General election campaigns get off to a flying start across the country

Campaigns, of course, are already up and running across the country for the May 4th local elections, but Theresa May’s announcement has given even greater impetus to Lib Dem activists across the country.

Here’s a round-up of some of today’s action via Twitter – please let us know about any other team action photos in the comments!:

Caroline Pidgeon was up in Cambridge lending her support to Julian Huppert in his campaign to regain the city’s parliamentary seat and also to Rod Cantrill in his bid to be the first Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough:

https://twitter.com/CarolinePidgeon/status/855832360780275712

Jane Dodds and the team have been out in Montgomeryshire:

Continue reading

Tim Farron: Trump putting the UK at the ‘back of the queue’ is a devastating blow to May’s hard Brexit

Responding to reports Donald Trump will put the EU ahead of the UK in trade talks, Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

This is a devastating blow to Theresa May’s hard Brexit plans.

Yet another claim by the Brexiteers, that Britain would be at the front of the queue for a trade deal with US, now lies in tatters.

Theresa May should now make clear she will prioritise a trade deal with the EU over one with Trump. Continue reading

Does Parliament have the plushest waiting room in the world?

St Stephen’s Hall, Houses of Parliament – some rights reserved by UK Parliament

Despite understandable security measures, it is still easy to visit the Houses of Parliament and watch the proceedings.

I went there this week. You basically present yourself at the Cromwell Green entrance, which is halfway along the building by the big statue of Oliver Cromwell. At the gate, they tend to ask you why you want to come in – but you just have to say “I want to go to the public gallery of the House of Commons (or Lords)” and they’ll let you in (having checked that the queues are not too long). You then get given a green card and are seen by a policeman who gives you a little briefing. You then go through the inevitable airport security check and you are in.

It’s worth noting that it is your right as a citizen to enter Parliament and ask to see your MP at the central lobby. You are advised to book an appointment with your MP for such a meeting, but you don’t have to. Of course, he or she might not be in Parliament if you turn up unannounced, but all UK residents have a right to walk into parliament for such a purpose or to watch proceedings.

Once you are in you do have a surprising amount of freedom to linger and wander through the place, without any “shooing along” from officials. There are officials and security guards around, but it is really quite surprising how free you are to “mooch about” and admire the various paintings, plaques, ceilings etc. You get to stroll through Westminster Hall, which is magnificent and the most historic part of the present Parliamentary buildings. Charles I was tried there. Continue reading

Public funding for the arts should be cut during a recession, right?

Grant Wood - American Gothic - Google Art Project
Well, er, no. “America after the fall – Painting in the 1930s” is an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which breathtakingly displays how public funding for the arts during a depression (let alone a recession) can work wonders. As part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, the Federal Arts Project employed artists to create visual art works, which eventually included over a hundred thousand paintings as well as many sculptures and other works. Artists who benefited included Jackson Pollock. There were other New Deal art projects such as the Public Works of Art project, the Section of Painting and Sculpture and the Treasury Relief Art Project.

All these programmes helped to produce an extraordinary decade for American Art, which is reflected brilliantly in the Royal Academy exhibition, on until June 4th in Piccadilly, London.

What comes over is that the decade established a distinctive American Art world, which was finally free of reference to art elsewhere. There is an extraordinary variety of styles producing a most colourful and impactful exhibition, reflecting the profound changes going on in the USA at the time. Continue reading

Soft Brexit Tory MPs who sign up for a hard Brexit manifesto will be responsible for an historic mistake

In August 2016, unusually, I made an appointment to see my MP. I wanted to talk to him about Britain, after Brexit, being part of the EEA and EFTA – in other words “a soft Brexit”.

My Conservative MP unequivocally explained that he campaigned for “remain”, his constituency voted “remain” and he wanted to salvage a good deal for local companies from Brexit. He spoke about making sure there are no extra barriers for local businesses exporting abroad. He enthusiastically received a paper I gave him from the Adam Smith Institute advocating EEA/EFTA membership after Brexit. Continue reading

There are now twice as many Lib Dem members as at the 2015 general election – and more than 5000 people joined today!

A very warm welcome to the 5000 new members who have joined us since Theresa May announced she would ask parliament to call a general election this  morning! What a breathtaking number!

The party has now more than doubled in size since the May 2015 general election.

Tim Farron commented:

This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and thousands are joining our fight. Continue reading

General election – the right course of action for the country, but I have my suspicions as to the motives

Having a general election in June is absolutely the right course of action, for the good of the country.

We need it to clear the air and clarify the public’s view on Brexit.

The 23rd June 2016 referendum result was narrow, one dimensional and controversial.

We need a full general election to have a debate which clarifies the Brexit mandate. Continue reading