Recent updates

  • Article: Oct 6, 2015
    By Caron Lindsay in Lib Dem Voice
  • Nick Clegg. Photo courtesy of 10 Downing Street CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Article: Oct 3, 2015
    In The Independent

    Nick Clegg is launching a campaign to persuade EU leaders to back global reform of drugs laws, warning that the current punitive approach has failed to curb the multibillion trade in illicit substances and has criminalised millions of young people…

    Mr Clegg is to urge European leaders to make the case for a new global approach to drug abuse at a United Nations meeting next year. Many of them have switched tactics in recent years, tackling it as a health issue rather than a law and order problem…

  • Article: Oct 2, 2015
    In by prestwichfocus on 25 September, 2015

    by prestwichfocus on 25 September, 2015

    It was Lib Dem conference this week in Bournemouth. Our membership has grown by more than a third since the election and it was the first Conference speech from our new Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron MP.

    Tim spoke passionately about his main priority housing. Stating that we have a national emergency when it comes to housing. There are 90,000 children in the UK who donít have a place to call home because there simply isnít enough social†housing with 1.6 million people on social housing waiting lists.

    Thatís why the Liberal Democrats oppose the Conservatives plans for the forced sell off of housing association homes. Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers will vote against any measure that encourages the sell-off of housing association homes when it comes to Parliament.

    Tim and the Lib Dems also want to see more homes being built, introducing a target of building 300,000 homes a year, by lifting the borrowing cap for local authorities so they can build more houses as well as establishing a Housing Investment Bank to boost house-building.

    As Tim said: Housing is the biggest single issue that politicians donít talk about. Well, we are going to talk about it, campaign on it, go on and on and on about it, and make a difference to the millions who have been ignored.

    Communities up and down this country have spent 25 years building†housing†association homes, picking up the pieces of Mrs Thatcherís destruction of council†housing, and we will not allow David Cameron to destroy that work too.

    Importantly, Conference highlighted the Lib Dem difference. Since May, David Cameron has taken the Government veering off to the right, undoing many vital Lib Dem achievements in Government while, at the same time, the Labour Party has resigned from all responsible opposition ñ choosing instead to elect a leader who believes in the kind of fantasy economics that will only lead to more austerity, more disappointment, and more suffering for the poorest in our country further down the road.

    Labour are clearly incapable of standing up to this Conservative government, and it has fallen to the Liberal Democrats to fill that gap. That is a responsibility that we must meet, for the sake of our party and the future of our country, but if our Conference is anything to go by I can tell you we are more than up for the fight!

  • Article: Oct 2, 2015

    With a successful Liberal Democrat conference has come what we hope is the beginning of a successful Lib Dem campaign to keep the UK in the European Union. And below you can see the link to the campaign launch video.

  • Article: Oct 2, 2015
    By By Jenny Randerson | Mon 28th September 2015 - 9:50 am

    By | Mon 28th September 2015 - 9:50 am

    Jeremy Corbyn's proposal for a People's Railway has sparked interest and support, tinged with more than a little nostalgia for a past that really didn't exist. Those who hanker after British Rail were clearly not there. It was the butt of national jokes about punctuality, cancellations, strikes and stale sandwiches. It was also serving a transport market very different from today. Rail journeys in Britain have doubled since 1997 and are set to continue rising rapidly. Freight traffic increases every year too. Our rail lines are the busiest and most intensively used in Europe if not the world. Britain has the only growing rail market in Europe. So when people adversely compare our structure with that in France or Germany it is worth remembering that they are declining businesses while every aspect of Brtish railways is growing fast and needs to do so, because of our growing population and if we are to have a successful economy.

    As Liberal Democrats we strongly support the railways for environmental reasons and we advocate major investment, which is decades overdue. We are lagging behind most of the rest of Europe on both electrification and high speed lines. But that is down not to the private ownership of our railways but to the lack of long term vision and investment in infrastructure by successive governments. In the Coalition Government we were responsible for introducing the biggest programme of investment in rail since Victorian times. If we had been in government alone we would have invested even more and we will fight for every inch of track which is currently under threat from the Tory Government's "Pause" on big rail projects.

    What we will certainly not do, is to call for the Government to spend tens of billions of pounds to buy back the railways from the private sector. Corbynomics will not solve the problems on our railways but instead drain investment from the industry. What customers worry about is the quality of service, not who owns it. We believe in business and the power of competition to get the best outcome for customers. But it must be competition that is properly structured and strongly regulated and there are plenty of aspects of the current set-up that fail these tests and we want to change.

    Network Rail is government owned and I believe the Government's plan to reprivatise it has more to do with dogma than efficiency. Many of its current problems were inherited from their privately owned predecessor Railtrack. Network Rail needs reform not another change of ownership with all the disruption that brings. Above all we need major investment in new track, dualling schemes, electrification, reopening some old lines, new signalling systems to allow more frequent trains and HS2 of course. And we need investment in skills, both technical and managerial. Passengers, particularly commuters, are rightly angry about overcrowded trains and we need all these investments if we are to provide the extra services and seats we need.

    There are many ways in which we should improve the franchising system and I would argue these can be easily implemented under the current system and would lead to major improvements in the quality of service. It's largely to do with how you write the contract and in the past, not enough emphasis has been put on quality issues. Public sector transport authorities as well as the private sector should be able to bid for franchises. Indeed devolution of rail powers and provision is on the way in several areas. Why shouldn't the South East of England or Greater Manchester operate on a Transport for London model where the only publicly owned piece is the Tube and all the rest is franchised, but the powers are there to ensure an integrated and efficient system? And there are a host of other things which can transform our railways - smart ticketing, modernised and safer stations, and a more transparent fare structure, just for starters.

    Corbyn's "Back to the Future" proposals concentrate on the ownership not the customer. I believe our railways need investment and train operating companies need to put more effort into improving life for passengers, and that needs big money and long term vision, not a change of ownership. Make no mistake our railways are thriving, and that is their problem.

    * Jenny Randerson is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, and is the party's front bench spokesperson on transport.

  • Article: Oct 2, 2015
    By By Nick Thornsby | Mon 28th September 2015 - 5:01 pm

    By Nick Thornsby | Mon 28th September 2015 - 5:01 pm

    You can catch up with his previous pieces on TTIP here:

    "A new face at the negotiating table

  • Article: Oct 2, 2015
    In The Guardian

    October 1, 2015 - 10:55 am

    This appeared in The Guardian:

    Sympathy for the victims of imperialism is a noble sentiment. But I am puzzled that Labour's new leader feels this so keenly when Asia, Africa and Latin America are concerned, but seems so unaware of the past, present and future of imperialism on the European continent. Lithuania has in living memory experienced imperialism through occupation, linguistic and cultural oppression, the destruction of civil society and public institutions, rape, looting, deportation and mass murder. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been punished. Nor has Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union, apologised or paid compensation. Instead it praises our oppressors as heroes and justifies Stalin's destruction of half of Europe as geopolitical necessity.

  • Article: Sep 24, 2015

    Tim Farron delivered his first speech to a Lib Dem Conference as leader of the party.

    In it he called on the millions of liberals in Britain to become Liberal Democrats and join the party.

    Full text of the speech

    When I was growing up my school didn't have a sixth form. I guess that's because most of us didn't do A levels. So I went to a separate sixth form college - Runshaw in Leyland - and, in my first week, I joined the Liberal Party.

  • Article: Sep 21, 2015

    A 'Male' or 'Female' tick-box on official documents should be phased out or replaced with an 'X' option, the Liberal Democrats said today.

    The move is part of a package of measures to cut discrimination against transgender and intersex people.

    Current practices make it difficult for a transgender person to have their gender recorded accurately.

  • Article: Sep 21, 2015

    Liberal Democrats have called for the Government to allow families to take children out of school during term-time to avoid crippling holiday costs.

    The party has warned that the ban on missing lessons is 'socially divisive' because it forces poorer families to break the rules or miss out on holidays altogether.