The wonderful Wendy Chamberlain (LDN #173)

Liberal Democrat Newswire #173 came out last week with praise for the widely regarded Wendy Chamberlain. You can now also read it in full below. But if you’d like the convenience of getting it direct by email in future just sign up for it here.

Wendy Chamberlain has been rightly praised by many, including The Guardian, for her getting legislation through Parliament to help carers. More on that in this month’s edition.

The chaos and meltdown in the Conservative Party is though rather overshadowing things at the moment. It has at least served up a very juicy by-election. You can donate to our latest by-election opportunity here. I look forward to seeing many readers in person over the next few weeks on the campaign trail too. Do let me know if you’ll be heading over to mid-Bedfordshire too?

A reminder also to get in touch if you’d like me to do a Zoom with your local Lib Dem party.

Best wishes,


P.S. If you missed it, last time’s edition, Learning the lessons of success: the 2023 local elections, is here.

The difference your campaigning makes

Here’s my latest report for Liberal Democrat members and supporters. These reports also appear on the party website.

So many people depend on the help and love of unpaid carers, relying on them to get through essential day-to-day challenges such as washing, dressing and eating. Yet our unpaid carers are often without adequate support, having to juggle caring with their own work.

Which is why Wendy Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Act, steered through the Lords by Lib Dem peer Chris Fox, is such an impressive and important achievement. A special shout-out too for Wendy’s Senior Researcher, Kathryn Sturgeon, who did a power of work on the bill.

It’s an impressive achievement because the chance for any MP outside the government to get new legislation through is rare. It’s also an important achievement because the Act gives important new support to carers, allowing time off work to manage caring responsibilities.

The Act means an estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK now have a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. The law benefits employers too as those businesses which already provide such leave report reduced recruitment costs, improved retention and better staff well-being.

Wendy seized the opportunity when it came. But she was only there in Parliament to see the opportunity because of your support and campaigning. It’s the difference that getting Liberal Democrats elected makes. Thank you.


I know readers will want to join me in giving our condolences to Ming Campbell, after his wife Elspeth died earlier this month. As Wendy Chamberlain said, “Elspeth was a kind and generous person, known to and loved by many of us within the Scottish Liberal Democrats in North East Fife and beyond. I will treasure the memory of the time I spent with her both prior to and since my election.”

Could it be you?

Five keen and talented people are needed for a variety of roles in the Federal Party, ranging from membership and supporter work to finance and judging appeals.

Even if you’re not looking for a new role, please do take a look as you may well know someone else who it would be worth you sharing this information with and encouraging to apply.

Details are up on our website for:

Although all the posts require a strong commitment to the Party’s values and success, that doesn’t mean you have to have lots of Lib Dem experience. They are all roles where there is plenty of experience outside the Party that could be very relevant.

The closing dates are later this month (21 June) and the Board hopes to make decisions on them in July.

The Federal Appeals Panel post (only) will then also be subject to a confirmation vote at our September Federal Party conference.

Congratulations and thank you for his work on the FFRC to Oliver Forder whose recent election as a councillor has caused a vacancy due to his new council meetings clashing with the committee’s. It’s the very best sort of reason for no longer being able to be on a committee!

Preparing for the general election

No, we don’t know when the general election will be. But yes, we do know that the better prepared we are, the better we will do.

So as part of the May Federal Board meeting, we looked at a new general election planning dashboard, tracking how our plans are coming together across the full range of activities required for a successful general election campaign.

We also agreed a plan to boost our legacy fundraising, including launching a new ‘Future Fund’ and giving the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC) the task of ensuring its funds are used appropriately. If you are interested in leaving the Party a gift in your own will, please do get in touch.

A new set of priorities for our diversity and inclusion work were agreed, building on our recent progress in areas such as target seat Parliamentary candidates. For the next phase of progress, we’ll be concentrating on targets such as improving the diversity of our local government base and who we speak with on the doorsteps.

Both of these are important in their own right and also important for their knock-on impact. Who we have canvass data from and who our councillors are in turn affects much else that we do, such as who we then try to recruit as a member or who ends up on one of our committees.

Alongside planning our business for the autumn conference, the Board also looked at how our recent big technology projects have gone and what lessons to apply to the next stages of improving our technology and data. Those next stages include starting to have a roadmap/backlog shared across the Party so that people can better understand, and plan around, what is likely to be done and when.

Autumn conference registration is open

We’ll be meeting in Bournemouth on 23-26 September for the autumn Federal Party Conference. Registration is now open, for both in-person and online attendance.

Another way of attending Conference is to volunteer as a steward, joining the fantastic team of volunteers who give up some of their time to assist in the running of the Conference. In exchange, stewards receive a free conference pass, as well as contributions towards subsistence, travel and accommodation. More information here.

Answers to your questions

Each Federal Party Conference includes a ‘Questions to the Board’ session, and where there isn’t enough time to answer each question in person on the day, written answers are provided afterwards. Those from our conference in York are available on the Party website, alongside the written answers to questions submitted for other party bodies too.

Got any other lessons to add to this list? Or have questions on any of this, or other party matters? Then please drop me a line on president@libdems.org.uk. Do also get in touch if you’d like to invite me to do a Zoom call with your local party or party body.

More evidence on what does, and doesn’t, work in political leaflets

I have two new podcast episodes since last time: one on campaigning and one on policy. Almost like I planned perfectly segmented content for my audience’s different interests. (I didn’t.)

The episodes are:

Happy listening!

🎧Find all the episodes of Never Mind The Bar Charts here and sign up for an email notification each time a new episode appears here.

📱 Follow Never Mind The Bar Charts on Twitter, give feedback and send in questions or ideas for future shows at @barchartpodcast.

A remarkably moving interview with Ed Davey: Lib Dems in the news

Wera Hobhouse is prompting a bill to improve protections for workers against sexual harassment. Sarah Olney and many other Lib Dems joined the campaign for electoral reform outside Parliament. She’s also been campaigning over how few muggings result in anyone being charged and the near de facto decriminalisation of bike thefts.

Munira Wilson has accused ministers of neglecting a “tidal wave” of child mental ill health in England and is warning that teacher statistics expose a recruitment and retention crisis. Tim Farron has teamed up with Feargal Sharkey for more campaigning against sewage.

Ed Davey gave a very moving interview about his family to The Guardian. He has also directly answered questions about trans rights and after all the chaos of the last few days has called for a general election.

Winston Churchill’s grandson donated nearly £5,000 to Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem campaigning on puppies has caught The Guardian’s attention, as has Lib Dem progress in the Blue Wall.

Chichester’s first non-binary councillor says the council can be a vocal leader in the fight against hate crime. Congratulations to Gareth Morgan, Powys’ longest-serving councillor, who has marked 50 years in the role.

Joe Harris and Bridget Smith were elected unopposed as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group on the LGA. There is an insightful long read on how no overall majority councils can work, with Matthew Taylor explaining the decisions Lib Dems in Sough took after the local elections.

Bad news for Conservatives with surprising poll finding

In case you missed them first time, here are a selection of posts from my websites since last time:

Most surprising poll finding of the week brings bad news for Conservatives.

Two long-standing Lib Dem council group leaders stand down.

One in five voters say they are very likely to vote tactically BUT…

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Just to be clear, this wasn’t me in the bookshop.

What the polls are saying

Latest opinion polls

To give the latest figures some context, here’s an up-to-date poll tracker graph:

Voting intentions over time - graph

And here are the issues that the public says are the most important to them:

Ipsos monthly issues tracker

Latest from The Week in Polls

Are Millennials politically that different from everyone else? Find out in my weekly polling newsletter, The Week in Polls.

On a similar topic, see also how Brexit referendum knowledge shows the limits of the public’s political knowledge.

Council by-elections round-up

No Lib Dem gains in principal authority council by-elections since last time, but a promising round of results even so: standing for the first time in a Stroud ward, getting a good second place in North Yorkshire after not standing last time, securing a chunky swing from Labour in Camden and holding a seat with a big increase in the majority in Wiltshire.

For the new running tally of how council by-elections are adding up since the last big round of May elections, see here.

Elsewhere, an independent councillor has joined the Lib Dems in the Isle of Wight and another in Southport. But one has joined the Conservatives in Cumbria, one has switched to independents in Stockport, and another has been suspended from the party.

To get the full council by-election results every week, sign up for my blog posts digest and to be prepared for a council by-election in your patch, see my 7-step guide to getting ready in advance.

Can you help?

Liberal Democrat Newswire is provided for free. Thank you so much to all the kind readers who donate to help cover its costs. It’s quick and easy to sign up for a small regular donation with your debit card using GoCardless:

£10 per month / £5 per month / £2.50 per month / £1 per month

Thank you! (Other donation options, including by PayPal or cheque, are here.)

Selection news

Parliamentary selections since last time include Bermondsey & Old Southwark: Rachel Bentley, Ceredigion: Mark Williams, Colchester: Martin Goss, Eltham: Ulysse Abbate, Greenwich and Woolwich: Chris Annous, Richmond Park: Sarah Olney (surprise), Richmond (Yorks): Daniel Callaghan, Vauxhall: Chris French, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine: Michael Turvey and Westminster North: Helen Baxter.

In related news, Ian Blackford is standing down as an SNP MP at the next election.

Hinah Bokhari has topped the London Assembly list selection ahead of next year’s GLA elections, with Rob Blackie second and Irina von Weise third.

The party is always in need of more volunteer Returning Officers to help run these selections. Do you know someone who might suit this role?

See all the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) selected and announced so far here. If you’ve spotted a selection I’ve missed and which is public, by all means hit reply and let me know.

And finally…

Don’t forget the other big by-election news at the moment: polling closes 13 June.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, why not forward to a friend or let them know they can sign-up here for future editions?

Thank you and best wishes,


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