Tory and Labour party problems starting to damage democracy

Wealden Libdems Parliamentary Spokesperson Chris Bowers draws attention to an article in the Independent by Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

In the article Mr Umunna talks about progressive alliance arrangements, saying

“Last week a number of my parliamentary colleagues, including Jon Cruddas, Clive Lewis and Ruth Lister, wrote an open letter to the party calling for the three members to be reinstated and for progressive alliance arrangements of this sort to be allowed to stop the Tories.

“I am instinctively a pluralist and not overly tribal in my politics so have some sympathy for the case being made. I have always obeyed the rules of my party on this – and I always back Labour candidates – but I have a genuinely open mind about whether the rules should be changed to allow for this, because of our anachronistic, outdated and undemocratic national voting system that forces tactical manoeuvres of this kind.”

“This sorry state of affairs is one of many reasons why I have always been a passionate advocate of changing the rotten voting system we have to a system of proportional representation. It is the system we use to elect members of the Scottish parliament, Welsh assembly and the London assembly – where they have constituency members and top up members to ensure a more representative body – so it should be good enough for the UK parliament too.”

Chris BowersChris Bowers comments

“If a Liberal Democrat had written this article, people would say it was biased and self-serving. The fact that a senior figure in the Labour party has written it should make people think. There’s a lot of inherent good sense in the column.”

Posted in Chris Bowers, Democracy, Liberal Democrats, Wealden, Westminster Parliament | Comments Off on Tory and Labour party problems starting to damage democracy

Wealden LibDems fight to save essential music service

Teachers, pupils and parents across East Sussex are bracing themselves for the news on Monday April 30 that the Lead Member for Education and Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability, Cllr Bob Standley, will recommend a review leading to the end of music instrument teaching to individuals and small groups.

Cllr Standley, who represents North East Wealden, including Mayfield, Rotherfield and Wadhurst, is expected to start the process after 84 years of music teaching in East Sussex. The Music Service currently delivers lessons to around 7000 children in schools, while nearly 1000 children aged between 4 and 18 attend area music centres each week.

Gareth Owen-WilliamsLibDem campaigner Gareth Owen-Williams in Crowborough says: “It’s too easy for councils to see music as irrelevant when setting budgets, whereas professionals know its immense value in self-esteem, mental health and personal development – not to mention the huge financial contribution it makes to the national economy. We urge Cllr Standley to consider very carefully the long term damage cuts will cause.”

A Year 8 Beacon Academy student has been learning to play the clarinet for five years and provided the following statement on the school’s website: “Now I am in Year 8 I can see how much of a benefit it has been for me in my life so far. With the supporting, friendly teachers, the East Sussex Music Service has improved my confidence levels massively, both in myself and in front of others. Closing the Music Service would absolutely devastate me and the future generations of musicians.”

The issue has captured the attention of professionals outside of the county too.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, says: “The news that East Sussex County Council is proposing to close their Music Service by 2019 is deeply concerning. Music is central to our cultural life, a key driver of economic growth, and has a positive impact on children’s cognitive development and emotional wellbeing. We are joining the thousands of voices calling for the Council to consider the impact the closure of the Music Service will have and to find an alternative proposal that would allow the service to continue.”

Gareth Owen-Williams adds: “These draconian cuts along with other vital services are the result of central government’s obsessive austerity programme. It’s time the people who will be affected by this are given a chance to voice their opinion.”

Posted in Crowborough, East Sussex, Education, Gareth Owen-Williams, Liberal Democrats, Wealden, Young people | Comments Off on Wealden LibDems fight to save essential music service

You achieved in six weeks what I couldn’t get done in two years

Geoff Carter with Chris BowersHelping community cohesion is what the Liberal Democrats are all about – and a recent case in Wealden led by our parliamentary spokesperson Chris Bowers shows what the Lib Dems can do to help!

Geoff Carter is 88. He lives in Deanland Wood Park with his wife, both of them clinging onto their independence as long as they can.

But Geoff needs a bit of help every now and then. His house is all on one level, but there are four steep steps between his front door and his drive. All he needed was a second railing, and social services recognised as much. Only nothing was happening.

In desperation, Geoff looked at the leaflet put through his door in April 2017 by Wealden Liberal Democrats. In it, Chris Bowers, our then candidate for the county council in Arlington, Hellingly and East Hoathly, said the Lib Dems were the party of the community. So Geoff decided to test it.

He rang Chris, explained his problem, and gave the story of how he was being pushed from pillar to post by well-meaning but overstretched public servants. Chris promised only that he would try to help – ‘I never promise more than I can deliver,’ says the former councillor and three-time parliamentary candidate, ‘and the only thing I could guarantee was that I would do my best.’

The right calls to the right people coupled with the right questions got Geoff the result he wanted. He was given a date for the railing to be installed, and it duly was. The installer even put up a modern rail that can be easily adapted if Geoff one day needs a narrower gap down his steps.

‘From the time I phoned and left a message to the railing being put up was six weeks,’ says Geoff. ‘And all that after two years of trying that got me nowhere!’

Chris adds, ‘This is what being a Liberal Democrat is all about. Communities work when there’s a bit of help. I don’t feel I did that much, but it’s clearly made a massive difference to Mr and Mrs Carter. Just think how many more people could be helped if several Lib Dems are elected to Wealden District Council next year.’

Posted in Chris Bowers, Liberal Democrats, Wealden | Comments Off on You achieved in six weeks what I couldn’t get done in two years

It’s Not Too Late – JUST

Wealden LibDems Vice Chair Alan Whittaker says

Just under a year from today Britain will know its destiny. Will we have exited from Brexit or will we have left the world’s largest democratic market? Will we be facing a prosperous future or entering a downward economic spiral? Will our children and grandchildren be rich or facing third world economic status?

A year is a very long time in politics.

And two years is even longer. In 2016 the pro-EU Prime Minister, David Cameron, in a cynical attempt to control his right wing called an advisory referendum on the EU. He effectively put party before country and paid the price. He exited Number 10.

Only 37 per cent of the electorate voted to leave the EU. Where is the mandate to leave? How can this be Teresa May’s “will of the people”? The former Remainer is faced with the same right wing chauvinistic, economic illiterates that Cameron wrestled with. At the beginning of the month Michael Heseltine said that right wing MPs “held a knife to her [May’s] throat; in an attempt at appeasing them she has become a blinkered, unyielding Brexiter. Party before country again?

If Brexit does occur, then the “left behinds” will find life even tougher. It was these largely unemployed who voted to leave the EU, possibly because they had swallowed the lies of the Johnson/Grove brigade. Remember the weekly £350 million for the NHS, and how life would be rosier once Britain had “taken back control”. Control of what, exactly? Professor Keith Popple (Sussex Express, March 16) clearly stated the democratic and administrative parallels the EU has with the UK. Both enjoy democratically elected parliaments but the EU does not have an unelected House of Lords! Britain does have a vote in Brussels.

Why would a traditionally outward-looking country like the UK want to retreat into a twenty-first century splendid isolation? Trump has made it clear there are no deals in the pipeline for an isolationist Britain. The world’s two largest economies, China and India, would rather trade with the world’s richest market, the EU, than a go-it-alone United Kingdom.

Why is it that the Brexiters wilfully ignore the facts of economic and social life? Since the referendum the NHS has seen the number of incoming EU nurses fall by 89 per cent and the number leaving rise by 67 per cent. Medical research and development is endangered after Pfizer’s decision to leave Britain, Banks in the City are eyeing German cities as potential sites for their headquarters, Unilever is moving to Rotterdam. The upheavals make sense to Big Business. Why stay with a shrinking market of an island on the edge of the Continent, when a prosperous, sophisticated marketplace of nearly half a billion beckons?

Former Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers of the three main parties have advised against following Teresa May’s Leave strategy. Is it wise to ignore the combined experience of John Major, Tony Blair, Michael Heseltine, Nick Clegg and yes, David Cameron?

It is fair to say that many, perhaps the majority, of the nation’s elderly people, possibly nostalgic for a lost empire, want to leave the EU. Put brutally, what have they to lose? It is future generations who will face lower living standards and huge medical fees if we don’t Exit from Brexit. John Major warns: We cannot [leave the EU] move to a radical enterprise economy without moving away from a welfare state.”

It is not too late to tell Brussels that Britain has come to its collective senses. Vince Cable recognises this and states: “Our goal as Liberal Democrats [is] winning an Exit from Brexit”.

It really is not too late –just.

Posted in Alan Whittaker, EU, Europe, Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, Wealden | Comments Off on It’s Not Too Late – JUST

The Big Lemon Bus in Crowborough

Crowborough welcomed the Big Lemon Bus on Saturday (see our earlier posting). The East Sussex “Stop Brexit” Coordinating Committee were out in force. The Big Lemon Bus made stops in Hailsham, Heathfield, Crowborough, Forest Row, Ringmer, Peacehaven and Brighton.

At each stop they acted out the play ” Baron Brexit, His Triumph, Downfall and Redemption” Local activists were there to greet them and distribute leaflets to members of the public demanding a vote on the final Brexit deal with an option to stay in the EU.

This marvellous flag was a well admired prop.

A fantastic day was had by all.

The first vote was a simple yes or no, to leave or remain. There is increasingly more of a demand from the public to have a final say on the outcome which should include an option to stay in Europe if that is best for the economy of our country.

Posted in Brexit, Crowborough, EU, Forest Row, Hailsham, Liberal Democrats, Wealden | Comments Off on The Big Lemon Bus in Crowborough

LibDems promoting Europe policy in Uckfield

Libdems out promoting our policy of remaining in Europe and the public having a say on the deal or parliament having a third choice which is to either not to accept the deal, accept the deal or and this we wish to add is to stay in the EU if that is the best for the country at this point in time.

The reception we receive is now very positive.

The govt negotiations are seen as a complete shambles.

The Libdems are currently looking at policy to address the many issues that concerned those that voted Brexit.

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Lib Dems secure major victory in ban on cold-calling

Led by John Sharkey, the Liberal Democrats campaigned in the House of Lords to end the scourge of cold-calling in relation to pensions, claims management and other financial services.

The Government have now committed to a total ban on pensions cold-calling, as well as prohibitions on other forms of cold-calling if these are shown to be detrimental.

The Lib Dems also secured a provision requiring people accessing their pensions to be referred to guidance, unless they explicitly opt out.

LibDem MP for Eastbourne Stephen Lloyd

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd, LibDem spokesperson for Work and Pensions says

“I am delighted that the government has seen reason and moved to clamp down on the scourge of cold-calling.

“Every year millions of people are harassed and deceived by cold-callers, and in some cases, the financial consequences can be severe.

“These measures will greatly improve the situation, and I will be watching the government closely to ensure they do not backtrack.

“None of this would have been possible without the valiant efforts of Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords, led by John Sharkey.

“Not only did the Lib Dems table and win the amendments that led to today’s ban on cold-calling, they also secured provisions requiring people accessing their pensions to be referred to guidance.

“This will ensure that people truly make the best of their hard-earned savings.”

Chris BowersLibDem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Wealden Chris Bowers adds

“It often takes being on the receiving end of a call from a supposedly concerned person, trying to explain why you’re very vulnerable unless you take out their financial product or service, to really understand just how frightening this can be. It is a form of intimidation of weaker members of society, and I’m delighted the Liberal Democrats have achieved this major safeguard for people being ambushed by phone in the comfort of their homes.

“The Lib Dems are pleased when businesses make legitimate profits, but we have no time for profits based on intimidating people into parting with money without the chance to think it through calmly.”

Posted in Chris Bowers, Liberal Democrats, Money, National LibDem news, Pensions, Stephen Lloyd | Comments Off on Lib Dems secure major victory in ban on cold-calling

‘East Sussex Stop Brexit’ Bus, street theatre tour Sat 24th March

Come join us on our ‘East Sussex Stop Brexit’ Bus and street theatre tour on Saturday 24th March to let people know it’s not too late to Stop Brexit!

Join 50 others on the ‘Big Lemon’ coach round trip from Brighton, leaving at 8.45am from Jury’s Inn (back of Brighton rail station) and calling at: Hailsham (10.00), Heathfied (11.15), Crowborough (12.30), Forest Row (14.15), Ringmer (15.30), Peacehaven (17.00), returning to Brighton by 18.00.

At each stop we’ll meet local supporters to leaflet the main street, and also perform a fun Brexit-themed street play. You can join/leave the coach at other stops en route. Come suitably dressed in EU-themed clothing ready to chat to the people of Sussex and cheer the street performers.

Fare: £10 min per seat.

Seats are limited so please confirm you are coming by email to elizabethdrury@btconnect.com.

If you can’t join the bus and would like to join others as local supporters at one of the stops, please also let Elizabeth know.

Elizabeth Drury

Posted in Brexit, Crowborough, EU, Forest Row, Hailsham, Liberal Democrats, Wealden | Comments Off on ‘East Sussex Stop Brexit’ Bus, street theatre tour Sat 24th March

Wealden DC – Becoming a Councillor

Wealden District Council is running two events in March for anyone interested in becoming a District Councillor and representing their community at the 2019 elections.

The informal drop-in events are taking place in Hailsham on Tuesday 13 March from 6pm-9pm at the Civic Community Hall (Vicarage Lane, BN27 2AX) and in Uckfield on Saturday 17 March from 10am-1pm in the Ashdown Room of the Civic Centre (TN22 1AE). They will provide an early opportunity for anyone interested in becoming a councillor to find out more.

More info on the Wealden DC website.

Posted in Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Wealden | Comments Off on Wealden DC – Becoming a Councillor

Gina Miller – EU citizens should vote LibDem

Gina Miller has led the campaign through the courts to ensure that parliament has a say on the final outcome of Brexit.

It was extraordinary that the power brokers in the Tory party did not want parliament to have a say on the outcome of the negotiations given that they campaigned to regain sovereignty, which of course we had never lost.

The Libdems are the only party have since the referendum have campaigned to remain. We all agree that the EU is not perfect but being in it we can change it. Being out we lose access to our most important trading partner which will have devastating economic consequences. We can still trade outside. We are also diminished on the world stage. Worse the problems this country really faces of poor education, an NHS on the brink, lack of skills, no developing strategy for a future with more technology, all of these things are not being addressed while everyone is focussed on Brexit.

We welcome Gina Millers endorsement of the Liberal Democrats.

Posted in Brexit, EU, Europe, Liberal Democrats | Comments Off on Gina Miller – EU citizens should vote LibDem