Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2024

The Liberal Party notes with concern the recent bill passed by the SNP to alter the landscape of freedom of expression in Scotland by imposing restrictions on certain facets of speech deemed threatening or abusive. 

The new legislation will make it an offence to stir up hatred against protected characteristics, including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity following on from prior legislation in respect of race.

The Liberal Party believes that in a liberal and tolerant society, freedom of expression should be valued and thus enshrined into law providing it doesn’t infringe on someone’s else liberty. 

In respect of the bill recently passed by the SNP, we believe that the act is, legislation overreach, in a number of areas: 

Firstly, the party believes that the legislation will be used as a weapon by some to try and criminalise those who don’t share their beliefs. 

Secondly, the law does not just apply to social media posts or newspaper articles. It covers anything said anywhere at any time – even in the confines of someone’s own home. Children will in theory be able to report their parents. In addition, people can inform on each other anonymously, through an expanded network of ‘third-party reporting centres’. 

Lastly, the Act states that Scots still have freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights but the fact that this needs to be stated shows the legislation’s architects have doubts about its internal clarity and likely consequences. 

As the old adage says, ‘stick and stones, may break my bones but names will never hurt me’, unfortunately, under the SNP this clearly is no longer true!

Kayed Al-Haddad 
(Scottish Liberal Party Chair) 

Liberal Party NEC Statement – The Gaza Conflict after 5 Months

The Liberal Party notes with deep sadness the conclusion of the 5th month of the ongoing Gaza conflict and a continued failure to bring the regional violence to an end.
Whilst the Israel state has the right to protect itself, its on-going response to the Hamas attack of the 7th October has shown no boundaries and goes beyond self-defence or protection of its population.

The Palastinina inhabitants of Gaza now face acute hunger with much of the public health infrastructure and hospitals damaged beyond use and a punitive blockade preventing humanitarian aid reaching the besieged population.

The party believes that the absence of an Israeli delegation at the current Cairo negotiation to implement a ceasefire and exchange of hostages is inexcusable and shows an unwillingness to end the conflict.

The international community must act to ensure Israel meets its international obligations to protect  civilians and prevents a humanitarian disaster which will only fuel the perpetual cycle of violence, empowering terrorist groups such as Humza, rather than isolating them.

Liberal Party Response to the Spring Budget Statement

Another disappointing budget from yet another lacklustre Tory Government. 

The Liberal Party welcomes the 2p reduction in National Insurance; however, would also like to have seen the tax threshold increase to least 15K in order to not only make work pay but also take more lower paid earners out of paying income tax. Furthermore, the party believes the VAT threshold should have increased to at least 150,000 in order to have had any real meaningful impact on SME’s. 

In addition, given the growing levels of disparity between those at the top 1% versus the rest, the party would have equalised Income Tax with Capitals Gains/Dividends Tax and slapped a 50% rate of Income Tax on anyone earning over and above £150,000. 

Finally, given the budget constraints that local councils are facing and the inevitable bankruptcy, the party would have reformed Council Tax and Business Rates and would have replaced it with a Land Value Tax and also enabled local councils to raise taxation at 100% (including fees and charges) without any caps from Westminster. 

Merseyside Liberal Party Association – Party Leader meets Liverpool Somaliland Community

On Friday morning party leader Cllr Steve Radford met leading members of the Liverpool Somaliland Community. 

Many of their community came to Liverpool with service in the British merchant navy when their country was a British protectorate

We are supporting their campaign for recognition of Somaliland and it being welcomed into the Commonwealth.

Liberal Party NEC Statement – Reducing the Burden of Flooding in the Community

The Liberal Party notes with great sadness the aftermath of widespread flooding after the recent heavy rainfall which has left homes and land underwater.

The party believes that recent extreme weather is another warning of climate change, and that urgent action is required to mitigate such extreme events both nationally and locally.

Urban planners need to discourage housing developments that encroach onto floodplains and taken action to increase urban drainage which is increasingly reduced by over developments and the loss of gardens which soak up the water.

In rural area’s action need to be taken to contain excess hillside runoff with tree planting, the restructuring of rivers carry away the water efficiency and to invest in floodplains to disperse the excess.

Flood water is often contaminated with sewage as water companies continue to discharge into rivers to release the build up of water within the drainage systems.

This is an unwelcome practice which OFWAT and the environment agency should be working to eliminate as it adds to the damage from such flooding events.

Liberal Party NEC Statement – The Response of Ed Davey to the Horizon Post Office Scandal

In recent weeks the Liberal Party has received several e-mails critical of Ed Davey, the leader of the LibDems for his response to the Horizon Post Office Scandal.

As Minister for Postal Affairs in the Coalition government and now leader of the LibDems Ed Davey met Mr Bates in October 2010, but has yet to explain his reluctance to meet campaign groups or ask probing question of the post offices management and civil servants.

We would like to reaffirm that the Liberal Party claims continuity with the pre-1988 Liberal Party. and is in no way linked with Ed Davey or the LibDems, a party with which we now have little in common.

Our party was perpetuated by a dedicate group who believed the merger between the SDP and Liberal Party was an unworkable compromise, which contributed to the Coalition Government and the imposition of a stringent policy of austerity in 2010.

We believe those affected by the failures of the Horizon IT system must be exonerated and compensated in the name of justice and probing question asked of all those involved in the scandal from its onset in 1999.

Liberal Party Leader attends Ukrainian Community at the Big Help Project, Liverpool

“Was a very emotional morning as I joined as special event and prayers for the Ukrainian Community at the Big Help Project

It was heart rendering to hear firsthand from medical volunteers describing how Russian snipers were targeting them just as the Russians did in Syria.

As Liberal Party Leader I have been resolute we need to support Ukraine as they are in the front line for all western democracies”.

Liberal Party NEC Statement – Compensation for the injustices of the Horizon Post Office Scandal

The Liberal Party urge’s the government and parliament to fast-track recognition of the injustice done to so many subpost-masters by instituting an all-embracing cancellation of their flawed convictions and to implement a fast track compensation scheme.

We believe that the government must investigate seriously the claim civil servants misled ministers on an industrial scale by scrutinising all civil service ministerial briefings on the issue and making that evidence public as well as information supplied to ministers by the senior management of the post office.

The party however notes that 4 years after the first convictions were overturned in this long running case of the miscarriage of justice, it has taken an ITV drama, Mr Bates v The Post office to galvanise parliament to act.

We also recognise this case is not exceptional. For example, the case of victims of contaminated factor 8 blood have not been universally compensated after decades of neglect.