When we debate party policy, strategy or election tactics, questions about what might attract or put off voters often - and rightly - come up. But there's one sure-fire, 100% guaranteed, rock-solid way of repelling voters from us, and it's one we use far too often. It's not having a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper. Zero votes for the party guaranteed.
Boris Johnson's failure to defend our children's education meant that his Government spent the same amount in one month on Eat Out To Help Out as in a whole year for our children's school catch-up.
Imagine a future where our children's education is a priority. Where schools raise their mental well-being and their maths grades. Where they can excel at English and find their talent for music or sport. Where they grow into happy, healthy, adults.
FPC members started the year bright and early with our first meeting last week. We cancelled our December meeting so we could all focus on North Shropshire, so this was our first meeting since November.
Big areas of focus for FPC this year will be further work on our messages and key policies to support them, leading up eventually to the Manifesto for the next General Election; and our substantial programme of working groups developing policies in politically useful areas, to bring to autumn conference.
In 2021 we achieved something we've not achieved since 1993: winning two Parliamentary by-elections in the same year off the Conservatives. We start this new year with a larger Parliamentary Party than any of us would have dared dream of a year ago. (A winning run that has continued with the first council by-election of this year too - congratulations to now councillor Andrew Dunkin who won a seat from Labour from third place.)
Liberal Democrats won a stunning victory in North Shropshire, taking one of the Conservatives' safest seats.
Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Morgan received 17,957 votes, representing a swing of 34% from the Conservatives and giving her a majority of 5,925.
North Shropshire was the 58th safest Conservative seat in the country, with former Conservative MP Owen Paterson having a majority of almost 23,000 votes in 2019. This represents the second biggest majority overcome in a modern by-election, after Christchurch in 1993.
Liberal Democrats have and always will support public health protections that work but the use of so called "vaccine passports'' provides a false sense of security.
The Government has lost sight of why they put forward these measures in the first place - to reduce transmission of the virus. The vaccines being given in the UK are highly effective at reducing the severity of Covid symptoms, the likelihood of admission to hospital and against the risk of death. But even those who are fully vaccinated can still spread the virus.
I've often said history points to two routes for Liberal Democrat (and before that Liberal Party) revivals. One, which we'd much rather avoid, is a foreign disaster - Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Suez… The other is seizing electoral opportunities outside Westminster general elections to give us momentum, increased prominence and growing relevance.
The scenes of people trying to cross the Channel demand urgent action. They also show that the Government's approach isn't working.
in her two years as Home Secretary, Priti Patel has only made the problem worse."
These crossings are incredibly dangerous - as demonstrated so tragically by the deaths of 27 people when their dinghy sank two weeks ago. They line the pockets of the criminal gangs engaged in people smuggling and human trafficking. And they undermine public confidence in our whole immigration system.
When I arrived in London as a teenager, Sir John Major was Prime Minister. I felt a connection with the City. My political views formed, firstly at university, and later whilst living in Islington. I joined the Liberal Democrats.
I was honoured to be elected as the Lead London Regional Diversity Champion. I continuously help to increase participation and engagement within our inclusion and diversity teams. I am vocal within Liberal Democrats Members to help represent those underrepresented in the UK Politics. In 2020 I founded the national BLAC Liberal Democrats (Blac Lives Action Committee) with the mission to make heard the voice of Black members within the Party.