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North Shropshire Liberal Democrats

  • Sep 16, 2019:
    • Jo Swinson's speech to Liberal Democrat conference

      Today, Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats closed Conference with a rousing speech outlining her vision for a Liberal Democrat government winning the next General Election powered by the surging Liberal Democrat movement across the county.

      Tribute to Paddy Ashdown

      We remember a man who was bold, fearless, determined

      Jo started with a warm tribute to former Liberal Democrat Leader, Paddy Ashdown following last week's memorial service in Westminster Abbey. Speaking of his incredible energy and passion, she said:

      "As I sat last week at his memorial service with thousands of others, we remembered a man who was bold, fearless, determined. A man who brought people together. A man whose impatience to create change was undimmed into his seventies."

      The growing Lib Dem movement

      To you all I say welcome. And thank you.

      She reflected on the success that we've seen in recent months, from our new MSP Beatrice Wishart to our 16 MEPs, 7 new MPs and our 700 new councillors, as well as our tens of thousands of new members. Jo said:

      "To you all I say welcome. We all say welcome. And thank you."

      Stopping Brexit

      Jo then outlined our top priority: stopping Brexit. She outlined the terrible risks the country faces, which will inevitably harm the most vulnerable people in our society the most. Speaking about the scale and gravity of the task ahead, Jo said:

      The first task is clear. We must stop Brexit.

      "The first task is clear. We must stop Brexit. And we are crystal clear: a Liberal Democrat majority government will revoke Article 50 on day one. Because there is no Brexit that will be good for our country. Europe makes our United Kingdom stronger. But Brexit hurts our family of nations."

      Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn being both unfit for office

      It is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature.

      Jo repeated her warnings about the terrible future the country faces with Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn in power, with Johnson failing to make any progress with negotiations and Corbyn's tacit support for Brexit. She said:

      "People across Britain deserve a better choice than an entitled Etonian or a 1970s socialist. If [Corbyn] had campaigned to Remain in 2016 with half of the energy he put into the 2017 election, we may have seen a different result. Nigel Farage might be Brexit by name, but it is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature. We all know that commitment has never been Boris Johnson's strong suit, but it's clear he's determined when it comes to crashing us out without a deal."

      Jo on the Environment

      Jo also spoke of the imminent threat the whole world faces due to climate change and outlined far-reaching environmental policies to tackled climate change including:

      As the placards say, there is no Planet B

      • Introducing climate risk reporting
      • Creating a new Green Investment Bank to channel investment into green projects and away from fossil fuels
      • A programme of tree planting and retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient
      • Significantly expanding the UK's renewable energy infrastructure
      • Establishing a UK Citizens' Climate Assembly to drive a national debate about how exactly we will reach net-zero by 2045 - and earlier if possible

      Jo explained the critical urgency of these measures, explaining that:

      "We will do it all, not because it will create thousands of good new jobs - although it will; not because it will cut energy bills - although it will; not because it will make our country a cleaner, richer, happier nation - although it will. We will do it because we have to. Because, as the placards say, there is no Planet B."

      Jo on tackling Knife Crime

      Every time a life like Tashaûn's is cut short, we are failing our young people

      Jo spoke about the new approach to tackling knife crime needed, with a focus on prevention and extra support for young people. She spoke of her experience of visiting the site of the tragic stabbing of a 15 year old called Tashaûn to gain an understanding of the causes of knife crime, and of the critical importance of treating violent crime as a public health emergency. She said:

      "To win this battle, we need to invest far more in providing young people with good youth services. That's why the Liberal Democrats will give local authorities the funding they need so that they can all provide youth services and re-establish youth workers. Because every time a life like Tashaûn's is cut short, we are failing our young people. And it must stop now."

      Jo on Mental Health

      Jo spoke of her pride in the progress Lib Dems made on mental health in the Coalition, and thanked Norman Lamb for his tireless work to improve services. She also outlined just how much more needs to be done, especially around children's and young people's mental health. She said:

      A Liberal Democrat government will ringfence funding for mental health services.

      "Why should any child travel as much as 339 miles to get a mental health bed? That's from here in Bournemouth to Durham! Why have we as a society decided that that is something we can't change, and that we should just accept it? A Liberal Democrat government will ringfence funding for mental health services. And we will invest far more heavily in the childhood and adolescent mental health services that communities need."

      The battle ahead

      We can change our politics, stop Brexit and win a brighter future.

      Jo closed with a message of hope and a rallying cry to everyone with liberal and democratic values across the country. She acknowledged that there is a battle ahead but made it clear that we are aiming for nothing less than winning the next General Election. She said:

      "This much I am sure of. The opportunity in front of us is huge. And it is for the taking. We can win. We must win. And to do so, we must build the biggest liberal movement this country has ever seen. Our job is to gather the forces of liberalism, and be the rallying point for change.

      Liberal Democrats, we can build the broad, open, liberal movement that our country needs. We can defeat nationalism and populism. We can change our politics, stop Brexit and win a brighter future."

      Read Jo's speech!

      The post Jo Swinson's speech to Liberal Democrat conference appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Stop the Home Secretary playing politics with people's lives

      The power to strip someone of their citizenship is one of the most serious the Home Secretary possesses.

      It should only be taken when absolutely necessary. And only when the national security interest can be proven in court.

      Was Javid's decision to strip Shamima Begum's citizenship about the safety of our country or the advancement of his career?

      Instead, Conservative Home Secretaries have abused this power for political gain with tragic results.

      Think back to February, when Sajid Javid stripped 19-year-old Shamima Begum of her British citizenship. No one can defend what she did, but were she and her new-born baby really such a threat to national security?

      Was Javid's decision about the safety of our country or the advancement of his career?

      We demand better.

      Shamima Begum and others like her were born and brought up here. The Government must take responsibility when they are radicalised and go abroad to join terrorists.

      They should be prosecuted in the UK for their crimes and interrogated to learn exactly how this happens and prevent terrorists from recruiting more young Brits.

      That's what the motion we passed at our Autumn Conference, "Deprivation of Citizenship", will ensure.

      A Liberal Democrat Government will protect both national security and individual rights.

      We will introduce new safeguards so that Home Secretaries must show good reasons for revoking someone's citizenship. A judge will have to decide, on the basis of evidence, that:

      • The person obtained their citizenship through fraud, or
      • Depriving them of citizenship is necessary for national security.

      We will also ensure that the best interests of any children involved are taken into account and that no one is left stateless.

      A Liberal Democrat Government will protect both national security and individual rights.

      To see the motion in full, click here.

      The post Stop the Home Secretary playing politics with people's lives appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Ed Davey's conference speech!

      Conference, I don't know about you, but when you knock on doors canvassing, and people say "Oh, you're all the same", it can be quite frustrating.

      Brexit has changed all that. Everyone now knows, we are very different from Johnson's Conservatives and Corbyn's Labour.

      Only the Liberal Democrats want to stop Brexit. Let's face it. Our great country could be just 46 days from economic catastrophe.

      The Government's own Yellowhammer report could not be clearer: Food and medicine shortages, a hard border in Northern Ireland, jobs moving abroad.

      Is this what Conservatives now stand for? Gambling away our children and grandchildren's futures? Forcing Britain into years of economic chaos? What shocking irresponsibility.

      Is this what Conservatives now stand for? Gambling away our children and grandchildren's futures?

      Britain deserves better. And Liberal Democrats demand better.

      First, we want an economy that works for everyone.

      That offers opportunity for everyone. Everywhere in Britain. And that especially means, saying to people who voted Leave, because they felt ignored and left behind, you will have a stake and a place in a Liberal Democrat economy.

      With Liberal Democrats, your communities will be given the power and the money to rebuild themselves and prosper. So in the first Liberal Democrat budget we will:

      • Back enterprise in communities and towns across our regions by relaunching our Regional Growth Fund that worked so well, and regionalising the British Business Bank, which the Liberal Democrats set up.
      • Find major investment for the East-West railway links the North and the Midlands have long been promised - but have never had.
      • Restore high streets in our towns and cities, devastated by business rates and unfair competition from the likes of Amazon. Our plans to reform and cut business rates will breathe in new life.
      • Embark on a new affordable homes programme, with council housing at its heart, and with Liberal Democrat housing plans led by communities, not developers.
      • Give every adult the chance to invest in their own education and training, with Vince Cable's proposal for lifelong learning.

      Liberal Democrat opportunity for everyone, everywhere.

      When we stop Brexit, Britain will get a Remain Boost and a Remain Bonus

      Imagine what we could do if, we weren't wasting billions on preparing for a No Deal Brexit. Imagine if all the energies going into Brexit, were going into our NHS. Our schools. Our police service.

      The extra investment. The extra growth. The extra tax receipts for the Exchequer.

      Conference, when we stop Brexit, Britain will get a Remain Boost and a Remain Bonus.

      Extra money Liberal Democrats will spend on tackling inequality and solving the causes of Brexit. We will make Britain a fairer country, a more equal country, a less divided country. A United Kingdom again.

      You know, one of Britain's longstanding economic problems has been productivity. That matters, because the more productive we are, the more prosperous we are. The higher wages we can earn.

      But Britain's productivity problem hasn't been tackled properly for decades. So I'm going to let you into a secret. About our confidential economic plan. How Liberal Democrats will make Britain more productive.

      We will invest. In people. Massive investment. In education. In training.

      And we will particularly invest in people and communities who've not had opportunity before. Who feel forgotten. Who voted Leave to put two fingers up to a system they felt had left them behind.

      Liberal Democrats, we must reach out to everyone in our country, especially Leave communities. They are our brothers and our sisters. Our friends. Family. Neighbours.

      And it's not just people Liberal Democrats demand a better economy for - we demand a better economy for our planet too.

      I've coined the phrase - decarbonising capitalism. It's a major reform, we must do this to respond to the climate emergency.

      I hate to say it, but the economic chaos of Brexit. And the political chaos of Boris Johnson. They will look like tea parties if we don't stop climate chaos.

      Those pictures of the burnt desolation in the Amazon. The devastation of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. A record seven million people across the world displaced from their homes in the first 6 months of this year due to extreme weather events.

      And scientists tell us, we ain't seen nothing yet.

      Britain must lead. At home and abroad. In the face of such environmental chaos, we know what needs to be done

      So. Britain must lead. At home and abroad. In the face of such environmental chaos. We know what needs to be done.

      In Government, Liberal Democrats nearly quadrupled Britain's renewable energy. I'm so proud that this party made Britain the world leader in offshore wind power.

      But it makes me so angry that the Conservatives squandered Britain's green opportunity, that Liberal Democrats had created.

      My first Liberal Democrat budget will be a budget for people and a budget for the planet. A Climate Emergency Budget.

      We will invest in new technologies, to help tackle climate change.

      And we will create green jobs. Well-paid green jobs. Green jobs outside London, in every nation and region of our country.

      And now we need to decarbonise capitalism. To move the financial markets - the banks, the stock exchanges, the pension funds and the rest - away from investing in pollution, into investing in renewables.

      We've got to starve climate-destroying business from the capital that feeds it. And instead, that money must go green.

      We'll do this with a myriad of changes. Regulations to force companies and financial institutions to be transparent about their carbon investments. Laws to require them to publish how their business strategy moves them to net zero carbon.

      These major reforms are a key next step to stop climate chaos. And they will make the UK the green financial capital of the world.

      So Conference, Liberal Democrats have a whole host of economic policies - to invest in people and to save our planet.

      So what else must we do, to win? Friends, it's now clearer than ever.

      There's now only one party you can vote for. Liberal Democrats, we are our country's last hope.

      To stop the sheer chaos of Johnson's Brexit, Corbyn's economics and climate change. And to offer hope for our people and our planet.

      So let's go out there. Campaign. And win for our country.

      The post Ed Davey's conference speech! appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Siobhan Benita's conference speech!

      Hello Conference!

      What a brilliant time to be a Liberal Democrat!

      On the 7th May next year, London voters will make a decision of national and international importance. Who will be the next Mayor of London.

      They will decide who they believe embodies the very spirit of London. Who will stand up for global, liberal, pro-European, warm-hearted and dynamic values. Who will reflect and reinforce the optimism, diversity and entrepreneurialism of our capital.

      I believe Londoners will choose the Liberal Democrats. Londoners will choose me.

      I'm asking people to choose me as their Mayor, so I want to tell you a bit about myself.

      I'm the daughter of migrants. My mum was born in India. She came to England when she was just ten years old. With my grandma and her two siblings, she undertook a 6-week boat trip in search of a better life.

      So much of what she tells me about her arrival and first months in London describes the London that I know and love - a charitable city that welcomes people, understands the value of community and supports the most vulnerable.

      And my mum gave so much back to the city that had welcomed her. She worked as a carer and auxiliary nurse, always doing an extra last round in the evenings to check that her elderly patients were all OK.

      My dad was also a migrant to London. Only he didn't come from quite as far as India! He was born in a small village in Cornwall and came to London to work as a teacher.

      My mum and dad are like hundreds, thousands of people across the capital and the country as a whole. Hard-working, law-abiding, kind, generous.

      My mum and dad are like hundreds, thousands of people across the capital and the country as a whole. Hard-working, law-abiding, kind, generous.

      My mum and dad are the reason that my blood boils when I hear the hostility that is directed at immigrants today.

      The Conservative and Brexit parties have an awful lot to answer for.

      Whether it's Farage's refugee poster, Theresa May's hostile environment, or Boris Johnson's offensive language, the past few years have emboldened the far right and given oxygen to racists and fascists and bigots and extremists.

      As Liberal Democrats, we can and we must sing from the rooftops. Immigration is a good thing. Good for communities. Good for the capital. Good for the country.

      London thrives because it's a European as well as a British city. London is home to 13% of the UK's population but 33% of the country's EU citizens.

      A staggering one-third of London's jobs in the hospitality and construction sectors are filled by EU citizens. One in twelve in the NHS. EU citizens build our houses, nurse our sick and pay for our public services.

      There is NO Brexit deal that is good for London.

      There is NO Brexit deal that is good for London.

      Nothing could symbolise an open London more, than retaining free movement with the EU.

      As Mayor, I will keep freedom of movement in London. I will make sure we always have freedom of movement in our great city.

      And later this month I will meet MEPs and officials in Brussels to discuss Freedom of movement for Londoners in Europe.

      I also want to be the Mayor of London because I believe we can create a better, kinder capital.

      One in which the air we breathe is not a silent killer.

      An affordable and equal city that supports aspiration, is the global capital of business and innovation and the world leader in wellbeing.

      Sadly, one particular issue that is guaranteed to be a central element of the mayoral campaign is knife crime. Something has gone horribly wrong.

      Khan has wasted an entire mayoral term achieving almost nothing on this issue. Having been a member of Parliament's Youth Violence Commission I know that there is so, so much more that the Mayor of London can do and yesterday I set out my plan to address serious violence in the capital.

      Enforcement is an important part of upholding standards and demanding safety. But enforcement is, by definition, always the result of failure.

      Instead, we must focus on prevention. My Feel Safe, Be Safe Plan for Londoners will give every young person a voice, activities and the security of good schooling.

      Together these measures will tackle deep-rooted problems in our city and begin to end the tragedies.

      London is looking for change. We, the Liberal Democrats, offer the change our capital needs.

      London is looking for change. We, the Liberal Democrats, offer the change our capital needs.

      We know that London is a Remain city. We know that London is a liberal city. And since the Euro elections in May, London is also Liberal Democrat city.

      In May the capital joined us in saying "Bollocks to Brexit" and returned three Liberal Democrat MEPs. We got more votes than any other party, topping the poll for London and winning outright in sixteen boroughs.

      Our best result in the capital ever.

      And it just keeps getter better. Our membership has soared to nearly 24,000 in London. That's three times the number at the last Mayoral election in 2012.

      And if we go into a general election our London results will be spectacular.

      With our fantastic new MP Chuka Umunna joining Ed Davey and Tom Brake and some outstanding PPCs in key seats like Wimbledon, Streatham and Twickenham, we are going to deepen and strengthen the Liberal Democrat support across liberal London.

      We have the message. We have the momentum. And with all of you, I know that we have the winning campaign.

      Imagine what winning the general election will do for our country. Imagine what winning the mayoral election will do for our capital city and for our country.

      Imagine the message it will send to the World - Liberal Britain is back!

      You can read Siobhan's full speech here.

      The post Siobhan Benita's conference speech! appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • Sep 15, 2019:
    • Tackling the Climate Crisis Together

      There is something that the architects of Brexit are desperately trying to distract us from.

      Our planet is in crisis, balanced on a knife-edge at the point of no return.

      Our planet is in crisis, balanced on a knife-edge at the point of no return.

      Due to man-made climate change, global temperatures are soaring, the polar ice caps are melting faster than ever before, and whole nations are already facing the existential crisis of rising sea levels and extreme weather. Whole species of animals are being wiped out month by month, and global famine is a very real threat.

      This is something that we can only tackle if we all work together, collaborating with every single nation across the globe. No one will be unaffected, but, just like with Brexit, the poorest in society will suffer first and suffer most deeply.

      We need to take action now. The government needs to move much faster and be much more ambitious in the steps it is taking to prevent the largest global crisis the world has ever faced. And as President Trump unpicks environmental protections one by one, harming the whole world in the process, we need to take centre stage as a global leader on tackling man-made climate change.

      That's why, at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, our members have just backed radical action to cut carbon emissions by 75% in the next 10 years.

      The government needs to move much faster and be much more ambitious

      The motion we have just passed commits us to:

      1. Ensuring that the net-zero objective is built into decision-making by national and local government, businesses, investors, communities and households. We'll reward rapid progress towards net zero and encourage behavioural change in patterns of living, working, travelling and eating.
      2. Creating a Just Transition Commission to advise on how to deliver a net-zero economy that works for everyone. We'll support development in those regions and communities most affected by the transition.
      3. Stopping Brexit and working closely with the UK's European and global partners to raise global ambition, develop zero-carbon technologies and increase aid funding to help developing countries reach net zero.
      4. Cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions and reducing energy costs. We can do this by reducing the demand for energy through measures such as home insulation and greater energy efficiency.
      5. Ending the use of fossil fuels in the UK economy. This includes banning fracking and the opening of new coal mines and pits, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
      6. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, including a massive programme of tree planting and the deployment of technological solutions.

      We owe it to future generations to leave them a habitable planet.

      If we don't take action immediately, the effects of climate change will destroy society as we know it in our own and our children's lifetimes.

      With this motion, we're putting plans in place to stop this at all costs. Only a Liberal Democrat government will lead us far enough and quick enough to fight man-made climate change.

      The post Tackling the Climate Crisis Together appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Chuka Umunna's conference speech!

      Conference, it is an honour and a pleasure to be addressing you as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament and as your Shadow Foreign Secretary.

      From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making me feel so welcome. I could not be more at home in the wonderful Liberal Democrat family.

      The truth is, all the incredibly difficult decisions I have made on the journey I've been on this year were routed in my values and principles. I joined this party out of conviction.

      As you know, I am a Remainer and proud of it - we have spent far too long apologising for being pro-European in this country. Because you cannot be pro-Britain and put our national interest first without seeking to put Britain at the heart of Europe.

      I am a Remainer and proud of it - we have spent far too long apologising for being pro-European in this country.

      Be in no doubt: this is the battle of our time and it goes far beyond Britain's borders.

      In essence, the society we seek to build is one where if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be free to lead a happy, prosperous and secure life free of domination of either the state or the market.

      I grew up in world in which we took these values for granted.

      As a family of mixed heritage - English, Irish and Nigerian - our back story, alongside that of millions of others, stands as an example of Britain's liberal, open, internationalist spirit.

      The notion that we all share the same basic rights and should live together in peace, regardless of background is something we will always fight for.

      This is the Britain we know and love - and Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the peddlers of hate and division in our country better know that this is what we will fight for at the coming election.

      It is our job to make sure this country's heart beats in a liberal and internationalist direction; not nationalist, populist authoritarianism.

      It is our job to make sure this country's heart beats in a liberal and internationalist direction; not nationalist, populist authoritarianism.

      This is the new fault line in British politics and we know where we stand.

      Because we recognise that these things cannot be achieved in isolation and that the pursuit of individual and social justice does not stop at the border, we seek to work together with other liberal democracies who share our values to overcome cross border obstacles to achieving our goals.

      That is why we are internationalists. That is why we are pro-European. Liberalism is needed at home to protect personal freedom and liberty; Liberalism and cooperation are also needed abroad to secure peace, promote democracy and defend human rights.

      Liberalism is needed at home to protect personal freedom and liberty; Liberalism and cooperation are also needed abroad to secure peace

      Of course, the first thing we will do in Government is revoke Article 50 so that, once again, the British people can resume their role of providing leadership as a full and active member of the European Union.

      This order is imperfect. It must do far better at reducing inequality and fostering a more inclusive global economic system. But however flawed it may be, this liberal international order has none the less created peace and prosperity.

      The trade it has opened up between countries helped ensure global competition no longer resulted in military conflict. In turn, this has helped lift hundreds of millions out of poverty and people are more healthy than before.

      Furthermore, the liberal democracies that fall within the order have, in the main, also provided better protection of the rights and civil liberties of their peoples.

      And it has forced Extreme nationalism retreat.

      Yet the advances made then are now at risk.

      Today it is that liberal international order that is now in retreat. As a result the world is becoming a more dangerous place.

      Across the world, nationalist populism - the pernicious mantra that nations should be homogeneous and one people is superior to another - is making strides.

      Let us be clear: the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can get into office which is capable of meeting this challenge in Britain today.

      You see, you cannot defend a liberal, rules based order abroad if you so openly flout the rules at home.

      Boris Johnson has facilitated the takeover of Her Majesty's Government by the remnants of Vote Leave campaign - an outfit that was not only was found guilty of lying during the 2016 referendum in relation to its claims on the NHS by the Statistics Authority, but it was found guilty of cheating and breaking the law by the Electoral Commission.

      Now, as he seeks to force through a catastrophic "no deal" Brexit, the Prime Minister has shut down Parliament and is threatening to break the law if necessary.

      You cannot defend a liberal, rules-based order abroad if you so openly flout the rules at home.

      And, as he seeks to force the UK out of the EU, he will become ever reliant on President Trump, whose political playbook he follows. But President Trump has always been clear - it will be America not Britain First.

      This brings me to the Opposition. The Labour Party likes to think of itself as a champion of liberal values at home and abroad.

      You cannot be a champion of liberalism if you are currently subject to a formal investigation by the Equality & Human Rights Commission for institutional racism against Jewish people.

      You cannot be a champion of liberalism when your leader's supporters think it is acceptable to abuse, vilify and deselect anyone who dares to question the leader.

      And you cannot claim to be liberal when the political editor of the BBC needs to take a bodyguard to your conference.

      Of course what unites both Johnson and Corbyn is the fact that they want to leave the EU, the organisation which has been the biggest champion of liberalism in our part of the global neighbourhood. Neither is fit to lead this country.

      Its time for a change and someone who I know can provide that leadership: Jo Swinson.

      Under Jo's premiership we can breathe a progressive breath of fresh air into the British foreign policy.

      Liberal Democrats are internationalists. This is at the heart of who we are as a party, it flows through everything we do.

      We believe in tearing down walls, not building them. We believe in working together through multilateral organisations, not standing alone.

      With Jo as our Prime Minister we will revive our reputation on the world stage and get on with helping to improve the lives of those across the world.

      As Liberal Democrats we have a duty to do this, to defend the values of human rights, democracy, and equality.

      And as your Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary I can promise you that I will stand up for a truly global Britain.

      Thank you.

      You can read Chuka's speech in full here.

      The post Chuka Umunna's conference speech! appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Vince Cable's conference speech!

      Vince began by thanking everyone who had helped him during his time as leader, and saying what he'd be doing next:

      "I have fought ten national elections over half a century. I couldn't have done that on my own without the emotional and practical support of my wife Rachel and my late wife Olympia. And without my dedicated team of volunteers in Twickenham and in Parliament led by Dee Doocey."

      He spoke proudly of our time in government and commented on the current state of politics in the country, "We now see Labour and the Conservatives putting party before country and they will suffer for it - permanently."

      He paid warm tribute to the late Paddy Ashdown and spoke of his confidence in our current leader, "It would be great to be able to claim that I have led you from the wilderness to the Promised Land. But the journey out of the wilderness started with my predecessor, Tim Farron, and I am confident will be completed by my successor, Jo Swinson. Jo has hit the ground running and we have every reason to say to the world that she should be the next resident of Number 10."

      Vince acknowledged our recent triumphs electorally and in the polls, "I did, however, get us to the safety of an oasis, in the successful local and European elections; and then onto some fertile high ground where we are consistently polling around 20% or more."

      He praised our clear stance on Brexit, "Our recovery has come from speaking with clarity and consistency on Europe. We have been faithful to an internationalist, pro-Europe tradition which goes back, via all my predecessors, to Jo Grimond six decades ago. 70% of our members joined us to fight Brexit."

      He drew attention to our record on voting reform, "Liberal Democrats have long demanded fundamental reforms to the distribution of power: proportional voting, decentralisation, an elected second chamber. We need no less than a democratic revolution."

      He lambasted Boris Johnson, "We see Mr Bean trying to become Stalin" and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, "For three years Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have cynically sat on the fence on the biggest issue of our generation…A generation of young people in particular have been betrayed."

      He welcomed our newest MPs and predicted that there would be more to come, "Within the next few weeks and months I hope and expect that the trickle from both sides will become a flood."

      He also expressed hope for the future, "people who are liberal and outward looking in their values, who see themselves as Liberals, Social Democrats, One Nation Conservatives or Greens - are coming together in the same political family, with us at its heart."

      He addressed the other parties' failure to address problems with tax, mental health and the NHS, "These aren't new issues but they desperately need new solutions and fresh determination to deliver them in government."

      And finished off his speech by expressing confidence in our future and our leader, "The Liberal Democrats are in a unique position to lead. Jo is ready to steer us back into government as our new captain - and, now, I am full of confidence and hope for our party and for our country."

      You can read Vince's full speech here.

      The post Vince Cable's conference speech! appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Jane Dodds' conference speech

      Jane started by thanking everyone who came to help in Brecon and Radnorshire…

      Whether you came during the recall petition or the by-election or even both - thank you. Without all of you, and the wider party and beyond, I would not be standing here today as the MP for Brecon & Radnorshire.

      She moved onto our recent wins:

      This victory was a team effort, and one which signalled to both Wales and the UK, that the Liberal Democrats can win.

      This victory was a team effort, and one which signalled to both Wales and the UK, that the Liberal Democrats can win.

      Winning council seats.

      Winning our largest ever group of MEPs.

      Winning Parliamentary seats across the country.

      Conference, there has never been a better time to be a Liberal Democrat.

      She talked about some of our recent recruits…

      One week after I was elected, we were joined by Sarah Wollaston. The day I took my seat in Parliament Phillip Lee came to sit alongside me, and shortly after that both Luciana Berger and Angela Smith joined too, before Sam Gyimah joining us at the rally last night.

      Jane reached out to the millions of disaffected people abandoned by the Conservatives and Labour…

      If you're fed up of the endless back and forth, the empty rhetoric and the hollow promises of the other parties… then why not come make your home in the Liberal Democrats, as so many others are doing?

      As Jo Swinson said, "if you're fed up of shouting at the TV, then get up and do something about it".

      As Jo Swinson said, "if you're fed up of shouting at the TV, then get up and do something about it".

      Jane celebrated our victories in Wales…

      Kirsty Williams is cutting class sizes, protecting our rural schools and, overhauling our curriculum to make it fit for the 21st century, including making sure relationship education is LGBT inclusive.

      She slammed the Conservatives…

      And isn't there another irony that the Conservative and Unionist Party is acting in a way that can only undermine the union they claim to value so dearly.

      They seemingly fail to recognise that two of our four nations actually voted to Remain, they've all but dismissed the Good Friday Agreement, which has helped keep Northern Ireland at peace for 20 years. And they continue to ignore the Scottish and Welsh Governments, actively undermining the authority of the devolved administrations.

      We must not be silenced. We must not give up fighting for what we believe in.

      Jane reaffirmed our commitment to a federal UK…

      I want us to be the champions of a federal UK, a truly equal family of nations - ensuring that every part of this union has a voice, backed up by real, meaningful devolution.

      And she wrapped up with a call to action…

      We must not be silenced.

      We must not give up fighting for what we believe in.

      Mae angen ar y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, nawr yn fwy nag erioed.

      Liberal Democrats, we are needed now more than ever. Let's get out there and let's change the future of our country.

      The post Jane Dodds' conference speech appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • Sep 14, 2019:
    • Q&A with Jo!

      Q: Do you forgive David Cameron for calling the 2016 referendum?

      A: No, I don't forgive him. Much of the problems we currently face come from David Cameron's shocking misjudgement and putting the interests of the Conservative party above the national interest. He did it when he announced the referendum in the first place, he did it when he won a majority. And this is clearly a pattern with Conservative prime ministers. The future of our country is at stake - people are losing jobs, feeling the impact of the falling pound and they're worried about our public services. Over 5000 of our nurses are from EU countries. There are 3 million EU citizens living now with uncertainty and a disturbing spike in hate crime. On so many grounds such as these, David Cameron cannot be forgiven.

      Q: After the motion this morning for adopting the revocation of Article 50 in the case of a Liberal majority, there is some concern about how that may affect people who voted Leave. What specific policies and/or actions will you take to build those bridges?

      Q: What happens after we have stopped Brexit and stayed in the EU?

      We also have to dig beneath what lay behind the Leave vote. There's a complex set of factors at play.

      A: As far as leave voters are concerned, there is no doubt that our country is in a divided place at the moment. We're all concerned about that and we can't bridge this division by lacking clarity.

      We must be straightforward and honest about our belief that we're better off inside the EU. I recognise that there are people who genuinely disagree with that but they still can appreciate that we're clear about our position. It's important to make clear that there may be people who are different to us but it doesn't make them bad people. We can conduct debate in a culture of respect, meeting people with arguments in a constructive fashion.

      We also have to dig beneath what lay behind the Leave vote. There's a complex set of factors at play. For many people, life has been tough. If they work hard, there's no guarantee they'll succeed. It's a failure of the social contract that we urgently need to address. We have strong policies for that. We also need to have that communication about wider issues, on a national level and on a local level. People care about local issues that affect their daily lives - Liberal Democrat councils deliver for local communities across the country every day.

      I do believe that if you really believe in something, you can make it happen. We have believed from the beginning that this is a fight we must win. Of course we want to reform the EU; there is a range of ways that this can be done and connect with people about what the EU does for us. People have had much more exposure to this since the referendum. If we stop Brexit, there will be a huge chunk of the population who want the government to address the issues that have been ignored while we've had to deal with Brexit. Things like the technological revolution, like the climate emergency, and other issues that have received less attention because of Brexit.

      Q: How concerned are you that Brexit will lead to the breakup of our United Kingdom?

      We're talking about tearing apart a decades-old union. Think about how hard it's going to be to break up a union that's hundreds of years old.

      A: I thought it was interesting hearing Sam Gyimah talk about how he sees the Tories increasingly playing to English nationalism. That force represents a threat to the UK. I'm determined to keep the UK united. It's a partnership, a family of nations that has worked well. We're stronger together. The reasons are the same for staying in the EU as they are for staying united. If we can learn anything from this mess, it's that breaking up is hard to do. We're talking about tearing apart a decades-old union. Think about how hard it's going to be to break up a union that's hundreds of years old.

      It's the last thing that any of those nations needs. I'm worried because the Prime Minister does not care about the UK. He didn't bother to go to the Irish border. I did, last month. Sitting and listening to people's stories is so powerful. Brexiteers will call it scaremongering and Project Fear. But when you listen to people in Northern Ireland talk about the inevitable border created if Brexit happens, especially a No Deal Brexit, their genuine fear - they're not making it up. They've lived through the Troubles and they are genuinely worried. Brexiteers keep dismissing this. As a Scot, I want our UK to stay together. The thought of breaking apart fills me with dismay. I was elected on a strong promise to fight for Scotland's place in the UK and the UK's place in the EU. It's a promise I intend to keep. We can save our UK and we can stop Brexit - we should not have to choose between them.

      Q: Should we have a written constitution and when?

      A: Yes, we should, ideally several years ago, before this mess. It's partially why we're in this position now. An unwritten constitution creates confusion, lacks clarity and creates opportunity for abuse. That's what our Prime Minister has prepared to do. Our unwritten constitution works on the basis of convention. Most MPs abide by that. Boris Johnson is prepared to shut down parliament at a time of national crisis. Sending four members of the privy council to Balmoral to force the queen's hand put her in an impossible position - a responsible Prime Minister would not have done that. And of course, Parliament will be shut down for 5 weeks. A Prime Minister who can stand before police officers with a straight face and say he'll die in a ditch rather than obey a law passed; it's a dangerous time when this happens. A written constitution protects us from this.

      Q: As a Scottish MP, following in the footsteps of Ming and Charles and another Jo, could you explain Federalism to the English once and for all?

      We need to come together as a family of nations who are in a genuine spirit of partnership. It's not about one being dominant over the other, and not about the UK entity being in control. It's about the power resting in those different nations coming together, not about being content with centralisation. We know from Scotland what it's like to have a Scottish government that is a centralising government. We are a party that wants to disperse power fairly so that communities have power over their lives. It's also how we can work with other countries and remain internationalist.

      Q: What can be done to encourage more young people to get involved with politics and the party?

      I want to see a politics that is diverse at both ends of the age spectrum

      When it comes to young people, one positive thing we have seen over the past few years is an awakening of interest in politics from young people. It's very healthy. I have felt that most in the past few weeks where I've had people telling me that BBC Parliament has become the new Love Island. We have to change our politics to stop young people looking at us and thinking we're ridiculous.

      I'm a big fan of young people getting involved in politics. I was the youngest MP in the House of Commons at age 25. I was often asked this question by broadcasters. Personally, I've always been into politics. I think it's about relevance, engaging in a way that strips away the stuffiness and the procedure and having straightforward conversations. There can be very patronising attitudes towards young people in politics. We need to engage with young people as adults.

      When we see inspiring young people, we should praise them. We should make conferences accessible to them. Let's listen to what young people have to say, ask them questions and let them ask us questions.

      One of the most enjoyable things I do is to go to local schools and talk about things and take questions. My favourite age group is 10-year-olds. They know a lot about the world but they have very little self-consciousness. They'll ask you anything! If you can explain a policy to a 10-year-old, you know you've understood it properly. I want to see a politics that is diverse at both ends of the age spectrum.

      Q: From your experience as a working mum, how can you be an active Liberal Democrat and balance family life?

      A: How brave might the Lib Dems might be in terms of considering job-shares for MPs, a carer's allowance for councillors? Some structural changes could help.

      I don't always feel young, personally. I remember life before the internet. I think "politics young" should be its own category!

      How do we change our politics to be genuinely inclusive? I was delighted to see earlier today a training session about how to campaign when you have young children, well attended by both women and men. Fathers role is v important too. I've seen a lot of kids at this conference. Luciana brought baby Zion with her. We should be inclusive. People must be able to participate. We shouldn't have a fixed idea of a good activist. Phone canvassing is a wonderful way of reaching people. When my son had a lunchtime nap, I got on the phone and phoned 10 people.

      I'm aware of my responsibility as leader to develop a way of doing differently. Vince, Tim, Nick, me - we all do it differently. I have to juggle this as the mother of a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old. This doesn't make me a worse MP or worse leader. I do fewer evening engagements because I want to put my kids to bed at night. I do a lot of conference calls. We have to be flexible like that, in local parties, across the regions. Family-friendly social events, non-alcoholic events. We must build our politics around people's lives.

      Q: Can we expect you to bring back a creche to conference?

      A: We used to have conference creche. We have an access fund now to help with extra assistance. As good libs, we won't leave it to the leader. Conference committee are looking into this, for certain.

      We all know family members who suffer from mental illness. Our goal should be nothing short of full parity with physical health

      Q: How important is mental health to a Lib Dem government? How will you tackle the MH crisis?

      A: This is an area of huge importance. I want to pay tribute to Norman Lamb and his fantastic work. When Norm started flying the flag, there was not a broad consensus on MH. We've made good progress but it's not been matched with resources and policies to help change people's lives. Far too many people have to wait far too long. It's heartbreaking to hear from kids and young who have to wait months and moths for treatment. What has been so powerful is the way the MH stigma is being broken down.

      Many members have shared their experience at conference. We all know family members who suffer from mental illness. Our goal should be nothing short of full parity with physical health. No difference between breaking a leg or having a breakdown. We must engage in positive mental health in the public health way. We shouldn't just wait til they're struggling. We have to promote positive MH. It's all to do with wider policies. Access to arts, leisure, sports, housing.

      Mental health means a lot to me. I had to wait over a year and a half for a diagnosis of autism. Young people are burning themselves out over the climate crisis and adults are letting young people fight that battle for them. I am one of those young people. On Friday, will you attend the global strike for climate? Will you stand with young people on this issue?

      Thank you - that was such a powerful question. It is shaming for adults that it's children and young people who are this voice. The energy in this movement comes from people like Greta Thunberg. I am excited to see that energy. But this must not be on the shoulders of young people on their own. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder. Yes, of course I will be striking on Friday back home in my seat. We must harness that energy and use it to create real change. We are a crucial part of that. Thank you for what you are doing.

      Q: Psychotherapy is a solution to mental health problems. It's expensive. What can the LDs do to extend this to people for however long they need it?

      A: Good mental health starts at home. Elections are stressful. Activists need to be supported in the party. Why are we not getting mental health training and mental health first aid?

      There's excellent research on talking therapies, setting out economic case to increase access to these therapies. You can reap a huge benefit from this, reduction in health problems, increased ability ot contribute at work and at home. We must invest in this issue. This is a win win - it's helping people to make the contribution that they want to make, but also help themselves. It's an essential way forward. The rationing of this help can mean that people don't get sufficient times in therapy. We have policy to increase number of people working in MH.

      We have to understand the pressure people elected to office are under. I have been to a lot of LD training events. We can expect superhuman efforts from people. If you want to win, you have to be unreasonable about what to expect. Partially, that's how I was elected. Ambition motivates. But too often we could work smarter, as we let too much on the shoulders of too few people. At this moment, we must be more pro-active to encourage new people to join the efforts. Let's make involvement sustainable, so it doesn't take up everyone's entire life. Elections are stressful - so let's look out for each other, de-escalate and look after each other better. We need to work together, stay together and look after each other together.

      We need to hold local authorities to account for the way they spend. SEN and funding.

      We have a strong team and strong constituencies. We will be winning in the North of England.

      I'm often struck by the challenges my constituents face. There are too many challenges for parents of those with special educational needs and it's wrong for them to have to fight the system too. We need a system that is more individualised, where support is bespoke, Too often it's not there and its too much of a fight. Most worrying is that not all parents are able to take on those fights. It means we're failing children who should be getting better support.

      Q: How are we going to challenge and win in the North of England?

      We are! If we look at council gains in Liverpool, Manchester, Hull and the types of candidates we'll welcome to Parliament, like Tom Morrison, Kamran Hussein, Lisa Smart, Laura Gordon - we have a strong team and strong constituencies. We will be winning in the North of England. There's a sig need for investment and infrastructure - HS2, transpennine railway improvements. I remember getting on Northern Spirit trains through Yorkshire - there's been no step forward in the last 20 years. There's a mindset shift. I notice there's an attitude that thinks London and South are the centre of the world. Too often anything outside is dismissed. The mindset needs to change. Then we ned to take our LD message. People in N are concerned about Brexit, jobs, climate. Just as we champion devolution, we need to ensure there's genuine power in Northern cities too.

      Q: Would you consider moving parliament to Manchester or another city or a circular Parliament?

      Q: How carefully are you vetting new MPs? I'm concerned not all new joiners don't share Lib values.

      Q: How do we gain the votes of the 52% who voted Leave?

      A: Regarding Parliament, yes, I think the London centric nature of Parliament is an issue. I think we should look at how to reform the way it operates. I was disappointed to see the artist impressions of the plans to reform the chamber. Parliament is a massive fire risk at the moment. The temporary chamber is a carbon copy of the existing house of commons. It's a wasted chance to try something different. The temporary move is a great opportunity to try new ideas.

      Re vetting, there is a process for MPs who want to defect. It's not the same as the candidate approval process, partially because some of this is redundant for experienced members of parliament. There is an in-depth interview with our chief whip to test for shared values. I am confident that our new MPs do share these values. They might not share our views on every single issue but neither do our members. As Liberals, it's possible to reach different conclusions from the same values. There is that test in place.

      I have some experience of being underestimated. People only ever do it once.

      In terms of 52%, it's complex addressing those grievances. One is economic, one is cultural. We need fundamental reform on economic issues as the economy is not working for our people or our planet. Culturally, there's a battle going on. Who we are as a country is at stake. The morning after the ref, the dismay was not just about EU instit., it was about who we are. Are we an open country, do we treat people as individuals, do we believe in equality? Those are the things under threat, those are the things we'll stand up for as Liberals.

      Q: You were described as 'fluffy' by a Tory. How would you respond to this?

      A: I wrote a whole book about unconscious bias and equality. I was elected to Parliament as a 25 year old. I have some experience of being underestimated. People only ever do it once.

      The post Q&A with Jo! appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • Education is for Everyone: Investing in Further Education and Learning Throughout Life

      Our colleges and adult education providers are underfunded and unloved.

      Education opens up opportunities, shows us what we are capable of and challenges our preconceptions. When education is accessible it can be a great equaliser.

      And our economy is changing. Half of the current working population will need to retrain during their career. Businesses warn that too few workers have the necessary skills to meet the needs of the future economy. If we do not invest in further and adult education, the UK will be left behind.

      We demand better.

      The right to an education, to learn new skills, to nurture creativity and to develop one's talents is for everyone of every age.

      At our Autumn Conference, we were excited to pass our new policy, 'Education is for Everyone'. We want to save our colleges and start a revolution in lifelong learning.

      That's why we will:

      • Raise the rate for 16-19 education, so that sixth forms and colleges are paid the same amount per pupil as secondary schools;
      • Introduce the 'Young People's Premium': extending the Liberal Democrats' flagship Pupil Premium policy to college students;
      • Scrap the learning tax, by refunding the VAT colleges pay and giving them money to afford a pay rise for teachers;
      • Give everyone a Personal Education and Skills Account to help them pay for education and training in later life - at least £3,000 three times over the course of their adult life, from age 25.

      If we want to build a fair society, then education must be for everyone, no matter what life stage they are in. This is how Liberal Democrats will build it.

      To read the motion in full click here:

      Read more

      The post Education is for Everyone: Investing in Further Education and Learning Throughout Life appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.