those earning above £48,000 pa) would get a proportion of their childcare costs on a sliding scale in relation to their net earnings, possibly applying the current maximum which I think is £1300 a month.

The paper states “there is also a case for moderating the sanctions regime”. No there isn’t we must keep our existing policy of abolishing the sanctions regime.

The paper asks should we reintroduce UK poverty targets. It seems that the target was for less than 10% of children to be living in relative poverty by 2020. Currently, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 15% live in poverty. I would like us to have a target of having less than 1% of children living in relative poverty ten years after entering government.

* Michael Berwick-Gooding is a Liberal Democrat member in Basingstoke and has held various party positions at local, regional and English Party level. He posts on this site as Michael BG.

This weekend’s march is about so much more than a vote on the Brexit deal

In Parliament, MPs have been debating on (and rejecting) this botched Tory deal. Beyond Parliament, young people have been watching on in horror and disbelief. As a wealthy Brexit elite, red in the face, tell themselves to hold their nerve, it’s clear that they’ve got no regard for our future. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn? […]

Brexit March

Brexit March

In Parliament, MPs have been debating on (and rejecting) this botched Tory deal. Beyond Parliament, young people have been watching on in horror and disbelief. As a wealthy Brexit elite, red in the face, tell themselves to hold their nerve, it’s clear that they’ve got no regard for our future.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn? They just aren’t listening – they are completely detached from reality. They’re causing embarrassment on an international scale, the world over the country we love is a laughing stock. It’s shameful, and history will look harshly on the perpetrators of this chaotic mess.

I’m 20 years old, less than a month off of voting on the 23rd of June 2016. There are almost 2 million like me who can now vote. The fact is that the UK does not want Brexit anymore, and young people just like me deserve a say on our future. The British people deserve the right to a final say now we’ve got a deal on the table, and not some fanciful, wildly unrealistic ideal.

Before our very eyes, my generation is seeing jobs and investment sapped out of the UK. We’re seeing our futures – lives that should be spent with the right to live, love and work freely across 28 nations, the largest free trade area in human history – all being snatched away from us. It would be dystopian if the last three years hadn’t numbed us all to this warped reality.

However, here we stand, Jeremy Corbyn not breathing of opposition. Nothing as this heartless Tory government swipes away our place in the largest economy on the planet, our seat at the top table, and our future.

It doesn’t have to be like this. So many of us have been deprived of our say, and three-quarters of us who can now vote would vote remain. The Brexit elite knows that they’ve lost their moment, and they’re terrified of giving us, the people, the final say.

We’ve got them on the back foot, and we must keep fighting for our future. This weekend, that’s precisely what I’m doing, and I’ve asked every Young Liberal to come and take a stand with me – I hope you’ll do the same. If you know a Young Liberal who will go and take a stand with us, we’ll be gathering outside the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane; they can find our event on Facebook here.

We can’t do it alone though; we need as many people there as possible. If you’re not a Young Liberal, but you care as dearly as I do for the futures of not just young people, but for the country we love, you can find the party’s event here.

This could be our last chance to stop this mess. Young people are willing to lead the way – will you join us?

PS: Young Liberals are working hard to provide a hardship fund so that any young person in our party can have their voice heard regardless of their financial situation. This is to help young people who may not be able to afford to attend events, just like this crucial march. We’d appreciate it if you could help us to support as many young people as possible here

* Charlie Murphy is Campaigns Officer of the Young Liberals