Wednesday, 31 August 2016

We must not let racists hijack the referendum result

Earlier today, I gave a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in Manchester Liberal Democrat.

Since the referendum, I have been absolutely horrified to see the forces of racism, intolerance and hate claim the EU referendum result as their own - and to see them use it as an excuse for violent abuse.

People have been let down for decades by short-termist politicians who put the needs of one part of society above the rest.

Now, in the wake of the Brexit vote those divisions are more exposed than ever before.

With our country facing huge challenges, from inequality and injustice to an NHS in crisis and an economy in jeopardy, we are left with a reckless, divisive and uncaring Conservative Government and Labour fighting among themselves with no plan for the economy or the country.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are needed more than ever.

We are the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

I've been distraught to see how the referendum has left a country bitterly divided by the result. On the divisions in our country, here's what I had to say:

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Liberal Democrats slam fall in international student numbers

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the fall in non-EU students studying at British universities.

Alistair Carmichael, the party’s Home Affairs spokesperson, lambasted the fall which he said showed the government’s fixation with their immigration target was undermining Britain’s economy and the university sector.

Long-term immigration to the UK for all immigrants for study has dropped to the lowest level since 2007.

Figures from the ONS quarterly migration statistics show international student numbers fell by 28,000 in the year ending in March 2016 to 164,000. Last year 192,000 international students came to the UK.

The fall in numbers hit applications to universities and further education colleges.

Commenting Alistair Carmichael said:

“Theresa May spent the last 6 years as Home Secretary pursuing a stupid and undeliverable target to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands. That broken promise has damaged public confidence, but if it was delivered it would damage the economy.

“What we are seeing here is a fall in international students who pay huge sums to study at our universities off the back of the Conservatives’ obsession with trying to chase an arbitrary immigration target. International students, by the Government’s own estimates, contribute billions of pounds to our economy every year and are a vital to local economies up and down the country.

"Cutting the numbers of international students is the definition of shortsighted. Rather than undermining our universities the Prime Minister should abandon her manifesto commitment, back our universities and encourage the best and brightest in the world to study in the UK.”

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"Dictating how women dress is illiberal and reprehensible" - Meral Hussein-Ece

Commenting on the burkini in France and reports as to how it is being enforced Meral Hussein-Ece, the Liberal Democrats’ Equalities spokesperson said:

“Dictating how women dress is illiberal and reprehensible.  Why would anyone think that banning burkinis and then actively forcing women to remove clothing helps fight a war on terror? 

"I would wonder where the freedom of speech and expression is that the French have historically prided themselves on.”

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Friday, 12 August 2016

What European Country should you study in?

What European Country should you study in? Take our quiz and find out:

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Conservative councillor to apologise for grass-cutting shambles

Many residents have contacted WBC councillors over the past few months to complain about the state of the grass across the whole Borough. In many places the grass was left and grew to over 18 inches high. This has made many communal areas where local residents take their children, or walk their dogs unusable and in some places dangerous. Many verges have also been left uncut or with only a single strip along the edge being mown.

The problems with the grass-cutting arose after the implementation of a new grass-cutting contract which was intended to improve flexibility and biodiversity but has left residents furious at the state in which the grass was left.

At the Wokingham Borough Council meeting on 21st July, the Liberal Democrat Group called for an apology from Angus Ross, the Conservative councillor responsible for the contract, and for a clear plan to avoid problems in the future. This was supported by the rest of the council. Councillor Ross acknowledged there had been problems and agreed to apologise to the public.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Lindsay Ferris, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group and councillor for Twyford said “We would all like to thank the officer team at the council who have spent so much time and effort sorting out the grass-cutting problems since April. But they should not have had to do it. If the implementation of the contract had been properly planned, most of the problems could have been avoided. The responsibility lies with Councillor Ross, as it is his job to oversee the service. We are glad that he has recognised the need to apologise to residents, and we expect him to explain how he will ensure the contract is better managed going forward.”

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