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Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick conceded that we were right, and that it’s time to get rid of this cruel and outdated law.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Rough sleepers have been falling foul of the cruel and outdated 'Vagrancy Act' for 197 years.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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

General Election review update

by Dorothy Thornhill on Wed, 10 Feb 2021

We published the 2019 Election Review as the pandemic swept the UK and, sadly, I write this update during an even harder third wave. We are reminded every day of the failures of this government and the pressing need for convincing alternatives.

I am encouraged by the steps that have already been taken within the party and the plans ahead for reform. In terrible circumstances, activists, volunteers and staff have stepped up to the challenge my review posed. We identified three overarching themes in the review, all of which needed profound improvement: re-building campaigning excellence, clarity of leadership and decision making, and vision and purpose.

Our campaigning team is now as well-resourced as it ever has been at this stage in a Parliament and we should commend local leaders, staff and ALDC for the innovation shown to balance campaigning with protecting public health.

The party is working with more internal clarity, and I note in particular the closer cooperation between HQ and ALDC, as well as the work, some of which is coming to Spring Conference, to define leadership roles and responsibilities as highlights.

I am not naïve, however, and there are vital areas where change has been slow. I also do not underestimate the challenges of maintaining party energy while so many of us are struggling with family sickness, isolation, home-schooling and the like.

We have made less progress on defining and confidently asserting our party’s vision and purpose. Green shoots, for instance the carers campaign and the start of a change in approach to voter research, are springing up, but the truth is many voters remain, at best, ambivalent to us.

Also, as this Parliament wears on we face the challenge of shifting our mindset from borderline single-issue campaigning back to the kitchen-table politics of people’s day-to-day lives required to win elections. In the introduction of my review, I said, “If it is at least recognised that this one hits the key issues, starts the process of making much needed changes in the party and points the way to success in the future then the time spent by the diligent and deeply committed panel will not have been in vain”.

To end on a positive note, then, I can say that 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.

To the members reading this, I hope that as you show patience while the work is done. We must all expect, demand and support the party to be a winning machine again.

In the meantime, all energy into May’s elections!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Taking a stand on the Uyghur genocide

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Tue, 09 Feb 2021

The evidence that a genocide is now occurring in western China is so clear, that the UK and the whole world must now stand up to Beijing and use every available tool to stop it.

We must remember when we failed to stand up against human rights abuses in the past, and recall the images from British sporting history like the England football team’s Nazi salutes in the 1930s and the rebel cricket tours to South Africa in the 1980s.

The 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will be used as a propaganda tool for a regime committing genocide.

No-one can be proud of past failures to act, so today we must act.

No doubt we will hear teams, sponsors and governing bodies say the Olympics and Paralympics should be separate from politics and that they are just concentrating on sport. But in the face of genocide, that just isn’t good enough.

The 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will be used as a propaganda tool for a regime committing genocide. Team GB, ParalympicsGB and the Government have a moral responsibility to consider if sending a team to these Games is really the right thing to do.

The Liberal Democrats believe the UK must stand up for those in the world without a voice.

Unless the conditions we have set out are met, and met quickly, then Team GB, Paralympics GB and the Government should announce a boycott of the Games.

Our brightest and best athletes should not be forced to be part of a propaganda exercise for the Chinese Communist Party whilst it tries to wipe the Uyghur people off the face of the planet.

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Winning the postal vote

by Robin Rea on Fri, 05 Feb 2021

Voting by post is the easiest and safest way for people to have their say.

With elections going ahead this May, winning the postal vote will be more important than ever.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Weekly Whip

by Peter Munro on Fri, 05 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 →