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English Local Elections Briefing

by Liberal Democrats on Sat, 22 Feb 2020

Thank you!

Whether you’re a Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate, a Mayoral Candidate, a GLA candidate, a Council Candidate or one of the thousands of Liberal Democrat activists that help get them elected, we want to say thank you.

The time and effort you give is what makes our party tick and without you, we couldn’t achieve the change at every level of government we all are fighting for. We hope you find this page useful as you prepare for the 2020 local elections.

Thank You So Much Laughing GIF by Pusheen

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Get ready for the action weekend!

by Henry Mcmorrow on Fri, 21 Feb 2020

As you know, there are hundreds of local and regional elections happening in England and Wales in May this year, including Council, Mayoral and Police & Crime Commissioner elections.

They present us with an excellent opportunity to make huge gains across the country, and for your local party to make a big impact in your local area.

To help you get off to a flying start with your local campaign, the Campaigns team is organising an Action Weekend from 20th - 22nd March.

Our goal? To knock on 100,000 doors across England and Wales over the weekend.

But to do this, we need you. We need as many local parties as possible to get involved by running dedicated events and campaigning sessions in your local area.

This coordinated weekend of campaigning will help to boost the profile of the party across the country and build momentum ahead of the elections. It’s also a good chance to get your newer members involved in campaigning for the first time.

The first step is to get your local event on the events page to ensure members and supporters can find it and RSVP.

Get my event on the website

The Campaigns team have also produced a National Action Weekend Pack.

Remember, there’s at least one election happening in every area, and if you’re not sure which ones are happening locally you can check on the Electoral Commission website using their postcode checker

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Liberal Democrats have long demanded fundamental reforms to the distribution of power: proportional voting, decentralisation, an elected second chamber.  

Sadly, electoral reform has been lacking entirely from the Labour party's leadership contest. That's why, this week, I’ve written to the three remaining Labour leadership candidates, urging them to ditch our broken voting system in favour of proportional representation.

Read the letter in full below.

The last three years, more than any before, has shown politics isn’t working for people. It is broken. Now is the time to hit the reset button.

After the last General Election, 14.5 million people have an MP they didn't vote for.

At the last General Election the Conservatives, despite only getting 44% of votes, entered the House of Commons with 56% of seats. 14.5 million people have an MP they didn't vote for, while 71% of votes were “wasted”. In Scotland, the situation was even worse, with the SNP securing 80% of the seats from 45% of the popular vote.

It is no wonder that people feel they have little or no influence on decision-making today. Our democracy doesn't need piecemeal change. It needs an urgent and radical overhaul at all levels.

There are many issues we disagree on. But progressives right across UK, aside from Labour, agree that we have a decaying electoral system that shuts out too many from our democracy.

With a Prime Minister in Boris Johnson who tried to silence our democracy by unlawfully shutting down Parliament, nobody can trust him to fix our broken politics or the systems that support it.

So far in the Labour leadership contest, electoral reform has been dangerously absent.

It therefore isn’t good enough for the next Labour leader to sit on their hands and do nothing. It is past time Labour joined the progressive alliance in favour of electoral reform.

So far in the Labour leadership contest, electoral reform has been dangerously absent. I am therefore writing to you to urge you to make clear your support to align Labour with the growing progressive movement across the UK in favour of electoral reform.

Kind regards,

Wendy Chamberlain

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Constitutional Affairs

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Whoever you are, the Liberal Democrats will stand up for you.

by Liberal Democrats on Wed, 19 Feb 2020

The Liberal Democrats are working hard to tackle the big issues that people are facing across the UK.

✔︎ Ensuring a properly resourced NHS, to provide the highest quality care for our loved ones

✔︎ Fighting to reverse police cuts, to protect our communities from violent crime

✔︎ Protecting our environment. We’ve already done more to fight the climate emergency than any other party

✔︎ Building high-quality, reliable public transport links across the UK

✔︎ Investing in world-class education, to give our children the best start possible in life

We want to see an open, inclusive, outward-looking and optimistic United Kingdom. 

That's who we are. That is what we will be. And that is the future we will build.

If those are your values too, why not join us today?

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Taking the 'Time to Change' pledge

by Mike Dixon on Wed, 19 Feb 2020

The first time you go canvassing can feel daunting. For many people, going up to a stranger’s door, knocking, and starting a conversation isn’t something they do every day. They don’t often ask people about how they want things to change, in their neighbourhood or across the country as a whole.

More than 1 in 4 of us will experience depression, anxiety or stress this year. Almost every family will be affected.

But with practice and repetition, what may have initially seemed like an odd thing to do begins to feel natural. And even fun. It turns out that many people like being asked about their opinions, especially by someone who clearly cares, is open to listening and taking them seriously.

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At our latest meeting, the Federal Board welcomed our newest member, Lisa Smart, who has been elected the new chair of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC), taking over from James Gurling. Welcome on board, Lisa!

We also welcomed back to the Board Tony Harris as Registered Treasurer and chair of the Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) and Mike German as Federal Treasurer.

Details of the outcome of elections for other key posts around the party are available on the party website. Congratulations to everyone elected and thank you also to everyone else who applied, helping to give us a strong set of names to choose from.

After our January Board meeting agreed the timings and got the ball rolling on key elements for our success this year, such as an independent elections review and our leadership election, the Board concentrated this time in particular on the Federal Party’s budget.

We’re rightly focused on ensuring we improve how we operate on your behalf

To give some context, overall our income in 2020 will be around £6.5 million, which compares with £34 million for the Conservatives and £46 million for Labour in 2018.

After the surge in spending and staffing in the immediate run-up to the general election, the Board agreed that this year we need to return to a long-term sustainable level of staffing and expenditure. This means day-to-day spending matching income from members, donors and grants, with any surplus from last year ring-fenced to allow us to implement recommendations from the independent elections review and for one-off projects focused on transforming our capabilities.

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Today, Ed Davey and I have written to the Prime Minister, calling for him to reverse plans to scrap the BBC licence fee.

The British Press is by no means without criticism, but at its best, the BBC remains a beacon of independent journalism as well as high-quality entertainment. That's why Liberal Democrats will fight tooth and nail to save it. Read our letter in full below: 

Dear Boris,

We were dismayed to see on Sunday morning your government make yet another attack on the BBC with the reported plans to scrap the TV licence and make the British public pay a TV subscription fee instead. 

This was not in your manifesto and appears to be yet another thinly veiled step in your government’s efforts to undermine and thereby dismantle the BBC.

Dominic Cummings has previously described the BBC as the "mortal enemy" of the Conservative Party.

The fact that Ministers are already consulting on plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee from 2022, having so recently dismissed this option in a government review just 5 years ago, is yet more evidence that these plans are not sensible, considered reforms, but a deliberate and sustained attack led by one of your closest advisors, Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings has previously described the BBC as the “mortal enemy” of the Conservative Party. Of course, the BBC is not perfect, and all political parties have their gripes with the broadcaster. However, this does not justify the sustained attempts to undermine and hamper the BBC as we see your government doing time and again.

Whatever its faults, the BBC strives to provide impartial journalism and a platform for different views. In depriving them of funds your government is not only obstructing their ability to invest in British talent, but risking putting TV content into the hands of US corporates. The BBC is one of the four most internationally recognised British brands and is incredibly important as an influential tool abroad.

Under the Tories' plans, the fee for viewing the BBC could at least double compared to the cost of the licence fee.

That is why these announced plans are so alarming. Any civil system will mean a higher cost of collection and will also likely lead to higher evasion rates and higher penalties. These plans will cost the BBC hundreds of millions of pounds and if you pursue the subscription model, the fee for viewing the BBC could at least double compared to the cost of the licence fee. The losers will be the British public.

We believe that the TV licence fee should be set independently so the BBC can be truly independent of politicians of all colours and should be structured so those less able to pay are treated fairly.

The plans you have set out were not in your manifesto and therefore you have no mandate to pursue them. We write in the hope you will consider our concerns and act accordingly in keeping the BBC licence fee.
We look forward to a swift response.

Your sincerely,

Ed Davey and Daisy Cooper

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Meet your Election Review Team

by Dorothy Thornhill on Sun, 16 Feb 2020

Last month, the Chair of the Election Review, Dorothy Thornhill, was announced. Now, we're pleased to be able to announce the full review team.

They bring a wide range of skills and experience, in the party and outside to the review and will help the Chair ensure the review that is conducted is thorough.

Meet the team:

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If not us, who? If not now, when?

by Lisa Smart on Sat, 15 Feb 2020

That’s the saying I live my life by, because taking action is the only way to change things in this world, and bugger me this world needs some change.

That saying has led me to a lot of places. I joined the party, started delivering leaflets, knocked on doors, stood for council and stood for parliament because I needed to act.

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The spring conference motions - explained

by Geoff Payne on Fri, 14 Feb 2020

Is a full programme of training, events, networking and parties not enough for you? At spring conference this year we have a huge package of policy motions, which all members have the chance to debate, amend and vote on. Here's a quick run-down for you! And if you haven't yet, book your place right here:

Book now →

F4 - Hong Kong

This motion introduces new party policy on the human rights situation in Hong Kong. It calls for:

  • Extending of the right to abode to all British National (Overseas) citizens
  • The government to use its relationship with China to persuade Beijing to not end the protests through military force
  • An indefinite suspension of export licenses for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong.

Read the full motion here

F6 - Children's Social Care

(England only)

This motion updates party policy on children's social care. It calls for:

  • Extra funding for children's social care
  • Higher priority for looked-after children in the education system
  • More care places for children who need it
  • A new scheme to help older looked-after children find accommodation to transfer into when they are ready to live independently
  • The government to review allowances and pay for foster carers
  • An exploration into whether an allowance scheme for kinship carers (who look after children of their relatives) should be set up
  • A national workforce strategy for social workers and children's home managers

Read the full motion here

F8 - Electoral Reform

This motion updates party policy on electoral reform. It calls for:

  • The use of Single Transferable Vote as the voting system for all Parliamentary elections and English local elections
  • The voting age to be lowered to 16
  • The rights of EU citizens to stand and vote in local elections to be protected, and extended to general elections when they've lived here for 5+ years
  • The use of Alternative Vote for elections to single positions like directly-elected mayors in England
  • The scrapping of voter ID law plans
  • A legal requirement for local authorities to inform citizens of the steps required to be successfully registered to vote. This includes a far greater effort to register under-represented groups

Read the full motion here

F13 - Supporting The Trans and Non-Binary Communities within the Liberal Democrats

This is a business motion (one that deals with how the party works internally). It seeks to improve accessibility to Liberal Democrat events for trans and non-binary people and protect their rights by:

  • Requiring Lib Dem HQ and all conference venues (Federal and Regional) to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom
  • The option to have your preferred pronouns on your conference pass
  • The option to include your preferred pronouns on speaker's cards
  • Training for presenters at party events on how to avoid unnecessarily gendered language

Read the full motion here

F16 - Welcoming Child Refugees

This motion calls on the Government to fulfil its existing obligations to provide sanctuary to child refugees, as well as to:

  • Extend family reunion rights so child refugees in the UK can sponsor family members to join them
  • Provide specialist legal advice for all child asylum seekers
  • Resettle 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees from elsewhere in Europe over the next 10 years

Read the full motion here

F17 - Student Mental Health Charter

(England only)

This motion calls on the Government to legislate for universities to ensure a strong provision of mental health support for students by:

  • Developing a Student Mental Health Charter for universities in consultation with students, universities and mental health charities
  • Including in the Charter guaranteed access to quality mental health support and the recording and reporting of waiting times
  • Ensuring all universities have the aim to reach zero suicide

Read the full motion here

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Not all your recycling is actually being recycled

by Wera Hobhouse on Thu, 13 Feb 2020

When a person puts their empty plastic bottle in a recycling bin, they understandably assume it gets recycled.

When I was the Cabinet member for the environment on Rochdale council, and when we sent our paper and cardboard to be recycled, we knew it had new lives as cardboard inserts to kitchen roll.

The plastic bag tax introduced by the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government was hugely successful, but it was only ever intended to be the first step.

However, this is not always the case.

Far too often our waste, including recyclable items, are sold to private contractors who can incinerate or export waste to unregulated facilities.

We’ve all become aware of the devastating effect that plastic pollution is having on our oceans.

This isn’t the fault of our cash-strapped councils, who need to balance good waste management with ever-decreasing funding from the government.

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Losing a parent can be devastating

by Sir Ed Davey MP on Thu, 13 Feb 2020

When my dad died, my mum was left with three boys under the age of ten. At age four, I remember her going to pick up her widow's pension every other week. It was a lifeline for her and for us. It helped her adjust, and to take good care of my brothers and I.

For any family, losing a parent can be devastating not just emotionally, but financially too. My family weren't particularly poor, but I still don't know what we'd have done without that support.

Bereavement Support Payments are supposed to help families adjust to life after the tragedy of losing a parent.

From my own experience, and from working with my constituents and nationwide bereavement charities, I know how overwhelming it can be to suddenly find yourself a single parent. You have sole responsibility of putting food on the table and paying for childcare while dealing with your own grief. Add to this the needs of grieving children, such as specialist counselling, and an overwhelming financial burden is placed on families needing breathing room to heal.

Bereavement Support Payments are supposed to help families adjust to life after the tragedy of losing a parent. Yet for 2,000 families a year, the law says they aren’t entitled to this support, because the parents weren’t married.

With cohabiting couples being the fastest growing family type in the UK, how many more children need to suffer before the Government takes action?

Last week the High Court ruled that the difference in Bereavement Support Payments between married and cohabiting couples is a breach of children’s human rights. In 2018, the Supreme Court made a similar ruling.

Today, I asked the Prime Minister to make sure that all grieving children are supported, whether their parents were married or not.

Enough is enough. Today, I asked the Prime Minister to legislate to respond to both rulings, and make sure that all grieving children are supported, whether their parents were married or not.

I am pleased that Boris Johnson has agreed to look into the issue, and I hope that his Government will legislate to make sure that no child is left without the support they need.

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My campaigning priorities

by Christine Jardine on Thu, 13 Feb 2020

The tiniest of silver linings in that of the Tory majority and the near enough certainty that this Parliament will sit for at least the next four years, is that we now have time to be strategic. We have time to plan.

The fact that our leadership race will not take place until the summer also allows us time to pause, reflect, and consider what we need going forward.

How do we reconnect with the voters and who will be the right person to do that for us?

We have had some spectacularly good leaders, but the next will also have to be someone special to break the cycle in which we find ourselves trapped.

They will need Tim’s ability to hold and inspire a crowd.

The current law on assisted dying offers no dignity, choice or compassion to those in the final stage of their life.

Jo’s steely determination and vision.

But most of all they will need something of that particular gift which both Paddy and Charles had in spades. Empathy.

That indefinable ability to connect with people on a level that says:  “I understand, I know, I appreciate what you are going through and I’ll do my damnedest to fix it”.

Over the next few months we will have the time and space for that leader to emerge.

In the meantime I will concentrate on three progressive, liberal campaigns that will make a real difference to peoples’ lives.

This first is to push for a change in the law on assisted dying.  

The current law offers no dignity, choice or compassion to those in the final stage of their life. It also criminalises family members who support their loved one’s wishes. 

We often pride ourselves on how far have come as a liberal, progressive society that treats everyone with compassion and equality. But, at the end of their lives, we’re letting them down.

The prescription of medicinal cannabis is legal but many sufferers of pain are still not getting easy access to the relief they need.

Then there is cannabis. 

The prescription of medicinal cannabis is legal. It was hard won, but the law remains so overly rigid and ambiguous that many sufferers of pain are still not getting easy access to the relief they need. 

The only way to properly solve this is to introduce a legal, regulated market for cannabis. 

This would also protect young people, free up precious police time by breaking the grip of criminal gangs and raise an estimated £1.5bn, which could be used to treat addiction and fight crime. 

A common sense, grown up and evidence-based policy that would radically change the lives of thousands of people. 

Just like changing the law to allow asylum seekers the right to work while waiting for their applications to be processed. 

A simple change in the law would help the economy and, more importantly, allow people who have risked everything the opportunity contribute fully to our society, and give them the dignity they deserve.

They are liberal, radical and what we need.

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My first LGBT+ History Month as an openly pansexual MP

by Layla Moran on Thu, 06 Feb 2020

Earlier this year, I came out as pansexual, becoming the first openly pan MP. This February is of particular significance for me. It is the first LGBT History Month I have openly celebrated as part of the community.

I did not come out to be heralded as a trailblazer. But upon coming out, I realised that my public visibility meant a lot to a lot of people. Many people in the LGBT+ community, especially those who fall under the ‘B’, ‘T’ or ‘+’, don’t feel visible to or accepted by the rest of society. These identities are often treated with suspicion or cynicism because people simply don’t know what they are.

We need to actively engage people in this conversation now. This is why LGBT+ education is so important.

This is where visibility comes in. When I came out, I found myself having to define pansexuality and I believe that the more we speak on the topic, the greater the understanding and acceptance of people who identify as LGBT+. Additionally, by having more elected officials who identify as LGBT+, we shine a light on a community and individuals who often feel hidden.

Increasing sexual diversity in politics and the media has the power to help those people who are afraid of being misunderstood to feel accepted by society. But there is more that needs to be done to teach the world about different identities and sexualities. We need to actively engage people in this conversation now. This is why LGBT+ education is so important.

By teaching children about different kinds of relationships, we remove the gap in knowledge and challenge stereotypes. We stop an LGBT+ teenager feeling there is something wrong with them. We stop them being bullied for who they are attracted to or who they love. We can help to build a world where people are comfortable to be themselves.

By teaching children about different kinds of relationships, we remove the gap in knowledge and challenge stereotypes.

No, LGBT+ education in schools is not a one size fits all solution. It will take time for the education to disperse through society, but by educating children, we can actively improve attitudes.

Homophobia and hate often come from a place of miseducation and lack of interaction. People who don’t meet or learn about the LGBT+ community, are more likely to believe misguided stereotypes about the community and the individuals.

While it is important to look at LGBT history, we must also look to the future. Look to improving visibility, and education for the LGBT+ community. I am excited to celebrate my first LGBT History Month as part of the community and reflect on the achievements we have made. But I keep at the forefront of my mind that there is a lot that we need to do to keep making a difference.

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Week in, week out, either at my constituency surgery, in my inbox or just through conversations with friends and acquaintances, I hear yet another tragic story of a child or young person struggling with their mental health. They're having to battle to get any sort of help.

Inadequate funding under the Conservatives has left Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) close to breaking point

Stories include teenagers self-harming and attempting suicide, being excluded from or staying away from school because their school or they themselves simply cannot cope. Stories include a ten-year-old - yes, a ten-year-old - with a severe mental health disorder. She's already been waiting four months for her initial assessment and will have to wait months more for treatment.

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Celebrating LGBT History Month

by Ed Davey on Sat, 01 Feb 2020

LGBT History Month is a welcome opportunity to celebrate the activism, strength and the spirit of the entire LGBT+ community. This is the time to look back at the key moments in the struggle for equal rights and to reflect on how we can build a more just world for everyone.

This month we celebrate iconic LGBT+ pioneers and strengthen our efforts to give meaningful attention to LGBT history.

Introducing the amendment that led to the repeal of Section 28 remains one of my proudest moments in parliament

In the UK, LGBT History Month falls in February to coincide the repealing of Section 28 in England and Wales. Introducing the amendment that led to the repeal of that abhorrent act remains one of my proudest moments in parliament.

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What we've done together

by Mark Pack on Fri, 31 Jan 2020

For the last four years, the Liberal Democrats have proudly fought to stop Brexit. 

I am immensely proud of everything we did. We stood up for our values. We campaigned so hard. But I also accept that at 11pm tonight, we will no longer be members of the European Union.

Our European story is not over. Tomorrow our fight continues, to make sure Britain has the closest possible relationship with our allies in Europe. 

Today, I want to take stock of everything we did achieve in our fight to stop Brexit. 

When the results of the European referendum were announced on that sad day in June 2016, we knew that something must be done. Our leader at the time, Tim Farron, did not wait to say that we deserved a vote on the final Brexit deal. 

We were a lone voice at first. But more and more people joined our cause, to call for a People’s Vote on the final deal. 

Our membership surged to the highest numbers in our party’s history. 

We backed the cross-party People’s Vote campaign. Its rallies attracted hundreds of thousands of people, making them the biggest marches since the protests against the Iraq war. 

Our MPs worked across parties in the Commons and the Lords to inflict more than 30 defeats on the Conservative government’s Brexit bills. 

We stopped a catastrophic no deal and we stopped the government charging EU citizens to apply to stay in the UK.

Last year, we went into the European elections with an unapologetic message on Brexit. 

I’m so proud of that campaign. We fought unashamedly for our liberal, progressive values, and we made a strong case for why the UK should continue to be members of the EU. 

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Could you be a Lib Dem candidate?

by William Dyer on Fri, 31 Jan 2020

Being a Liberal Democrat candidate is a rewarding way to make a difference anywhere from your local town council to nationally in Westminster. Our new candidates process makes it far easier to get the ball rolling on your application. If you’re thinking of standing, we have just made it easier for you to apply! There is a link to a short form below that you can use to express interest.

Our candidates process is designed to be inclusive and transparent. You won’t be judged based on who you know or what qualifications you have. We’re more interested in your skills and capabilities, which can come from your political, work, voluntary or social life!

Florida Girls Sign Up GIF by Pop TV

Expressing interest in becoming a councillor

You can use the form below to express interest in being a council candidate - your local party will receive a notification that you’re interested and will be in touch with further details. With your permission, your information will also be shared with the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC), who can offer guidance and advice on how to become a Lib Dem councillor.

Expressing interest in becoming a Parliamentary or Assembly candidate

Becoming a parliamentary or assembly candidate is a three-stage process. Firstly, you should register your interest using the same form below.  with various Lib Dem groups like the Parliamentary Candidates Association and the Campaign for Gender Balance where relevant, who can provide support with your application.

We welcome applications from people from all walks of life: there is no such thing as a typical Lib Dem candidate

You will then receive an email about the candidate application process, which will also contain an application form for you to tell us about yourself. After completing this form, you will be invited to a Candidate Assessment Day, where you’ll take part in a mix of written and spoken exercises, and a panel of impartial assessors will let you know how you did within two weeks.

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We fought the good fight - now what next?

by Ed Davey on Thu, 30 Jan 2020

Good morning.

For the last four years, the Liberal Democrats fought to stop Brexit.

We held street stalls, town hall meetings and we marched in our millions.

Today we stand strong in the knowledge that we did everything we could.

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Let's make 2020 the year we scrap the Vagrancy Act.

by Layla Moran on Wed, 29 Jan 2020

In 2018 a homeless man, Gyula Remes, died in Westminster Tube station. He was one of over 700 homeless people who died that year, and the second to die in Westminster station that year.

71% of people think arresting someone for sleeping rough is a waste of police time

There's a gate in the station - near the entrance to Parliament. It's designed to push homeless people just a little bit further away. How many times did MPs just walk past him and turn a blind eye?

I see homeless people every day when I arrive at Parliament. It breaks my heart. It makes me absolutely determined that 2020 is the year that we scrap the Vagrancy Act.

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