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Liberal Democrats on brink of Welsh wipeout

There's a recount underway in Ceredigion, where Plaid Cymru have been narrowly ahead. If the recount confirms that result, it will mean that despite a slump in support in much of Wales, Plaid will have increased its number of MPs from three to four. The Liberal Democrats would be left with no Welsh MPs. The Lib Dems and their predecessors have always had Welsh representation at Westminster since the Victorian era.

There's still hope, say Lib Dems

Credit: Welsh Liberal Democrats

These were always going to be a difficult set of elections, but we’ve run a campaign that every candidate and campaigner can be proud of.

The process of rebuilding our party will take time, and these elections were fought in an incredibly turbulent time. Yet results overnight show that there’s hope. We have gained seats from Labour in Monmouth and Neath Port Talbot, seats from the Conservatives in Flintshire, and from Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion.

We will continue to fight on. We will continue to fight for an open, tolerant and united Wales and Britain.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Mark Williams MP

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Kirsty Williams backs Tim Farron to rebuild Lib Dems

Tim Farron's been backed by kirsty Williams as the man to get the Lib Dems back on track in time for the Assembly elections next year Credit: PA

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams has backed the party's president, Tim Farron, to be its next leader at Westminster. He's one of just eight MPs who survived the Lib Dems' disastrous election night last week.

Kirsty Williams issued a joint statement this morning with the party's Scottish leader, Willie Rennie, who's also backing Tim Farron.

Thursday’s results were devastating for the Liberal Democrats.

Our pain is eased by the knowledge that our liberal gains in government will endure.

Despite our loss our party remains optimistic, hopeful and confident about what we can achieve on behalf of Britain.

However, we now have to earn the right to be listened to again.

To move forward we need a fresh start. With that in mind we call on Tim Farron to stand to be our next Federal Leader. We believe he is the right person to rebuild our party, inspire and lead us into next year’s election campaigns. We will wholeheartedly support him if he decides to put himself forward.

– Kirsty Williams AM and Willie Rennie MSP
  1. Nick Powell

Lib Dems claim Tory threat to education budget

After Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb attacked Labour over standards in Welsh schools, the Conservatives are being accused by the Liberal Democrats of threatening education in Wales. Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott, who has stepped down as a Lib Dem minister in the Westminster coalition, claims that the Tories are planning to "slash education spending in England", which would lead to an equivalent cut in the Welsh Government's funding.

The Tories' plans to slash funding for schools, nurseries and colleges in England in the next parliament would have dire consequences for Wales. The Tories want to run schools for profit and bring back grammar schools: that is their priority. It’s all very well David Cameron talking a good game on education, but we all know that without the Liberal Democrats holding him back in coalition, he would have cut school spending.

– Jenny Willott MP

The Westminster Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has said that she is "absolutely fighting" for the schools budget in England to be protected if the Conservatives form the next government. First Minister Carwyn Jones has committed Labour to increasing Welsh school budgets by an extra 1% every year until the funding gap with schools in England is closed.

The Lib Dems are arguing for the education budget in both countries to be protected "from cradle to college". The Welsh Secretary's claim that Labour's record on education in Wales is "a much bigger scandal" than its running of the NHS was dismissed by a spokesman for Education Minister Huw Lewis as "the latest salvo in the war on Wales .... putting Welsh teachers and pupils in the firing line".

Wales must not be left behind by Scotland say Lib Dems

I welcome today’s Smith Commission report which I believe is another giant step towards the long held Liberal Democrat vision of a Federal United Kingdom and Home Rule.

While Scotland’s future devolution settlement is clear, the same can not be said for Wales – that needs to change as Wales must not be left behind.

First and foremost, Wales must speak with one voice if we are to be heard. All parties had representatives on the Silk Commission, therefore all parties should at the very least subscribe to the main thrust of the Commission’s proposals. So far, only the Liberal Democrats have done so in Westminster.

The Smith Commission’s report is wide-ranging and many of the proposals would also be appropriate for Wales. Momentum for devolution is moving faster now than it has for years. We must take this opportunity to ensure Wales gets the powers it needs to help build a stronger economy and fairer society.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

Give public right to sack AMs says Welsh Lib Dem leader

The public should be able to hold Assembly Members to account by making them face by-elections in their constituencies, the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams will say in a speech later.

Under her plan, voters in a constituency would sign a recall petition if they were angered by their AM's actions. If enough voters -20%- signed the petition, a by-election would be held and the AM would have to seek re-election if he or she wanted to stay in office.

There is a debate raging about the right to recall in Westminster. In Wales, it hasn’t been on the agenda at all. Today I will put it on the agenda and state clearly that I believe the people of Wales should have the right to recall their Assembly Members.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the fact that once elected, a politician can do as he or she pleases and their constituents can do nothing about it for five years.

Currently, an Assembly Member would only lose their seat outside of an election if they were imprisoned for more than 12 months. That’s a pretty high bar and I believe it must change.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

Under Kirsty Willlams' plan, regional list AMs could also be removed from office but the signatures of a fifth of the voters in every constituency in their region would be required. There would be no by-election, the regional AM would simply be replaced by the next person on the party list.

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