Someone has joined the Lib Dems every single minute since the referendum result including many in Exeter. Our assumptions about institutionalised British values of equality, freedom, liberty and justice have been rocked as the refendum represented a tipping point to the instincts of fear, insularity and division.
Commenting on the surge in Lib Dem party membership in recent days, local party chair Hugh Janes said, "An impromptu coffee morning was held on Saturday 2nd July to welcome new members to the Plymouth Liberal Democrats. In just one week since the EU referendum result there has been a rise over a quarter in the number of people in the party locally. People have joined from different parts of the city, are of various ages and backgrounds and, significantly, several have left the Labour and Conservative parties to join us.
The Liberal Democrats have welcomed the British Medical Assocation's decision to call off the 48-hour junior doctors' strike due to start next Tuesday in England.
Tens of thousands of trainees in England were due to provide emergency care-only cover for 48 hours, beginning next Tuesday. However, the association decided to halt the action while conciliation talks between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health continue.
Dangerous proposals by the Government which threaten individual freedoms risk exacerbating racial and religious tensions, Tim Farron has warned. By linking the practices of ordinary British Muslims with radicalisation the Prime Minister risks alienating large sections of our society.
Imagine this situation: 30% of your wage or benefits gets taken away. How would you feel? Would you be angry? Would you feel it's unfair? I would imagine you would feel both, but you would mostly feel worried right?
I am in the very fortunate situation of earning a good wage and being able to afford what many people, myself included, would consider luxuries. If I was told that I would have to take a wage decrease and had no choice in it, I would feel all of the above but I would have options. I could find another job and even if I wasn't successful, I could live on a 30% reduction.
But what of people who are already living from day to day with only the essentials afforded? There will always be policies regardless of the party in government, that we both agree with and do not agree with but at the moment the government, in what I can only describe as an awful decision, has proposed that from 2017 any new claimants of Employment support allowance (ESA) in the work related activity group (WRAG) will get around £30 less each week, which is a near 30% deficit from those who currently claim it.
This is due to the government's belief that the current amount that people receive disincentivises people from looking for employment - something there is little or no evidence of.
In reality, £30 is a lot of money for people who live on, or in most cases under, the poverty line. It isn't the difference between having Sky TV or not, or having a big night out once a month instead of twice a month. It is having to make the choice of either having a meal or keeping warm.
Priti Patel and most of her friends in the blue party are reasoning with 'Joe public and the red tops' (not a 70's cover band) that the change is to bring the amount in line with job seekers allowance (JSA - they do love acronyms!). This is simply a ridiculous rationale. People with disabilities not only face higher living costs because of factors associated with their disability but also face added barriers when seeking employment, not least the intrinsic discrimination that sadly is still apparent in 2016, and the distinct lack of disability specific support that may be needed not only to seek employment but also to retain it.
On the back of the hugely successful Hear my Voice campaign that Mencap undertook in the run up to the general election, we are now working with people with a learning disability and their families/carers to better educate politicians of all parties of the real issues and the real impact that the proposed changes will have on the people we work with. We are asking people to take our e-action to tell their MP what they think about benefits and about these unfair cuts.
Even better would be for people to visit their MP at a surgery and tell them face to face about the real impact. It is important to remember that MPs work for us, the constituents, and must work to protect us in their role. Often, and I generalise, part of the issue is that MPs are not properly informed of the real impact, and I see it as part of our role as campaigners, as a society, to ensure that MPs are fully informed when making a choice and not just "whipped" into a decision. Over the next couple of months I will be supporting people with a learning disability to visit MP's to talk about the issues I have mentioned and will make sure their voice is heard. Please, do the same and use the voice that your MP is supposed to represent.
The Executive Committee of the South Hams & Brixham Liberal Democrats have decided unanimously to campaign throughout the area, in the forthcoming referendum, in favour of the United Kingdom remaining part of the European Union. Support for our country's membership of the EU has been an unswerving long-term policy of the Liberal Democrats. At a meeting in Totnes on 14th January, it was therefore agreed that we would develop our own distinctive local campaign, in addition to any cross-party activity that may take place.
Whilst anger mounts and residents face losing the important and the well-used Crediton council office, Liberal Democrat councillors have acted quickly, launching a petition to try and stop the cuts. Crisis talks have already taken place between Crediton's councillors and Mid Devon's District Council chiefs. The Conservative administration based at Tiverton has proposed the closure which would mean removal of the Crediton walk-in Market Street office next April.
Over 200 Lib Dems attended the South West Regional Conference held in Exeter on November 14th & 15th.
Lord 'Paddy' Ashdown gave an inspirational speech in which he warned that we should at all costs avoid becoming isolationist 'Little Englanders' the cause espoused by UKIP and elements of the Conservative Party. Whether we like it or not we live in a global world in which business and the economy is highly competitive. The Risks of Britain leaving the EU are enormous especially as it could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom as Scotland would almost certainly opt to remain in the EU. In view of the growing external security threats the need for a coordinated international approach was more pressing than ever and 'going it alone' was no longer an option.
Totnes Lib Dems call on council to offer accommodation to Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees sleeping at Budapest train station in Hungary
TOTNES Liberal Democrats are calling on South Hams District Council to offer temporary accommodation in the area to some of the refugees that the Government is planning to take from camps bordering Syria.
John Birch, speaking on behalf of the Totnes Liberal Democrats, said: "South Hams has within its district one of the largest proportions of second homes in the UK, with over 4,000 in number and forming over 10 per cent of the housing stock.
"Most of these homes are empty during the winter and we propose that the council and Government encourage the second home owners to make their properties available to Syrian refugees in the short-term while permanent arrangements are made.
"Encouragement to the second home owners could be in the form of a short-term letting fee or rent paid by the Government out of its overseas aid budget.
"South Hams District Council should also encourage the owners of other empty buildings within the area to make their premises available as temporary accommodation for the refugees. Examples of such properties are those owned by the Dartington Trust."