Ballot papers for the Liberal Democrat leadership election will start dropping into members’ inboxes from 9am tomorrow.
As explained on Lib Dem Voice earlier, these are being sent in batches of around 4,500 per hour, so your email might not reach you until Friday morning. Postal ballots may take another couple of days to arrive.
When you do receive your ballot paper, please consider giving Layla Moran your first preference vote.
The Liberal Democrats are at a crossroads. We lost a considerable amount of support as a result of the coalition, and despite a resurgence thanks to our position on Brexit, that additional support translated to just four more seats in 2017 – and one fewer in December.
The choice facing our party now is very simple: either we continue with the legacy of coalition and post-coalition mediocracy, where we are currently averaging just 8% in the polls, or we look to the future and build a modern, energised party to campaign and win elections at every level.
My blog has always been a place for personal reflection. This post is no exception, but comes with a very clear trigger warning: if you are struggling with your mental health at the moment, you might not want to read on.
This weekend I presented my first RAFAC mental health awareness and resilience course of 2020 to ten adult volunteers in Kent.
For me (and, yes, as an instructor I know I am biased) the course is one of the most important of all of those available within our organisation.
Young people are under an immense amount of pressure and face many different individual risk factors, and I believe that as volunteers working with young people it is important we understand those risks, the effects they can have and what we can do to help support our cadets.
But this article isn’t about the course, and I have no desire to betray either the contents of the course or the confidences of those who participate. Instead, this article is about me: my own personal reflection.
Three years or so ago I was one of over seventeen million people who voted to leave the European Union.
I have for as long as I have been interested in politics been a eurosceptic, and at the risk of falling foul of the unashamedly pro-EU party I am proud to be a member of, I still am. But, in the event, I finally chose to vote to leave because I believed the rhetoric that we would agree a mutually-beneificial deal and depart with some semblance of economic security. What a fool I was.
Fundamentally, the EU is not a socialist paradise built for the enhancement of individuals, but an economic trading bloc designed around protecting member states and the movement of goods and services. For all the many advantages membership of the EU brings, the rights of free citizens and advancement of liberty cannot be counted among them, for the European elite would cast the individual aside without a second thought if the common goal of frictionless trade in a united Europe were at stake.
In October 2017, during the independence referendum in Catalonia, the EU remained silent while one of its member states ordered riot police to violently attack peaceful voters. Whatever the legality (or otherwise) of the referendum in question, such an attack on peaceful European citizens is unacceptable from a member of an organisation which wishes to present itself as the defender of individual rights, and the lack of public admonishment from the EU is shameful, to say the least.
Yesterday the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) released initial data on this year’s pro-independence rally, with the main headline being that registrations for the event have fallen 25%.
Every year since 2013, the pro-independence organisation has organised a large protest in support of independence on 11 September, Catalonia’s national day. So far 37,500 people have registered to take part in this year’s demonstration, a fall of one quarter compared to this time last year.
The drop in registrations was gleefully reported by the Madrid-based media, with El Mundo’s headline recalling that it is the lowest uptake in six years, while El País says that the reduction comes in the middle of division within the pro-independence movement. Catalan media sympathetic towards independence also recognised the fall, with El Nacional, El Punt Avui and VilaWeb all reporting the registration data.
The division between the two main secessionist political parties Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia) is well documented, particularly since local elections in May, following which both parties formed post-electoral pacts with unionists across Catalonia.
In the midst of the political division, the ANC decided that this year’s demonstration should be about highlighting that, wherever people come from, their objective is the same: the independence of Catalonia. To achieve this, they are focusing the protest on Barcelona’s plaça d’Espanya, where demonstrators will merge from the five main surrounding streets and form the shape of a star. The motto for this year’s demonstration is Objectiu independència, or Objective independence.