Last week this email was a little miserable. Not today. Today is all about hope. Looking to the future.
Party Conference season is always about competing visions for the future. A future in which we're all equal, in which we're all free, in which we have the opportunity to grow within this great nation.
It's the Liberal Democrats this time and they've got a new leader at the helm. Mostly a new leader. Ed Davey was the interim leader, not he's the actual one.
He means business, too. After Johnson's speech on new measures this week, he took to his feet and demanded an apology from the PM. That's the actions of someone looking for headlines. Someone who isn't happy with the Lib Dems being sidelined. Of course, he didn't get an apology, nor did he get any headlines (with the PM announcing Big Stuff, it was always a challenge). It shows intent though. He's going to make some noise.
We get his vision on Monday afternoon. That's where the hope is. That's where we can dream of something different to this mess. Of course, you don't have to agree with it, but there might be some comfort that it's there.
Peace and love,
Hope is with the people
Many, many virus bits and pieces to get through today. Why? Because it appears to be back. You know this. Cases, hospitalizations, deaths - they're all up. This week we've had preventative methods across the four nations of the UK. We've had financial measures put in place.
You'll be pleased to hear that I'm not going to look back at those particularly. You can, as ever, have a look at our Instagram, Facebook or twitter accounts if you feel like you might have missed something. Roughly two million others already have this week(apologies, that's is just showing off. There is no other justification for telling you).
No, this email is about looking forward. It's also supposed to be vaguely hopeful, but we'll see how that goes.
As you know, this whole thing is a balancing act now. We want the economy back on its feet, we want this virus eliminated. We can't have both.
Scientists disagree about our measures being too hard and too soft. If people who really, really know their stuff can't agree, imagine the bun fight in the House of Commons.
With so much disagreement, many MPs want the government to run all new measures past the Commons in the form of a vote. They say the people's representatives should decide things in a functioning democracy. They say that the balancing act is a political decision, not emergency measures like before. Political decisions should be scrutinised.
What makes this really significant is that lots of Conservative MPs are backing this vote. At least 40 so far. These numbers are big enough to defeat the government.
One stumbling block is that it's only enough to defeat the government with the Labour Party on board. That's far from guaranteed.
If it does look like they will lose the vote, it leaves Boris Johnson with a bit of predicament. Does he suffer a defeat in the Commons, or does he just agree to give Parliament a vote before the, erm, vote? Presumably, a U-turn would be in the offing, but can't be all that pleased with his extensive collection of U-turns in just a year. Maybe it would be good to get the Labour Party to 'vote for slowing down the changes this country needs' or however he'll put it, even if it leads to a defeat. We'll see.
What, I hear you ask, is particularly hopeful here? I think this all is. A country creeping back to democratic decision making is something to be celebrated. Were another country moving from government rule towards democracy, I think we'd celebrate it. It may have been right and necessary in the times we've had, but we're not there anymore.
The week ahead...
Not in Parliament
Sunday - Marr on BBC One. Ed Davey will be the star guest.
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, will be interviewed at Conference at 5pm.
Monday - Ed Davey is beamed into our offices and living rooms at 2.50pm
House of Commons
Don't forget that in these times, Statements from the Top Dogs can come at any point in the weeks.
Monday - A general debate on Covid 19 is the main business. Not much of interest will happen.
Tuesday - The Internal Markets Bill is back. It hasn't been changed yet and won't be today. Next up, though, it's the House of Lords where it will almost certainly be tinkered with.
Wednesday - PMQs. We know what to expect now.
The main business of the day, as of now at least, is this big vote about MPs voting on Covid measures. If the PM has U turned and offered a vote already, this won't happen. If you're sad to not have that extra Commons action to watch, there are a couple of not very interesting House of Lords bills to sign off.
Thursday - Nothing of particular interest.
Friday - MPs are back in their constituencies.
House of Lords
Monday - The House of Lords has a backstop if the House of Commons doesn't vote yes to the idea of running things by Parliament. They have their own vibe going on today.
Tuesday - Not much.
Wednesday - The Immigration Bill that paves the way for an Immigration Bill is in the Lords today. This one ends freedom of movement and gives the Commons the power to make changes to the immigration system once we leave the EU. The real business will come when we get details of how this points-based system is going to work. Time is running out for that as we'll need to have our system in place, up and running in roughly three months.
Thursday - More Agriculture Bill fun.
Friday - Really, really not much.
These are hard times. We don't know what's coming, we don't know where we're going. It's no different for life at SP. Over the past few months, some wonderful people have been very generous with their support. We're not too far off a place where our future is looking more certain. If you can support us with a few quid a month, it would really mean the world. Thank you.