Frank Little

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Munira Wilson's speech at Autumn Conference

by Munira Wilson on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Ten months ago, I was standing on a doorstep. It was dark. It was freezing cold. It was a few days before polling day. I was talking to a lovely couple, one of whom broke down in tears. She was a nurse at our local hospital and she was telling me how she and her colleagues were struggling to cope. They were stressed out, burnt out and desperately needed more staff.

We are seeing the shocking impacts of isolation and bereavement on the mental health of people across the country, as well as the devastating physical toll of this virus.

So when I got elected and Ed asked me to be Health & Social Care Spokesperson for the party, I knew I had my work cut out: waiting lists skyrocketing, vacancies at record levels, many hospitals falling apart at the seams and no solution to the long-running crisis in social care.

And then Covid happened.

In the face of a catastrophe that has cut across every aspect of our lives, we have watched Boris Johnson’s Government blunder through crisis after crisis, failure after failure.

We are seeing the shocking impacts of isolation and bereavement on the mental health of people across the country, as well as the devastating physical toll of this virus.

The Government's incompetence is putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

We have witnessed the failure to protect our frontline workers with adequate equipment.

And – more than six months into this crisis - we still don’t have the “world-beating” test and trace system that Boris Johnson promised us months ago.

As we head into a second wave, not only is this completely and utterly unacceptable, it is reckless. This Government’s incompetence is putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

We need the Government to fix things here and now, to avoid the need for another national lockdown, and to ensure our NHS doesn't collapse this winter.

But we also need Ministers to accept that this is a moment for real change.

The coronavirus has not just laid bare the fundamental problems facing our NHS and care sectors, it has exposed in technicolour the health inequalities facing the UK, and shown us why we need to rethink the way we see healthcare as a whole.

Coronavirus has cruelly shone a spotlight on the scourge of health inequality in the UK.

We have seen the impact of poor and overcrowded housing, insecure employment and our broken welfare system on not just our physical health, but also our mental health and wellbeing.

For years we've heard stories of how, for example, if you lived in Chelsea you would be expected to live on average nine years longer than someone from Blackpool.

Somehow, health inequality had become accepted. But coronavirus has cruelly shone a spotlight on this scourge in our society.

We have seen those health inequalities play out in real time, most shockingly in the disproportionate impact of COVID on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, on people with disabilities, and on the poorest.

When we think about the future, it’s clear that going “back to normal” is not an option.

It is time to re-boot and re-think the way we live our lives - and the Government’s role in helping us to do so in a more sustainable, healthier way.

This is not just about how we care for our physical health, but how we ensure we support mental health and wellbeing too.

Whilst we all want people to live longer lives, we want them to enjoy a good quality of life as long as possible. Health is wealth.

As a country we must decide that health can no longer just be about treatment. We need to prioritise prevention.

We cannot just rely on the NHS to always pick up the pieces.

We need a much more joined up approach to public health.

Especially not when people’s lives and wellbeing are shattered by the Government's own policies. Like the failure to provide adequate housing, or to ensure children don’t go hungry, or to keep people from tipping over a financial precipice.

It simply makes no sense to have a welfare system which pushes people into poverty, with knock-on health impacts and costs, or to fail to tackle air pollution, which has such damaging health consequences.

We need a society where our housing, our education, the jobs we do and the air we breathe are helping to keep us healthy.

Not only do we need to reinstate the funding that was cut from public health budgets by the Conservatives, but we need a much more joined up approach to public health.

This means thinking about the health impact of decisions taken at every level of government, from local authorities to Whitehall Departments.

Liberal Democrats have long-championed a public health approach. We already advocate a public health approach to serious violence. And we also know the public health benefits of excellent education, high quality housing and environmental stewardship.

I want to see Boris Johnson put public health at the top of his agenda in the long-term

It’s about creating virtuous circles, not vicious cycles.

That is why, as well as getting a grip on the immediate COVID crisis, I want to see Boris Johnson put public health at the top of his agenda in the long-term.

That starts with making someone at the Cabinet table responsible: a Minister for Wellbeing who will scrutinise the Government’s actions and ensure they are fundamentally in keeping with health and wellbeing.

As well as this, in the same way that Equality Impact Assessments pushed equality up the agenda, we need to introduce wellbeing assessments to make sure new laws empower people to live healthier lives.

Underpinning it all – as ever - we need a well-funded, well-resourced, resilient healthcare system, to support our physical and mental health in “normal” times, and in times of crisis.

We still don’t know what the future holds when it comes to COVID-19, but, after the chaos and heartache we have endured this year, we should not have to fight to put health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda. It’s what people expect.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom

by Wendy Chamberlain on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Our union is under threat.

Nationalism is a dangerous force, fuelled by a sense of alienation and powerlessness. Brexit has forced divides between our four nations.

Coronavirus and Brexit, two of the biggest issues facing the UK, have demonstrated the inadequacies of our current constitutional arrangements. With growing support for reform across our nations and regions, it’s time to act. It’s time we created a truly federal UK.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

What you may have missed from Day 1 of Autumn Conference

by Liberal Democrats on Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference is in full swing, and despite this year’s event looking very different, it’s gotten off to a great start.

With four jam-packed days of policy in the agenda, there’s a lot to keep track of, so here’s a quick recap of all the big moments from Day 1. 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Lib Dems back universal basic income

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Fri, 25 Sep 2020

The UK is one of the strongest economies in the world, and yet our economic system leaves too many people without enough money to meet their basic requirements and fails to value properly vital unpaid work like caring.

Today, Liberal Democrat Conference has voted to campaign for Universal Basic Income.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Q&A with Jane Dodds - Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 25 Sep 2020

Improve Mental Health Support for Health and Care Staff

by Munira Wilson on Fri, 25 Sep 2020

In the UK we’re lucky. We’re able to turn to the NHS at some of the lowest points in our lives. On a daily basis, our health and care workers are there for us, and deal with tragedy, sickness and death. But all too often, these same front line care staff are overworked and underpaid.

All too often, are front line care staff are overworked and underpaid.

Many key workers haven’t recovered from working during the pandemic this Spring, and these are the same workers we are asking to fight COVID-19 on the frontline again this Autumn. That’s why today I’m proud that Liberal Democrat conference voted overwhelmingly to support a package improving mental health support for those health and care workers.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

FCC report pre-conference

by Nicholas da Costa on Thu, 24 Sep 2020

Conference is upon us.

On Saturday, 19 September the Federal Conference Committee met to review the amendments, late motions, emergency motions, topical issues, questions to reports and appeals for next weekend’s Autumn Conference.

As you will be aware, this is the first time that are holding our Conference completely online. The Federal Conference Committee would like to thank the Conference and wider HQ team for all of the hard work in bringing our Conference online. Throughout a really difficult period we have all worked together to offer a fully online Conference. You can see the introduction video from Geoff Payne, FCC Chair, and Hannah, from HQ, here The video will show you all the features of the online conference, including the auditorium, visiting, fringe sessions, training, the exhibition and the chat functionality.

We would also like to thank our fantastic members for the patience and understanding whilst we are all embarking on a new experience with an online conference. The online platform is being delivered by dedicated supplier Hopin. You can still register for Conference here and submit speakers’ cards here. Please note that you will need to submit speakers’ cards earlier than usual (16:00 he day before the agenda item). This because our production partners will need to get in touch with you earlier so that they can ensure that the internet signal is good and that you are prepared for your speech. We will be selecting more speakers than we will schedule, so that we have a reserve list.

You can submit amendments to the two late motions (on Europe and COVID) here. Please note that voting for the emergency motion will be done via Mi-Voice and will close on Friday at 19:00.

I have included below the list of items discussed at Saturday’s meeting of the FCC; you will see the amendments, late motions, emergency motions, questions submitted to committees and the appeals.

Please note that the summary of the topic is my own (i.e. I have summarised the amendment), I have tried to summarise the amendment as close as possible to what was submitted.

Regarding the amendments they have either been ‘Accepted’ for debate, not selected, or ‘drafted’, this means that the amendment has been added into the text of the motion and therefore will not be debated and voted on separately.

With regards to the emergency motions, these need to relate to something that has happened after the deadline for motions submission, and thus are decided by the Federal Conference Committee if they are or are not valid.

With regards to the questions, we review that they are being submitted to the correct Committee.

There were four appeals against non-selection of motions and the four appeals were not upheld.

I hope that the above (and of course below) is of use and interest. I will try and answer any questions that you do have and you can also contact me via email: nicholas.dacosta@outlook.com.

One final reminder - if you want to speak at conference, Speaker's Cards must be submitted as soon as possible and, in any event, by 4pm THE DAY BEFORE THE RELEVANT DEBATE. Please use this form to submit your card.
Read this article on www.libdems.org →

This government’s test and trace shambles

by Munira Wilson on Mon, 21 Sep 2020

On May 20th, Boris Johnson declared that the UK would have a ‘world-beating’ coronavirus test, track and trace system in place by June 1st. Instead, four months later the UK is facing a testing crisis.

The British public are confronting the reality that we may be facing a second wave of coronavirus with a test and trace system that is just inadequate. It is unacceptable.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The Weekly Whip

by Peter Munro on Fri, 18 Sep 2020

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 

Weekly Whip w/c 14th September

Monday 14th September

Monday’s news was heavily dominated by the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. MPs from across the House had already raised serious concerns last week when it was noted by a government official that the Bill would break international law in a “specific and limited way”. 

Sir Ed Davey made his Commons debut as new Leader of the Party by criticising Johnson during Second Reading of the Bill. He was joined by colleagues who have rightly claimed that it diminishes our position on the world stage and it is against the national interest.

“What message does this send to China, Russia, Iran? What credibility will Britain have in urging other countries to uphold international law if our great Parliament votes for this bill?"

 

Tuesday 15th September

Munira Wilson, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson, has been keeping the pressure on Matt Hancock since the pandemic first began. Months later, nothing has changed. This week, after constituents across the country have been raising the issue of testing with their MPs, Munira gave special attention her area of Twickenham where some constituents have had to use postcodes in Aberdeen in order to get a local test. 

 

Wednesday 16th September

At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Ed Davey, Alistair Carmichael, and Wera Hobhouse all put questions to the Prime Minister.

Ed focused on the adverse effects of Coronavirus measures on those with disabilities, Alistair highlighted the inconsistencies from the government on how international law may be broken, and Wera secured a meeting with the Health Department on how to limit the impact of the PM’s new obesity strategy on those with eating disorders. 

 

Thursday 17th September

Thursday’s proceedings are usually reserved for Backbench Business Debates, an opportunity for MPs to discuss issues that would not find its way to the Chamber via the Government. 

This week, Lib Dem MPs were outspoken in both debates as they were on the Coronavirus furlough scheme and the lack of support for freelancers and the self-employed. Continued pressure from across the House and The Group for Gaps in Support APPG, led by Lib Dem Jamie Stone, secured these debates, and gave an opportunity for Sarah Olney, Wendy Chamberlain, Munira Wilson, and Christine Jardine, to raise specific cases of their constituents who have fell through the net. 

Next week will see important votes on the Internal Markets Bill.



Read this article on www.libdems.org →

The 'Clap for Flick'

by Liberal Democrats on Fri, 18 Sep 2020

Every day Liberal Democrat councillors are working hard to help their communities across the country. 

We understand that often the most meaningful change happens at a local level.  That's why we have such a strong record in local and community politics.

We're so proud to have hardworking local councillors like Flick striving to deliver real change for people in their area. Thanks Flick!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Let me be clear about this: I am passionately pro-European.

I am proud that we stood by our pro-EU values throughout the Brexit process, giving voice to the millions of Remainers who didn’t see themselves included in the future that Boris Johnson was trying to build.

I could not have predicted the almighty shambles that we are seeing now with Brexit.

As Liberal Democrats, we took our argument to the streets and to the halls of Parliament. We didn’t fudge the issue or let the Conservatives off the hook.

Sadly, after Johnson’s General Election success, it became clear that Brexit was happening.

But I could not have predicted the almighty shambles that we are seeing now.

Tory MPs who were told in December that they had to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement are now being told they have to vote against it.

They are being told to break international law.

The UK cannot expect other countries, like China and Russia, to respect international treaties if we don’t do the same when it comes to the Withdrawal Agreement

It used to be that the rule of law was a non-partisan issue. Yet here we have a Government willing to abandon the legal obligations of the Withdrawal Agreement because of Boris Johnson’s failed approach to EU negotiations.

The Internal Market Bill is a reckless, dangerous ploy from a Government that cannot get its act together.

Abandoning the Withdrawal Agreement also makes No Deal more likely. The British people deserve better than this uncertainty.

People across the country are trying their hardest to follow the rules during coronavirus. Meanwhile the Conservatives are trying to break the rules of their own Brexit deal with the Internal Market Bill.

So although we acknowledge that Brexit may be coming, Liberal Democrats will not be silent.

We are going to call out the Conservatives when they try to go back on their promises and ignore the rule of law.

We will do everything we can to stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit, or a rushed deal that would endanger British jobs and vital supplies during this health emergency.

The Internal Market Bill is a reckless, dangerous ploy from a Government that cannot get its act together. The British people deserve better.

 

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our first ever full online conference is set to be one of our biggest ever. I’m so proud that we’ve been able to keep costs low for members to attend, plus no cost of travel, accommodation, or buying all your meals out.

With a more accessible, affordable, and flexible conference, more members than ever will be able to have their say and vote on some of the fantastic policy motions coming up at Autumn Conference.

If you haven’t yet, you can book your place at conference here.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Rosh Hashanah

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Thu, 17 Sep 2020

Tonight, Jewish communities in the UK and around the world will mark Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

The Jewish High Holidays are a time of deep contemplation and self-reflection. They are an opportunity for all of us to look back on the past year as we set new goals for the future.

This year has been particularly challenging; we have all had to adjust to new ways of living, whilst grappling with economic uncertainty.

For religious communities, the past year has also been difficult as so many customs and traditions have either been adapted or suspended altogether. However, as a new year begins, let us all enter it with hope and expectation.

I am thrilled that this is my first Rosh Hashanah message as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. I am proud to lead a party that stands for equality, justice and fairness. Under my leadership, our party's efforts to uproot anti-Semitism from our society will be strengthened because there is no more important task than building a world free from all hate and bigotry.

Finally, I wish everyone celebrating a healthy and happy Rosh Hashanah and a year filled with joy and immeasurable peace.

Shanah Tovah Umetukah!

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Champing at the bit

by Daisy Cooper on Thu, 17 Sep 2020

I'm honoured to have been elected by my fellow MPs as Deputy Leader and I'm champing at the bit to get started.

Whilst Ed is touring the country listening to and reconnecting with voters, it’s going to be my role to help build a campaigning machine that will get us winning again at every level.

It's going to be my role to help build a campaigning machine that will get us winning again at every level.

We won my seat, St Albans, in December - a seat we had never held before.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Our Remit

The Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) is responsible for the budget and finances of the Federal Party and overseeing the administration of the Party. A key element of its role is oversight of compliance with external regulatory bodies.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

Preparing for elections

by Lisa Smart and Iain Donaldson on Tue, 15 Sep 2020

The Government must be stopped from breaking international law.

by Liberal Democrats on Mon, 14 Sep 2020

Liberal Democrat MPs have put forward measures to the Internal Market Bill that will remove controversial clauses that breach the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Respecting the rule of law is fundamental to any self-respecting Government.

The clauses in question allow the UK to unilaterally scrap “exit summary” forms for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and to apply UK state aid rules in Northern Ireland – contrary to what was agreed with the EU. A third clause seeks to protect the above changes from being considered unlawful.

In essence, the Government is trying to break the Withdrawal Agreement and putting the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland at risk.

Instead of ensuring the smooth running of the UK internal market, the Conservatives have sowed tensions between Westminster and the devolved administrations – and have even gone as far as breaking an internationally binding treaty.

Respecting the rule of law is fundamental to any self-respecting Government. This sends the wrong message to the British public at a time when obeying the rules is critical on the Covid front.

The Government should be prioritising securing the best possible deal to protect our economy rather than posturing and blackmailing the EU by threatening to renege on existing commitments.

This sends the wrong message to the British public at a time when obeying the rules is critical on the Covid front.

All this does is fan the flames of nationalism at home and weaken the UK’s standing abroad.

There couldn’t be a more irresponsible and damaging handling of Brexit.

The Government must drop its breaches of international law and negotiate with the EU in good faith. It will be British workers and businesses that will pay for Boris Johnson’s brazen tactics.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →

I’ve been a member for many years but like many others, I’d never taken the plunge and dived into conference.

That all changed last year when I went to the 2019 Lib Dem Party Conference in Bournemouth.

I didn’t know what to expect, but before I knew it, I was meeting fellow Lib Dems from across the country, sharing stories, learning new tricks, and feeling at home with over 3,000 like-minded members who share my values.

How’s that for a great weekend by the sea?

Thanks to Coronavirus, this year’s going to be a little different. Well, very different actually. Conference will be exclusively online - but that just makes it even easier to access all the great events on offer.

And for anyone who feels daunted by turning up as a newbie, there’s nothing to worry about. Here’s what to expect…

Meet fellow Lib Dems

There are loads of ways to meet other Lib Dems. Why not start off by dropping in at the Federal Conference Committee virtual stand and asking any questions you might have about the weekend?

Enjoy a virtual stroll through the exhibition centre. Talk to members with a plethora of diverse interests. Chat to teachers and women’s groups, or see how the Liberal Democrat Seekers of Sanctuary are standing up for asylum seekers in the UK.

In each auditorium session, members can use the online chat function to bounce ideas around.

Hear from the party leaders

Welsh leader Jane Dodds, Scottish leader Wille Rennie, and newly-elected party leader Ed Davey will all be taking to the virtual stage to discuss the issues facing the Lib Dems and laying out their vision for the future.

Get stuck in on key debates

Are you a fan of the Universal Basic Income? Where do you think our country should go in a post-Brexit world? If like me, you enjoy getting stuck into the debate, this is your chance.

At conference, Lib Dem members come together to debate and vote on the key issues of the day - and decisions made by delegates (that’s you!) go on to become national party policy.

See the full list of motions and debates, and find out how to participate here.

Check out the fringe

A particular highlight for me will be Lib Dem spokesperson for home affairs and constitutional reform Alistair Carmichael and the Social Liberal Forum discussing alliances, electoral pacts, and whether the Lib Dems could ‘do business’ with Labour.

Saturday night is comedy night with the Liberal Democrat Creative Network. In just one of the excellent fringe events, watch comedians battle it out to pitch a new law for post pandemic life, with the winning idea being taken to parliamentarians.

Browse fringe events in the conference directory.

Help shape the future of the Lib Dems

Some newbies will go on to become Members of Parliament or stand for council, others will leave their mark by helping to shape party policy.

Forging a path to electoral success depends on every single one of us standing up and fighting for a better future.

Whichever direction your Lib Dem journey takes you, conference has a training session to help you along the way. Learn digital campaigning skills from the experts, get advice on reaching out to new members and growing your local party, or find out how to become a target seat. There’s a huge amount on offer.

I left conference feeling motivated and uplifted.

Meeting crowds of Lib Dems – whether virtually or in person – goes to remind you that there are thousands of people across the UK who believe in the same values of openness, tolerance, and freedom that we as Lib Dems stand for.

And if you see me in the chat, feel free to say hello. I’ll be there trying to get around as many events as possible!

Register for conference today.

Read this article on www.libdems.org →