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Richard Foord is our Tiverton and Honiton by-election candidate

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 20 May 2022

Richard Foord will be our Liberal Democrat candidate for the upcoming Tiverton & Honiton by-election.

I was proud to serve my country in the Armed Forces for ten years and now want to serve my community in Westminster.

Richard Foord

Richard lives in Uffculme with his wife and family. He grew up in the West Country and served for ten years in the army after graduating from Sandhurst, reaching the rank of Major and receiving three campaign medals for service in Iraq and the Balkans.

Living locally, Richard is active across the community. He volunteers at two scout groups in the area and has raised thousands of pounds for charities, including running the London Marathon for the Royal British Legion.

Richard has pledged to be a strong local voice for Devon if elected, by fighting for urgent action on the cost of living, cutting ambulance and GP waiting times, and getting a fairer deal for Devon farmers.

This by-election will be a two-horse race between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and hard-working Liberal Democrat local champion, Richard Foord.

Ed Davey

In April, the Liberal Democrats won the Cullompton South by-election against the Conservatives. They have also been winning across the UK, gaining neighbouring Somerset Council at the local elections and winning two successful parliamentary by-elections against the Conservatives, including the rural constituency of North Shropshire.

 

Announcing his candidacy, Richard said:

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are taking rural communities in Devon for granted. Towns and villages across the constituency are being hit hard by unfair tax hikes and receiving no help with spiralling energy bills and rising prices at the fuel pump.

“This Conservative Government has run our local health services into the ground. Ambulance waiting times across Devon are soaring, and thousands are left waiting for weeks in pain, for a GP or dentist appointment.

“I was proud to serve my country in the Armed Forces for ten years and now want to serve my community in Westminster. We need politicians who listen to the needs of local people and work tirelessly to deliver for our area.

“This by-election is a chance to send a message that it's time for a change. Towns and villages in our areas have been ignored for far too long. If elected, I pledge to take no-one for granted and stand up for our local communities in Parliament.

 

Commenting on the announcement Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Richard is an incredible candidate, whose dedication to others has shone not only through his career, but also in his voluntary roles in the community.

“This by-election will be a two-horse race between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and hard-working Liberal Democrat local champion, Richard Foord. This Conservative government has taken Devon for granted with local health services being neglected and botched and with trade deals undercutting farmers at every turn.

The Liberal Democrats are the clear challengers to the Conservatives in Tiverton & Honiton. On 23rd June, you can elect a strong local champion who will stand up for our communities and help kick Boris Johnson out of Number 10.”

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Here we find ourselves again. It is now coming up on two years since the Conservatives’ first threatened to break international law over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Then, this time last year, we heard the continued threats over Article 16 which threatened to overshadow the G7 summit in Cornwall. And now, we are awaiting a rumoured announcement from the Foreign Secretary regarding legislation which will, reportedly, unilaterally rip up the Protocol. 

Make no mistake, this would play into Putin’s hands. 

This Conservative Government has presided over terrible decision after terrible decision - but going ahead and scrapping the Protocol really would represent a new low. 

It would be an egregious breach of international law. 

At a moment when we should be working with our European allies in face of Russia’s aggression, it would ignite a diplomatic firestorm and serve as a wedge which will divide us. 

Make no mistake, this would play into Putin’s hands. 

Liberal Democrats stand on the side of international law. We always have done and we always will do. It is a tragedy that in 2022 this has become a point of distinction between major UK political parties. Shame on the Conservatives - they are dragging our country’s reputation through the mud. 

The consequences of overriding the Protocol would also be deeply damaging. 

The Conservatives risk plunging the country into a trade war with our closest neighbours, and largest trading partners. 

It’s time for the Conservatives to stop grandstanding

This would be a bad move at any time. But right now, with inflation soaring, bills skyrocketing, and the Conservatives failing to provide the support which families desperately need, a trade war would turn a cost of living emergency into a nightmare. 

From small businesses to scientists; from farmers to fishers, this would be a disaster, and one entirely of the Conservatives’ making. 

No responsible government would ever countenance taking such steps. 

Yet the Conservatives’ ideological approach means they are incapable of seeing the obvious solutions on the table

Solutions such as a veterinary agreement and alignment on food standards. Pragmatic discussions on those options between the UK and the EU is where a resolution lies. And the Northern Ireland Assembly elections - in which our sister party Alliance saw the largest increase in votes and seats - made clear that a pragmatic approach is the way forward. 

It’s time for the Conservatives to stop grandstanding - and start putting the people of Northern Ireland, and of the whole of the UK, first.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Autumn Conference Update - back in-person!

by Chris Adams on Mon, 16 May 2022

Since Spring Conference, most members will have been focused on the Local Elections which took place in many parts of the country - and rightly so: the hard work has paid off, with some truly fantastic gains made from both the Conservatives and Labour. Particular mention should go to our amazing Chief Steward at Conference, Mike Ross, who is now the Leader of Hull Council! Massive congratulations to Mike and the whole team.

Yet, while the focus has of course been on the Locals, your Committee has also been hard at work reviewing member feedback from Spring Conference and planning for the Autumn.

I know so many of us are really looking forward to our first in-person conference since 2019. It’s been three long years, and we’ve all been through the mill. The absence of the conference bar has been keenly felt, I know - and for some, so has the absence of Glee Club, the conference quiz, Alistair’s whisky tastings (although the virtual ones during lockdown were also excellent)... the list goes on and on. For me and many other members of FCC first elected late in 2019, this will be the first in-person conference as a member of the Committee!

Yet, however much we all miss gathering every autumn at what is usually a south coast venue, one thing we have learnt during lockdown is that virtual conferences work. As a result, FCC was adamant that we had to provide some form of hybrid attendance at this Autumn Conference. Now, I’m not going to promise all bells and whistles: there are a large number of factors the Committee needs to consider, but one thing we are all united on is the desire to make sure as many people as possible can participate in our Conference.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Lib Dems pick Sarah Dyke for Somerton and Frome

by Liberal Democrats on Sat, 14 May 2022

The Liberal Democrats have selected Cllr Sarah Dyke as their candidate for the Somerton and Frome constituency.

Sarah lives in the constituency and is from a Somerset farming family which can be traced back over 250 years to the local area. Sarah worked in the agricultural industry and is Portfolio Holder for the Environment on South Somerset District Council where she is spearheading rewilding programmes, investment in electric vehicle charging points and the council's zero-carbon targets.

Last week Sarah was elected to Somerset County Council to represent Blackmoor Vale, beating the head of the Conservatives' dedicated anti-Lib Dem unit.

The Somerton and Frome election will be a close two horse race after the Liberal Democrats finished in a clear second in the seat at the last general election and this month gained control of Somerset County Council from the Conservatives.

The impressive results during the local elections saw the Liberal Democrats win 61 council seats across Somerset, almost double the number of Conservatives seats and with Labour in a distant third with just five seats. The Liberal Democrats also won the popular vote in the Somerton and Frome constituency.

Graph showing local elections result: LD 42%, Con 37%, Green 13%, Labour 3%

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

“Sarah is a passionate campaigner who is determined to fight for a fair deal for communities across Somerton and Frome, who have been badly let down by the Conservative party.

"Sarah’s track record of protecting the local environment and standing up for local farmers shows she would make an excellent MP.

“I have heard loud and clear from local people that they are fed up with being taken for granted by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government. There is real anger in Somerset at a Conservative Prime Minister who is hiking taxes on hard-working families and let GP waiting times spiral out of control.

“At the next election it will be a two horse race between Boris Johnson’s Conservative party and a committed local champion in Sarah Dyke.”

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Somerton and Frome Sarah Dyke said:

“I am delighted to have been selected and will fight for a fair deal for communities who have been ignored for too long by Conservative politicians.

“Villages and towns across Somerton and Frome have been taken for granted by the Conservative party. Our communities suffer from dangerously long waiting times to see a GP or NHS Dentist and disgusting sewage being dumped in our rivers.

“As someone from a farming family I understand the outrage at botched trade deals and the shambles over essential payments. I will stand up for our farmers who deserve a strong voice for them in Westminster.

“Local people voted for change when the Conservatives were ousted from Somerset County Council and it will be a two horse race to win Somerton and Frome at the next election.”

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Lib Dems win in local elections

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 13 May 2022

Liberal Democrats won right across the country in May's local elections with successes from the Scottish Highlands to Somerset, from Kingston-Upon-Thames to Kingston-Upon-Hull, from Powys to St Albans.

Liberal Democrats elected 868 Councillors, a net gain of 224!

We are winning again because we are listening to people. Because we hear their concerns and their frustration. Because we are standing up for our values, standing up for our communities, and fighting for a fair deal.

The great British people deserve so much better than this law-breaking Prime Minister and his out-of-touch Conservative Government.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

A brilliant set of election results

by Mark Pack 🔶 on Thu, 12 May 2022

We’re winning

What an amazing outcome from this May’s local elections:

  • Three more Liberal Democrat majority councils, taking us back to where we were before going into Coalition in 2010;
  • A net gain of 224 councillors, making this the fourth set of net gains in a row, something we’ve not achieved since the Iraq war;
  • 19% vote share (the national equivalent vote share, i.e. what it would have been if there were elections everywhere); and
  • The lovely bonus of seeing our sister party in Northern Ireland, Alliance, gaining seats and votes to move up to such an impressive third place.

Our successes weren’t just handed to us. They happened because of a huge amount of hard work, smart campaigning and dedication over a long period of time. Thank you to everyone who made that happen - and to their families and friends for supporting them through it.

Before going into the details, thanks and sympathies for those who weren’t successful this time. Missing out on winning never feels great, but it can be even tougher when others around you are celebrating. So thank you to everyone who tried and didn’t make it this time. I hope that our successes elsewhere help give you confidence that we can bounce back in your patch too.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Federal Board, ask us anything

by Mark Pack 🔶 on Mon, 09 May 2022

The Federal Board will be holding another surgery, a chance to come along and ask us your questions, on Monday 16th of May. You can register to join us here!

Interested in our plans for Tiverton and Honiton? Want to know drove success in the Local Elections? Have an idea for how we can improve? This is an opportunity to talk to us. 

The surgery will run from 19:30-20:30, May 16th, don't forget to register.

If you can't make it, or would rather get in touch privately, please let me know by contacting me at president@libdems.org.uk.

And in the meantime, why not check out ways to get involved in our campaigns.  

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

How to vote Liberal Democrat

by Liberal Democrats on Tue, 03 May 2022

These elections are your chance to vote for Liberal Democrat local champions who will listen to you and work hard for your community.

Here we answer some frequently asked questions about how to vote Liberal Democrat:

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Good luck to all our candidates and agents

by Mark Pack on Tue, 12 Apr 2022

Thank you

With nominations now closed for the May elections, many thanks to everyone who has put in so much work to getting candidates approved, selected and safely nominated. From a first look at the numbers, we’ve seen a good increase in our candidate totals in Scotland and Wales, with the numbers broadly the same in England compared with last time.

I’m sure there will be lessons we can learn and share more widely from those areas that have had the most success increasing their candidate numbers, but that can wait until after the elections. For the moment, thank you - and best of luck to all the candidates nominated, their agents and their campaign managers.

Our plans for a fair deal

One of the oddities of how the media covers local elections is that ‘campaign launches’ for the national media usually take place weeks (if not months and years!) after our campaigning has actually started.

Which is why the start of April saw a big round of national media coverage for a Liberal Democrat local election campaign launch in England. Our national media push is deliberately focusing on the issues our research shows work best for setting the mood music against which local campaigns can do their magic at the grassroots. Which means a particular emphasis on the dumping of sewage in our rivers, ways to improve our ambulance service and help with the cost of living crisis.

The theme which runs through them all is the idea of a fair deal. Life’s been tough for lots of people over the past few years. And it’s still tough. But with their trademark decency and strength, the British people are rising to the challenge. Raising families. Caring for others. And playing by the rules. Now more than ever, it's time for a fair deal.

Detailed supporting materials are available in the Campaign Hub to apply our national messages to individual areas.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Boris Johnson must go

by Liberal Democrats on Tue, 12 Apr 2022

We now have a criminal Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have both been fined for breaking Covid laws. Laws they wrote, and you followed.

While we made countless sacrifices to protect each other, they were partying in Downing Street. They think they’re above the law.

Neither of them are fit to hold office. If Boris Johnson won't resign, Conservative MPs must sack the Prime Minister.

There’s no blustering his way out of this one; Boris Johnson has broken the law and lied to Parliament and the country, and he must now go.

It is a kick in the teeth for everyone who has sacrificed so much during the pandemic, from those who weren't able to visit loved ones in hospital, to nurses left wearing binbags as PPE.

The country cannot have criminals and liars leading our Government, especially at a time of national and international crisis. 

MPs must have the chance to hold the PM and Chancellor to account — which is why we’re calling for Parliament to be recalled immediately for a vote of no confidence. And the Conservative Party must do their patriotic duty and kick these criminals out of Government, once and for all.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Vote Liberal Democrat for a Fair Deal

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 06 Apr 2022

Life’s been tough for lots of people over the past few years. And it’s still tough. But with their trademark decency and strength, the British people are rising to the challenge. Raising families. Caring for others. And playing by the rules.

Now more than ever, it's time for a fair deal.

Yet with the rising cost of living, this Conservative Government is letting you down badly and taking you for granted.

Liberal Democrats work hard for our communities, we hear your concerns, and never take you for granted.

Soaring energy bills are overwhelming millions of families and pensioners. But the Conservatives either don’t care or don’t get it… and do nothing to help.

Instead they’re raising unfair taxes again and again. They've plunged our NHS into crisis, making cancer patients wait and leaving loved ones desperate for that urgent ambulance.

And Conservative MPs have voted time after time to let water companies keep on pumping their filthy sewage straight into our rivers. While water companies rake in billions of pounds in profits.

All that must change.

That’s why people are turning to the Liberal Democrats more and more. Because they know we work hard for our communities, we hear your concerns, and never take you for granted.

It’s why so many people supported us in last year’s by-elections in Chesham and Amersham, and North Shropshire.  It’s why so many tell us they are supporting us in the elections in May.

Voting Liberal Democrat sends a message that enough is enough!

Every vote for the Liberal Democrats counts. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats sends a message to the Conservatives:

They can’t keep hitting families with soaring energy bills.

They can’t keep failing our NHS.

They can’t keep pumping sewage into our rivers.

They can’t keep taking the British people for granted.

Voting Liberal Democrat sends a message that enough is enough!

A vote for the Liberal Democrats next month is also a vote to elect a strong local champion, someone who will fight for a fair deal for you and your community. 

A fair deal, with an emergency tax cut to save struggling families and pensioners £600. With a new Ambulance Fund so that if you have to call 999 you know they will be there. And £15 billion to help our children catch up on the learning they’ve lost to Covid, including funds for parents to spend on whatever your children need most. A fair deal where we tax water companies to clean up their mess, rather than letting them get away with dumping sewage into our rivers.

Everyone has a right to enjoy the beauty of nature, with wonderful clean rivers and open green spaces.

That is the fair deal the Liberal Democrats are fighting for. That is the fair deal the British people deserve.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Federal Policy Committee March report 2022

by Jeremy Hargreaves on Fri, 25 Mar 2022

Our focus this year has been squarely on understanding the party’s overall political direction, our target voters, and the role our policies can play in helping us to persuade people and win votes. This was the main focus of our in-person awayday at LDHQ at the end of February, and has underlain all our other discussions, with the aim of informing both our current policy development work, and its direction for the future.

We already have quite a large programme of policy development to try and achieve this, under way. Working groups developing policies for a fairer society (including UBI), and a more caring society (with a particular focus on social care) are under way, as are ones looking at planning & homes, early years and the natural environment. These all held consultation sessions at spring conference (see their consultation papers here, and please do respond! Useful responses can be anything from a sentence or two on your top priorities, to a full set of answers to every question in the papers).

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Spring Statement: The Sunak Swindle

by Liberal Democrats on Thu, 24 Mar 2022

The Spring statement was a Sunak Swindle - hiking up people’s taxes today while promising to cut them in future.

Rishi Sunak is following Boris Johnson’s lead by not being up front and honest with the country.

Buried in the small print is a tax bombshell that will see the average family paying £1,600 more in taxes over the coming years.

Rishi Sunak is following Boris Johnson’s lead by not being up front and honest with the country.

Eye-watering price hikes are leaving many people struggling to make ends meet.

This was crunch time for the Chancellor and the Conservatives, and they haven't stepped up to the mark.

National Insurance

The Conservatives’ manifesto-breaking rise to National Insurance will come into force on April 6th, hitting families with a tax rise of around £360. Meanwhile, the Chancellor’s announcement he will be increasing the threshold people start paying National Insurance won’t take effect until July 6th.

This delay will mean families face an extra tax hit of £2.1 billion.

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to bring forward the rise in the National Insurance threshold to April 6th, helping to minimise the impact of Rishi Sunak’s tax rises on millions of families.

Under the Conservatives’ plan, families will feel the full force of Rishi Sunak’s tax hike for three months before any cushioning from the raising of the National Insurance threshold.

This delay will mean families face an extra tax hit of £2.1 billion, compared to if the threshold was increased immediately.

The Sunak Swindle

Rishi Sunak wants you to believe he's a low-tax chancellor. But over the last two years, he's broken manifesto promise after promise to introduce 15 tax rises on families and businesses.

He's frozen the Personal Allowance and Higher Rate threshold for four years. That'll drag nearly 5 million people into a higher rate of tax.

And while he's telling us to tighten our belts and get on with it, he's wasting more of our money than any other Chancellor - ever. He’s wasted £10 billion on unusable PPE, written off over £4.3 billion in Covid fraud (and won't even let the National Crime Agency look into it!) and handed big banks a £4 billion tax cut.

And perhaps most disappointingly - the most desperately in need in our society have had their Universal Credit cut by over £1,000 a year. Increases in rates are well below inflation, and the "offset" of reduction in the taper rate does little in practice. Sunak is punishing the weakest in society at a time when they need our help the most.

Missed opportunity

Rishi Sunak has turned his back on the British people.

Families are being clobbered with unfair tax hikes, and are paying the price for this massive missed opportunity.

Liberal Democrats have called for the standard rate of VAT to be reduced from 20% to 17.5% for one year. This would save households £600 on average.

The Lib Dem plans would support the economy by boosting spending on local high streets. The proposals would also be expected to keep inflation down by making the prices of everyday items lower than they would have been.

Liberal Democrats would introduce a Robin Hood tax on the oil and gas barons' massive profits.

While energy bills are rising, oil and gas producers are making huge, unexpected profits. Liberal Democrats would introduce a Robin Hood tax on the oil and gas barons' massive profits.

We’d use proceeds of the windfall tax to: Double the Warm Home Discount and extend it to everyone on Pension Credit and Universal Credit; double the Winter Fuel Allowance; roll out an emergency home insulation programme; support small businesses in energy-intensive industries.

And we'd reinstate the £1,000 boost to Universal Credit - and make it permanent. And we called on the Chancellor to raise benefits in line with the true level of inflation - currently at 6.2% - rather than a paltry 3.1%.

Rishi Sunak can put out as many expensively-produced spin videos as he wants. But we know he's turned his back on the British people.

Britain deserves the fair deal - the Liberal Democrats are fighting for it.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Reviewing our Westminster candidate selection processes

by Alison Suttie on Thu, 24 Mar 2022

Tim Farron and I are currently conducting a review into the Party’s candidate selection processes.

The review has been commissioned by the The Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC), following conversations with the State Parties. Candidate approval and selection is a State Party function within our governance.

Working with and supporting the State Parties in their own work, the review will investigate, assess and report on:

  • Westminster Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) selections that have taken place during this Parliament.
  • The current strengths of, and areas of improvement for, the Party’s candidate selection processes in each State.
  • How to implement suggested improvements.

Following an initial consultation session with members at Spring Conference, and a first phase of key stakeholder interviews, we are inviting all members to have their say.

Click here to tell us what you think.

Practical suggestions, made in the context of our available resources, are particularly welcome. We also encourage you, ahead of responding, to reflect on a few of the questions members such as you have highlighted so far.

  • What is working well?
  • What is not working well or could work better?
  • What do our processes mean for diversity and inclusion?
  • Do we test for the right things?
  • Do we do our due diligence properly?
  • How do we balance the needs and rights of Local Parties, Federal Campaigns and Candidates?

The deadline for submissions is the end of April 28th.

We aim to report our initial findings to FCEC in May, with a view to bringing proposals for reform to Autumn Conference.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Anti-Refugee Bill is a traffickers’ charter

by Tim Farron on Wed, 23 Mar 2022

Over the past month, as more than 3.5 million innocent Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country to escape Putin’s war, people across the UK have responded with enormous compassion and generosity.

More than 150,000 have offered to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees.

The Anti-Refugee Bill is an awful piece of legislation that flies in the face of the incredible spirit of the British people.

Yet the response from Conservative Ministers has been slow, bureaucratic and inadequate, granting just 15,800 visas after weeks of war.

And at the same time, Priti Patel is still pushing her Anti-Refugee Bill through Parliament. An awful piece of legislation that flies in the face of the incredible spirit of the British people.

Among other things, this Bill would:

  • Criminalise refugees simply for coming to the UK to seek asylum.

  • “Offshore” asylum seekers by sending them to another country while their claims are processed.

  • Create a second class of refugees with fewer rights and only temporary protection.

So under these new laws, a refugee from Ukraine – or anywhere else – who comes to the UK to seek asylum would face up to four years in prison, be sent abroad for processing, and then – if their claim is approved – be relegated to second-class refugee status.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of Brian Paddick and other Liberal Democrat peers, the House of Lords passed amendments to remove those laws from the Bill. They also added new clauses to require the Government to resettle at least 10,000 refugees a year, and to give asylum seekers the right to work if they have to wait more than six months for their claims to be decided.

At a time when protecting refugees has never been so important, Conservative MPs have voted for more tragic deaths in the Channel.

Yesterday, Conservative MPs voted to overturn all of those amendments. We voted to keep them. Now the Bill will return to the House of Lords next week, where we will continue to oppose it.

By voting to stop refugees from taking safe and legal routes to the UK, and forcing them to take dangerous ones instead, Conservative MPs have voted for more tragic deaths in the Channel.

Priti Patel’s Anti-Refugee Bill is a traffickers’ charter. It beggars belief that she is still trying to push it through at a time when protecting refugees has never been so important. She should listen to the British people and ditch it now.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Emergency airlifts for Ukrainian refugees in Poland

by Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Thu, 17 Mar 2022

On Wednesday, I returned from the Ukraine-Poland border. When I was there, I met refugees who have been forced to flee Putin’s assault on their homes, including people who are desperate to come to the UK – often to join family members. I was proud to see many British aid workers and volunteers providing support and the generosity of the British public who are offering their homes.

The Conservatives' heartlessly inadequate response to countless Ukrainian women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs is shameful.

However, I was appalled by the lack of any organised UK Government-sponsored or supported welcome and the absence of UK Government personnel on the ground at the border. This stood in stark contrast to 19 other nations who were present on the ground.

It is very frustrating that, despite the many recent U-turns on visas, the Government still refuses to act on resettlement and to facilitate safe and quick passage to the UK. The Conservatives' heartlessly inadequate response to countless Ukrainian women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs is shameful.

Since the very start of this war, the Liberal Democrats have been calling for a resettlement programme, working with the UNHCR and other refugee agencies to bring Ukrainian refugees to the UK, as we did for those fleeing Assad’s war in Syria.

I have written to Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, urging the Government to launch an immediate emergency airlift operation to resettle Ukrainian refugees currently arriving in Poland who want to come to the UK. Given the scale of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, it is only right that our country plays its part. You can read my letter below.

Britain has a long and proud tradition of giving sanctuary to those fleeing violence and persecution. It is clear that the British people are prepared to honour that tradition and welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms. The Conservative Government's actions have let down the British people.

Without some sort of resettlement scheme, ideally far more open and flexible than past schemes, many refugees will never be able to get to the UK to take up the incredible offers of help from people in our country. There is also a very real danger that some refugees will fall into the hands of human traffickers and people smugglers.

Surely these families have been through enough? It’s urgent that people are now transported to safety and help so they can start rebuilding their lives.

We must prevent that, by providing safe and fast transportation for Ukrainian refugees seeking to come to the UK. The Government should send personnel to the Ukrainian border now, ideally working with the UK’s own specialist refugee and aid charities, to form new welcome groups with the charities already on the ground.

We must also provide free flights to the UK, with coaches to the nearest Polish airports from key border crossing points and establish welcoming reception centres for the refugees here on arrival at the UK.

The queues of refugees are exhausted and traumatised. Surely these families have been through enough? It’s urgent that people are now transported to safety and help so they can start rebuilding their lives.

Emergency airlifts are now the best guarantee for these refugees to get to the UK safely and swiftly, to the kindness and compassion of the British public waiting for them.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Meet the Technology Blog

by Greg Foster on Wed, 16 Mar 2022

Over the weekend, we unveiled a new Liberal Democrat Website.

It’s the Technology Blog, which you can see here: https://tech.libdems.org.uk

This blog is hugely exciting - because it’s been built on our brand new website platform, Fleet.

Fleet is intended to replace both Nationbuilder and Prater Raines FOCI for the party. 

We’re building Fleet in collaboration with the team at Prater Raines and it’s based on the open source Typo3 framework - which is widely used by organisations with a federated structure (like us!). 

We’re building Fleet in collaboration with the team at Prater Raines

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The UK's Ukrainian refugee scheme does not go far enough

by Ed Davey - Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Wed, 16 Mar 2022

My trip to Eastern Poland, where I spent time meeting refugees fleeing Ukraine and the charities supporting them, was harrowing.

I witnessed firsthand the very human consequences of this war.

Although I’ve watched the scenes of Ukrainians fleeing their homes from my television screen, it was a completely different experience speaking to these families in person. I witnessed firsthand the very human consequences of this war. Families with their belongings stuffed in plastic bags. Children clutching their teddy bears as they arrived at the train station. Exhausted cats and dogs being held by their families who couldn’t bear to leave them behind in Ukraine.

And it was heartbreaking to hear their stories. One woman, Marta, showed us a video of her block of flats in Kharkiv being bombed just the night before. Masha broke down in tears when I asked about her husband. He had stayed behind in Ukraine to fight, as she travelled to safety with their two boys. Yulia told me how Putin was bombing supermarkets in her hometown. “Why bomb the supermarkets?” she kept asking. I didn’t have an answer for her.

But there were so many people on the ground, ready to help. We spent the day with Natasza, who works for Caritas International. Originally from Poland, Natasza took development studies at university — but she never imagined her first humanitarian mission would be in her home country. At the Medyka border crossing, there were countless tents set up by volunteers, offering free SIM cards, food, warm drinks and clothing. We met volunteers from all over: American aid workers, French paramedics, even a Scotsman in a kilt!

I feel optimism thanks to the generosity I’ve witnessed here, but I also feel ashamed. Ashamed of the Conservative Government’s appallingly slow and cold-hearted response.

I feel optimism thanks to the generosity I’ve witnessed here, but I also feel ashamed. Ashamed of the Conservative Government’s appallingly slow and cold-hearted response. Ashamed that the Home Secretary has met this catastrophe not with compassion, but confusion, red tape and delays.

We spoke to one elderly couple who have a niece living in London. They were keen to come to the UK — but said the process was too complicated and expensive.

Ironically, it was at a Tesco where the UK Government’s absence was most conspicuous. In Przemysl, an abandoned Tesco has been converted into a makeshift reception centre for refugees.

This simply does not reflect the compassion I’ve seen from the British people, both at home and here on the border.

19 different countries have set up booths there, coordinating buses so refugees can be relocated across Europe. Places like Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark were all represented. But the UK was nowhere to be found.

This simply does not reflect the compassion I’ve seen from the British people, both at home and here on the border. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are betraying these refugees and the British people who are ready to welcome them with open arms.

We need to keep pushing the Government to do their bit.

Please help send Conservatives the message that we cannot turn our back on Ukraine.

Support Ukrainian Refugees

This is a humanitarian crisis that will continue for months and years, not weeks.

I know the stories that I’ve heard in Poland will stay with me for a long time. And I hope they stay with you, too.

 

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We can’t turn our back on those fleeing Ukraine.

by Liberal Democrats on Tue, 15 Mar 2022

Yesterday was a good day for all those who have argued that we should be clamping down on Putin’s cronies.

Liberal Democrats secured a significant win in emergency legislation being fast-tracked through Parliament to deal with dirty Russian money in the UK.

Liberal Democrats have secured concession after concession from the Conservative Government when it comes to finally taking action on dirty Russian money in our country.

The Economic Crime Act introduces crucial anti-money laundering measures - meaning Kremlin-linked oligarchs can no longer operate in the shadows, hiding away their money and their identities.

But we identified an oligarch loophole, that would have allowed Putin’s cronies to carry on getting away with it. Buried within the Bill were powers which allowed the Government to exempt any individual from these crucial new requirements - an exemption which could be issued based solely on ‘the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom’.

We were clear: this would give oligarchs and their enablers carte blanche to carry on aggressively lobbying the government. The Conservative Government were offering up a get out of jail free card to these people. 

We identified an oligarch loophole, that would have allowed Putin’s cronies to carry on getting away with it.

So we did something about it. We tabled amendments, first in my name in the House of Commons, and then in the House of Lords, led by Lord Fox. We drew attention in the media to the oligarch loophole and put pressure on the Government to shut it. We made clear we would not be satisfied until this loophole was closed.

Last night, the Government conceded - accepting a Liberal Democrat amendment, tabled in the House of Lords by Lord Fox. The oligarch loophole is officially closed.

This is an enormous victory for us in our fight to end the era of Russian interference in the UK once and for all.

From putting a stop to golden visas, to establishing a register of overseas property ownership; from further sanctions on Putin’s cronies to closing the oligarch loophole - Liberal Democrats have secured concession after concession from the Conservative Government when it comes to finally taking action on dirty Russian money in our country.

We will continue to demand more from the Conservative Government, which has turned a blind eye to Russian meddling for years.

We have led the way in Parliament, and thanks to our efforts the UK is finally starting to clear up its act.

And we will continue to demand more from the Conservative Government, which has turned a blind eye to Russian meddling for years. Liberal Democrats in Parliament are leading the way - from our calls on the Government to publish the long-overdue review into Putin’s cronies in the UK, to making protecting our democracy a national security priority.

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