Lib Dem leader Ed Davey gave his keynote speech to conference today! We've pulled some of the highlights for you - but if you want to read the full speech you can find it here.
Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government is steering us all into another terrible crisis.
Ed started on the supply chain crisis
"Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government is steering us all into another terrible crisis.
Shoppers greeted by empty shelves in the supermarket.
House building stopped for a lack of materials.
Pubs running dry.
Fears that there won’t even be enough toys or turkeys for Christmas.
It’s enough to make you need to go and lie down – but we’re even facing a shortage of mattresses!"
The Tories hadn’t counted on the incredible skill and determination of our campaign team. They hadn’t counted on all of you.
It's been a rough 18 months - but Chesham and Amersham was a bright spot...
"Tory high command took the people of Chesham and Amersham for granted.
But they hadn’t counted on our brilliant candidate –
A determined campaigner and a powerful voice for her constituents -
Now the Member of Parliament for Chesham and Amersham –
And the Tories hadn’t counted on the incredible skill and determination of our campaign team.
They hadn’t counted on all of you."
The British people have shown their true nature in the face of this adversity – in their courage and their kindness.
Ed had nothing but praise for the British people's resilience during the pandemic
"The British people have shown their true nature in the face of this adversity – in their courage and their kindness.
Everyone who kept to the rules and made enormous personal sacrifices – to protect others, to look after their kids and to save their businesses.
So many people fighting back against Covid. You all make me so proud of our country."
But he slammed Boris Johnson...
"You know, I honestly wanted to be surprised. With the enormity of the challenge facing our country, I hoped against hope that Boris Johnson would show he cared about other people after all."
With the enormity of the challenge facing our country, I hoped against hope that Boris Johnson would show he cared about other people after all.
And Rishi Sunak...
"Just look around the freshly-reshuffled Cabinet table…
The Chancellor. Who is cruelly cutting the incomes of millions of low-paid workers by slashing Universal Credit.
Who used Covid as an excuse to slash four billion pounds from the help we give to the world’s poorest people, during a global pandemic."
And Priti Patel...
"Priti Patel thinks it’s OK to turn her back on refugees, against our country’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to people in need.
OK to press ahead with her draconian plans to crackdown on the fundamental British right to peaceful assembly and protest."
And as for Dominic Raab...
"Dominic Raab sat on the beach while Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. He wouldn’t even pick up the phone to get interpreters to safety.
Afghan nationals who had served so bravely alongside our troops for the last twenty years, let down and left behind so Dominic Raab could work on his tan."
Ed invoked the words of our former leader Paddy Ashdown...
"“Our role,” Paddy said, “is to be the catalyst, the gathering point for a broader movement dedicated to winning the battle of ideas which will give Britain an electable alternative to Conservative government.”
Friends – he was right.
That was the role of the Liberal Democrats then. And it is the role of the Liberal Democrats today."
Our liberal opposition to nationalism can make all the difference between the break-up of our country or its salvation.
He paid tribute to our leaders in Wales and Scotland...
"Winning in Wales, where Jane Dodds is a bold independent voice for jobs, environment and young people.
And not least in Scotland – where our liberal opposition to nationalism can make all the difference between the break-up of our country or its salvation."
It was always a joy to be around Shirley. Whether she was offering wise counsel, persuading you with a forceful argument, or making you laugh with another of her captivating anecdotes.
He paid tribute to Shirley Williams...
"Shirley was at once a wonderful human being and an unstoppable force of nature.
As I’m sure so many of you experienced first-hand, it was always a joy to be around Shirley. whether she was offering wise counsel, persuading you with a forceful argument, or making you laugh with another of her captivating anecdotes."
Liberal Democrats believe in powerful citizens.
And outlined his vision for what government should be.
"People don’t expect Government to magically solve all of their problems.
They don’t want a free ride. They don’t expect life always to be easy.
But what they do want – what they rightly expect – is a Government that empowers them.
Liberal Democrats believe in powerful citizens."
People are sick and tired of the Conservatives making the powerful even more powerful – rigging the game for their friends.
Ed slammed the inequality hand-cultured by this Government:
"Liberal Democrats want to hold the already powerful properly to account.
The global tech giants and big property developers. The fossil fuel companies and the investment banks.
We all have to play by the rules, and do what’s right – so why don’t they?
People are sick and tired of the Conservatives making the powerful even more powerful – rigging the game for their friends."
I want our party to restore the British fair deal – and to make it even better.
And outlined the Liberal Democrat solution.
"I want our party to restore the British fair deal – and to make it even better.
And I want us to start with families – with parents and children.
Our party, the party of empowering people, must make supporting parents and children our top priority in the new fair deal we offer."
Ministers should implement in full what their own catch-up expert recommended – with a Children’s Catch Up Fund of at £15 billion
He called for extensive new measures to turbocharge education:
"If we are to reverse children’s lost learning and if we are to repair lockdowns’ impact on children’s mental health, Ministers should implement in full what their own catch-up expert recommended – with a Children’s Catch Up Fund of at least fifteen billion pounds.
But we must start with two major reforms – so this Education Catch-Up Cash is well-spent and so it is used to fire up a fresh direction for education.
First, schools should be free to spend their Covid cash as they see best.
And the second reform: a third of the Education Catch-Up Fund should go to parents directly – in the most radical empowering of parents ever."
Boris Johnson doesn’t care. Let’s show it’s Liberal Democrats who do.
Ed was withering on Boris Johnson's woeful social care plan...
"As I sat in the House of Commons listening to Boris Johnson bluster away about his so-called social care plan –
Which amounts to little more than an unfair tax rise for workers and businesses.
Conference, it’s obvious to everyone now: Boris Johnson doesn’t care.
Let’s show it’s Liberal Democrats who do."
To deliver our fair deal, we need to get our economy growing again – strongly and sustainably.
He called for more support for small business...
"To deliver our fair deal, we need to get our economy growing again – strongly and sustainably.
To create the jobs and opportunities people deserve, and to fund our ambitious policies.
And that means supporting small businesses.
So how do we empower these businesses and these entrepreneurs?
With a radical fair deal for small businesses.
Where business rates are replaced with a land tax.
Where the tax-free allowance against employers’ National Insurance Contributions is raised substantially.
And where the biggest businesses pay more tax. "
The Government needs to do far, far more to make it easier for industry and people to play their part in tackling climate change.
He warned against complacency on the climate crisis:
"The Government needs to do far, far more to make it easier for industry and people to play their part in tackling climate change.
But Conference, we know the truth. Even if we succeed in ultra-rapid charging up of climate action here in the UK, we know we can only survive with global action too.
That’s why this year’s summit in Glasgow is so important – and why I’m so alarmed by the way Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are approaching it."
And slammed the slashing of foreign aid:
"Let’s be clear: cutting aid to the world’s poorest at any time, but especially in a pandemic, is indecent, immoral and wrong.
But as a way of winning friends and influencing governments, just before you host this most crucial of global climate summits, cutting aid is a disaster."
Put power where it belongs, in the hands of individuals and their communities.
Ed recommitted to the battle for political reform...
"There is one more set of reforms Liberal Democrats know are crucial – so Governments stop taking people for granted and people get the fair deal they deserve.
Reforming politics itself.
To put power where it belongs, in the hands of individuals and their communities.
That means resisting Boris Johnson’s authoritarian power grabs:
Stopping him from making it harder for people to vote –
Defending everyone’s right to challenge governments in the courts and in the streets –
And protecting the Human Rights Act itself."
Let us rebuild our country. Let us fight for a fair deal. We can do it. And we will.
And ended with a call to action:
Liberal Democrats stand for a fair deal, to be delivered by politicians who are decent, and who truly care about you.
But standing between the British people and our fair deal is a big Blue Wall.
In Chesham and Amersham, we knocked out one blue brick.
Now it’s up to us to tear it down.
From Cheadle to Cheltenham –
From Winchester to Wokingham –
From Stockport to Sutton –
From Hitchin to Harrogate –
From Westminster to Wimbledon –
And from Eastbourne to Esher and Walton –
Let us bring the Blue Wall down.
Let us rebuild our country.
Let us fight for a fair deal.
We can do it. And we will.