By-election update: Near miss in Cambs, clean sweep in Abbots Langley

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Two principal council by-elections were held last Thursday. The Lib Dems in Cambridgeshire (CC) narrowly missed out on holding their seat in Romsey ward, falling 47 votes short of Labour. LD candidate Nichola Martin polled 35.2%, a decrease of 12.7% from the ward’s last election two years ago.

Posted in Council by-elections and News | Tagged and | 2 Comments
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A small step for trust in the manifesto

It has been obvious since long before the election that we have a trust problem. We did the right thing on tuition fees, bringing more young people than ever from disadvantaged backgrounds to university, a contribution system that fairer in terms of graduate incomes than general taxation would be, and therefore more “left wing” in the distributional sense, if not in the clientilist sense. This, graduate tax in all but name, on a moderately generous interpretation (! yes I know) honoured the second half of the pledge “work towards a fairer system of student finance” in spades, and made the first half redundant.

But politics doesn’t work like that. Labour can repeatedly break their promises to students when they have a majority in parliament and money to spend and it does not define them. We can all but honour ours and face a massive trust issue.

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 60 Comments

Cities and Local Government Bill report back

The Government’s plan to impose Mayors where they were previously rejected is progressing apace in Parliament. Fairly unusually for a controversial Bill, it has started out in the Lords.

Our Lib Dem team, led by John Shipley, is seeking to make three campaigning points about the Bill. First, that if areas are to have powerful Mayors imposed upon them, these should be scrutinised by directly elected assemblies, as in London. Secondly, that all of local government should be elected by STV, ending modern rotten Boroughs. Thirdly, that the franchise for these (and all other) elections should be expanded to include 16 and 17 year olds.

Posted in News and Parliament | 3 Comments

Opinion: A liberal postcard from Athens #2

I sent a postcard from Athens to LDV six months or so ago as we waited for the Greek people to elect a new government – bringing to power the curious mix of Syriza (a collection of hard left factions that would make the People’s Front of Judea blush) and the Independent Greeks (representing the Greek chauvinistic right). This odd mix of nationalism and hard –left rhetoric has been colourfully described by one academic as “ethno-bolshevism”. Since then, it has certainly been eventful and I have been very much aware that political choices have consequences.

In the Greek election campaign, Syriza promised to free Greece to make its own financial decisions without interference form the much hated “Troika” (the IMF, the Eurozone and the European Union) while, at the same time, ensuring Greece could stay within the security of the European monetary union – even receiving debt relief from its other members. Greece duly voted to have its cake and to eat it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 30 Comments

Opinion: Paddy Ashdown’s appeal to Green and Labour

 

Lord Ashdown’s call for ‘progressive forces’ to  collaborate before the next election  does not go far enough, especially now there is talk about Labour never winning again. He rightly talks about  Lib Dem collaboration with Labour and the Greens. But there can be no ‘progress’ without prior electoral reform: the alternative is the old see-saw, but worse – Labour’s Scottish  amputation has moved the pivot. ‘Progress’ demands the rout of the Tories and their money, and that can be achieved if all other parties gang up on them. That sounds unsporting, but the Tories know well that this is no game.

All those parties which together represent that huge majority which voted 2:1 against the Conservatives must grit their teeth and do the needful thing, for their several and their collective futures: they must form a Mayday Alliance: an Alliance short-lived, but irresistible as a rescue force.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 55 Comments

Green Liberal Democrats question Tim Farron and Norman Lamb

 

We have published a number of posts in which the two candidates have answered questions on specific policy areas or for particular audiences posed by our readers:

Posted in Leadership Election | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Russia, ISIS, globalisation and the EU – Norman and Tim answer foreign affairs questions

LDV recently put some questions on foreign affairs to the two leadership contenders. Here are their responses.

1. Can you summarise in around 100 words what a liberal foreign policy looks like in your view?

Tim Farron:

Liberals are proud and passionate internationalists because we believe in the rights of all people – no matter what they look like, what they believe or where they are – to live in peace, free from poverty, ignorance and conformity. We understand that only by working with other countries through strong international institutions can we make that a reality and build a fairer, greener, freer world.

It is in neither Britain’s interests nor the world’s to close ourselves off, but also that intervention abroad must be rooted in international law, decided through international institutions and clearly justified on humanitarian grounds.

Norman Lamb:

Our Party is proudly internationalist. Our leaders have often been lone voices, Paddy demanding rights for British citizens from Hong Kong, Charles opposing the Iraq War, Nick in taking on Nigel Farage‎

I share these courageous liberal values‎. Liberal values are universal – they do not respect borders.

For me Britain should play a global role and prompt Europe to do more for peace, in tackling poverty and climate change, and in standing up to oppression.

We must also be able to defend those who need our protection, our allies, and ourselves. Enduring adequate funding for our armed forces means debating Trident’s future when our world is far more threatened by terrorists and cyber attacks than by nuclear war, and pursuing reform to make sure our forces are effective and efficient.

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Opinion: The twin intellectual conceits that damned the Liberal Democrats’ election hopes in 2015

 

History has the delightful habit of rendering as fools those who propagate the consensus view of a contemporary event, not because the consensus is ever totally wrong, but because it is comfortable and provides comfortable answers to snuggle up to, rather than looking deeper into the harsh eyes of reality and the bigger truths that are revealed.

And so it is with the Liberal Democrat post election postmortem. The consensus view huddles around the notion that it was only tuition fees and anger about the coalition that lost it, but we knew about those from a long way out and still felt we would get more than twenty seats. Two slivers of reality that the Lib Dems could not bring themselves to acknowledge drove our total of seats down further.

The first of these conceits, and the one that is both the least contentious and the most uncomfortable, is that we were too blasé in believing that our traditional campaign tactic of talking up the local and ignoring the national would work. It has of course been effective in the past, but it was hugely conceited to assume that rival parties would not be working on ways to crack that particular code. Of course the coalition made it easier for it to happen, but we signalled what we were to do, with rhetoric in the national media about our ’57 by-elections strategy’, signposting the direction of our campaign to all.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 33 Comments

EMLD Hustings tomorrow

tim farron norman lamb squarish by paul walterIf you haven’t been able to get to a Leadership Hustings so far, there is an additional one to consider tomorrow in London.

Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats will be holding one on Tuesday 30th June from 7pm at Elephant and Castle.

The theme will be Tackling Race Inequality. Places are free, but limited, so you do need to reserve a place. Full details given on the website.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Opinion: Bill – A Factual Postscript

Last week you published a post from me about an elderly prisoner called Bill. In a piece restricted to 500 words some things inevitably get left out which some readers need for clarity.

To help Stuart – Mary Reid’s helpful comment pointed out that the YOI element at Littlehey opened in 2010. It closed in 2014 to allow the prison to become a full adult prison. Unfortunately the Ministry of Justice website on Littlehey was last updated in April 2013 so doesn’t help. However I am sure a phone call to the prison on 01480 335 000 will elicit the information …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 13000 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Norman Lamb’s campaign suspends two volunteers for alleged misuse of personal data for push-polling (67 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Opinion: The Clegg Catastrpohe: what the Guardian didn’t mention (47 comments) by Gareth Epps

Guardian revelations about Clegg, Cable and the Lib Dem election catastrophe (77 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Posted in Site news | 1 Comment

Liberal Democrats celebrate top Councillors and Council Groups

Baroness Sal Brinton, Lib Dem President presented the Lib Dem Council Group of the Year Awards at the Local Government Conference in Manchester in June, with awards for Lib Dem Council Groups across the Country who are leading the Lib Dem fightback from the grass roots, these included: 

City of York Liberal Democrat Group – Council Group of the Year Award

–       This group bucked the national trend to win 4 seats

–       They came back after losing seats in the 2011 elections. Key campaigns included:

o   Keeping a recycling depot open, including a 2,700 strong petition, press work and council motion

o   Got the Local Plan revised to deliver housing but …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Human rights and civil liberties feature in Lib Dem parliamentary debates

Next week, in two separate debates, Alistair Carmichael and Lord Jim Wallace will highlight the importance of human rights and civil liberties.

In an email to party members, Carmichael urged them to sign our petition in support of the Human Rights Act. He said:

As a former solicitor working in the courts, I know the HRA isn’t just some bureaucratic system invented by Brussels bureaucrats to wrap us in red tape, which is what the Tories would have you believe.

The HRA was drafted by British lawyers in the aftermath of the Second World War, and gives us so many fundamental protections that

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Tweets from the Edinburgh leadership hustings today

This morning from 10am until noon, there was a leadership hustings at the Hilton Grovesnor hotel, Edinburgh.

Here is a selection of tweets from the event, which I have attempted to make as even-handed as possible between the two candidates, in line with LDV’s policy.

Posted in News | 14 Comments

The Liberal Democrat party should be able to recall its own peers

The Independent reports that several Liberal Democrats are due to be made peers in the forthcoming dissolution honours list. Compared to votes cast before and on May 7th, we have a disproportionate amount of peers. This opens up the question: Should we, the Liberal Democrats, voluntarily sack 60 peers to make our Lords contingent proportionate to our last general election share of the vote? That would certainly be a groundbreaking move, a bonfire of ermin has much attractive about it, but I don’t advocate it.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 26 Comments

We salute the US Supreme Court

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Something for the weekend: the great and glorious Lib Dem game of “what if?”

At the Glasgow conference in October 2014, there was something of an organisational snafu surrounding the BOTYs (Liberal Democrat Voice Blogs of the Year) awards ceremony. At the start of the session, the actual awards themselves, were not in the conference room where they needed to be. They were in a room upstairs in the hotel. The snag was that the room in question was locked. And the only person who we knew had a key was inside the room sleeping the sleep of the righteous – no doubt smilingly cuddling up to all our shiny BOTYs.

Posted in Something for the Weekend | Tagged , , , and | 31 Comments

Isn’t it fun when Labour and Tory peers whinge about the Lib Dems?

The Guardian highlights a bit of Labour stirring in the House of Lords. Lord Campbell-Savours used a question on Lords reform to suggest that the Liberal Democrats had fallen back so far in the General Election that they shouldn’t get new appointments.

My Lords, just for the record, both Labour and the Conservatives increased their share of the poll at the last general election. How can we justify adding to the existing 101 Liberal Democrat Peers, who already form 21% of the whipped party-affiliated membership of this House, when their party secured only 7.9% of the poll, winning only eight seats on a collapsed national vote at the general election? Surely, if we are listening to the people, even UKIP and the Greens have a greater claim on new peerages—otherwise, we bring this House into disrepute and, indeed, ridicule.

Leader of the House Baroness Stowell replied:

Posted in News | Tagged | 19 Comments

Farron and Lamb: The ALDC Hustings

Last Saturday Tim Farron and Norman Lamb took part in a hustings at the ALDC Conference in Manchester. Here it is in full:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Willie Rennie and Greens’ Patrick Harvie support launch of Open Rights Group Scotland

WR  at ORG Scotland LaunchScottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie and Greens’ co-convener Patrick Harvie both attended the launch of Open Rights Group Scotland yesterday. Immediately after First Minister’s Questions, they gathered in a smoke-filled Garden lobby (the cafe was having an indoor barbecue to celebrate the start of the Summer holidays) to talk to journalists and pose for photographs.

As the SNP Government ramps up its plans for a National ID database that’s more powerful and intrusive than anything Labour ever came up with, and as Edinburgh plans to integrate all its CCTV systems, there is a lot for the digital rights organisation to do.

Willie Rennie said:

The way in which we work, socialise, buy products and use services has changed dramatically since the digital revolution.

But government and politicians have responded at a snail’s pace and have failed to ensure the rights of citizens, consumers, journalists, businesses and children are protected online.

I am delighted to be part of the launch of Open Rights Group Scotland. It will help drive digital rights up the agenda in Scotland so that we can build a fairer society which enshrines civil liberties in every part of our lives.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 5 Comments

Lamb and Farron reply to Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary

The Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary (which you can join here) has put some detailed questions on asylum, immigration and humanitarian matters to the leadership candidates. Here are their answers.

 We appreciate that there are now far less parliamentarians, but will you ensure when organising teams that there is a spokesperson that covers asylum related issues?

Norman’s reply:

Absolutely, yes.  I want our party to rebuild the reputation we won under Paddy for speaking out clearly and consistently on the difficult international issues we face as a country.

We must lead the way in challenging the appalling humanitarian disaster across the Mediterranean, with thousands of desperate North African migrants drowning in their attempts to flee civil war and famine, crossing the sea in tiny boats.

We must also keep up pressure to improve our system for handling asylum applications, ending long delays that can leave people’s lives on hold for many months while they wait for a decision.

We have a fantastic team of peers, and I know they are determined to play their part in speaking out for our party on these important issues.

I would also want to work with members of Lib Dem Seekers of Sanctuary to support the group in speaking out itself on behalf of the many members who feel strongly about Britain’s asylum policies.  And as leader I would take a close personal interest, adding my own voice to make sure our party is heard and – most importantly – in working to achieve real change and make sure Britain fulfils its responsibilities to those threatened by violence and conflict around the world.

Tim’s reply:

Yes, absolutely. The Liberal Democrats must make the case for a compassionate, open United Kingdom when it comes to asylum seekers – if we don’t, no one else will

I have frequently raised these issues in Parliament, including as the party’s Foreign Affairs spokesman in the run-up to the election. For example, I wrote an article for the New Statesman about the horrors of hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean, and the urgent need for Britain to work with our European partners to save lives rather than turning our backs. You can read it here:

So yes, if I am leader I will make sure that a consistent, compassionate Lib Dem voice is heard loud and clear on these issues.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Farron and Lamb send third all member emails

The leadership candidates have sent their third official emails. You can read the first two here and here. 

First of all, the Returning Officer’s information:

Below are the top lines and links in the third of four emails from the candidates that I am distributing on their behalf.  I do this in my role as the Acting Returning Officer for this election.

Also please find below contact details for how you can find out more about each of the candidates.

Ballot papers are being dispatched today so you should receive your ballot paper by post within the next week.   With your ballot there will also be a copy of both candidates’ manifestos.

Our ballot counters must receive your complete ballot paper by 2pm on July 15th for it to count.

Many thanks for participating in this important election.

Tim Farron’s letter

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Opinion: Why I am backing Tim Farron

Politics is not a sterile intellectual exercise where the best policy wins and people applaud the cerebral magnificence of the victor.  It is a messy dirty business, where people’s lives are changed, hopefully for the better but far too often for the worse.

My parents divorced while I was a teenager and I spent time being brought up by a single parent.  I got lucky.  I was never cold, I never went hungry and I always had a roof over my head but I do remember making sure to keep 50p coins so that we had some for Mum’s electricity meter and I didn’t have a room of my own for a number of my teenage years.  I slept in the living room under the stairs.  As I say, I got lucky, I ended up with four parents and was the first person in my family to go to University.

People who lived near me and who I grew up and went to school with were not so lucky.  I saw people who had their potential wasted because they got to school hungry, or with a cough caused by damp in their home or who moved from school to school as their parents moved from house to house.  As a councillor in central Liverpool I saw the reality that hits people who cannot get a decent home, the damage to their families and the narrowing of their life choices.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Liberalism – a modern answer to a classical question

Liberalism.  “You can’t define it.”  “It’s too wishy-washy. “Too centrist. “Too woolly.”

The words of my A level students when they begin their course on Political Ideologies each year. The good news here is that there is a definitive answer. One that students have to learn for their exams.

Firstly, the common values to all sorts of Liberalism. Liberalism is a centrist ideology which is based on the twin values of individualism and a negative/selfish but rational view of human nature.

All liberals also believe in democracy in some form, tolerance, some rights, freedom (see below), and limited government. Not the size of Government, but the fact that all liberals are suspicious of government. Therefore, they believe in check and balances such as codified constitutions, and a separation of powers and devolution, for example.

Liberalism’s first form was classical liberalism. When it came to the size of government, this was very small – the nightwatchman state.  Government should be like a security guard, only awake at night, to preserve our liberty.  This nightwatchman state had 3 functions:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 70 Comments

Opinion: Is faith a problem?

One of the themes which has recurred in the leadership election debates is the question of faith, which I have been hearing in terms of comments on Tim Farron’s Christianity, whether this is a good or a bad thing, how Liberal it is to make an issue over that, and how that places him in relation to Norman Lamb describing himself as agnostic.

This territory is very familiar. For some years I was Secretary of the East of England Faiths Council and very much involved in the engagement of faith and governance. But I have also spent some years doing one-to-one spirituality work, which leaves me very conscious of how much more complex these things are in the realities of an individual.

Religions in general, and Christianity in particular, cover a wide range, from those for whom “believing” something makes it a “true” to those for whom faith is about a deep rootedness which lets them be both resilient and flexible. Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama are shining examples of the latter — Nelson Mandela might be an even more striking example of someone whose Christian faith enabled him to step well beyond that label.

I’ll pick up two contrasts:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 93 Comments

Opinion: Ending the northern power cut

Yesterday, Patrick McLoughlin announced what many of us had feared but were hoping would never happen: electrification of the train line between Manchester and Leeds was to be postponed, and possibly cancelled. The lynchpin of the Northern Powerhouse was pulled out and the plan predictably fell apart at the seams.

Three months ago, the Conservatives promised that £38 bn would be invested in the national rail network, mostly into electrifying the old diesel lines. This was so important to the Tories, we were told, that it was at the top of the manifesto. On page 11, the Tories outlined their plans for £13 bn for the North alone, going towards new trains, new lines, and new wires. And in one speech today, McLoughlin snuffed out the flame of hope in such a way on the Tories can.

The rail network in the North is completely dire, and bears all of the hallmarks of central government in London meddling time and time again. Serco-Abellio were awarded all but the actually profitable lines and told to run a vast network in the North using Cold War-era trains under the assumption that there was to be no growth and no investment in the Northern network. And to their credit, they’ve done a good job from what they’ve been given.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 43 Comments

Tim Farron’s speech to the IPPR: Liberalism: an optimistic confidence in the capacity of people to make the most of their lives

Both Liberal Democrat leadership candidates are giving speeches to the IPPR think tank over the next few days. Here is Tim Farron’s in full. 

IPPR has always been one of the leading think tanks on the progressive wing of British politics. I welcome the interest you’ve shown in Liberalism, and I hope that in the next few years you will further develop the arguments in your 2007 book on Liberalism, Beyond Liberty.

Now let me be frank. The election on May 7th was an utter disaster for the Liberal Democrats. In terms of our vote and number of MPs we are back to the level of the 1970 general election, when the Liberal Party won six seats on 7.5 per cent of the vote, compared to this year’s eight seats and 7.9 per cent.

Compared to the last election, in 2010, we lost almost two-thirds of our vote and over 85 per cent of our MPs. There is no other occasion in the entire history of the Liberal Democrats or the Liberal Party, stretching back to the early nineteenth century, on which we have lost such a high proportion of our vote or our seats.

It’s therefore entirely reasonable to ask the question: what is the point of the Liberal Democrats? Do we have a role to play in a country which appears to have rejected us so comprehensively?

It won’t come as a surprise to you that I think we do! And I’m not alone. Since the election Party membership has surged by more than 30 percent, we are the fastest growing political party in the UK – that 18,000 people have, without being prompted, had the same thought, at the same time, and then done something about it… well that’s a phenomenon, indeed it is a movement.  That’s more than just encouraging – it’s a signal that there are so many people out there who are Liberals at heart, who understand the threat that Liberalism faces, who think Liberalism’s worth fighting for and who see the Liberal Democrats as their vehicle and their voice.

Even The Guardian has now reached that conclusion. Having compared us during the campaign to ‘rinse aid in a dishwasher … probably useful, surely not essential’ – they decided after the election just three weeks later that, ‘in the absence of a liberal party, one would have to be invented – and indeed … one will now have to be reinvented and rebuilt’.

The result on May 7th might have been a rejection of the Liberal Democrats, but it was not a rejection of Liberalism. Rather, it was a consequence of our decision in 2010 to enter into coalition with our historic political enemies. We did the right thing by our country, and I am proud of Nick and all that we achieved, but our party was hugely damaged by the perceived submerging of our identity and by the tuition fees issue which undermined the electorate’s trust in us.  Our election campaign did not help too much either: a campaign which seemed to say  that we were desperate to get back into government and didn’t much mind with whom, while wholly failing to communicate what we stood for and what we believed.  We said something about what we would do, but we did not tell people who we are.

I want to be very clear, though: I am not repudiating the coalition. We were right to enter into coalition in 2010 and can be proud of what we achieved. Indeed, we proved that coalition government can be stable and successful and that people should not fear coalition in the future.  But I spoke about all this at length to the Gladstone Club a couple of weeks back, so you’ll forgive me for not repeating myself here.

In fact we achieved a lot for Liberalism in the coalition. The Agreement included: a rise in the income tax threshold to £10,000; the pupil premium to give extra resources for children from disadvantaged backgrounds; restoration of the earnings links for the state pension; a banking levy and reform of the banking system; investment in renewable energy; the immediate cancellation of plans for a third runway at Heathrow; an end to the detention of children for immigration purposes; the dropping of plans for identity cards; agreement to reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for overseas aid by 2013; the introduction of a fixed-term parliament of five years; and reform of the House of Lords.

With the exception of Lords reform, every single one of those objectives was achieved. And we managed more in the five years that followed: same-sex marriage, the world’s first Green Investment Bank, the triple lock for pensions, two million apprenticeships, free schools meals for the youngest pupils, and much more. I don’t believe any of that would have happened without Liberal Democrats.

And that’s just the positive things we achieved; I don’t have time to list all the Tory commitments we blocked. Over the next five years people will see exactly what a difference we made. In fact, the last six weeks have shown pretty clearly what an outstanding job Nick Clegg and his team did.

So why did we do so badly in the election? Ask random members of the public what they remember about the coalition, and will they list any of those achievements? While we were sweating over our best policies, people weren’t listening. Tuition fees created a barrier – like those force fields in Science Fiction films. We fired our best policies and achievements – and they were brilliant policies and achievements – and they just glanced off the electorate because the tuition fees barrier – that lack of trust – was too strong.

So we need a fresh start. We have to prove, from first principles, why Liberalism in Britain still matters. So I’ll start by defining what I mean by Liberalism – what are the underlying beliefs and values that underpin our approach.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Cameron’s shocking example of self-serving politics is biggest threat to union

Alistair Carmichael has written a devastating attack on David Cameron in today’s Herald, accusing him of “psychopathic ruthlessness” and of “one of the most egregious pieces of self-serving politics ever seen” in stoking up English nationalism. It’s strong stuff.

At 7am in the morning of September 19, following the referendum result, the Prime Minister emerged to thank the people of Scotland for sticking with one of the most successful political unions the world has ever seen and to reaffirm his commitment to its future. This was his time to tell the people of a continuing UK that he understood what had

Posted in News | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Video: Nick Clegg’s interview on LBC

Nick Clegg was interviewed on LBC this morning. Some highlights:

  • He had no idea what was coming. He thought that 20 seats would have been a bad result:
  • He was blindsided by the exit poll and first thing he did was have a cigarette
  • He doesn’t regret for one millisecond going into government
  • Labour in Sheffield laughed and cheered when Vince Cable lost his seat
  • He’s immensely proud at stats showing narrowing of attainment gap because of pupil premium
  • He put defeat solely down to Tory scaremongering about SNP and SNP surge in Scotland
  • Public have been “really generous” to him since election result
  • Predictably, he didn’t back anyone for leader, saying we have two brilliant candidates
  • He wants to serve his constituents and support the new leader
  • There was a horrible phone call from someone asking about his personal security and insinuating he didn’t look after Charles Kennedy enough. Nick gave him really short shrift, quite deservedly.
  • A call from a new member, who had actually voted Tory as a tactical vote and was horrified at the result so joined Lib Dems 2 days later
  • He said make-up of Parliament was “dotty” but Labour and Tories would block any attempt to reform it unless they were forced into it
  • He wants to speak out on civil liberties (and will be opposing Snoopers’ Charter in Commons today), EU and mental health

Here’s the video. Enjoy.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 44 Comments

Opinion: The Clegg Catastrophe: What the Guardian didn’t mention

The esteemed political journalists Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt of the Guardian have made an interesting, if long contribution to the debate about how the Liberal Democrats ended up in their current predicament.

Interestingly, it says very little about the 2010-12 era when Tim Farron and Norman Lamb chaired the party’s two main committees, the Federal Executive and Federal Policy Committee respectively.  However, it does shed some interesting light on the internal debate on the central issue that caused the electoral catastrophe: tuition fees.  The tales of what might have happened had David Laws not resigned, and why fees was not debated at our Special Conference, remain to be told.

Perhaps its biggest flaw is the typically lazy conflation of the debate around the party’s as being between “Liberals” and “Social Democrats”: an analogy that should have been buried quarter of a century ago.  As a social liberal and indeed Co-Chair of the Social Liberal Forum from 2012-14 I can testify that plenty of social democrats were on both sides of the debate.

There are at least three areas where the piece is weakly researched or just plain misleading.  All are the result of relying on a relatively narrow number of interviewees.  The full account offers lessons for the new leader as to how to avoid future pitfalls.

Posted in Op-eds | 51 Comments
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    @Joe Otten, This is the language as drafted by you; ", and subject to the Leader's right to veto the inclusion of any specific policy."...
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    We just can't move on from tuition fees - one of the biggest internal challenges facing the new leader. How do we live with what...
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