Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Teacher workload – a concern north and south of the border

Yesterday, Nick Clegg gave a speech to public sector workers. His specific focus was on teacher workload. Everyone thinks that teachers work short hours and have long holidays. Yet everyone who has a child actually at school will know how much effort goes in to preparing lessons. And everyone who knows a teacher knows that they spend a lot of their supposed “off-duty” time thinking of interesting lessons or, more likely these days, filling in interminable paperwork. We know that children need to be kept safe and their progress checked, but I get the feeling that the bureaucracy is overbearing and unnecessary. Let’s just give you a small example from my own experience. Every time my child sets foot outside the school we have to fill in a consent form. It’s A4. It has all sorts of medical info on it. It even asks how far they can swim unaided, a skill which is unlikely to be needed when representing the school in a maths competition or reading stories to 6 year olds in the local primary school. We can be filling in one of these forms twice a month. If it’s a mild inconvenience for us as parents, what’s it like for teachers who have maybe 30 of them to collect for each class? Why can parents not fill in a standing consent with all the info which covers the whole year?

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

Shouldn’t Parliament Square be for protesters?

Parliament square by Paul WalterThe name Donnachadh McCarthy means something to those of us of a certain age. Donnachadh was once a Liberal Democrat and he was proper Awkward Squad. I spent many hours arguing with him on Cix, which was where all online Liberal Democrats hung out back in the day. Quite often I agreed with him and even when I didn’t, I realised that he was the sort of pain in the backside that every leader needs. Liberals have always been particularly bad at venerating their leaders. Willie Rennie described us, the day he became Scottish leader, as a party that doesn’t want to be led.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

Liberal Democrat storms to by-election win – in the House of Lords

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentWe have a new Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian tonight after a by-election win. It’s a wee while since we could say that. But it’s a very different type of by-election and one that raises more than a little disquiet. I have to say I find it pretty objectionable that you can get a seat in Parliament not through election by actual voters but because of the circumstances of your birth.

The House of Lords Act of 1999 left 92 hereditary peers in place after the Labour government backed down from full reform. That’s the Labour party, blocking reform at every turn whether in government or opposition. When one of them dies, there is a by-election held to admit a new one. The electorate is the whole House of Lords.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 17 Comments

LibLink: Hannah Thompson on her successful campaign to outlaw revenge porn

hannah thompsonEvery time I read about what Hannah Thompson went through, the ordeal of not knowing when and where photos which she had intended only for private consumption would end up next after her former boyfriend abused her trust, it makes me want to cry. Partly in empathy, feeling for what she went through, partly in anger that anyone could do that to a former partner, partly in total admiration at the way she has calmly and reasonably campaigned for what happened to her to be made an offence. This week the House of Lords passed the amendment which makes revenge porn illegal.

Hannah told her story to the Telegraph, first of all talking about the powerlessness of not knowing where these photos, which should never have seen the light of day, would resurface, especially when the Police said there was nothing they could do:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 12 Comments

A sneak preview of the Scottish Autumn Conference Agenda

This year’s Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference takes place much later than usual. It’s been delayed by the Referendum and will take place in Dunfermline on Saturday 22nd November. There’s just about enough time for Presidential candidates to come and chase some last minute votes.

The preliminary agenda has just been published and it’s busy. Six policy debates, two keynote speeches, a  devolution discussion, a thank you reception for our former MEP George Lyon and two lunchtime fringe meetings crammed into one day.

The policy motions include:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #394

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 394th 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 (12-18 October, 2014), 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

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

sundaypapsHere’s my selection of articles to inform, infuriate and inspire from this week’s Sunday papers.

First up this week is a piece from the Observer by Barbara Ellen. Its headline “Like all rapists, Ched Evans will never be really free” got my hackles up, but the article itself is a bit more balanced than its headline suggests. It’s worth remembering, though, that most rapists go unpunished because the conviction rate is scarily low. Ellen says that Evans will never be able to leave this crime behind him, much more so than if he’d been convicted of a different sort of offence. Well, given that the man has shown not one tiny bit of remorse for what he did, or accepted that his victim, being as drunk as she was, was incapable of consenting to what he put her through, or apologised to her, I’m not sure that we can say with any confidence that he has been rehabilitated.  The speed with which he has been given a new high profile football job concerns me as does the way that the media often tries to make excuses for men who are violent to women. It’s not just Evans. Oscar Pistorius comes in for way more sympathy than he actually deserves. In September, a Texas man murdered his 3 young children and his wife before turning the gun on himself. Much of the media coverage around this mentioned the strain he must have been under, rather than the horros he put his family through. This article sums up why that approach is just wrong. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #393

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 393rd 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 (5-11 October, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed. This is very late. It’s been languishing in drafts since Monday evening but the not so small matter of a bit of a health scare in m house (he’s fine now he’s full of rat poison) has delayed it.

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 | 5 Comments

Voters give Liberal Democrats credit for tax threshold rise according to IPSOS-MORI poll

We all heard David Cameron and George Osborne take credit as often as they can for the raising of the tax threshold during this Parliament but a poll from IPSOS-MORI with fieldwork done after our Conference shows that the public just aren’t buying the Tory claims. 41% give the Liberal Democrats the credit for the policy compared to just 26% for the Conservatives as this graphic shows.

ISPOS-MORI tax threshold poll

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Liberal Democrat Lucy Care answers questions from NUS students

The National Union of Students is questioning candidates across the country via the medium of Twitter as part of its build up to next year’s General Election.

The idea is that they will take one marginal seat at a time and ask each of its candidates a series of ten questions. The  candidates will then tweet their replies. The first such event took place last Wednesday involving the candidates from Derby North, including our own Lucy Care. Tackling the subject of tuition fees in 140 characters and doing it justice was quite a challenge but Lucy managed it.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

Danny Alexander’s stroll on the Grassy Knoll and other great #dannyswalks

Twitter is evil. We all knew that, right?

And it can be very funny.

And even evilly funny.

Out of the most innocent and an assuming of gestures, it can make a Big Internet Thing.

And so it was when all that Danny Alexander did was change his cover photo. He picked an image of him walking alongside Loch Morlich, near Aviemore in the heart of his Highland constituency.  In the shadow of Cairngorm mountain itself, he strolled, casually dressed.

And then Hannah Thompson, who you may remember is the woman whose brilliant campaign against revenge porn is about to change the law to make it an offence, casually mused:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez on faking it, elites and inspiring girls

Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez by Liberal DemocratsThere’s a great interview in the Standard with Miriam Gonzàlez Duràntez. It irks me slightly that Charlotte Edwardes doesn’t even get 20 words into her article before she mentions what Miriam is wearing. At least she got “top corporate lawyer” in there first, so I guess that counts as progress.

All the papers have picked up on what Miriam said to a group of young women – telling them that women have been faking things for years so they should fake self confidence. It’s  about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Learning six languages changed my life

rally paddy 01The Guardian is hosting an exhibition called “The Languages that changed my life” at its office in London. This interests me as I was both good at and fascinated by languages at school and I now have a teenager who almost obsessively studies language, learning Swahili, French and a bit of Mandarin Chinese for fun.

Paddy Ashdown has written a piece for the Guardian’s exhibition  about how his language learning has enhanced his life. There are a couple of quite funny anecdotes. Just be thankful he didn’t make one of them at a diplomatic reception or there might have been an international incident:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Fancy seeing Adam Stachura dangling on a rope?

Scottish Director of Campaigns works very hard. He has had a referendum and a European election to deal with this year so he’s been putting in many hours. You can tell how much of a slog it’s been for him by what he chooses to do on one of his rare days off.

On Sunday, Adam and his partner Gemma will be abseiling down the 165 feet of the Forth Rail Bridge to raise money for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  I never knew he had a head for heights. He doesn’t need to have on the golf course where he normally spends his free time.  This You Tube video quite accurately conveys the height and the wind and the conditions Adam and Gamma will face. I’m not embedding it because it gave me Vertigo, but it’s worth a watch. Just as an aside, the white building across the road is the Hawes Inn in South Queensferry where I had my wedding reception. 

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Lynne Featherstone on shortlist for Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone at PrideOn 6th November, Stonewall’s annual awards ceremony takes place in London. Many Liberal Democrats have had their issues with Stonewall in the past, but I’d say that they are definitely improving. For example, it’s good to see Stonewall Scotland’s “Some people are Trans, get over it” t-shirts. They may have come late to the equal marriage party, but they got there eventually.  On top of that,  their resources for schools are excellent.  Stonewall Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, who is doing some great work in making the organisation more inclusive, spoke at our Conference in Glasgow.

Up for Politician of the Year is our own Lynne Featherstone, the woman who set the country firmly on the road to same sex marriage. Alex Neil, the Minister who was responsible for the Scottish bill, is also nominated. As an aside, it was announced yesterday that the first Scottish same sex marriages will take place on Hogmanay. That’s not a huge amount of time to organise a party, but I’m sure some will manage it.

The shortlist in full is:

Lord Cashman
Lynne Featherstone MP
Lord Fowler
Kerry McCarthy MP
Alex Neil MSP

Posted in News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Lib Dem Peers try to make revenge porn a criminal offence

Next Wednesday, 22nd October, the House of Lords will debate the following amendment  to the Criminal Justice Bill which, if passed, would make revenge porn a criminal offence. It follows :

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 14 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #392

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 392nd 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 (28 September – 4 October, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed. This is last week’s, being published late because of Conference. This week’s will also be a little late as I’m away this weekend. Seriously, Libereal Democrat conference last weekend, Doctor Who convention this weekend. I know how to live.

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

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

Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

The Glee Club makes the headlines

Glee Club 2014There’s no question that the Liberal Democrats’ traditional end of conference sing-a-thon is very marmite and Brussels Sprouts. I love it and am usually in my place for the start at 10 pm. This time, though, I didn’t get there till nearly 1 in the morning. It took me from 11pm when I arrived back at the Crowne Plaza after going out for dinner till then to cover the short distance from the door to the room where it was taking place because I kept meeting friends and new people and chatting away to them. I do hope that the people I was chatting to were sober enough to remember the ideas for articles that we talked about. “Confessions of a Trotskyite at Liberal Democrat Conference” is one I definitely want to read.

Anyway, I missed the traditional gathering of the Scots to sing Oh Flower of Scotland, but I did get there just in time for a very non-traditional rendition of English Country Garden. Do not ever find out the lyrics of this song if you are of a delicate disposition. I thought I was broad-minded but there were some things I didn’t know and had to ask. It is the smuttiest thing you will ever read.

The Liberator Song Book is a satirical and nostalgic meander through our party’s history. From The Land, a centuries old radical protest song calling for land value taxation to a song castigating Don Foster for ending our support for student grants (in order to maintain free tuition) in the 1990s, each song and its backstory means something to us. Rumour has it that at the Conference where this was debated, a pint found its way over Don’s head in a late night heated discussion in a Conference bar.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Glasgow Gossip: Fashion special

After all the obsession with Nick Clegg’s clothes yesterday, here’s some more Glasgow Conference fashion:

Here are Reading’s John Grout resplendent in yellow trousers with candidates for Reading East and West Jenny Woods (left) and Meri O’Connell.

john grout and co

Nottingham’s Sarah Brown resplendent in her crocheted black and yellow dress which she made herself. She takes commissions and does a great line in glittery crocheted Santa hats:

sarah brown

 

 

 

And this fellow was part of a Friends of the Earth campaign to get solar …

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Glasgow Gossip #2: Jumpergate

If you’re interested in welfare, you’ll know thatGeorge Potter has been one of the most ardent campaigners against the Coalition’s welfare reforms. And, true to form, he spoke in yesterday’s welfare debate. However, it’s not what he said that riled Louise Mensch. It’s what he was wearing.

She was reacting to George’s tweet showing the BBC picture of him speaking:

In a series of tweets, Louise and others slated his fashion choices and accused George of whining when he complained.  Have a look at these:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Conference speeches: Kirsty Williams: Liberal Democrats are the radical, positive choice

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams gave her keynote speech to Conference this morning. Full of passion, radicalism and determination to fight the divisive, dog-whistle politics we are seeing more and more of these days. I don’t think I have ever wanted to run out of the hall and get a speech up on here quite so much. I have to say to Paddy that if he doesn’t make sure Kirsty is on telly every single day of the short election campaign and as much as possible between now and then, I will actually challenge him to a fight. And I will win.

Here it is in full. I particularly loved the section on why Scots voted yes. She was realistic and shows the sort of attitude that I felt that we needed to see more of during the campaign. And she said it straight, that complacency in Westminster allowed nationalism to thrive in Scotland.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Glasgow Gossip #1

A couple of tales which have reached my ears. Both of which involve the over-imbibing of alcohol.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

The big difference between what Olly Grender said and what the Mirror said she said

The Mirror ran a big splash yesterday saying that Liberal Democrat peer Olly Grender was complaining that her House of Lords allowance is insufficient. “We struggle to get by on £300 per day tax free allowance” screams the headline.

If you actually look at the substance of the story, there is absolutely nothing to substantiate  that total misrepresentation of what she was saying. They even run a little poll asking if you could get by on £300 tax free.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , and | 24 Comments

Caron’s Conference Selection: must-read stories from today’s press and online commentary

Here are my must-read stories from today’s press about Liberal Democrat Conference. You wouldn’t expect anything else from a Guardian editorial than to emphasise our shortcomings and the electoral challenges we face. And this one certainly does that. It notices with curiosity the results of yesterday’s survey which show that 80% of respondents to our survey support the Coalition. However, it recognises that we are unique in one respect and are needed on the political scene:

 In the Guardian’s view, British politics needs the Liberal Democrats for one thing above all. It needs them to provide the parliamentary nerve of outrage against an unreformed political system and against encroachments on civil liberties which is so often dulled in the other major parties.

It follows, especially in a week when the Tories have signalled more anti-terror powers and neutering the European human rights court, that the Lib Dems must make a virtue at every turn of their principled liberal view of justice and human rights. They may wish to claim to have done good work in government on pensions, school finance, bank reform and increasing personal allowances — and some bits, perhaps even all, of that may be true in some ways. But the party’s uniqueness remains its commitment to the rule of law, to human rights, to empowering the individual against an over-mighty state, to reforming and devolving politics and government, and to insistent internationalism. It matters that a party that stood up for proper press reform, against the snoopers’ charter and asked some of the questions others have feared to ask about the Edward Snowden revelations should survive.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 21 Comments

The Liberal Democrat Voice Awards 2014: The Shortlists

This morning,  party members registered on our members’ forum were sent an email giving them a link to vote on the shortlists for our Awards, due to be presented in Glasgow on Saturday night.

Before I go any further, I want to say a massive thank you to Mary Reid for doing most of the work on this year’s event while I was distracted with some little thing going on here in Scotland. Also thanks to Stephen Tall and Ryan Cullen for doing the technical stuff.

And, without further ado, here are the lists. Drum roll, please…

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

Police Scotland change armed policing policy – a victory for Lib Dem McInnes

Armed Police graphicWe’ve covered the controversy over the use of armed police in Scotland several times over the past few months. A standing authority for firearms led to armed officers patrolling Scotland’s streets, often against the wishes of local communities, particularly in the Highlands. People had been horrified to see police officers with guns in their holsters going into the shops in peaceful Highland villages. Concerns were also raised that the routine arming of Police would lead to criminals routinely arming themselves, making us all less safe.

Danny Alexander took exception to armed police patrolling the streets of Inverness. Alison McInnes, the highly effective Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson in the Scottish Parliament, has campaigned tirelessly for a change in policy. And yesterday, Police Scotland changed its mind. The BBC reports;

Specialist armed police officers in Scotland will in future only be deployed to firearms incidents or where there is a threat to life.

The move came following concerns from politicians about officers carrying weapons while on routine patrol.

Opposition parties described the move as a U-turn.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

The most important part of our election strategy…

Election Strategy BriefingLet me put this bluntly. If we as a party don’t get our backsides into gear and fight the campaign of our lives over the next few months, the horror story that’s been unfolding in front of our eyes at the Tory Conference could be a reality. That could be our government. I don’t think any of us actually want that to happen, however annoyed we may be with various decisions taken by the Coalition Government. I certainly don’t want it to take a period of majority Tory Government for folk to realise that the Liberal Democrats actually did some good.

The party knows that it needs all its members engaged, inspired and committed and ready to ask unreasonable things of themselves in terms of commitment of both time and money in the months ahead. To that end, they have sent every member a 16 page Election Strategy Briefing in very official looking brown envelopes. The document explains the Dragon’s Den process which has been taking place with our strategic seats. I’ve been involved in that these past two years as a Scottish party state representative. It’s given me a good overview as to what has been going on in these important places. I have to say I was hugely impressed in the difference between this year and last year.  There has been a huge rise in activity on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, there needed to be, but it’s very heartening to see it. All those campaign teams that I and others put through their paces deserve huge amounts of applause, snuggles with labradors, chocolate, beer and appreciation.  The briefing goes on to explain what we are looking to achieve in the campaign and what we need to get our seats won. It looks at policy, the technology and how that all fits together with what we do on the ground. It’s a good read.

Posted in News | 50 Comments

Cameron and the Tories show us what Government by Daily Mail would look like

It seems very strange to have watched three leaders’ speeches before our own Conference has started. We normally go first in the Conference season but thanks to Mr Alex Salmond and his choice of referendum date, we are bringing this conference season to an end. For once, Nick Clegg gets the chance to have the last word.

Farage, with his dodgy wireless microphone, was as full of himself as ever, even more so when he had a defecting Tory MP to brandish. This was in sharp contrast to Ed Miliband’s clumsy performance. And then we had Cameron. Standing in front of a dark backdrop, looking at his most charming, delivering a speech that had passion and promise. It didn’t just have a melody. It had the whole darned symphony. But he and his ministers have this week painted a picture of a Britain that I really don’t fancy living in, a country where government by Daily Mail values is the norm.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 23 Comments

New Liberal Democrat Conference App now live

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 10.38.29I’ve spent a bit of time this mornn playing with the Conference App this morning. Apple took its time to approve it, but it’s now downloadable from the App store and from wherever it is you get Android bits and pieces. (Update: As Jenny reminded me in the comments below, I should tell you where to look: Lib Dem Conf should do it.)

It works better than previous incarnations have. It allows you to create your own Conference schedule, adding in your own meetings. Mine already looks quite scary. My slight grips is that it doesn’t seem to list things in time order on the day. My Saturday starts with the Liberal Democrat Voice Awards and ends with the Safer Sex Work motion with the Presidential hustings in between It seems to list private appointments first, then fringe then agenda items.

It has maps of the venues, the whole agenda and directory and, as a separate item, the ministerial Q and As. I would like to express my great displeasure at whoever it was who decided to put Lynne Featherstone’s at the same time as Nick Clegg’s first session in the hall on Monday afternoon.

It will also be updated to have the Conference Extra, which has the amendments in it and all the questions to Committees. I’m hearing that there are a tonne of both, and the Conference Daily which has all the up to date news each day and things like the Emergency Motions ballot.

Jennie Rigg has raised concerns on Twitter about privacy, saying that the app wants permissions to access various parts of your smartphone before you can even download it, meaning that in theory your location would be tracked. If that’s important to you, you might want to check with the Conference people at HQ, who are usually pretty good at responding on the @LibDemConf twitter account if you raise things with them. Perhaps they might even like to comment on this article.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Caron’s Guide to the craziness of Conference – updated for Glasgow 2014

Federal Conference is probably the best fun that you will ever have in your life. You will thoroughly enjoy every exhausting moment. If you’re new, it can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to the sensory overload. I had a long break from going to them and when I returned, three years ago, I spent the first day wandering round like a child in a toy shop.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d throw together a fairly random list of tips and hints for getting the best out of the annual cornucopia of Liberal Democracy. If you have any other Conference survival tips, let me know.

1. Plan your days

The Conference day starts with breakfast fringes as early as 7 and goes on until the small hours. There’s a comprehensive training programme alongside the debates in the hall. There are ministerial surgeries. There are 20 or 30 separate fringe meetings in every fringe slot. You can guarantee that you will never be bored and that several things you want to see will be on at the same time. If you want to go to the big events like the New Statesman or Channel 4 events, you are best advised to get there early because they fill up quickly. Be aware as well that you can eat quite well for free by choosing the right fringe meetings. The NUT’s fish and chip supper on Tuesday is one such example. Get your ticket early from their stand. But it’s much easier if you sort out your diary in advance. The best laid plans will always be subject to a better offer or meeting someone you haven’t seen for years randomly in a corridor, but it’s best to at least try to get some order into the proceedings.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohnTilley 24th Oct - 3:28pm
    Matthew, Apologies that last comment got whisked off before I had if finished. It should have ended But I think you are just factually incorrect...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 24th Oct - 3:27pm
    Protest politics is as legitimate a form of politics as making arguments door-to-door — and even if it is not effective at convincing politicians to...
  • User AvatarMatthew Green 24th Oct - 3:14pm
    Well I certainly agree that proper engagement in politics is better than single-issue protests - I so do I agree with much of this article....
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 24th Oct - 3:06pm
    Matthew I agree with you when you say -- "...So we have been pouring enormous subsidies into nuclear power stations for more than fifty years...
  • User AvatarT-J 24th Oct - 3:04pm
    Marketising a service is a way to take it effectively out of the political sphere and into a slightly different category of just so situations....
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 24th Oct - 3:01pm
    The written word is very helpful for those of us who have hearing difficulties!