LibDems reaction to Queen's Speech

Following last week’s election the new Conservative government held its first Queen’s Speech on the 19th of December. The Conservatives look set to push forward a damaging and divisive approach - pushing ahead with an extreme version of Brexit, undermining the independence of the judiciary, reducing our social rights and failing to tackle the climate emergency.

Oli_003_Lewes_Castle.jpgLewes Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesperson Oli Henman says “Only a few days after the election, Boris Johnson’s bleak vision for Britain is already becoming apparent.”

The Conservatives are now wholly consumed by Brexit and its consequences; but the Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose this damaging approach and hold the government to account. Brexit is a smokescreen to allow the Conservatives to strip away our hard-won rights and reduce our essential environmental protections. We will fight for the best possible result of next year’s negotiations: a close relationship, preventing tariffs and other trade barriers, protecting our jobs and manufacturing; and we will fight to maintain our key rights.

By pushing ahead with this extreme version of Brexit, the UK government will be free to force through major legislative changes which reduce our core rights and undermine our public services. Ending free movement is bad for public services and employers, and will expose millions of EU citizens to a hostile environment. Proposed changes in sentencing laws make good headlines for the Daily Mail, but the evidence shows that they will do nothing to reduce crime. Meanwhile the proposals to politicise the judiciary threaten the very basis of the rule of law. And perhaps the greatest omission is the lack of any real steps to deliver climate action; by not setting out an ambitious plan, the Conservatives are giving away our future!

We will do all we can to hold the Tories to account, to defend our democracy and our public services, to fight climate change and to keep alive the UK’s true character as an open, inclusive, internationalist and compassionate country.


A thank you from Oli

191116seaford_cropped.jpgThank you to everyone who supported our campaign to win the Lewes constituency. This has been a huge campaign and we can be proud of our result. While we did not win this time, we increased our vote share and halved Maria Caulfield's majority. We have turned this constituency into a much more winnable seat next time.

But the most impressive achievement is the determination and collaboration that I have seen over the last few weeks from all of you. This has genuinely been a team effort, whether you helped with stuffing envelopes, putting up posters, delivering leaflets, calling people or knocking on doors; all your efforts have been vital and your time and dedication are much appreciated.

rainbow_cropped.jpgWe may not have won this time, but we have established a base from which we can win the Lewes constituency. In the meantime, we must continue to fight against the forces of populism. We must not cease in our demands for a fairer, more sustainable and democratic future. We must not step back from community activism or from holding the government to account. Our time will come!

Last Sunday I was invited to share my views on the BBC South East Sunday Politics - you can watch the full discussion here.

We will be in touch in the New Year with plans for our next campaigning activities but in the meantime I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Best wishes

Oli


Steve Coogan urges voters in Lewes to vote Lib Dem and defeat the Tories

coogan01cropped.jpgThe general election battle in the Lewes constituency is now one of the closest races in the country, with the numbers showing this is neck and neck and Lewes is one of the seats on which the outcome of the General Election will be decided. Comedy star and Labour supporter, Steve Coogan, visited Lewes on Sunday to show his tactical support for the Liberal Democrats in Lewes and urge voters across Lewes constituency to back the Liberal Democrats in the General Election on 12 December.

A large crowd of well over 100 residents and supporters were on Cliffe Bridge to hear Steve Coogan put the case for tactical voting and defeating the Tories across the country. Former Liberal Democrat MPs, Norman Baker and Evan Harris were also in the crowd.

Steve Coogan spoke on Cliffe Bridge, a traditional political rally point in Lewes,

I’m here today as a traditional Labour supporter. In this constituency where I live and across the country, we need to defeat the Tories by any means necessary. I’ll be voting for Oli on Thursday because that’s the smartest thing to do.

To defeat the Conservatives in this election we need to box clever and I include in this one nation Conservatives like John Major, Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clark, who we all know, even if we disagree with them, that they have integrity. They themselves have suggested that they are not going to vote Conservative. Even Michael Heseltine has said he will be voting Liberal Democrat because the stakes are so high.

People who have spent all their lives with one party are looking at their constituency and thinking what’s the best tactical choice and I urge everyone here to vote Liberal.”

Oli Henman addressing the crowd said,

We are fighting a very close battle to take this seat from the Tories. We are fighting for a fairer, more democratic, more sustainable future. I have been incredibly humbled and grateful, that so many of you have been out with me over the last few weeks.

This election here could go down to the wire. So, I’m incredibly grateful that we have Steve Coogan here with us. People in our constituency who are thinking of voting Labour or voting for the Greens, can now see by voting Liberal Democrat, we have a real chance to get Boris Johnson’s Conservatives out on 12 December.”


Lib Dems to fund 46 more police officers across Lewes constituency

The Liberal Democrats have today announced plans to fund at least 46 police officers across Lewes as part of an extra £1bn nationwide investment into community policing.

key_police.jpgThis commitment amounts to 20,000 more police officers across England and Wales, enough for an extra two officers per ward. The Liberal Democrats will also fund an immediate 2% pay-rise for serving police officers.

Liberal Democrat plans stand in stark contrast to Labour and the Conservatives, who have made big promises on police numbers, but have failed to commit the funding needed to deliver them.

At the same time, Liberal Democrats are warning that Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans risk letting hundreds of criminals to escape justice in Lewes, after analysis revealed the extent to which UK police rely on vital EU crime-fighting measures.

The south east region's police forces and prosecutors have used the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to bring over 753 criminal fugitives to justice over the past five years, the analysis reveals. Sussex police force alone extradited 138 criminals to justice in their home country in the last 5 years.

The EAW allows the speedy extradition of wanted criminals, but senior police have warned that the UK risks losing access to the scheme because of Brexit. If current trends were to continue, that would mean more than 138 criminal suspects could avoid extradition in Sussex over the next five years.

Oli002.jpgLiberal Democrat candidate Oli Henman said:

Too many people feel unsafe in their own homes and walking down their own streets. With entire communities feeling exposed and vulnerable, both the Tories and Labour are claiming to offer solutions but the sums just don’t add up.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson's reckless Brexit threatens to cut the UK off from vital crime-fighting tools that the police use every day to keep us safe. His plans mean that hundreds of criminals in the south east could remain at large, threatening the safety of our community.

Only the Liberal Democrats have a bold and credible plan to increase the number of police across Lewes. The Liberal Democrats are committing £1 billion nationwide investment per year to fund this – that’s £250 million more than Labour or the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party willing to back our bobbies with money, not just words. We are the only party that can stop Brexit, make our communities safe and build a brighter future.”

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Liberal Democrat commitment of 20,000 more police officers is enough for two extra officers in every ward across England and Wales. That is the calculation used above.

The Conservatives’ cuts to police numbers have contributed to a rise in violence and decimated community policing, with 47% of people saying they never see police foot patrols, up from 30% in 2014-15.

Manifesto spending commitments for the police force (by party):

Conservatives: 20,000 more officers, £750m/yr

Labour: 22,000 more officers, £750m/yr

Liberal Democrats: 20,000 more officers + 2% pay-rise, £1bn/yr

Crime statistics under the Conservatives:

Knife crime up 80% since 2015: Crime in England and Wales: year ending June 2019

248 fatal stabbings in the year to June 2019: Crime in England and Wales: year ending June 2019

Robberies up by 76% since 2015: Crime in England and Wales: year ending June 2019

Only 8% of crimes result in someone being charged, down from 15% in 2014-15: Crime outcomes in England and Wales 2018 to 2019

6,612 criminals have been extradited to and from the UK and brought to the justice using the European Arrest Warrant over the past five years, or an average of around 1,208 a year (Source: National Crime Agency, combining both Wanted from UK and Wanted by UK, years 2013-14 – 2017-18).

This includes:

140 for murder or manslaughter

136 for child sex offences

12 for terrorism

152 for rape

In 2017-18, 1,208 criminal suspects were extradited to and from the UK using the EAW. If the use of the EAW continued at current levels, another 6,040 suspected criminals would be brought to justice using the vital crime-fighting tool over the next five years. These figures are broken down by LEA.

Senior police officers have warned the Home Affairs Committee that Brexit could mean losing access to the EAW and Schengen Information System database. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin said: “If we lose the European arrest warrant, we know that we have to refer back to the 1957 convention on extradition. It is a lot slower and a lot more bureaucratic and not as effective, nimble or efficient as a European arrest warrant”. He also said: “Before EAW and SIS II we probably extradited about 60 people a year. We now average probably 1,400 or 1,500 a year.” (Home Affairs Committee Oral Evidence, October 2018).

The EU has also previously warned that the UK will lose access to the EAW under the form of hard Brexit being pursued by Boris Johnson which involved ending free movement and leaving the EU Court of Justice, while a 'no deal' Brexit would also mean an end to vital police cooperation measures with the EU (BBC News, July 2018).

The UK accessed the Schengen Information System (SIS II) a total of 603,569,274 times in 2018 (Source: EU Lisa, February 2019). This is up 12% from 541,258,014 times in 2017 (EU LISA, 2017).


Lib Dems - Immigration detention must be absolute last resort

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Conservative government following today's Supreme Court judgment, which found that five asylum seekers had been unlawfully detained. The Liberal Democrats are committed to making immigration detention an absolute last resort.
 
The judgment concerns five asylum seekers, each detained for more than a month in 2015. One was detained for 16 weeks, from 18 August to 8 December. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they were wrongfully detained, and that they are entitled to compensation.
 
The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to making immigration detention an absolute last resort, introducing a 28-day time limit on detention and closing seven of the UK’s nine detention centres.
 
More than 24,000 people are put into detention centres each year, at a cost to the taxpayer of £90 million a year. On top of this, the Home Office had to pay out £8 million last year in compensation for 312 cases of wrongful detention.
 
key_CJ_200.pngLiberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Christine Jardine said:
 
“The Conservatives’ excessive use of immigration detention is inhumane, unnecessary and expensive – as this case demonstrates.
 
“Not only did the Home Office cause misery and waste money unlawfully detaining these people in the first place, they then wasted even more taxpayer money fighting this case all the way up to the Supreme Court. And now they’ll have to pay compensation too.
 
“The Liberal Democrats will put compassion and common sense at the heart of our immigration system by ending indefinite detention and making any detention an absolute last resort.
 
“We will build a brighter future where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where taxpayers’ money is not wasted defending unlawful Home Office actions.”


Lib Dems respond to Tory candidate who said “nuisance tenants” should be forced to live in tents

In response to a Conservative candidate in a marginal seat stating that "nuisance tenants" should be forced to pick vegetables and live in a tent in a field, Lib Dem Spokesperson Layla Moran said:
 
Layla Moran"Everyone in this country deserves a decent standard of living. Conservative candidate Lee Anderson’s comment exposes a concerning disregard for this basic human right, and a lack of empathy towards those whom he aspires to represent.
 
"As a Conservative parliamentary candidate in a marginal seat, Anderson should not be stoking and entrenching division, or targeting vulnerable people.
 
"Unfortunately, this sort of comment is all too common from Conservative Party candidates, who are out of touch with the constituencies and the people they are attempting to represent."


Swinson: Liberal Democrats will scrap business rates

Speaking to the CBI today, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson announced that the Liberal Democrats would scrap business rates entirely to breathe new life into our high streets.

Shops on a high streetThe Liberal Democrats would abolish business rates and replace them with a commercial landowner levy, based on the value of the land only. This would take the cost off businesses and help support our high streets.

The change would cut taxes in 92% of local authorities and help rebalance the UK economy.

The Commercial Landowner Levy would give a big boost to the manufacturing sector and make it cheaper for all businesses to invest in renewables or other new technology for their premises.

In her speech, she also set out plans to spend £130bn on infrastructure, including housebuilding, and £5bn for a new Green Investment Bank to invest in zero-carbon projects.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“Liberal Democrats are committed to helping small businesses, who are the engine of our economy.

“That is why Liberal Democrats would scrap business rates and replace them with a Commercial Landowner Levy.

“It will shift the burden from the tenant to the landlord, so that we can breathe new life into our high streets.

"Frankly, we have seen enough promises of reviews of business rates from the Conservatives. It is time for clear action that will give proper help to our small businesses.”

“We’ll invest £130bn in infrastructure over five years. We’ll use that to improve our railways and open up new lines. To reduce how much energy our buildings use.

“And we’ll use it to leverage private investment in renewables, to help us meet our target of generating 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030.

….

"And as part of our radical and credible plan to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible, we will make the UK a global leader in green jobs and technology.

“A Liberal Democrat government will work with you to open up new opportunities for green growth and to save our planet. We will invest £5bn in zero-carbon projects through the Green Investment bank.

“We are the last generation that can stop irreversible climate change, and we are running out of time.

“And while there is much that government can do, I am clear that the business community is absolutely part of the solution.

“Not least because we need to channel your ingenuity and entrepreneurialism to take on this huge challenge, and others we face.

"And my vision is for a country where business joins forces with government, public services and civil society to create the kind of society we deserve.”


Lib Dems commit £6 billion per year to strengthen welfare system

Jo Swinson with baby speaking at a rallyThe Liberal Democrats will today (Sunday 17 November) announce bold proposals to invest £6 billion per year to strengthen the welfare system over the next Parliament. This forms part of the party's ambitious plans to build a brighter future.

Tory austerity has left a fifth of UK citizens in poverty, unable to afford even the most basic essentials. 

The Liberal Democrats will tackle this crisis by committing £6 billion per year to strengthen the welfare system over the next Parliament. Liberal Democrat proposals will prioritise tackling child poverty by abolishing the cruel two-child limit for Universal Credit and ending the unfair benefits cap. 

A Liberal Democrat government will make work pay and tackle in-work poverty, by using part of the Remain bonus - the £50 billion of extra funding that would be generated by stopping Brexit - to restore Work Allowances and introduce a second-earner Work Allowance. A Liberal Democrat government will also invest in boosting the Local Housing Allowance by linking it to average rents in each area.

Liberal Democrat plans to strengthen the UK's welfare system will protect the most vulnerable and help to build a brighter future. 

Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions Tim Farron said:

“For too many people in the UK today, working hard and playing by the rules is no longer enough to secure a decent life. Millions of people’s lives have worsened under the Conservatives. Since 2015 they have bungled the roll-out of Universal Credit, made brutal cuts to benefits and introduced their senseless two-child limit that is fuelling child poverty.

“The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and invest billions of pounds from the Remain bonus in building a brighter future for those struggling in our society. We will fix our broken welfare system to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of where they come from.”


Brexit Party’s Adam Cleary standing down in Lewes shows Farage panicked about the Lib Dems stopping Brexit

Responding to the news that Nigel Farage's Brexit Party will not be standing a candidate in Lewes Constituency, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Oli Henman said:

Oli Henman, Lewes LibDem PPC"Nigel Farage's comments show he is running scared of the Liberal Democrats as the strongest Remain party in areas like Lewes constituency. He knows that we are the only party at this election that can take seats like Lewes from Maria Caulfield and the Conservatives and stop Brexit. Recent polling shows that the Remain majority of 2016 is increasing across the seat. Our community deserves to be protected from the Tories and what Brexit will do to our most vulnerable communities.

"Boris Johnson's Conservatives and the Brexit party are now one and the same. Both want to see an extreme Brexit that will damage our local economy, public services and limit opportunities for our children and grandchildren.”

Former MP Norman Baker said, “Given that the Leave alliance has cemented in Tory seats, we can see the true face of Leave as a hard-right project. A win for the Conservatives is a win for Donald Trump, the privatisation of the NHS and a Brexit that will have huge negative impacts for Newhaven and the port, our farmers and the poorest in our community.

Voters in Lewes have a historic opportunity at this election to elect a Liberal Democrat MP, stop Brexit and build a brighter future for our country."


Unite to Remain agreement aims to deliver at least 60 Remain MPs across England and Wales

Oli_003_Lewes_Castle.jpgLewes Liberal Democrats are very glad to see a strong push for a united approach to tackling the biggest and most urgent issue of our political lives - the future relationship of the UK with the European Union.

By making this arrangement with other pro-European parties, the Liberal Democrats are showing that we will put the national interest above party politics, to deliver Remain.

The Liberal Democrats will stand aside, so that there is a clear pro-Remain candidate, in 13 constituencies. In turn, other parties will stand aside in 43 constituencies for a Liberal Democrat candidate.

Speaking on 7th November in the Lewes Constituency, Oli Henman, Lewes Lib Dems Parliamentary candidate, said:

“All the polling and evidence clearly shows that the election in the Lewes constituency will be a close race between myself and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats overwhelmingly beat the Conservatives, Labour and Green Party in the recent European elections here. When it comes to a General Election, this constituency has been a Lib Dem/Conservative marginal since 1992."

"We are therefore very disappointed that the Green Party have decided to split the Remain vote here, especially as they stood aside at the last election here in 2017."

“We are committed to a grown-up collaborative approach to politics and we have shown good faith as a party in the Sussex area as we will be standing down in favour of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion and we have a strong Cooperative Alliance on Lewes District Council. I would urge the Green Party to think again here."

“We are already working hard across the constituency, talking to voters about our priorities. We are committed to fighting against the chaos of Brexit and the uncaring approach of the Conservative Party and instead offering a brighter future for all local residents.”


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