• Article: Nov 28, 2017

    Britain is in a "spiral of ever-growing division" with a stark postcode lottery in social mobility, according to a damning report by the Social Mobility Commission today.

    The report uncovers a striking geographical divide with London and its surrounding areas pulling away from the rest of the country, while many other parts of the country are being left behind.

    This report talks of the UK 'being in the grip of a self-reinforcing spiral of ever growing division.'

    The government urgently needs to improve social mobility for young people in rural areas, coastal towns and former industrial heartlands.

    Ministers must reverse welfare cuts that are set to push millions more families into poverty, and boost school funding for disadvantaged children through the pupil premium.

    Reducing regional inequality is crucial if we are to address the underlying alienation that led to the Brexit vote, and build a stronger economy.

  • Article: Nov 28, 2017

    The government's refusal to publish its Brexit impact assessments is "completely untenable". Speaker John Bercow said he will respond promptly to any allegations of contempt of Parliament.

    This whole farce has descended into a scene straight out of Yes Minister.

    After David Davis repeatedly stated there were 57 detailed impact assessments, ministers now claim these reports never even existed in this form.

    Editing these reports is a breach of the agreement reached with MPs, meaning action over contempt of Parliament now looms.

    If the government really believes in its own Brexit plans, why are they so scared of publishing these reports in full?

    The public deserve to know what Brexit means for their jobs, incomes and communities. They must then be offered a vote on the deal with a chance to exit from Brexit.

  • Article: Nov 28, 2017

    The OECD's latest economic forecast shows the UK bucking the trend, and not in a good way.

    While the global economy is expected to gain momentum next year, growth in the UK will slow further because of Brexit-related uncertainty, which will drive investment down and businesses abroad.

    The OECD is particularly worried about the 'major financial stability risk' of high household debt, which is approaching pre-crisis levels.

    These economic forecasts are even less flattering than those published by the OBR last week, which saw the UK's future growth downgraded by tens of billions of pounds.

    These figures assume that the UK will agree to a transition period with the EU, an outcome that is looking far from certain due to the government's disastrous negotiating strategy.

    As the Bank of England points out, a no-deal Brexit would mean a severe recession and a doubling of unemployment, rather than just a slowdown in growth.

    To boost growth, the OECD recommends that the UK and the EU maintain the 'closest possible economic relationship'.

    As the government just isn't really pushing for that, the public should be offered an exit from Brexit.

  • Article: Nov 28, 2017

    David Davis has written to the Brexit Committee admitting the impact assessments they are being provided with, won't contain anything that might be commercially sensitive.

    Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who sits on the Brexit Committee, commented:

    "The government is still trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Parliament and the British people.

    "Ministers were ordered by MPs three weeks ago to publish these reports, but are still trying to hide the full impact of Brexit from the public.

    "There is a fine line between what is commercially sensitive and what is simply politically embarrassing for the government.

    "It should be up to MPs on the Brexit Committee, not David Davis, to make that call."

    Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

    "It is right that the government has given these Brexit studies to MPs, but I am deeply concerned by reports they may not be complete and leave out key information on the damage Brexit will do to our economy and services. Not giving the full facts could be contempt of parliament.

    "The Liberal Democrats want people to be given the facts, so they can decide what they think of the Conservatives' Brexit deal, with the public having the right to exit from Brexit if it is a bad deal. The government shouldn't be allowed to keep secret the damage their plans may do."

  • Article: Nov 28, 2017

    Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong today, Paddy Ashdown, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, will warn that the rising power of China will come into conflict with the United States as they falter under Trump.

    He predicts that the most likely place for a major global conflict to start is now in the Pacific as China is on the rise and America is on the fall.

  • Article: Nov 27, 2017

    The government should consider issuing temporary one-year 'vindaloo visas' to Asian chefs to help solve the British curry crisis.

    The government itself has warned that curry restaurants could soon be closing at a rate of four a week, with further claims that 50% of all Indian restaurants - about 6,000 - will shut within 10 years. One of the major factors for these closures has been a lack of skilled chefs due to overly restrictive immigration rules.

    The industry wrote to Theresa May, when Home Secretary, in April last year with suggestions to issue temporary one-year visas to skilled, experienced South Asian chefs who could then pass on their skills to British trainees. These would be tightly controlled, with no out-of-work benefits, to avoid abuses of previous temporary visa schemes.

    Enam Ali, the author of the report who also runs the British Curry Awards, has dubbed this the 'vindaloo visa'.

    If there was ever any doubt beforehand, the shortage of curry chefs is now a crisis.

    The government received excellent suggestions on how to solve this problem over 18 months ago, but this well-researched 75-page document has sadly gone ignored.

    Theresa May must revisit these proposals, which include a tightly controlled, one-year work visa, so that our curry restaurants can bring expert chefs to the UK and to train the next generation of curry cooks.

    The curry industry is rightly aggrieved by Brexiteer false promises that a vote to Leave would mean more workers, including chefs, from South Asia could come in to the country, because there would be fewer EU workers. This has not materialised.

    We need more urgent measures, including what has been dubbed a 'vindaloo visa', to save the nation's favourite cuisine.

  • Article: Nov 27, 2017

    Army numbers have fallen by over 2,000 since the Conservative 2015 Manifesto pledge to keep troop levels above 82,000, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

    The most recent figures show the number of full-time trained troops now stands at 77,440, down from 79,540 in April 2015 when the Conservative manifesto was published.

    It comes as the Government comes under increasing pressure over planned defence cuts, with dozens of Conservative MPs writing to the Chancellor and Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood reportedly prepared to resign.

    The Tory promise to keep our army above 82,000 lies in tatters.

    There are now 2,000 fewer regular troops than when this manifesto pledge was made in 2015.

    But instead of boosting morale and recruitment by giving our troops a pay rise, the government is planning even more cuts.

    Ministers need to clarify now whether they still intend to meet the 82,000 target, and if so by what date.

    Otherwise they will fuel concerns that the Conservatives simply cannot be trusted with maintaining Britain's defence capabilities.

  • Jeremy Corbyn (By YouTube/exadverso [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Nov 27, 2017

    Kate Hoey seems to think other people should pay for the mess she and other leading Brexiteers have caused.

    This is completely delusional. You'd expect this from UKIP but not a Labour MP.

    Jeremy Corbyn must condemn these irresponsible and divisive remarks.

    The best way to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is to stay in the single market and customs union.

  • Tim Farron MP visits apprentices on local housing development
    Article: Nov 27, 2017

    The combination of falling apprenticeship starts and restricted access to skilled labour after Brexit will cripple the Industrial Strategy.

    What is being announced today is not much more than a reinvention of the wheel. We've had an industrial strategy already for five years. But there is a big cloud hanging over it now caused by the major uncertainties around Brexit.

  • Article: Nov 26, 2017

    Speaking on the Today programme, Australian trade minister Steve Cobbio criticised the government's post-Brexit trade plans to split food import quotas between the UK and the EU.

    Listen to the report:

    Yet again the government has been warned that isolating ourselves from the EU is not the straightforward panacea dreamt of by Brextremists.

    There are real concerns that the UK is going to struggle to strike any deals that come remotely close to the benefits we enjoy as a member of the EU.

    This is another reason why the British public must have a vote on the terms of this messy divorce, including the option of an Exit from Brexit.

A huge thank you to everyone who worked on my campaign in the Meon Valley.

We moved from 4th to 3rd, increased the Lib Dem vote by 913 share of the vote +1.2%pts. Not everything we wanted, but a creditable result given the national trend!

So thank you!

Best wishes

Martin

Martin Tod is Chief Executive of a national health charity, as well as a Hampshire County Councillor and Winchester City Councillor.
On the county council, he specialises in health and social care, and played a leading role in opposing Conservative cuts to support for older people which, as predicted, have led to a sharp increase in bed places lost due to patients being kept on in hospital after they are ready to go home and dramatic growth in the number of cancelled operations in local hospitals. He has also campaigned for improved road safety and for the council to take stronger action on air quality and the environment.
After studying economics at Cambridge, where he was President of the Union, Martin worked in international business for P&G for many years, before joining Vodafone as a senior marketing executive. Following this, he moved to work for Shelter - the housing and homelessness charity - before joining his current charity, the Men's Health Forum in 2013.
His interests outside work and politics include travel, photography, cycling and cooking.

Martin's priorities include:
· Protecting local business and local people's jobs by stopping a damaging hard Brexit
· Better funding for our local NHS
· Stopping the proposed Conservative funding cuts to local schools
· More affordable housing
· Action on air quality and the environment