The Liberal Democrats will today lead a debate in the House of Commons calling for a “radical overhaul” of Westminster politics, warning it is “not for purpose” to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The debate - the first in the House of Commons chamber on electoral reform since 2016 – will be led by Liberal Democrat Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain.
The North East Fife MP is expected to declare that Westminster’s broken political system is shutting out people who “need their voices heard now more than ever” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Liberal Democrats will use the debate to call on other political parties to join them in getting behind change and reforming the way people elect MPs with a proportional voting system.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain said:
“If the last three years have shown politics isn’t working for people then the coronavirus crisis has made it clearer than ever that reform is needed.
“Covid-19 has exposed the political culture in Westminster as not fit for purpose. Our democracy doesn't need piecemeal change, it needs a radical overhaul.
“Over the coming months and years we’re going to face numerous issues as we seek to overcome and recover from the coronavirus crisis. We need to work together – yet our Westminster politics is adversarial and divisive.
“Simply put, that means the true variety of the electorate’s voices are not heard. Many of those people are the same people who need their voices heard now more than ever. It’s time all parties got behind change.”
Responding to the figures published by the ONS showing that there have been more than 44,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson, Munira Wilson, said:
"Hearing that the number or coronavirus-related deaths is now more than 44,000, including 9,980 deaths which took place in care homes in England and Wales, the British public will rightly be appalled.
"The Government has failed to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society from coronavirus. For Ministers to keep trying to claim they put a 'protective ring' around care homes is not only false, but will be regarded by many as only adding further insult to all those grieving the loss of a loved one.
"Government Ministers must now be frank with the British public. They must not only explain how this was allowed to happen under their watch, but how they are going to ensure that we step up the level of protective equipment as well as the system to test, trace and isolate so that they can get a grip on the crisis and prevent further deaths."
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Home Secretary to set out what additional steps the Government is taking to prevent coronavirus-related hate crimes towards the Chinese community.
The call comes amid concerns about incidents of racially-motivated hate crimes against people in the Chinese community during the coronavirus pandemic, including a shocking 900% increase in content of that nature on Twitter.
In a letter to the Home Secretary from Christine Jardine MP, Daisy Cooper MP and Isabelle Parasram, Vice President of the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Home Secretary to use her public platforms to “condemn this pernicious new form of racism.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“Everyone should be free to live their lives without fear of discrimination, abuse or violence. Reports of Chinese people in the UK experiencing racist incidents linked to coronavirus are therefore deeply alarming.
“All of us with a public platform must stand up to those whose language spreads hate – whether on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or anything else. The Home Secretary must stand up and be counted by taking these concerns head on.”
Dr George Lee, speaking for the Chinese Liberal Democrats, added:
"British Chinese contribute enormously to the wealth and well-being of this country. As citizens we should be afforded the same rights and respect as any other citizen to live our lives without fear or discrimination.
"We look to the UK Government, politicians, the media and other public figures to show leadership and set the right tone during this crisis not of our making."