Monday, 22 February 2016

June 23rd: the EU referendum

It's on.

The date of the referendum has been announced: June 23rd.

Between now and then, we've got a huge amount to do to secure Britain's place in Europe.

Will you help? Donate £10 or more today to support the crucial campaign to keep Britain in Europe:

For over two decades, the British public has only heard one side of the argument: UKIP's.

Now we've got to do everything we can to get our message out there: that being in Europe means more security and more opportunities for people across Britain.

It means more jobs, lower prices for families, more trade for small businesses, and workers' rights protected.

And a Britain that's connected to the world, not cut off from it - working with other countries to tackle big issues like terrorism and climate change.

It's going to be a tough fight. We know what we're up against - George Galloway and Nigel Farage stood together last night and promised to give everything to drag Britain out of Europe. We can't let them win. Leaving would be a disaster for our country and our future.

Thank you,
Britain Stronger in Europe

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Sir Graham Watson: Mobilising Middle England. What you can do.

As the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign (aka StrongerIN) gets up and running - with our own Richard Pinnock as the SW regional organiser - it will need all the help it can get. This means political parties, trade unions, churches etc all mobilising to persuade people to stay in Europe. But it also means all those organisations working together in a common campaign under the StrongerIN umbrella. 

The common campaign probably has a better chance of persuading more people. And it will attract support from internationalists everywhere.

You may already have received a mailshot from StrongerIN. Many SW households have. But the national campaign does not have the resources to fight local campaigns locally.

That is why we must do three things:

1. Identify locally the following: companies who depend on EU markets; the essential workers (teachers, nurses, drivers) from other EU countries who would lose the automatic right to live and work in Britain; local people who work or own property abroad.  Then set up a street stall, organise house parties and deliver leaflets to tell people about the threats they face. Local examples are so much more powerful than national generalisations.

2. Identify people active in membership organisations such as Mumsnet, the WI, the RSPB, the National Trust. Ask them to start a dialogue with their fellow local members about what leaving the EU would mean to their organisation. Offer to get them pro-EU literature and speakers.

3. Identify/join local Facebook and Twitter groups and retweet to them good news about the EU from pro-EU campaigners. It's today's equivalent of David Penhaligon's immortal advice 'If you've something to say, put it on a leaflet and shove it through a letter-box'. And it eats less shoe-leather.

As well as being President of the Western Counties LibDems I am the chairman of the South West Outreach Team for StrongerIN. We can provide speakers and material for literature. But this campaign will need every committed individual to act on her or his own initiative. Within your community, within your profession, within your circle of acquaintances.

Some 200 Liberal Democrats joined me in Exeter last Saturday to learn about the messaging and the techniques we can use. Visuals from that event are available if you would like them.

The European Commission published yesterday the terms they propose to offer to the UK to meet David Cameron's concerns. These can be found here. If approved by the other EU heads of state and government, hese will help persuade some of the UK doubters (especially Conservatives) to vote to stay in. But the question on the ballot paper will not mention the concessions to Cameron. It simply asks the voter whether s/he wishes Britain to remain in the EU or to leave the EU.

Tories back pedal on cycling revolution

The Government has been accused of a real gap between rhetoric and reality for cyclists in a debate in Parliament.

Speaking for the opposition, Shadow Transport Minister, and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner demanded to know whether the Government’s “cycling and walking investment strategy” actually has the resources to deliver any investment.

A third of the cash for cycling has already been allocated to cycle city ambition grants and spending on Bikeability training will continue, but Mr Zeichner said he had “repeatedly run into a brick wall” when attempting to get answers from the Government on if there was any remaining cash and, if so, how and where it would be spend.

Commenting Daniel Zeichner MP said: “There is a real danger that the Government is drawing up an investment strategy with no investment.”

The disparity in cycle funding nationwide was also highlighted with spending outside of London and the cycle city ambition grant areas now projected to be around just £1.39 per person.

Mr Zeichner also slammed the Government for failing to set national road safety targets saying: “cycling safety is a key factor in encouraging people to get on their bikes in the first place. Anxiety and fear about safety stops many people cycling, especially women and older people.”

National Voter Registration Week

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An end to years of complacency

Lib Dem Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Chris White has called for an end to 'years of complacency' following the election of a Conservative to be the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire in November 2012.

Chris said: 'It is really disturbing to read the papers being presented to last week's meeting of the sadly toothless Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel.

'Commissioner Lloyd acknowledges that crime is up with a 4.6% increase in anti-social behaviour, a 6.8% increase in burglary, a 21.1% increase in motor vehicle crimes, as well as a troubling 40% increase in crimes against the person.

Even if some of this is due to better recording methods, it cannot justify the Commissioner Lloyd's pathetic attempt to court electoral favour by cutting council tax by a token 0.55%.

'Elsewhere in the Commissioner's budget, it is clear that Hertfordshire policing is being held together by sticking plaster - with a £4 million raid on reserves and £5 million reductions in front-line and back office policing.'is is due to better recording methods, it cannot justify the Commissioner Lloyd's pathetic attempt to court electoral favour by cutting council tax by a token 0.55%.

Chris added: 'Despite all this David Lloyd finds time to congratulate himself on his "prudent" financial plans.

'I doubt very much whether the many victims of crime in this county will take such a cheery view.'

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Stronger In: The renegotiation – and what it means to you

Today was an important day.

Our renegotiation terms with the EU were laid out - a set of changes that would make Britain even stronger in Europe:

An end to 'ever closer union' for the UK, building on our opt-outs from the Euro and Schengen border-free area;

  • New powers for our national Parliament through a 'red card' system;
  • More fairness in the immigration system so new migrants have to pay in for 4 years;
  • Measures to boost trade and create more UK jobs.
UKIP and the Leave Campaigners want to attack this crucial renegotiation - despite the fact they've been campaigning for these same measures for decades! They want us out of Europe at any cost - and it's up to us to stop them.

It's vital we all get behind these important reforms to stop UKIP and their friends dragging us out of Europe.

Thank you,

Will Straw,
Executive Director,
Britain Stronger In Europe