Open Doors: All 3 versions of the first Lib Dem broadcast of the year

The Liberal Democrats’ first crack at the General Election broadcasts is being shown as you read this.

With the theme of Open Doors, it’s about listening to voters and majors on how the Liberal Democrats would make a difference compared to Labour and the Conservatives.You may not be surprised to find that the phrases “stronger economy”, “fairer society” and “opportunity for everyone” feature.

Here is the English version. The Scottish and Welsh will follow below when they are available.

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Liberal Democrats winning here……or at least….erm….purring here

Billy 1

This is the real Billy. The Purr Minister! Ah! What a cutie!

Fantastic news straight from Battersea Dogs and Cats home!:

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Opinion: Achievable electoral reform for 2015

Securing an initial cross-party agreement is rarely enough to deliver constitutional reform. The dilemma for proponents of proportional voting is that such a fundamental change will always require a lengthy period of consultation. This time is a boon for the backroom operators in the big parties looking to backpedal, backstab, and poison the water. Ask Labour or the Tories for proper voting reform and what you will get is a long-term commitment that is lukewarm and effectively worthless.

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Sal Brinton: “We aren’t dead”

sal brinton
New Statesman carries an interview with Liberal Democrat President, Sal Brinton. It’s wide-ranging discussion, with Sal in upbeat mood:

The key message is, if I talk to a candidate or other senior people do, make sure that you pass the word on. It’s like handing a torch on to say, ‘actually we aren’t dead, there’s a lot happening, there’s a lot good that we’ve got to talk about in government, and yes there have been things that have been very difficult for us’. But if people only hear about the bad side, and the side that the other parties want you to hear about, we will be missing a real trick.

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Lord William Wallace writes… Make national voter registration day part of your campaign

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Opinion: A good reason to vote LibDem in May

This post is reserved for new and infrequent commenters. “Infrequent” is defined as having post less than five comments in the last month.

Following the start of the 100+ day election campaign, I cannot help wondering what it is the Lib Dems need to do to recover what appears to be a significant dip in popular support. The problem is that we do not appear to be benefitting in the opinion polls from our many achievements in government. This is a shame, because there are so many of them; despite some comments on Lib Dem Voice, which could easily have been written by our political opponents in an attempt to demoralise supporters.

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Our next post will be for new and infrequent commenters

Happy hump day*!

We have two cheery photos for this morning.

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A quiet word in defence of Alex Carlile

alex carlile2 from bells yard
I fully support the decision of my friend and colleague Caron Lindsay, Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, to initiate a debate on the actions of Lord Carlile in connection with the Counter Terrorism Bill and an amendment (which apparently is still hanging over parliament like the sword of Damocles) which would effectively bring in the Communications Data Bill (or “Snoopers’ Charter”) by a back door/shoe-horn.

I strongly disapprove of those actions, taken by Lord Carlile and a few other peers.

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Is there any chance you might have noticed that there’s 100 days till the General Election?

So far today, the election themed correspondence and social media from the Liberal Democrats has involved 3 separate emails, a poster on social media, a silly but scarily compelling and satisfying game and a fabulous video.

One thing in all of that that the party has missed is that this whole 100 days to go thing is a bit novel. We’ve known the date of this election since late 2010 when fixed term parliaments were introduced. Before then it was up to the Prime Minister to pick the date, usually at the time of maximum political benefit to their party unless, like Gordon Brown, they simply ran out of time – although, to be fair, he could have nabbed another month or so in No 10. It was the one piece of useful political reform that we managed to get through.

We’ve already brought you the lovely poster that was released this morning. I’ve had emails from the Scottish Party, Malcolm Bruce on behalf of Christine Jardine and LDHQ. My favourite was the last simply because of the fantastic video tour of our Party’s Central London HQ, chatting away to the staff. They seriously only filmed it yesterday. It was great seeing people like the excellent Wassim from Member and Supporter Development, Robert the fantastic guy on reception who never fails to make me smile (ask him about the litter of puppies on Eastleigh polling day) and digital whizz Bess Mayhew. If you haven’t watched it, do so now.

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++ Tessa Munt quits as Vince Cable aide over fracking

Tessa Munt photo by Keith EdkinsBBC News reports:

Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt has resigned as a parliamentary aide to Business Secretary Vince Cable after voting against the government on fracking.

Ms Munt defied the party whip to support a rebel amendment calling for a moratorium on the extraction technique.

The Wells MP initially said she intended to remain in her role

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Catherine Bearder writes… 100 days to stop the Tories or Labour neglecting the environment

The countdown starts today. Just 100 days left to ensure that any future government has a strong Liberal voice in it. That means a strong voice for social justice and economic responsibility, ensuring that we finish the recovery and do so fairly. But it also means a voice that will continue to stand up for a radical approach on issues like drugs policy, indiscriminate snooping and constitutional reform. Crucial issues, but ones that both Conservatives and Labour would happily sweep under the carpet and forget about altogether if they were given the chance.

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‘Open up!’ – Digital democracy in the House of Commons

Digital DemocracyOpen up!’ was published yesterday and is the report of the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy. Liberal Democrats should pay it some attention, even though, sadly, we do not appear to have had any representation on the Commission itself.

Its remit was to explore how to use digital technology to improve parliamentary democracy in the House of Commons, and increase democratic participation, which is surely something that we care about deeply.

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Julian Huppert writes… Clamping down on Tax Dodging

Tax dodging is plain wrong. There can be absolutely no justification for the wealthy not paying what they owe.

More than any other party, we know how important it is to have a fair tax system. Before the last elections, we pledged to lift the income tax threshold to £10,000. We have surpassed this by raising it to £10,600, lifting more than 3 million low earners out of paying income tax altogether.

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BAME Training Weekend offer

The Liberal Democrats have always strived to create an inclusive society regardless of background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any other different part of an individual’s identity. And at the Lib Dem Diversity team we work hard all year round to ensure that our party reflects this diverse and inclusive culture that we believe in.

That’s why on the 7th and 8th March the Liberal Democrat Diversity Team are hosting a free BAME training weekend at the Liberal Democrats Head Quarters in order to reach out to young people from BAME communities. Successful applicants will get a chance to develop professional skills and engage with senior Liberal Democrats, including Simon Hughes MP and Baroness Floella Benjamin. Some of our brilliant Parliamentary candidates such as Michael Bukola, Ibrahim Taguri, Amna Ahmad and Yahaya Kiyingi will also be there doing training, panel debates and question and answer sessions.

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Clegg calls for gay victims of the Nazis to be remembered in national Holocaust memorial

In a Pink News exclusive, Nick Clegg has called for gay victims of the Nazis to be included in the planned national Holocaust memorial – the “first senior politician” to do so.

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The left cheers Syriza while Miliband equivocates

The victory in Greece of anti-austerity party Syriza (in coalition with a hard right junior partner) has been warmly welcomed by anti-austerity commentators here.

Perhaps jumping the gun a little regarding the difference between voting to end austerity and actually ending it, Zoe Williams in the Guardian talks of a “a successful, transformative movement”.

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100 Days until polling day

Today, 100 days before polling day, sees a new poster launched by the Liberal Democrats, offering a straight road between the reckless borrowing offered by Labour and the reckless cuts of the Conservatives.
General Election Poster 270115s

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Norman Lamb writes … Tackling conversion therapy in the NHS

It may seem hard to imagine, but until 1992 the World Health Organisation classified homosexuality as a form of mental illness. Academic studies have shown an extraordinary prevalence, not too long ago, of therapists seeking to ‘convert’ gay people to become heterosexual – treating people’s sexuality as an illness rather than an inherent part of who they are.

In recent decades, society and the medical professions have fortunately come a long way. Most people now recognise that this as dangerous nonsense.

But there remain a few counsellors who still believe in the “treatment” of homosexuality to combat same-sex attractions.  I said nearly a year ago now that, although there was no evidence to suggest that such practices were taking place in the NHS, I wanted to do all that I could to put an end to them once and for all.

As Liberal Democrats it is incredibly important that we work to create a society which is not only more tolerant and open, but also one in which people are able to access support which helps rather than harms them when they are struggling with issues like their sexual orientation.

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Julian Huppert writes … On shoehorning the Snooper’s Charter into the Counter Terrorism Bill

To my shock and dismay a small group of unelected peers are trying to shoehorn the Communications Data Bill (known as the Snooper’s Charter) into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill as an amendment. This is a bad idea, and also an abuse of process. It would mean that neither the Lords nor the Commons would get a proper chance to discuss the details of what is a massive infringement of people’s privacy.

I served on the Joint Committee Nick insisted on, and we spent a year scrutinising it – and tearing it to shreds. Yes, we need the intelligence services to be able to do their job, but in the words we agreed unanimously “the draft Bill pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes much further than it need or should”.

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How the Daily Mirror works

There was a curious story in the Daily Mirror over the weekend. It incorrectly refers to Chevening as ‘Nick Clegg’s estate’, and ‘the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister’s land’ when it is, of course, a property owned by the Government. It is usually made available to the Foreign Secretary so s/he can entertain Foreign ministers in some privacy.

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Paddy Ashdown’s voice

PAddy Ashdown by Liberal DemocratsLiberal Democrats have always treasured the charismatic Paddy Ashdown. He has an engaging style in public and comes over as warm, realistic and credible; he is also very good at rallying the troops.

It seems that others beside the Liberal Democrats have noticed the pulling power of his voice, including an agency for voice-over artists which has now recruited him.

The Guardian reports the story  and refers to his ‘authoritative, reassuring tones’, but also highlights concerns by some party members. It quotes a ‘senior Liberal Democrat’ who said…

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Opinion: Enablement For All

I had the opportunity to tour a small business this week which makes cutting-edge prosthetic devices.  It was fascinating – technology nowadays has moved on so much that electronic sensors in an artificial foot can detect when you stub your toe on a curb and compensate for your loss of balance so that the foot/prosthetic device stays stable and you don’t fall.

We are all familiar with international athletes, ‘bladerunners’, who are able to achieve so much in their sport because of the specialist blade limbs that enable them to compete at the highest level.  What I wasn’t aware of was swimming ‘flipper’ limbs are also available, and a range of other devices.  This company makes all of them, enabling those who have been in road accidents or lost limbs through illness or in war, to live their lives to the full.  I came away in wonder, having seen how the devices are made out of sheets of plastic draped over moulds, simple materials changing peoples’ lives.

Enablement.  It is, in my opinion, what the Liberal Democrats are all about.  We exist to create a “fair, free and open society” and we value “liberty and equality.”  We enable.

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Opinion: The case for a “Great Reform Pact”

The election draws near and the battle lines are being set -but they are being laid down on the principles of old, whilst the country cries out for change.  More than anything, voters yearn for responsive local Government and not authoritarian diktats from afar in London or Brussels. They want their voices heard. The two party system is broken but our democracy remains in the past.

We need leadership and a vision of a modern democracy that will give people a real say and the freedom to act.

Do Clegg and Milliband have the statesmanship to seize a unique opportunity this May? All the leaders know that in all probability they will have to do a deal after the election if they want to be in or share power.  So why not do a deal now, before the election?  If the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats come together in an electoral pact there is every chance they will win a clear majority of MPs.

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Three things you need to know about the new powers going to Scotland

There are some very interesting articles about the forthcoming Scotland Bill, the details of which were unveiled on Thursday, in today’s press.

The Tories were trying to back out and Clegg, Alexander and Carmichael wouldn’t let them

According to Michael Moore in Scotland on Sunday today.

 It is not a surprise to me that the Conservatives fought tooth and nail to remove some of the key elements of the Smith agreement.

We saw in the commission itself they adopted two or three different positions in the space of 48 hours on welfare and were clearly in touch with London colleagues at every stage.

We resisted it there and I am glad that my Liberal Democrat colleagues have resisted it in terms of the bill. There is no question in my mind that without Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg digging in on this over the last crucial 48 hours before the bill was published, we would have ended up with the whole Smith process unravelling.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #408

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 408th 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 (18 – 24 January  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:

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Burns Night Special: John Knox’s Address to the Haggis, 2015 General Election Version

A year ago, John Knox wrote an article on this site advocating a new kind of politics by minority government after the General Election. He now comes to our attention again having delivered a beautifully crafted General Election themed Address to the Haggis at the Edinburgh South Burns Supper on Friday night.

He’s given us his permission to publish it in full. Some of you may struggle with the exact language, but I’m sure you will pick up the gist. Enjoy.

Fair fa’ your honest sonsie face

Great chieften o’ the puddin’ race

Aboon them a’ ye take your place

Painch, tripe or thairm

Well are ye worthy o’ a grace

As lang’s my arm.

 

The groaning trencher there ye fill

Your hurdie’s like a distant hill

Your pin wad help to mend a mill

In time o’ need

While through your pores the dews distil

Like amber bead.

 

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 15,800 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

 The Greens: The Lib Dem fightback begins (178 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Britain’s greenest party, the Green Party and environmentalism (99 comments) by Simon Oliver

The Green Party: should we be panicking? (22 comments) by Paul Walter

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Surely it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to part company with Alex Carlile

alex carlile - house of lords
After much provocation over the years, I have finally reached the end of my patience with Alex Carlile. The sooner he and the Liberal Democrats part company the better.

It was embarrassing enough to watch him give the green light to so many of Labour’s illiberal anti-terror laws, but when he supports something which threatens to scupper a key concession won by the Liberal Democrats, it is time for us to actively campaign for him to go.

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Opinion: A liberal postcard from Athens

Sunday morning in Kifissia, one of the leafy northern suburbs of Athens, and the view from my bedroom balcony is blue sky with dark clouds looming – a fitting scene for this very important Greek Election Day.

A product of the oil industry in Aberdeen, I am one of many Scottish expats supporting the oil and gas industry around the world (and lets not mention oil prices!). I have been working in Greece for a little over a year and after commuting between the Athens of the North and the real Athens for a year, I have been resident (and paying tax!) in Greece since November.

Greece has been going through a tough time in the last five years, unemployment is high and wages are low. Though there are few signs of austerity in the posh northern suburbs, my Greek colleagues (I am a lawyer) have lost faith in their politicians and their economy. Much though they love their country, pessimism is rife.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 27 Comments

LibLink: Michael Moore: The Smith Commission has delivered

The Vow deliveredThis was the week that the Government unveiled the 44 clauses of the Scotland Bill which will be debated after the General Election. Former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore was a member of the Smith Commission upon whose report the clauses were drafted. He says in an article for the Scotsman that the Commission has delivered and “the Vow” has therefore been kept:

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