Securing a people's vote

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As the battle over Brexit in Parliament reaches its final stages, many people are asking me, “what has happened to the People’s Vote”?

Behind the political manoeuvring and procedural wrangles at Westminster, there is still everything to play for.  The People’s Vote is alive and well.

The next step to securing it is to narrow the options, by removing a massively disruptive ‘no deal’ from the table.

To be clear, allowing ‘No Deal’ to happen is a choice by the government.  It cannot happen ‘accidentally’.  But Theresa May seems determined to run the clock down and try to con people that the only alternatives are her deal or the EU without one.

So Liberal Democrats are working across the parties to on a co-operative basis to stop ‘No Deal’. 

With no deal off the table, Parliament and the country will then have a clear choice between Theresa May’s deal, which MPs have already overwhelmingly rejected, or the deal we already have as a member of the EU.   At that point a People’s Vote – to give the public the say on those two options – will be the most logical way forward.

While these parliamentary manoeuvres are taking place, we must keep up public pressure on MPs – and Jeremy Corbyn in particular – to support a People’s Vote. 

There is now a huge movement of people who are demanding better than Brexit Britain has to offer, and Liberal Democrats are leading from the front. If you want to help us, join us.


Lib Dems announce Siobhan Benita as London Mayoral candidate

banner_siobhan.pngThe Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that Siobhan Benita will be the party’s candidate for the London Mayoral elections in May 2020, and will lead the campaign for the London Assembly elections.

London is in the grip of a knife crime crisis, living costs continue to soar, and inequality within our society is widening. Londoners need and demand better services they can rely on.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to building more social and affordable homes, taking people out of high rents and conditions we should be ashamed of.

The party will invest in policing, find a solution to the inadequacy of our train operators and navigate a radical approach to improving our chronic levels of air pollution. 
 
Siobhan will lead the campaign for the Liberal Democrats in London, building on recent success in the capital, gaining control of both Richmond and Kingston councils and an increased vote share of 21% achieved in this years Lewisham by-election.
 
Commenting on her successful campaign to secure the Mayoral candidacy, Siobhan Benita said:

"I am delighted to have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London.

"I will show the Lib Dems can offer a fresh alternative to London's tired two party politics.

"Sadiq Khan isn't delivering the right solutions to violent crime and only the Liberal Democrats can provide a genuinely public health approach.

"The Tories have shown how out of touch they are with London's values by selecting an illiberal, pro-Brexit candidate.

"Only the Lib Dems have truly stood up for Londoners against Brexit and we will continue to be a strong, liberal voice for our city."
 
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 
 
“Siobhan Benita has made a big impression in London and will be an excellent candidate to take on both Labour and the Conservatives.  
 
“I look forward to working with Siobhan in standing up for the issues that matter, not least tackling London’s knife crime crisis, the soaring cost of living and stopping this Conservative Brexit mess.
 
“Liberal Democrats have had a string of great electoral successes right across London. Now is the time to get behind Siobhan and demand better.”


Violent Crime - Conservative Ministers make things worse

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Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey has uncovered "shocking figures" that show a 19% rise in violent crime recorded by police in England and Wales.

Responding to the latest official figures which have revealed a 19% rise in violent crime recorded by police in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“We are facing an epidemic of violent crime. Behind these shocking figures lies hundreds of tragedies of young lives cut short. All Conservative Ministers have done is make things worse. 

 “From severe reductions in the police budget to the weakening of security at our borders, the Prime Minister bears personal responsibility for decisions that have left people and communities in danger. 

“Conservative Ministers ought to be getting a grip, yet they have farmed out responsibility to Police and Crime Commissioners and asked them to sort it out. 

“The Liberal Democrats demand better for our communities. We demand more police, more youth services and people working better together to stop the violence epidemic from spreading even further.”


London being left behind in the adoption of electric buses

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Caroline Pidgeon calls for "a dedicated commitment to phasing in more electric single decker buses as existing single decker buses come to the end of their lifespan and new bus contracts come up."

A new report out today by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon reveals:

  • Mayor of London has repeatedly made inaccurate and misleading statements in comparing the adoption of electric buses in London with other cities
  • London now lags behind a number of cities in its current adoption of electric buses
  • Every five weeks China deploys 9,500 electric buses onto its roads – matching the entire size of London’s current bus fleet
  • Mayor of London’s long-term plans for adoption of electric buses exposed as significantly less ambitious than many other cities
  • New policies are now needed to speed up the adoption of electric buses in the capital.

The report is based on a detailed examination of TfL’s current bus fleet and also an examination of numerous bus fleets in cities around the world.

The report highlights that even by the end of this year London will have just 240 purely electric buses, less than 2.6% of its overall bus fleet.

Examples of where London is lagging behind include Shenzhen, a modern metropolis linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland which has now electrified its entire bus fleet of 16,000 buses.

Other cities leading ahead of London include Santiago, the capital of Chile with a smaller population than greater London, which recently procured 200 electric buses, with ambitious plans to rapidly adopt more.   The Chilean President has declared Chile would become second only to China in the adoption of electric buses.

This year Delhi could become home to 1000 pure electric buses.

In Nepal the government has announced a decision to procure 300 pure electric buses for its capital of Kathmandu, a city with a population of just 1 million compared to London’s population of nearly nine million. 

Nearer to London, in December 2016, Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands, introduced a fleet of 43 pure electric buses –  but serving a population of just 227,000 people.

Caroline Pidgeon, commenting on the research findings said:

“Sadiq Khan has been caught out making some misleading and false claims about the adoption of electric buses in London.   For example, his quote that London will soon have the largest double decker electric bus fleet in Europe is misleading in the extreme – as Dublin is the only other city in western Europe to have any significant number of double decker buses. 

“Some really exciting things are happening in a number of countries across the world with the adoption of electric buses – in the Netherlands, South America, India and parts of China. But sadly London is in the slow lane in the adoption of purely electric buses. 

“The Mayor simply lacks ambition.  For example the whole of India is committed to an electric bus fleet by 2030, but the Mayor’s commitment is for 2035.

“Of course foolish mistakes were first made by Boris Johnson, when he took the decision to purchase the incredibly expensive New Routemasters, when instead he should have committed London to leading the world in the adoption of purely electric buses.

“However Sadiq Khan cannot just hide behind past mistakes and peddle false claims about the adoption of electric buses in the capital, especially when we learn more every day about the huge health impact of air pollution.

“As an immediate priority we need to fast track the procurement of pure electric single decker buses and quickly transform this significant part of London’s bus fleet.  The adoption of electric double decker buses also needs to be sped up.   

“The use of electric bendy buses is another option open to the Mayor to ensure London catches up with other cities.”

Read the full report here.


London has a long way to go in making our roads safer for everyone

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Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat Londonwide Assembly Member, has discovered that alarming numbers of bus collisions are occurring at pedestrian crossings in London.

In response to Questions to the Mayor of London raised by Caroline, TfL have revealed that:

  • Between 1 January 2016 and 30 November 2018 there were 71 recorded bus collisions involving pedestrians at a designated pedestrian crossing.
  • Collisions involving buses at pedestrian crossings are taking place in London almost every fortnight on average
  • Pedestrian collisions involving buses have taken place in almost every London Borough
  • TfL admit their figures might be an underestimate of the actual number of collisions between buses and pedestrians

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Londonwide Assembly Member, commenting on these figures said:

“Despite all the rhetoric about achieving zero deaths and injuries on our roads these figures are a stark reminder of how far we need to go to make our roads safer for everyone.”                                                          

“It is absolutely vital that we ensure pedestrian crossings are a place of total safety for pedestrians.”


Don't Forget: Clocks Go Back This Sunday

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This Sunday, 28 October, the UK will put the clocks back an hour at 1am, meaning people will effectively gain an extra hour’s sleep. The change will mean there is more daylight in the mornings but less in the evenings.

Local campaigner Bob Sullivan said, "Most electronic devices these days will change the time for you, so you’ve no need to worry but I want to make sure residents do not miss that extra hour."

“Mornings will become noticeably lighter across Waltham Forest.”

When changing your clocks manually, it is also a good time to check the batteries in your smoke alarm.

Bob added, "Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save your loved ones’ lives as well as your own."

"Early detection of fires saves lives and can reduce damage to house and contents. Smoke alarms provide the best early warning system in the event of a fire by combining smoke detection and alarm sounding in one unit. Statistics show that fewer deaths or serious injuries occur in households where smoke alarms are installed and maintained."

For further information on these lifesaving devices go to http://www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/smoke-alarms

Organ Donation Week - Words Save Lives

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Words Save Lives

This Organ Donation Week runs between September 3rd and 9th and asks one simple thing of us - to talk to our families about organ donation, today.

Many people have never talked about organ donation with their families. That means lost opportunities for donations because families don't know whether a loved one wants to be an organ donor or not. That family support is crucial to donations taking place.

If we can make more conversations about organ donations happen we can increase the number of transplants and save lives.

There’s no time like the present, talk about it today. Talking about your organ donation decisions makes it easier for your family to support your decision and for you to support theirs.

You could help someone waiting for that vital call, by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and by telling your family.

Jo Adamou, whose daughter Cissy has had a heart and a kidney transplant says:

“You don’t realise the impact having a child or anyone you love waiting for a transplant can have on you and the difference an organ donation can make. It’s incredible that people donate, words cannot describe how grateful you feel.”

Millions of people are on the NHS Organ Donor Register already but only one in every hundred will die in circumstances where they could donate, so every donor is precious.

Words Save Lives. Let’s get talking about organ donation.

If you want to learn more or watch and share the brilliant NHS organ donation videos or social media graphics then follow this link.


Bigots are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats

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Racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia, and bigotry in any form are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats, writes Vince Cable.


The last ten days have seen major stories of racism in both of Britain's major parties.

What is happening in the Labour party - and Boris Johnson's comments this week - are frightening to many Jewish and Muslim people living in Britain.

This is a reflection of the way the politics of identity dominates politics today and attracts comments, sometimes critical or offensive, about particular groups.

I expressed this concern 2 decades ago in two pamphlets for the think tank, Demos. I would stress now, as then, that liberals view people as individuals, rather than through the prism of their race, religion or sexuality.

The lazy use of group stereotypes should be unacceptable to us all. But we must not be blind to the fact that these issues affect our party as well.

The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of the fight for equality, and we have a record on these issues of which we're very proud.

But sadly, the truth is that a very small minority of our own members do hold some views that are fundamentally incompatible with our values.

Our party’s constitution is clear:

We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

As a liberal, I respect people's rights to hold different views to my own, but my message to everyone is that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia and bigotry are not welcome, and not tolerated, in the Liberal Democrats.

If the last week’s events have disturbed you, as they have me, then here are a few practical things we can do about it together:

  • Stand up to prejudice - if you witness any of the issues listed above in this party, please, call it out. You will not find yourself alone - and you will always find allies in our members. You can also report these issues here: libdems.org.uk/complaints-compliments
  • Ask someone from an under-represented group to join the party. We are a stronger political force if we look like the Britain we seek to represent. You can ask someone from an under-represented group to join here: libdems.org.uk/ask-to-join
  • If you know someone who would make a fantastic candidate - and is from an under-represented group, encourage them to stand for election. They can start that process here: libdems.org.uk/become-a-candidate

Our party must be a place where every person regardless of gender, religion, race or sexuality is treated fairly.

The Alderdice report I shared with you earlier this year made it clear that we still have much work to do to change the culture of our own party on diversity.

I promise we will not shy away from this issue, no matter how tough it gets.

Vince Cable - Leader of the Liberal Democrats


The Conservatives’ “hostile environment” is a playground for traffickers

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Ed Davey calls on Theresa May to protect her Modern Slavery Act, abandon the harmful policies that threaten it, and work to end slavery for good.

Theresa May once called modern slavery “the great human rights issue of our time”, and she was right. The very idea that human beings are held in bondage in the UK today – forced to pick fruit and wash cars, to work on construction sites and in nail bars – is sickening.

In 2015, the Coalition Government passed a Modern Slavery Act to make it easier to identify victims and bring traffickers to justice, and prosecutions have increased as a result. But now, many of Theresa May’s own policies are undermining efforts to tackle it.

The “hostile environment” approach she introduced as Home Secretary is making it harder for victims to come forward, whether to report crimes or seek medical help. In 2016, for example, she created a new offence of “illegal working”, which traffickers now use to keep victims in fear of prosecution if they speak up.

Meanwhile, Conservative cuts to the Border Force, as well as to police forces across the country, have left fewer officers on the frontline in the fight against trafficking. That simply isn’t good enough. The “great human rights issue of our time” can’t be tackled on the cheap.

Perhaps the biggest threat to efforts to combat modern slavery, though, is the Government’s pursuit of a hard Brexit. As the European Commission, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and respected security experts have all made clear, this puts at risk the vital cross-border institutions and co-operation that we rely on to fight organised crime and human trafficking.

Thanks to British leadership, human trafficking has become one of Europol’s top priorities. Even if we remain a member of the agency – and we must – Brexit will strip us of that leadership role. At the same time, the Prime Minister is sticking to her “red lines” that may cost us both the European Arrest Warrant and EU intelligence-sharing arrangements that have helped to put traffickers behind bars.

I know that Theresa May cares about tackling modern slavery, and the Modern Slavery Act stands as one of her greatest achievements. So I’m calling on her to protect that achievement, abandon the harmful policies that threaten it, and work to end slavery for good.

Ed Davey - Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs and MP for Kingston & Surbiton


Leave cheated

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Response from Lord Newby on the news that Vote Leave broke electoral law

Today the Electoral Commission ruled on what we all knew - Leave cheated.

Vote Leave have been fined £60,000 for incomplete and inaccurate expenses and for working jointly with pro-Brexit group BeLeave – and using this to get around their spending ceiling of £7 million.

And, lest we forget, the referendum result was just 51.9% for Leave and 48.1% for Remain.

It is now clearer than ever that we need a vote on the final deal that Theresa May brings back from Brussels.

A vote where everyone plays by the rules.

One where there is a clear deal on the table for the British public to accept or reject.

And most importantly - a vote with an option to Remain in the EU.

Dick Newby - Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords


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