Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Why calling for HQ staff to be sacked is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on LDV

There have been a few snarky comments directed at me on various places on the internet because we don’t allow comments on this site which abuse members of HQ staff. We can’t always catch them all, so if you see any, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

I’ve also had a few very nasty emails calling me all sorts of names because of this policy from people who should know better. I mean, imagine if yours or your partner’s or your mum’s head was being called for on some random website. I doubt you would like it that much.

And bear in mind that you might think you have the right to inflict your opinions about individuals on the rest of the world, but they can’t answer back. That’s hardly a fair situation.

This evening, one member of staff posted this on their Facebook page. Some of you reading this will have seen it but if you are going to comment, please don’t mention their name. I did obviously get their permission before I posted it on here but it doesn’t need to be personalised.

What has been particularly unpleasant is the sight of senior Liberal Democrat figures pretty much suggesting that a particular individual should be pretty much deported.

How would you feel if that were you. Anyway, read how it actually makes real human beings feel.  They are hurting just as much as the rest of us with the added fear of potentially losing their jobs and we have a duty of care towards them as towards any other part of the Lib Dem family:

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

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #416

Welcome back to the Golden Dozen after its extended break over the election campaign. This is our 416th 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 (17-23 May, 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 | 1 Comment

The first key difference in the Liberal Democrat leadership race emerges

So, we have a key difference between the two contenders in our two horse leadership race.

While settling down for Eurovision last night, I asked both if they were watching. Tim was going to watch with his family today as his kids are a bit too young to stay up that late. Norman was making his way back home after a day of campaigning in London. When that was established, I asked them a question of interest to many Liberal Democrats. Doctor Who – yes or no. Here are the responses in the order in which they were received:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

LibLink: Ryan Coetzee: The Liberal Democrats must reunite, rebuild or remain in opposition

Ryan Coetzee has written a long article for the Guardian in which he analyses our election defeat and looks to the future.

He looked at the three fronts of the electoral battlefield, Scotland, Labour-facing and Tory facing seats. He looked at the Tories’ fear tactics throughout the campaign:

About four weeks from election day it became clear that The Fear was hurting us. We tried everything we could to counter it: fear of a Tory minority government in hock to its own right wing, Ukip and the DUP; fear of Tory cuts to welfare, schools and other unprotected departments; ruling out participation in any government that relied on SNP support; offering ourselves as the only guarantors of a stable coalition. All of it was trumped by The Fear, and on a scale we didn’t see coming.

I cannot help wonder what would have happened if Miliband and Clegg had turned round to David Cameron and told him that he was talking nonsense. By ruling out coalition with the SNP, we legitimised his depiction of them as the ultimate bogey party. They were never going to anything other than a pain in the backside. They aren’t monsters. The worst they would be able to do would be to propose amendments on the likes of Trident which would be voted down by virtually everyone else bar a few of us and a few Labour lefties. I understand, I think, why we didn’t do that – it hadn’t gone so well when Clegg faced down Farage, however much we might admire his courage in doing so. I suspect, though that a joint initiative to combat the Tory fear might have helped Clegg and Miliband see they could work tougher and  combat the ridiculous Tory scaremongering. Mind you, Labour’s policy platform was so weak, it might all have been in vain anyway.

Posted in LibLink and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 63 Comments

Some thoughts on the art of the apology

It is undoubtedly a good thing that Richard Brett, the Chair of the English Candidates Committee has sent out an apology to candidates for the very poor tone of the email they received on Monday. But did it pass muster?

Initial reports suggest that it is not being particularly well-received by candidates. You know how in an email you have to hook people in that first sentence? I’m not sure that this quite cuts it:

I am aware that the e-mail sent out on Monday upset some of you with its tone and I am very sorry if this was the case for you.

It doesn’t exactly say “I’m sorry you were upset”, but it’s a bit stilted. Sometimes it’s best to just say something like: “We got this wrong, and we are very sorry. We will learn for the future.”

Commendably, though, it explicitly stated what we knew already that the wording had absolutely nothing to do with the member of staff who sent it out, but had been agreed between Richard and his vice-chair Margaret Joachim. It’s good to see that personal acceptance of responsibility.

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

How not to motivate your exhausted, defeated candidates…

Let’s be honest, every single person who stood for the Liberal Democrats at the last election is a superstar. It would have been all to easy for people to decide to sit this one out because it was unlikely that we were ever going to make much in the way of progress outside our held seats. As it turned out, despite all the effort that wonderful teams on the ground put in, our parliamentary ranks were much depleted.

Yes, we will fight back, but we are all still really feeling it. Ed’s poignant piece On Being Beaten outlined the far-reaching effects of a bruising electoral defeat. At this time the Liberal Democrat family needs to be pulling together and looking after each other.

Sadly, looking after each other is something we haven’t been so good at in the past. We’ve tended to leave people who have put everything into their campaigns to lick their own wounds when they’ve lost, without showing enough appreciation and gratitude.

I thought we’d done better this time. Our peers, who were also campaign superstars, campaigning up and down the country, spent the weekend after the election phoning and thanking every candidate. I know how much that meant to my two.

It really looked like we had learned something. Another good thing about this election was that there were no inappropriate campaign emails to devastated members, candidates and activists. That is, until yesterday.

After every election, candidates are always asked to give feedback on the campaign and local parties are asked to give a report on their candidates. So far, so routine. Except yesterday’s “invitation” to participate was written in a most unappealing and demotivating manner, threatening people that if they didn’t complete the process (with one deadline being next Monday), they’d be dumped from the approved list. Here’s an excerpt:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 68 Comments

What I did for IDAHOBiT

I know that some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about and others will be scratching their heads wondering. Today, 17th May, is what used to be called IDAHO Day, the International Day against homophobia. It’s now known in various ways, IDAHOT or the one I prefer IDAHOBiT, which explicitly mentions biphobia and transphobia, too.

This is the day when we celebrate those across the world who are doing their bit in their communities to make life better for lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender people. In the UK that is relatively easy. In many countries, though, you take your life in your hands. In much of the world, homosexuality remains illegal and is punishable by long-term imprisonment or even death. Being transgender puts you at much greater risk of violence or sexual abuse or murder.

We went into Edinburgh today to see an exhibition by South African social justice activist and artist Gabrielle Le Roux, Proudly African and Transgender, which was hosted in the city’s Arts Centre by the Equality Network and the Scottish Transgender Alliance. Gabrielle was there to take us through her work and tell us how it came into being. In 2008, there was a ground-breaking gathering of transgender activists from across Africa. She painted portraits of ten of the attendees. They also wrote messages on the portraits. Julius from Uganda said:

It’s been a difficult journey but one I don’t regret taking because I can only be who I am – a unique creation

Quite a few of the participants were not able to continue living in their home countries. It wasn’t safe for Flavia to return to Burundi and she has had to seek refuge in South Africa.

Accompanying each picture is a typed A4 sheet where the activists tell their stories – and those stories are updated, making, as Le Roux said, the exhibition dynamic. It was really fantastic to have the artist there, though, telling us little anecdotes about each person.

You can look at all the pictures online here. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Dear new MPs, Be careful you don’t lose your seats…

Something reminded me on Facebook this morning of a post I’d written almost exactly 5 years ago, on 18th May 2010. Sadly we don’t have any new MPs this time, but there are a fair few brand new ones converging on Westminster from Scotland for a start.

Back in 2010, I’d happened upon a guide for new MPs on the parliament’s website. It told them how to make sure they got paid and how to set up their office. It mentioned that they must take the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen before they could participate in debates – but, to my surprise, the penalty for failing to do so was a little harsh. What would you expect? A slap on the wrist from the Speaker? Being banned from the Chamber for the rest of the day? Oh no, it’s much worse:

“Members who have not taken the oath or affirmation are unable to draw a salary and must not sit in a debate or vote in a division of the House (once the Speaker has been elected) or they will lose their seat.”

I am assuming that the settled will of the voters in any constituency won’t be overturned if someone forgets to swear in for some reason, but the wording of that suggests that it might be. So, new MPs, don’t say you weren’t warned. That place is just so full of absurdity and faintly ridiculous antiquated, archaic tradition. It really needs dragging into the 21st Century.

Posted in News | Tagged | 12 Comments

Members’ survey about General Election campaign is out now

This is just a heads up that the survey of members’ views about the General Election campaign that Sal Brinton mentioned in her post the other day has now been sent out. If you are a member of the party and haven’t found it, it comes from “James Gurling – Liberal Democrats” and is entitled General Election Review. Check your spam if it hasn’t appeared.

James is a member of the Federal Executive and is Chair of the Party’s Campaigns and Communications Committee.

His email contains a unique link to a wide-ranging survey which asks you to give an assessment about what the party did well and badly – and for observations and comparisons with other parties’ campaigns.

This is what the email said:

After every major set of elections the party, as you would expect, conducts a review of what worked and what did not. The results of last week’s elections were obviously bitterly disappointing. But in the same week, we have welcomed over 11,000 new members to our party. The opportunity provided by these new members makes it all the more important that we understand what did and what did not work in our 2015 campaign.
This review is going to be conducted by the party’s Campaigns and Communications Committee.  In addition to myself and Sal Brinton, the CCC team currently includes Candy Piercy, Martin Tod, Neil Fawcett and Tim Razzall. We will take submissions from across the party, from members, volunteers, staff and candidates.
Completing the survey will take approximately 15 minutes, and your answers will make a real contribution to our work. No matter how you were involved in the campaign, or even if you were not actively involved at all, we want to know what you think.
If you feel that the questions don’t quite fit what you want to say, there is plenty space to make your views known.
Posted in News | Tagged | 15 Comments

Sheila Ritchie tells Scottish Lib Dems: Let’s reach out to the the internationalist, the iconoclast & the thrawn individualist

Back in the day, I learned how to campaign and how to be a liberal from Sheila Ritchie. She is a bit of a party legend but hasn’t been wildly active in recent years. However, she came back to run Christine Jardine’s campaign in Gordon and she was brilliant. She spoke to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ members meeting last Sunday and I know that her words about liberalism, the future and the national campaign will interest you. She has given her permission for me to share her words with you. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 28 Comments

Five Liberal Democrat ex-MPs turn down the ermine

Honourable mentions for Messrs Cable, Laws, Alexander, Baker and Hughes who have, according to the Guardian, turned down or said they are not interested in offers of peerages in the dissolution honours:

Four senior Liberal Democrat politicians defeated in the general election, including former business secretary Vince Cable, have turned down offers of a peerage from Nick Clegg in the dissolution honours list. It is understood that David Laws, the former education minister, Simon Hughes, the former justice minister, and former Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander have also decided to reject a chance to sit in the House of Lords.

The Lords is likely to be a battleground for the government since the Conservatives do not have an overall majority in the upper chamber, even though in practice there are strict limits on how far peers can resist central planks of legislation agreed by the Commons. The Liberal Democrats currently have 101 peers, Labour 214, the Conservatives 178 and crossbenchers 224.

Hughes, a former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who lost his Southwark and Bermondsey seat to Labour, told guests at a recent birthday party: “I don’t believe in an unelected second chamber. When you see the list I will not be on it. I am not going there.”

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , and | 38 Comments

Scottish Liberal Democrats gather together and start the climb

Scottish Lib Dem members' meetingLast Sunday well over a hundred Scottish Liberal Democrats gathered together in a very warm room in Edinburgh to mull over the election results. Two of our defeated MPs, Mike Moore and Alan Reid made speeches that both inspired and made us cross and sad that they are not part of the new Parliament.

In two and a half hours (the meeting had to be extended), over 40 members made some really interesting contributions on the constitution and the direction of the party.

It was a very positive event. …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

So, the Guardian finally recognises the usefulness of the Liberal Democrats, years too late

The Guardian Building Window in London

The Guardian has spent the last five years spewing poison in the direction of the Liberal Democrats. Now, a week into a majority Tory government, they finally realise what good we did. I suggest that this is not entirely a surprise. A cursory glance at the Conservative manifesto gave an indication of what would happen. David Cameron’s pronouncement, back in 2012, that he’d govern like a true Tory if it wasn’t for the Liberal Democrats, went unignored.

Here’s what they had to say in an editorial posted last night:

…yet it is true too that the Lib Dems were frequently a moderating, and on occasion a truly positive, force within the coalition. Even in social security, a field in which they ultimately proved disappointingly willing to fold, they postponed the serious Conservative assault for a couple of years. On the core liberal territory they proved more determined – defending human rights, seeing off the snooper’s charter and rallying to defend equality laws. It has taken precisely one week of majority Conservative government to remind Britain why, in the absence of a liberal party, one would have to be invented – and indeed, why one will now have to be reinvented and rebuilt.

They then acknowledge that Liberal Democrats are needed because their precious Labour party can’t be relied upon to stand up for civil liberties.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 61 Comments

Another thank you email from Paddy

I got another nice email from Paddy Ashdown yesterday, which I thought I’d share with you despite its horrendous apostrophe fail. I was vaguely annoyed with this assertion, though:

 I believe that you, the campaigners, candidates and staff of our party could not have done more, or done it better than you did.

Our staff and on the ground campaigners are fabulous. They all worked with absolute commitment. But no campaign ever gets it all right. We do need to look at the effectiveness of what we did. You have to do this even if you win! Are your campaign methods getting a little tired? Blue letters, for example, may have had their day. I remember the wow factor that they had when we first used them but that was getting on for two decades ago. What’s the next Wow Factor?

I have a lot of time for Paddy and  I actually sent him a note thanking him earlier this week because I think he deserved it. When Nick appointed him as Chair of the General Election Committee in 2012, I was thrilled. He set about making sure that each of our held seats was as prepared as it possibly could be to fight the General Election. He set them targets and some of them complained noisily. However, he made sure that they had the capacity and the infrastructure to hold our vote up.

Posted in News | 21 Comments

#NewMembersDay: The Lib Dem Lowdown – what you need to know about our party

Welcome to the thousands of people who have joined the Liberal Democrats since the polls closed last week.  We have already heard from some of you about what inspired them to sign up and we will have more such posts throughout the day. I thought it might be useful to tell you a little bit about how it works and give you a bit of an idea of the opportunities open to you.

What do we believe?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of organisation, the best statement of who we are and what we’re about can be found in the Preamble to our Constitution which underlines how we believe in freedom, opportunity, diversity,  decentralisation and internationalism. Here’s a snippet:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject allprejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

We have a fierce respect for individuality, with no expectation that fellow Liberal Democrats will agree with us on every issue. We expect our views to be challenged and feel free to challenge others without rancour. We can have a robust debate and head to the pub afterwards, the very best of friends.

Your rights as a member

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 21 Comments

A word about the deputy leadership

I know all the attention is on the Leadership at the moment, but I think it’s worth considering the Deputy Leadership, particularly as our 8 MPs will be discussing this tomorrow night. My guess is that they just won’t bother electing a deputy at this point before we have a leader. That would certainly be the sensible thing to do. However, I think that we should do something different.

The Deputy Leader is, in fact, “The Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons.” This post is only referred to in passing in Article 9 of the Federal Constitution:

  1. The Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons shall consist of all Members of that House in receipt of the Party’s whip. Its Leader shall be the Leader of the Party elected as provided in Article 10. It shall be entitled to make such regulations (not being inconsistent with this Constitution) as it thinks fit for the conduct of its own proceedings. In particular, these regulations shall make provision for a Chief Whip and, if thought fit, a Deputy Leader of such Parliamentary Party.

I think we should open up the post of Deputy Leader to a much wider pool. Peers, MSPs, AMs, London Assembly Members, MEPs, Mayors and Councillors should be able to stand with the electorate being that whole group of people. There are two reasons for that.

First of all, it makes us less Westminster-centric and shows that we value all the levels of government equally, as ends in themselves.

Secondly, it might well give us a more diverse leadership team. Our Commons party is all-male, all-white and are pretty much all around the same age.

Posted in News | Tagged | 36 Comments

New Leader election timetable

An email came out from Chief Executive Tim Gordon today outlining the timetable for the election of the new leader.

I am in awe of these members of staff who have been working like mad for months on end and are still keeping going through this weekend. They are brilliant. I know this is utterly churlish on my part but I feel I must, though, point out that dates with “of” in them make me feel a tiny bit queasy.

Here it is in full:

Dear Caron,

Following the agreement of the Federal Executive and the party’s returning officer I am pleased to be able to confirm to you the timetable for the election of a new party leader.
Opening of nominations 13th of May 2015
Close of nominations 3rd of June 2015
Dispatch of ballot papers 24th of June 2015
Deadline for ballot papers to be returned 15th of July 2015
Count and declaration of the winner 16th of July 2015
Any member who joins the party before the close of nominations is able to vote in the election, so this is a fantastic time to ask local supporters and former members to join the party. The easiest way for them to join is online at www.libdems.org.uk/join.
If you have any questions regarding this process, please get in touch via www.libdems.org.uk/contact.
Best wishes,
Tim Gordon
Chief Executive

PS. You’ll have heard from Austin earlier that this morning our membership passed 50,000. People are joining us today who have never been involved before, and everyone who joins now is going to get a vote in the leadership election. So why not forward this email to a few friends now and ask them to join? All they need to do is go to www.libdems.org.uk/join.

Posted in News | Tagged | 29 Comments

Nick Clegg resigns as leader

Nick Clegg has said that he needs to take responsibility for the “crushing” election result for the Liberal Democrats and he resigned with great dignity.

He said that the election had been crushing, much more so than he expected and he had to take responsibility for that. He then went on to quote Edinburgh Western candidate Alex Cole Hamilton’s tweet after the 2011 Scottish election. Alex said that if the price of his defeat was that no child would spend a night in an immigration detention centre again, then he accepted it with all his heart. Nick gave a passionate defence of the good things we’d done in government and said that he thought history would judge us more kindly than last night.

He then talked passionately about the need for British liberalism. He acknowledged it wasn’t faring well against identity politics and the politics of fear but it was really needed.

Fear and grievance have won. Liberalism has lost. But it is more precious than ever and we must keep fighting for it.

It is easy to imagine there is no road back. There is.

This is a very dark hour for our party but we cannot and will not allow decent liberal values to be extinguished overnight.

We’ll update this post with reaction to Nick’s resignation. I’ll write at greater length about his leadership when I’ve had some sleep, but I have huge admiration for the man. He has borne the difficulties of the last five years with dignity, good grace, humour and resilience. He has been ridiculed by vested interests from left and right. You could argue that any Liberal Democrat leader in such a position would have faced exactly the same. He’s made mistakes, from the Rose Garden to secret courts to the bedroom tax to the one that everyone associates with him. Here’s his statement in full.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 124 Comments

9 am update: Where are we now?

There  are just two seats with Liberal Democrat interest left to declare and I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we thougth we were going to get anywhere with either of them. Tessa Munt’s Wells and Andrew George’s St Ives look like they will fall to the Tories.

Update: actually 3 – I forgot Berwick. There may be a possibility there, which would be great but I’m not overly hopeful, it has to be said.

So, our parliamentary party is:

Nick Clegg

Tim Farron

Norman Lamb

Greg Mulholland

Tom Brake

John Pugh

Mark Williams

Alistair Carmichael

The psychological effects of the loss of our heartlands will affect us for some time to come.

We will, of ocurse, need to evaaluate what went wrong, how we change and refresh our campaigning style and make ourselves relevant in a very difficult and challenging political environment.

The worst thing that could have happened has happened – a Tory overall majority. People who think the last five years have been a Tory government will soon see what they are like, particularly with their right wing unleashed to cause havoc. There will be a great need for liberalism as they seek to strip our human rights laws back to nothing and isolate us internationally.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 124 Comments

The best UK government of my lifetime

I kicked off the campaign with this post and I thought I’d re-run it the night before we head to the polls. I wrote a book chapter about the coalition in the shadow of a rollercoaster. That’s how the last five years have felt. There have been moments when I’ve winced and moments when I have been immensely proud of our ministers. All in all, though, Britain is in a much better place than it would have been without us. All that horrible stuff you see in the Tory manifesto about banning non-specified non violent extremism, all the stuff about taking all benefits from young people, all the illiberal, immigrant-bashing, poor-demonising, rich-enriching nonsense wouldn’t in their manifesto. They would already be law. I hope that the government elected tomorrow is a force for economic fairness and stability, transformational political change and has an open and internationalist approach. If there are Liberal Democrats in it, it will tick all of these boxes. Anyway, here are my thoughts from five weeks ago. 

This post will be open to new and infrequent commenters. 

I’m not going to lie, when we went into coalition with the Tories, I did not feel comfortable with it. Working with the party who had destroyed the country I grew up during the 80s  in was never going to be easy. It’s not about comfort or ease, though. It’s about doing good and enacting liberal values. We’ve made mistakes – howlers, even. Who hasn’t? Can you say that you’ve got through the last five years error free? We have much to show for it. For every child who hasn’t had to spend months in Yarl’s Wood, for every disadvantaged child who has new opportunities at school, for those who benefit from reforms to mental health, for those who have workplace pensions, for pensioners benefitting from the triple lock, for those people across the world who benefit from our aid. for those who are now free to marry the people they love, it’s been worth it. Despite all the constraints on us having only 8% of the MPs and a fifth of the government, we have made a very strong, liberal mark.

Despite everything, this coalition has been the best UK government of my lifetime. That’s quite a long time, however much I like to pretend that I’m a young person. Certainly the likes of Blair, Thatcher and Callaghan didn’t set the bar very high, but we’ve achieved a lot. It’s been a roller coaster and I’m far from satisfied with everything it’s done, but I am incredibly proud of Lib Dem ministers, among them:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Paul Halliday leads the Lib Dem injury list

Poor Newport East candidate Paul Halliday. Like many valiant activists before him, he found a dog on the other end of his finger when delivering leaflets and had to make an unscheduled dash to A & E.

The South Wales Argus has the story:

The Newport East candidate for Thursday’s General Election was making his way down Trostrey Street just off Caerleon Road near Maindee when he met with the hostile reception.

He tried to push some Lib Dem literature through a letterbox but said: “Unbeknown to me there was a dog on the other side which decided to chomp down.

“It was large and didn’t make a sound until it grabbed my finger and started to do a deep growl. I wasn’t sure I was going to get my hand out.”

Speaking to the Argus while waiting at the Royal Gwent Hospital, he said: “It’s quite painful. I’m hoping I won’t be here too long because I want to get back out delivering and campaigning.”

He was bravely back out at a hustings later:

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Nick Clegg wants to turn Britain into a cycling nation – and earns praise from Chris Boardman

I found out about this not because it came in in a Google alert but because a family member, who has nothing to do with politics, shared it on Facebook. That family member lives in a  key Liberal Democrat seat so I hope he’s going to do the right thing and vote for Danny on Thursday. It’s the only thing to do in Inverness if you really don’t want an SNP MP as I know he doesn’t.

This family member is a really hardcore cyclist. Ten days ago he took part in the Mallorca 312. That’s where people cycle all the way round the island of Mallorca. The first thing they encounter is a flipping great mountain range that goes down almost the entire west coast. He did the whole thing in under 14 hors, too, which was incredible, especially when you think he’s even more middle aged (by 2 months and 13 days) than I am.

Anyway, suffice to say he was impressed with Nick’s plans as revealed in Cycling Weekly and praised by none other than Chris Boardman:

The network asked parties to allocate five per cent of Britain’s transport budget to cycling and set a target for cycling to account for 10 per cent of all trips.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to nail their colours to the mast and pledge to implement everything the network is asking for,” said Boardman, British Cycling’s policy advisor after Clegg confirmed he is ‘very keen’ to implement the recommendations.

It’s encouraging to hear that Nick Clegg is passionate about Britain becoming a cycling nation to rival our European neighbours.

The difference is that he is actually bold enough to put some numbers and targets against this aim with measures that could have a colossal impact on how people get around.

If the Liberal Democrats form part of a new coalition we will certainly be pressing them to ensure that these ambitions form a central part of the government’s transport strategy.”

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 11 Comments

As if Scottish Labour weren’t in enough trouble….

This is what popped into my inbox at 13:34 this afternoon:

Labour 72 hours email

 

72 hours? That’s Friday! A bit late for those few Labour voters who remain to get to the polls. 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

There’s a manatee loose on the internet – and it will encourage voters towards the Liberal Democrats

I knew there was something weird going on with my Facebook feed. There are plenty Liberal Democrat related items in it all the time, but I’ve noticed adverts for things I’ve been interested in. I’ve also noticed that the UK Liberal Democrat website now seems to tell me lots of things about the very excellent Mike Crockart. I suspected technical wizardry of some description and wondered what was coming next given the way that Austin Rathe and his colleagues seem to be able to get into my head.

The secret is out now. It’s called Operation Manatee. A manatee, as Wikipedia will tell you,  is a quite peaceful looking sea cow type thing that, interestingly, has prehensile lips. The left and right sides of the upper lip can move independently of each other. This clearly is not any sort of parallel to the Liberal Democrats. Manatee is based on the Obama campaign’s similarly marine-named 2012 Project Narwhal.  This enabled Obama’s campaign to send very specifically targeted emails on controversial subjects to those voters who would be sympathetic.

Manatee works in a similar way, using Facebook and YouTube. This video gives more details.

Over 2 million social media adverts to be placed in the final phase of the campaign, right up till close of poll on Thursday night.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Video: The Liberal Democrat Women’s Manifesto

When I saw this yesterday, my blood was boiling for a bit. You have to stick with it, because it does actually get better.

There are a couple of things I’d have done differently. There was no need for body parts to come into the conversation at all. We need to think about all sorts of inclusion, here.

Secondly, I’d have liked a recognition that women face particular barriers and Liberal Democrats want to tackle those – but the way to do that is for us all to do that together. Gender discrimination is bad for everybody.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

There is no need for Clegg to make an EU Referendum a red line. This does not signify agreement to it

I have seen some consternation amongst Lib Dems today, both in real life and online, about Nick Clegg’s remarks about an EU referendum not being  a red line for us. Many party members feel very strongly that we should not agree to something which could be very unsettling and destabilising. Having come through three years of the Scottish referendum, I am more in that camp than in the other group of activists who think we should agree to it or we’ll be seen as anti-democratic.

Before we rush to judgment, let’s have a look at what Nick actually said. From the Guardian:

I am happy to insist on my red lines – they are the ones the Liberal Democratshave put on the front page of our manifesto which are much more important than some of the other red lines other parties have chosen.”

He said he disagreed with the Tory position on the EU and said he was still committed to the act of parliament passed by the coalition which would trigger a referendum if further UK sovereignty was ceded to Brussels. But he declined to rule out rejecting Cameron’s demand for a referendum.

“It’s not my responsibility to try and stare into a crystal ball. The way this works is I set out my priorities, David Cameron sets out his, Ed Miliband sets out his. People then choose. How those red lines are or are not compatible with each other is in part dependent on the mandate that the British people give each of those parties.”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 70 Comments

Lynne Featherstone on Labour’s “lies and desperate smears”

A couple of weeks ago, we featured the Labour candidate in Leeds North West who had a bit of a problem with the, you know, facts. Greg Mulholland rightly called him out for it.

Now Lynne Featherstone’s Labour opponent has told a pretty outrageous untruth about her. They will now have to print and distribute a retraction.  From Lynne’s blog:

The letter to residents contained the false statement: “Lynne Featherstone…was even a minister in the Home Office when the disgraceful “Go Home” vans were sent out.”

At the time the vans went out (July 2013), Lynne Featherstone was in the Department for International Development, kick-starting the campaign to end FGM and fighting to protect the aid budget. Lynne Featherstone was a minister at DFID from September 2012 – November 2014.

Labour have been advised to immediately cease delivering the letters, and issue a retraction to all residents who’ve received the letter.

Lynne said:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 27 Comments

In which I seriously contemplate voting Labour

You might find this hard to believe. I was a little bit shocked by it myself. You have to understand the situation I am in. I live in a seat which is, to all intents and purposes, a battle between the SNP and Labour. With a poll this week suggesting that the SNP could win every single seat in Scotland, the unthinkable had to be thought. Should I, could I vote Labour tactically  to try to stop that happening? A large group of SNP MPs primarily motivated by narrow nationalist interests is not something that I think would be healthy for our democracy.

I have voted either SDP or Liberal Democrat in every election since I turned 18 bar two. The first was in the 90s when there was no Lib Dem candidate in my council ward. There wasn’t even an independent. My choice was Tory or Labour. There was no way I could ever in a million years vote Tory, so I had to click my heels three times, cross my fingers behind my back and put my cross next to the Labour candidate. The second was the 1997 election when I didn’t vote at all. When I had headed over to Chesterfield on the Friday before polling day, I rather suspected I might get home before 10pm on polling day. It wasn’t to be. I don’t think Mrs Pankhurst would have minded too much, though, because I was working my backside of in one of the most fantastic campaigns I have ever worked on.

The thought of Scotland sending a contingent of 100% of nationalist MPs elected on barely half the vote was something that deeply disturbed me. they would then claim that they spoke for Scotland, dismissing those who didn’t support them. Don’t get me wrong, there are some issues where I have a lot of common ground with them. However, their nationalism and quest for independence aside, they have a strong authoritarian, illiberal streak which goes against all my instincts. If Labour were the only ones likely to be able to beat them, shouldn’t I hold my nose and just vote Labour?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 78 Comments

Another way to waste time on the internet

There’s a new app about which purports to be able to guess your age from a photo. Journalists with nothing better to do have been putting politicians’ photos through it.

Buzzfeed has the UK leaders. Nick Clegg and David Cameron were born weeks apart, yet this app has Cameron at 56 and Clegg at 52. They are both 48. Whoops. 45 year old Ed Miliband will be happy that he was determined to be 38.

The Scottish leaders were assessed by the Scotsman. Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader, will be delighted to have lost 9 years and to be judged …

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Caron’s Sunday Selection: Must-read articles from the Sunday papers

sundaypapsOn the last Sunday before the election, here’s a quick selection of the must-reads from the Sunday papers. Five years ago on this Sunday, we woke up to favourable comments in the Observer and Scotland on Sunday. Would anyone recommend voting for us today or would the papers revert tot type?

The Observer, presumably for its own reasons, has a very unbalanced look at coalition options after the election for the Liberal Democrats. The article barely even looks at a deal with Labour and has a number of sitting MPs, including David Ward, saying that the coalition with the Tories might continue. They might have done well to look at my article on the party’s processes so that they didn’t assume that it was all in the MPs’ gift. Oh, and a member of the LDV team gets quoted.

In news that will surprise nobody, the Observer backs Labour. Unlike its sister paper, though, which advised tactical voting for the Lib Dems in places like the South West, the leader ostentatiously ignores us.

Funnily enough, the Sunday Times (£) talks up Liberal Democrats slating the Tories to try to persuade Tory voters not to vote tactically.

Clegg has said he will deal first with the largest party, but in a sign that a repeat of the coalition may be difficult the Lib Dem Tim Farron last night warned that his party should be prepared to “walk away” if it does not get what it wants, branding Conservative instincts as “wicked”.

He said a Tory government without the Lib Dems would be “a horror story”, creating an “uncivilised” country “that we should be ashamed of”.

Farron said his party would inject “compassion and basic humanity and civilisation into an otherwise wicked Tory administration

In news which will surprise nobody, the paper backs the Tories but urges Tory voters in Lib Dem Labour marginals to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrat.

But Peter Kellner finds room to hope for Liberal Democrats, finding strong recovery in key seats.

We find that Conservative support is holding up better in the party’s key marginal seats than in the rest of the country, and also that the Liberal Democrats are recovering strongly, albeit from a low base, in the seats they are defending.

The upshot is that I have increased the number of seats that I expect the Lib Dems to hold, and reduced the number of seats that Labour is likely to gain from the Conservatives.

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments
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