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#LibDemFightback in the North West elections

After bruising elections for the Lib Dems, losing seats each May for the past eight years, this year we were the party making the most gains nationwide. And many of those were here in the North West.

Labour’s one-party state in Manchester was brought to an end as John Leech won in Didsbury West.

In Burnley we gained 3 seats – Gannow (Cllr Mark Payne), Rosehill with Burnley Wood (Cllr Christine White) and Whittlefield with Ightenhill (Cllr David Roper)

Knowsley was another Labour one-party state but we gained three seats – congratulations to the three new Prescott North Councillors Carl Cashman, Ian Smith and Mike Wynn.

In Sefton we won every seat in the Southport constituency for the first time since 1858, as local MP John Pugh tweeted last night. That’s another council seat gained from the Tories.

In Liverpool we held Church ward (with new candidate Andrew Makinson) and gained Allerton & Hunts Cross (new Cllr Mirna Juarez) and Woolton (new Cllr Malcolm Kelly). We are now joint largest opposition party on the council.

In Liverpool‘s mayoral contest we moved up to second place and from 6% to 21% – a brilliant result even if not the winner.

In Rochdale we gained a seat in Milnrow & Newhey, congratulations to new councillor Irene Davidson.

In Bury we gained a seat in Holyrood ward. Congratulations new councillor Steve Wright.

Warrington council had all-up elections on new boundaries. We emerged with two more seats – up to 11 from 9.

It can’t all be good news though and next-door in Oldham we lost one seat and another was lost in Pendle.

In Stockport we sadly lost Manor ward, making Labour the largest party on the council, though as for many years it is in no overall control. Commiserations to former council leader Sue Derbyshire.

Nationwide, the graphic here shows the overall result. Lib Dems up 45 seats, UKIP up 25, and the others all falling back.

In the Police & Crime Commissioner elections we moved from fourth to third place in Cumbria.  For Merseyside we went from 7% to 11.5%. Our Cheshire support went up half a percent – and 8,000 votes. And in Lancashire we gained an extra 5,000 votes compared to 2012. There was no ballot in Greater Manchester because we have the new elected Mayor for Greater Manchester to be elected next year instead, incorporating the PCC role’s powers.

Tim Farron attacks Government’s Housing Reforms

key_tim-farron

Last night Tim Farron gave a passionate attack against the Government’s housing reforms, saying:

“If we believe that aspiration is right and that the right to own one’s home is good and something to work towards, we should be allowing a like-for-like replacement of homes sold off in advance. If we want to destroy social housing, we should do what the Government are doing.”

Sign our petition against the sell-off of affordable homes:

http://change.libdems.org.uk/housing

You can read Tim’s full speech here – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160112/debtext/160112-0004.htm

Norman Lamb calls for Inquiry into Keogh letter

Norman Lamb

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman Norman Lamb, has called for a Cabinet Office inquiry into reports that the Department of Health toughened up the language in a letter from Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to the BMA.

Norman Lamb said that the revelation raise serious concerns about potential political interference with the independent Medical Director of NHS England, and that an inquiry should be set up by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman Norman Lamb MP said:

“In cases like this it is crucial to establish who had involvement in something that risks further damaging the Government’s relationship with junior doctors. This cannot be done by the Department and I am calling for Sir Jeremy Heywood to set up a suitable inquiry that will command respect to look into this.

“The Government has to urgently resolve the dispute with junior doctors and must also set up an cross party commission to confront the looming crisis facing the NHS and social care services so we can secure their future.”

2016 can be a year of hope and opportunity

Tim Farron photo

Tim Farron MP

Tim Farron’s New Year Message

The New Year is a time to look forward and it is as important for us as a party to set ourselves new goals and ambitions as it is as individuals.

I am determined that the Liberal Democrats face the new year with a new sense of purpose, a new drive and a sense of ambition.

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn both lead parties that are fundamentally divided. Whether it is over Europe, like the Conservatives, or their leader, like Labour, both the government and the official opposition are at war with themselves.

This obsession with their own internal problems is bad for politics and bad for Britain.

For the Conservatives, David Cameron and George Osborne are more and more obsessed with appeasing their backbenchers, resulting in policies that are punishing people that are trying to provide for themselves and their families. To make things worse, they are taking a wrecking ball to public services, particularly local government.

With Labour, there is open disagreement between members of the Shadow Cabinet and Jeremy Corbyn. As they desperately scrap to hang together, they are failing to hold the government to account. They are giving the Conservatives a free ride.

The SNP and UKIP are just as bad. In Scotland, the SNP is letting public services deteriorate. They are pretending that decisions in London are all to blame, not taking responsibility for their own decisions in Edinburgh. As for UKIP, it can’t even get the support of its one and only MP.

We enter 2016, politically speaking, with other parties only really caring for themselves. Labour, Tory, the SNP and UKIP are putting their own party interests ahead of the interests of those that elected them.

This cannot be right. I have had enough of licking our wounds after the general election. We need to show how we can make a difference. While other parties turn inwards, we must take our inspiration and our motivation from the people around us. Continue reading

Tim Farron and Lynne Featherstone welcome the landmark Paris Agreement

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP has welcomed the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. 

timTim Farron said: “The landmark agreement that has been reached in Paris must be welcomed as a vital step in combating climate change.

“The Government must now urgently rethink its cuts to renewable energy which are undermining the achievements of Ed Davey and Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government in promoting green energy.

“It is not good enough to go to Paris and sign up to ambitious targets whilst scrapping the schemes that will help tackle climate change back in the UK ”

key_Lynne_FeatherstoneLiberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone said: “This is an historic agreement in combatting climate change. Speaking with one European voice in these negotiations proved effective and shows that our EU membership is crucial in the fight against climate change.

“I hope to now see the government reverse their cuts to renewable energy and make sure that we play our part in tackling climate change. “

Tim’s Message for World AIDS Day

Lib Dem party leader Tim Farron has recorded a video message for World AIDS Day, December 1st.

He said:

“So many of us are wearing the red ribbon at this time of year – 1st December, World AIDS Day. The first World AIDS Day was 1st December 1988. I was eighteen, I was one of the people who took part in that first event. It’s very important for us to acknowledge that in the almost three decades since then, we’ve made huge strides forward in this country in terms of dealing with the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, but also about life expectancy and the whole medical front. Massive, massive strides forwards and all of us should proud of it.

“But we haven’t done enough. There’s still loads more to do to make sure we deal with the stigma, and deal with the needs of people who are living with HIV. One in four people living with HIV in this country do not know they are living with HIV, so today is also about encouraging people to get out there and get themselves tested. But it’s also important we recognise that the massive blight that is HIV/AIDS around the world is in countries far away from here, much poorer than this one. It’s why it’s so important we stand by our international development commitments as a country, making sure we support those countries where AIDS and HIV are a much bigger problem even than they are here.

“So I’d encourage you to go to worldaidsday.org to find out more about the issue for yourself. Spread that link around, talk to your friends, be a champion in your community. And make sure we never, ever forget the blight of HIV/AIDS around the world affecting people in much poorer circumstances than our own.”

Five Tests to Back Action in Syria

Tim Farron said:

“The Liberal Democrats know that to defeat an enemy as evil as ISIL the use of military force is necessary. We will consider supporting extending airstrikes against ISIL in Syria provided the Government’s plans meet the five points that I and colleagues have set out today.


key_tim-farronLiberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has written to the Prime Minister along with former leaders Nick Clegg, Paddy Ashdown and Menzies Campbell to outline the five principles the party wants to see addressed if they are to support military action in Syria.

The letter, also signed by the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie and the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams, sets out the specific principles that would be required to be met to secure Liberal Democrat support for military action against ISIL in Syria.

The government has a working majority of 17 MPs and reports state around 15 Conservative MPs have said they will not support the government.

Tim Farron said:

“The Liberal Democrats know that to defeat an enemy as evil as ISIL the use of military force is necessary. We will consider supporting extending airstrikes against ISIL in Syria provided the Government’s plans meet the five points that I and colleagues have set out today.

“For three years, Liberal Democrats have been consistently united in saying UK military action must be accompanied by a broader international strategy that can defeat ISIL. This was partly achieved with the UN resolution passed on Friday.

This is crucial to avoid the perception that somehow only “the West” is opposed to ISIL. It is not, and it is only by working with other countries across the world, and within the region, that we can hope to defeat this enemy.” Continue reading

Huge Backward Step on Climate Change

Today the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, gave a speech on the Government’s new energy policy. It involves cutting back further on renewables and increasing nuclear and gas. Decarbonisation has been down-graded in terms of priority. It also includes the end of electricity from coal, which Liberal Democrats have long argued for and which the Conservatives repeatedly opposed during the Coalition.

key_Lynne_FeatherstoneLiberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change, Lynne Featherstone, commented:

“It is utter madness of the Government to pull investment from the renewable sector which generates economic growth and jobs. We have been a world leader in this field and maintaining that status is now in jeopardy.

“Huskies will be turning in their graves. For five years we fought sceptical Tories to ensure the Coalition was the greenest Government ever. In the last 6 months this progress has unravelled to a spectacular degree.

“Britain should be leading the world in the green economy and setting an example to other nations ahead of the UN talks in Paris. It is shameful that the work we began in Coalition to deliver this is being unpicked.”

Liberal Democrats select Jane Brophy for Oldham West and Royton

Oldham-HQOnly the Liberal Democrats will defend families in Oldham West and Royton from the scourge of tax credit cuts, by-election candidate Jane Brophy said today. The party said it would fight the by-election with a firm message: Labour is in disarray and only the Lib Dems will stand up for local people in the face of brutal Tory cuts.

Jane said: “The people of Oldham West and Royton need someone to stand up for them and the Liberal Democrats are the only party that will do that. Labour had the chance to oppose tax credit cuts and failed to do it.

“The Tory tax credit cuts will affect 8,000 families in this area alone and it was only the Liberal Democrats who stood up for people by trying to stop these cuts completely in Parliament.

“When it came to a crunch vote in the House of Lords, Labour just voted to delay cuts to child tax credits and UKIP’s one MP voted in favour, while the Conservatives just cheered them on. We deserve better than that.

“Michael Meacher was a well-respected MP and it would be an honour to succeed him representing local people in Parliament.

“On issues like Tax credits and like the Conservatives plan to wipe out council homes with its Housing Bill the message is clear: If you want a real opposition to this Conservative government only a Lib Dem MP can deliver that.”

Jane is an experienced local campaigner and has been a Councillor in Greater Manchester for over 15 years. She has worked for the NHS in Greater Manchester and been involved in public health nutrition in Oldham.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP said:

“Jane is a hardworking campaigner and would be a fantastic local champion for Oldham West and Royton.

“We look forward to an energetic campaign highlighting how Liberal Democrats are now the real, credible opposition to this Conservative Government on issues like housing and cuts to tax credits”