Jeremy Corbyn and the emperor’s new clothes

The outgoing executive director of CentreForum, Nick Tyrone writes an interesting blog post about Jeremy Corbyn and the nuclear button issue:

The crucial moment of this year’s Labour conference came not via a speech or indeed anything that happened inside of the hall. It occurred in an interview Jeremy Corbyn gave to the BBC yesterday morning. When asked, if he were prime minister would he ever use nuclear weapons, he gave a straight answer: “No”.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | Leave a comment

An optimist’s view of globalisation


After 25 years of globalisation it should be self-evident to all that rapid technical advances and global competition creates winners and losers in society. I’m very proud to belong to a party committed to speaking up for those who are not benefiting from this brave new world, but even more exciting is the chance we have to be the party which best articulates how Britain can compete and win.

There have been some excellent posts on Lib Dem Voice recently about how the Liberal values of an open multi-cultural society, devolution of power and being pro small enterprise are exactly those that help give the UK a competitive advantage.  I would like to hear even more however about the practical things the country is already doing brilliantly in the fields of science, engineering and research & development and how our policies would help press down on the accelerator even faster.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Hawks and doves: equidistant foreign policy?

Five years ago, the Liberal Democrats held the centre ground in the coalition formation negotiations between left and right. Equidistance is a loaded word, one that cynics will laugh at as vacuous. However, five years later, neither of the two main parties seem sufficiently interested in foreign affairs.

This party could be equidistant between doves and hawks in foreign policy. To illustrate the dove-hawk twin hybrid, below are three examples. I am not necessarily endorsing the following as solutions and they are not exhaustive in terms of detail. They are merely prompts for a debate.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 5 Comments

Vince Cable’s “After the Storm – The World Economy & Britain’s Economic Future”

after the stormWider in scope and more ambitious in its reach, “After the Storm” is the acclaimed sequel to “The Storm” published after the financial crisis of 2008.  Having spent the last 5 years as Business Secretary within the Coalition Government (2010-2015), Vince has the added clout of first-hand experience introducing economic policies that have steered us out of the storm, not least an industrial strategy.

His professed motivation for penning a sequel were to update readers on the state of Britain’s economy in “a climate of guarded optimism,” and to share his insights, no longer bound by collective responsibility as Secretary of State at the Department of Business Innovation and Science.  Whilst the US and UK are expected to record 3% growth this year, Vince’s previous analysis of the underlying weaknesses still apply, such as UK’s over reliance on the banking sector and on the housing market for recovery and growth.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

A trio of embarrassments for the SNP

This week has not been a good one for Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson. For the third week running, the Sunday Times has reported on property transactions which are now being investigated by the Police. The solicitor who acted for Michelle Thomson’s company in many of these transactions was struck off last year. You can read the whole judgement in that matter here. It is also worth reading Labour blogger and solicitor Ian Smart’s commentary on the allegations contained within it.

Today’s paper highlights (£) a couple who had to sell their house after the husband was diagnosed with a bowel tumour which left him unable to work.

The inquiry is now likely to look into a transaction in 2009 that is unrelated to Hales. It involved a property firm linked to Michelle Thomson that arranged for her husband Peter to buy a flat in Edinburgh.

The sellers, Garry and Sandra Kelly, claim £32,000 was deducted from the purchase price of £105,000 to pay off a loan they say they never had. On Friday, this newspaper alerted Police Scotland’s financial crime unit to the transaction.

The transactions are now under police investigation and, earlier this week, Thomson stepped down from her role as the SNP’s business spokesperson and temporarily resigned from the whip. However, it appears that even if there were no illegality, the accounts from the people whose houses were bought by her company are damaging on their own. From today’s Sunday Mail:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 10 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #433

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 433rd weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (27 September -3 October, 2015), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

15 years on – Lib Dems up the ante on the Human Rights Act

Parliament Acts by -JvL- FLickr CCLTim Farron tweeted on Friday:

Posted in Conference and News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Video: Nick Clegg’s speech to conference

We previously carried the full text of Nick Clegg’s speech to the Bournemouth conference. Here below is the video of the speech, courtesy of the party’s conference YouTube channel.

I wasn’t in the hall for the speech.

Posted in Conference | Tagged and | 1 Comment

LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the  11,800 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

We’re all “Preamble Lib Dems” (90 comments) by Paul Walter

Corbyn: No horses were scared during a speech filled with Liberal Democrat policies (47 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Jeremy Corbyn’s kinder, more caring politics in action #§: Tom Watson (44 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Posted in Site news | Leave a comment

Does Scotland need Home Rule, or just to use the powers it has?

Siobhan Mathers, Scottish Liberal Democrat activist, former (and, I hope, future) parliamentary candidate and policy convener argues in today’s Sunday Times (£) that it’s time that Scotland got a full home rule settlement. She sets out what she means by that:

I will use the fiscal definition that Scotland under home rule should raise what it spends — self-sufficiency — and the sovereignty-focused philosophical definition of Steel: “The principle of home rule is different from devolution. Under home rule, sovereignty lies with the Scottish people and we decide when it is sensible to give powers to the centre on issues like foreign affairs and defence.”

She says that there is no point waiting for the UK to sort out a federal structure for itself because it’s just not going to happen any time soon and that it’s in Scotland’s “enlightened self interest” to pursue full home rule to see off the demand for independence:

It strikes me as an act of misguided altruism to wait for the constitutional laggards, our bedfellows in the UK. Yes, it would be nice to help sort everyone else’s problems in how they relate to the constitutional parents in London, but it is not a priority for many.

During an air emergency, passengers are advised to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others. I would argue that Scotland’s relationship with Westminster is at such an emergency point and we need to pursue enlightened self-interest by focusing on our own problems first.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 11 Comments

Hannah Bettsworth’s speech to the Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting at Conference

20th Sep 2015 conference LDV fringeOne of the highlights of Conference for me was the Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting. We wanted to do something a bit more serious this year and, as foreign policy is a key interest of several of our team members, we decided to discuss how we forged a liberal foreign policy in these challenging times. What is liberal interventionism all about.

We are extremely grateful to our four speakers. Baroness Julie Smith stepped in at the very last minute so we especially appreciate her thoughtful contribution. We also heard from Lord William Wallace, from our Lords Foreign Affairs team, Nick Tyrone, now at British Influence, and Hannah Bettsworth, President of Liberal Youth Scotland, who specialises in international relations and has as special interest in gender mainstreaming, ensuring that the interests of women and girls are considered in every aspect of policy development.

Hannah’s speech was described by one member of the audience as one of the best on foreign policy he’d heard in a long time, so we thought it might be a good idea to reproduce it here. Hannah wants to credit Tim Oliver for his help and advice in pulling it together. Enjoy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Jo Swinson: Tories preferred SNP MPs to Liberal Democrats

The most successful parties in the UK at the moment are the Conservatives and the SNP, parties which are supposedly totally opposed in terms of values but who seem to be fuelling each others’ gains.

We know that Alex Salmond helped give oxygen to the Tories’ increasingly incredible and hyperbolic claims during the general election by hinting at demands he’d make of Ed Miliband. We know that the Tories spent a small fortune in seats they couldn’t win in Scotland in a strategy that could only have had the effect of ensuring that the SNP won.

There is a school of thought in this party that puts our atrocious result down to the Tory’s scaremongering about the SNP and Labour in coalition. Others say that this is a smokescreen and that actually our poor messaging was at fault. Actually, I think both were pretty strong factors and I think that we legitimised what the Tories were doing by running scared of it rather than calling it out for the nonsense it was.

The Herald reports Jo Swinson’s comments about the impact of the Tory campaign in her seat and others:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Tributes to Denis Healey

Denis Healey was the first Chancellor of the Exchequer that I can ever remember. The 1970s when I was growing up seemed like very scary times and he seemed to be a wise and calm presence in all of that. It was only later that I truly understood the pressure he must have been under, even greater than Alistair Darling faced in 2008. Balancing the competing requirements of the International Monetary Fund and the trade unions and labour movement was not an easy job.

I remember that epic political battle between him and Tony Benn for the Deputy Leadership of Labour. It seemed to me as a 13 year old to go on for ever, far longer than the Labour leadership election seemed in 2010 or this year. The result when it came was knife-edge thin.

It seemed like such a nasty, hostile fight then, but it was good to hear that the two men were personally reconciled and that Tony Benn had been a great support to Healey five years ago when his wife Edna died. In fact, Healey had campaigned for Benn in Chesterfield during the 1984 by-election, saying at the time that:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

A tale of two conferences in Bournemouth

It was a little weird leaving Bournemouth a week past on Wednesday to think that the Greens would be moving into the same space a couple of days later.

The Liberal Democrat Conference had a super atmosphere and was always very busy. I couldn’t believe the number of people who attended those 9am sessions to do such things as scrutinise the financial accounts and most times when I went into the hall for speeches or policy debates the only seats left were in the gods.

All the fringe meetings were packed to capacity as the Conference was the biggest we’d ever had in terms of members attending. It was great to meet so many new members, too and all I spoke to were having a great time.

Lib Dem member Ryan Lailvaux, attending his first Conference, said:

What an amazing conference it had been. An opportunity to meet great human beings and take back wonderful memories. Never have I been so inspired or so proud to be part of a movement. A liberal movement.

Compare and contrast with this article on Bright Green which talks about the Greens event:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

LibDemJobwatch: Last chance to apply for paid internships with ALDC

This weekend sees the last chance to apply for paid internship positions with ALDC. The deadline is tomorrow, 4th October. Previous ALDC interns have gone on to work in politics or for other campaigning organisations. Ellie Hudspith, one of last year’s interns, now works for CAMRA, the campaign for Real Ale. She said:

My internship at ALDC was a fantastic opportunity to work with other Liberal Democrats, and gain skills from experienced campaigners. It’s a unique chance to work outside of London but still be involved with the party nationally. Getting to attend party conferences and training events allows you to meet and learn from other campaigners from across the country.

More information about the posts is available here.

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

Nick Tyrone leaves CentreForum to become Chief Executive of British Influence

Nick Tyrone has left the CentreForum think tank, where he was Executive Director, to become Chief Executive of  British Influence. His old job has been split in two.

Anthony Rowlands will continue as Executive Director, Head of Resource and Operations while Natalie Perera, who previously worked in both the Department for Education and the Cabinet Office, joins the think tank as Executive Director, Head of Research. This is welcome, but the organisation still has a long way to go in getting anything like decent gender balance. Four out of its five trustees are men and its advisory board has 21 men and 3 women. Given that they are developing policy ideas, it’s difficult to have confidence that they will fully have tested the impact of their ideas on women and girls.

UPDATE: Natalie was quick to come back to me on Twitter about this:

Former Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil David Laws remains the Executive Chairman, overseeing an extensive programme of work on education, mental health and justice reform.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

Willie Rennie and the Banchory Beast

Willie Rennie thought he was just going to speak at an Aberdeenshire dinner last Friday night and then nip home on the Saturday morning.

One of the dinner guests had other plans and, as Willie said, “dragooned” him into taking part in the Banchory Beast 10km obstacle race the next day, where he actually finished fifth. You can see some of the obstacles he tackled here.

The Deeside Piper has the story and reports a surprising confession:

Posted in News | 1 Comment

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 7

Posted in Fantasy Football | Tagged | 1 Comment

Catherine Bearder to Nigel Lawson: Pulling out of the EU would mean losing power and influence over our future

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has written to the Times (£) to respond to Nigel Lawson’s article which argued that the UK should leave the EU:

She wrote:

Sir, Lord Lawson’s argument for EU exit may be eloquent but it is fanciful. It is true that the 19 countries of the eurozone are going to have to move closer together. But that makes it even more imperative that Britain, as the financial capital of Europe, defends its economic interests in the EU’s single market as a whole.

Half of our exports go to the rest of Europe and even if we were

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 25 Comments

Working with other parties in Local Government – What is it about Labour?

I have been fortunate, if that’s the right word, to have managed to stay a councillor at various levels of local government since 1987. However, with advancing years playing a greater role, I am currently only serving on the Lincolnshire County Council. For over 28 years I have had to work with colleagues of all political persuasion and some who profess to have none, so I have a fair amount of experience of how they react to the fact that I just happen to be a Liberal Democrat. Perhaps ‘true blue’ Lincolnshire is not a good example from which to draw; but it’s all I know.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is far easier to get on with Conservatives than it has ever been my experience with Labour members. Perhaps it is because Tories expect to rule around here and, indeed, since the County Council was established as a local authority in 1973, until two years ago, only once before have the Tories failed to form an majority administration, namely between 1993 and 1997 when Labour and Lib Dems ran the show. Although I was only a humble Town and District Councillor at that time, I do recall talking to my County Council colleagues and being told what hard work it was trying to get agreement from the larger Labour group.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 41 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron’s introduction to Black History Month

bhm-logo600Tim Farron has been writing at the Black History Month website about what the event means to him:

As a Liberal Democrat, one of my most deeply held beliefs is that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and become anything they want to be.

So many of the people who we will remember this Black History Month embody this ideal.

People like Winifred Atwell, the first black artist to have a number one single in the UK or John Kent the first black police officer. People like Mary Seacole, the pioneering nurse who overcame prejudice in order to go and treat sick and wounded soldiers in the Crimean war.

To me, part of the importance of Black History Month is that it reminds us of the invaluable work of so many black and minority ethnic men and women, who have fought discrimination and injustice to secure freedoms and opportunities for future generations.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Stephen Tall really is running naked down Whitehall – how you can help him raise money for charity

Stephen Tall is making good on what turned out to be an ill-advised pledge in 2013 that he would run naked down Whitehall if the Liberal Democrats got 24 seats in this year’s General Election. He has decided that others should benefit from his immodesty and is raising money for Medecins Sans Frontieres. The charity will already be benefiting from £5000 promised by Kelvin Mackenzie, the former editor of the Sun, on live television last week. Stephen has set up a JustGiving page to augment that sum.

You can find out more about the amazing work that MSF does here on its website. I was particularly moved by this post where former MSF emergency co-ordinator wrote about the people she met while working on MSF’s search and rescue vessel. Here she tells the story of 17 year old Sako:

He had been in Libya for five years, and he had seen it fall into lawless anarchy and violence. His uncle who brought him there, died. His best friend died last year after a child soldier, about the same age as him, hit him in the head with a steel bar. He didn’t die immediately; it took a long time before he gave up. There are no hospitals.

“Child soldier my age.” Suddenly it struck me how young he looked. “17,” he said with a big smile. My mind spun again. So he was 11 when he arrived in Libya? He is still a minor, even though he has seen and survived more than any man I know has in a lifetime.

I explained how in Europe you are still a child until you are 18 and that if he wanted I will make sure he gets off together with all the other minors we had on board.

He nodded. Looked down. Suddenly he looked like a child after all.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Migration and the future of the EU

Bach’s cantata “Brich den Hungrigen dein Brot” got the nickname “the refugee cantata” in 1732 when Protestant refugees fleeing a clampdown in Salzburg arrived in Leipzig. The title translates as “Bring the hungry your bread”. It was to be taken literally. It’s a reminder of how much forced migration has shaped European history.

As an island, the UK has escaped the experiences of invasion and moving of borders which have shaped so much of the history of the European mainland — though I suspect that one of the things fuelling both pressure for Scottish independence and the Scottish affinity for the EU is their experience of domination from London.

My Scottish great grandfather who moved from Perthshire to Essex was an economic migrant. My surname is an old Huguenot name — brought by people fleeing genocide in France. Others of my forebears had the name “Woodward” — anglicised from an old Dutch name. I’m not sure if fleeing near-starvation made them “refugees” or “economic migrants”.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

New Liberal Youth and IR Cymru Executives elected

Liberal Youth logo 2014Elections for the Executives of Liberal Youth and the Welsh organisation IR Cymru have been taking place over the past few weeks.

The 2015-16 Executives will take office on 1st November and are made up as follows:

Liberal Youth

Chair: Michael Chappell/Charlie Kingsbury
Vice Chair: Alex White
Policy Officer: Emily Tester
Campaigns Officer: Ryan Cairns
Communications Officer: Chris Whiting
Events Officer: Tara Murray/Nathan Issacson
Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

It’s time to take on Labour

I recall a local by-election in an inner London area many moons ago. No names no pack drill although a few might work it out.

In that by-election we extensively campaigned by leafleting and knocking on doors. Our canvass was comprehensive and our campaign, by an excellent local community campaigner, was superb.

On the day there we had so many people that there wasn’t enough work to go round – thus, two people were telling on each polling station and knocking up was done by rota. Sounds brilliant doesn’t it – we must have won, mustn’t we? Well we came a strong 2nd behind Labour.

Who was the agent? Piers Corbyn brother of Jeremy.

It was similar to another national byelection. Again the same conditions prevailed. Again we came third to Labour.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 29 Comments

LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – While Russia launches airstrikes Britain’s position on Syria remains an inglorious failure of diplomacy

Paddy Ashdown has been writing in the Independent about this week’s developments and diplomatic stand-offs regarding Syria. He said that the west has allowed its influence to be diminished by successive failures:

We bluster in the UN, Washington and London about willing the ends, but we have nothing left but bombs to will the means. The levers to make things happen in Syria now lie in Moscow and Tehran – all we are left with is a bomb-release button at 30,000ft.

This is a diplomatic failure of inglorious proportions. Historic proportions, too, since the result will inevitably be another ratchet down in the West’s influence, already grievously diminished by our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. One would have thought that we would have learnt the lessons of those defeats. But, still – sadly, stupidly – when the West sees a problem in the world its first instinct is to bomb it.

He asks what some great foreign secretaries of the past would have done:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Yes to countering extremism, no to the Counter-Extremism Bill

The Conservatives are set to announce further details about their Counter-Extremism Bill over the course of their party conference.

Countering Islamist extremism is crucial, to protect both those who are vulnerable to radicalisation and those who could be harmed by a terrorist attack. I don’t want to see another child lured from the UK to join ISIS – nor do I want to see people killed and families torn apart by such reckless hatred and extremist violence.

It is quite right for the UK Government to take action. But while the country needs a counter-extremism strategy, the Conservative’s proposed approach should provoke concern among liberals – and I think the Liberal Democrats should push for an alternative approach.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

The Lib Dem legacy: right to 30-day refund becomes law

The BBC reports:

New consumer protection measures – including longer refund rights – have come into force under the Consumer Rights Act.

For the first time anyone who buys faulty goods will be entitled to a full refund for up to 30 days after the purchase.

Previously consumers were only entitled to refunds for a “reasonable time”.

There will also be new protection for people who buy digital content, such as ebooks or online films and music.

They will be entitled to a full refund, or a replacement, if the goods are faulty.

The Act also covers second-hand goods, when bought through a retailer.

People buying services – like a garage repair or a haircut – will also have stronger rights.

Posted in News | Tagged and | Leave a comment

The Conservatives are trampling on Churchill’s legacy

Winston Churchill once said that the “mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country”. A “calm, dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused, and even of the convicted criminal” was a symbol of “the stored-up strength of a nation and sign and proof of the living virtue in it”.

Under this government, however, we as a nation are increasingly departing from the values espoused by Churchill, and enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which made Britain a leading light on a global scale in the field of civil liberties. The Conservative government’s attack on the Human Rights Act, its lack of conviction in defending our membership of both the European Union and the ECHR and the stance it has taken in the face of the current humanitarian crisis created by the flow of refugees into Europe all illustrate the deeply concerning path onto which this government is leading our country. All of these developments in the brief period since a new majority Conservative government was formed in May have demonstrated more clearly than ever why this country needs the Liberal Democrats.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 13 Comments

We’re all “Preamble Lib Dems”

There has been a very minor outbreak of people using the label “Preamble Lib Dem” to describe themselves.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 97 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 5th Oct - 2:20pm
    "If one is opposed to violence except as a last resort, then the right to speak freely is our only weapon against extremism, we should...
  • User AvatarJoe Otten 5th Oct - 1:52pm
    Just to complete, or more fully state, the argument as I see it: The bigger the marketplace you are selling into, the more worthwhile it...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 5th Oct - 1:50pm
    Just to modify my initial comment: I think it's fine to link alienation to terrorism, but I think I see too much blaming of other...
  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 5th Oct - 1:04pm
    Apologies if I sound like a broken record. The real issue is the diminution of western power that has led to foreign policy disasters in...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 5th Oct - 12:54pm
    One of the problems, I think, is that there is a strong supposition in this country that being a successful "entrepreneur" means having a pushy,...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 5th Oct - 12:40pm
    Jennie, yes that's an appalling sentence. However, it should be ignored. The rest of the post talks about a totally different subject, which has nothing...