Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #424

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 424th 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 (19-25 July, 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 | 2 Comments

Federal Executive urges party to stand in Police and Crime Commissioner Elections

Way back in 2011, the then Federal Executive created, shall we say, a little light controversy by deciding not to fund any Liberal Democrat campaigns for Police and Crime Commissioner on the grounds that we didn’t support the idea as it concentrated too much power in the hands of one person.

After much discussion, the party did eventually contest 24 out of the 36 contests in England and none in Wales.

The posts are up for election again next May and FE discussed the party’s approach to them at its meeting last Monday. This time it’s very different. The recommendation FE made was that the party should endeavour to fight every seat. The PCC elections mean that the whole of Britain will be voting for something on the same day (there are devolved elections in Scotland, Wales and London as well as local elections as well) and it’s an important test of national opinion.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 25 Comments

And this is why MPs doing casework is important

I’ve heard quite a few people say that MPs should concentrate on making laws and not act as “glorified social workers.” I totally disagree with that approach.

I’ve also heard politicians, ministers, even Liberal Democrat ones, confidently tell meetings that it’s fine, such and such a problem is fixed and the service in question is now working well when any service user will tell you that this is far from the truth.

This is why it’s so important for MPs to understand what problems people are facing and to take action to fix them.

One example of this comes from Orkney and Shetland. We all know that claiming benefits is s bit of a nightmare, particularly if you are required to have a Work Capability Assessment. If you live in a remote area, and they don’t come much more remote than those two islands, you could find yourself waiting for a very long time for that assessment, leaving you temporarily out of pocket.

Island residents took their concerns to local Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael who flew to Aberdeen last week to meet contractors Maximus (who replaced ATOS). The Shetland News reports:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Jo Swinson highlights need for better management to increase productivity

It sounds obvious, but well-,managed employees who feel part of a team with a shared goal perform better. Sadly, not all employees work under good managers who are able to get the best out of their teams. This week, Jo Swinson highlighted the need for good management as WSB reports:

“The role of good management skills needs to be more prominent in the thinking about productivity,” Swinson said.

One of the biggest challenges we face in dealing with the productivity dilemma in this country is about improving the quality of management skills.

She said the lack of managerial training was an “ingrained

Posted in News | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Lib Dems Strasburger and McInnes seek answers on whether parliamentarians’ communications have been intercepted

In the House of Lords this week, Paul Strasburger was quick to question the government on whether Parliamentarians’ data was being scooped up by GCHQ in contravention of the 49 year old Wilson Doctrine which prohibits this.

The exchange is as follows:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which methods of communication used by members of either House of Parliament are not presently subject to the Wilson doctrine.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen (Con): My Lords, as the noble Lord may be aware, there is an ongoing litigation in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal on the Wilson doctrine. In fact, there is a hearing tomorrow. One of the issues that the tribunal is looking to consider is the scope of the doctrine. Given this ongoing litigation, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at present.

Lord Strasburger (LD): My Lords, David Anderson’s recent report confirmed what we already knew from Edward Snowden—namely, that, every day, GCHQ is hoovering up the private data of millions of innocent citizens without the informed consent of Parliament. Can the Minister explain how the Government manage to comply with the Wilson doctrine by excluding the private data of parliamentarians when they are scooping up everyone else’s indiscriminately?

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Lib Dem digital guru Rathe talks to Guardian about internet communications

The Guardian has taken an interest in the deluge of emails being sent out by the Labour Party recently. Our head of Members and Supporters Austin Rathe is quoted in the piece explaining the difference between Labour’s approach and ours.

Most of what is being done by both party’s has been poached from the Obama campaigns.  But while Labour have been more indiscriminate in their approach, the Liberal Democrats have sought to build relationships with people. All those emails with pictures of cute babies that the Labour Party use to harvest your email address are not well used. Over to Austin:

They knew nothing about you except that you’re an email address,” says Rathe. “And they just throw everything at you. It’s a sledgehammer approach – it’s watching what went on in the States and learning all the wrong lessons, just thinking that you just have to send a lot of email. But you’ve got to talk to people about things they’re interested in, it’s got to be driven by that.” Rathe’s party uses email more to focus on achievable local goals than the big national picture. “We build relationships with people on issues that they care about,” Rathe adds. “And we give local campaigners the tools to do it themselves.”

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments

LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Diplomacy, not bombs will defeat ISIS. The west is being sucked into a sectarian conflict

So, David Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, pledges to help the US in the Middle East. We know that that sort of intervention is unlikely to end well. It would also be unlikely that the UN would ever agree to sanction any military action. Russia and China would just block it. So the option would be to have another Iraq, without properly defined objectives and potentially make a horrendous situation even worse.

I don’t always agree with Paddy, but he’s always my first port of call on foreign affairs. He’s been writing for the Independent about what should happen next and what is the best way to tackle the growing ISIS problem. And if you are under any illusion about life under ISIS, have a look at how they treat women and gay people.

Paddy reckons we’ve been too careless, too quick to grab the guns instead of quietly building international coalitions to tackle the major problems faced in the region.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Lib Dem peers challenge “outrageous gerrymander” by Tories

The Government has ignored Electoral Commission advice and brought forward changes to the way we register to vote. Individual electoral registration was brought in during the last Parliament, but electoral registers would have contained existing data until 1 December 2016. They have now moved this forward to 1 December this year.

Liberal Democrat peers didn’t miss this announcement sneaking out as MPs and Peers head off for Summer recess and they have laid down motions in both houses of Parliament to try to defeat it.

The Guardian has the details;

The Electoral Commission had advised the government in June to spend another year transferring voters on the old household-based register to the new individual register, but ministers want to short-circuit the process so that it is completed by December 2015, and not the end of 2016. The commission says there are 1.9 million names on the household register that are not on the individual register

The cleaned-up register will form the basis of the parliamentary constituency boundary review to be conducted before the 2020 election that will both reduce the number of seats and see a redrawing of the boundaries in favour of the Conservatives.

Although this is clearly an issue for the Boundary Review, surely this will also drop nearly 2 million people off the register for the European Referendum if it happens before 1 December 2016. Might that give an advantage to one side or the other? Given that it’s most likely to be young people who drop off the register, it could minimise the Yes vote.

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

On Farron’s lurch to the left…

If you read some commentators, you’d think that in less than a week of leadership, Tim Farron had virtually turned us all into revolutionary socialists.

Matt Dahan wrote a story for the Independent which suggested that Nick Clegg would be “shaking his head” in “uncomfortable dismay” at Tim Farron’s bid to “form a Lib/Lab pact” to oppose welfare cuts.

The former deputy prime minister has been left sitting on the backbenches in the House of Commons, where he is forced to choose between toeing the party line or causing what would be a major rebellion in a party of just eight MPs.

It seems Mr Farron is leading the Lib Dems further to the left than Labour, even sending a letter to interim Labour leader Harriet Harman telling her to form a Lib-Lab alliance to fight the Government’s spending cuts.

Except Tim’s stance on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill is entirely consistent with the stance Nick Clegg took in Government. He stopped all this nonsense about taking Housing Benefit off young people and limiting tax credits to two children and further reducing the benefits cap. If Tim had supported them, it would have been a massive story.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 64 Comments

Paddy on power, pacts and poultry

On Monday night, Paddy Ashdown took to Reddit to take questions from Liberal Democrat members and supporters. Here are some of the highlights:

Power to the people:

Hi Paddy, How do you think the State should be reinvented? Which parts of the State would you shrink, and which part would you grow? Which Departments and bodies should the party seek to abolish, and which ones should we expand or create? An Example would be the Scotland Office. Should we abolish it or should we merge it with the Wales and Northern Ireland Offices? And what about Departments such as BIS ot Quangos like Tech City UK?

Paddy’s response:

Take power and devolve it closer to the people. The state should deal only with this things at national level (our Defence, Foreign Affairs, Macro-economics). Westminster would do much better of it did much less. All decisions which turn on the delivery of public services (health Education, welfare etc) should be taken, within a framework of national entitlements, at the lower level closer to the citizen. This is what Liberals back to Gladstone have always believed. The fundamental difference between us and Labour and the Tories is that we believe in a state based on powerful citizens, not strong state dependent on powerless subjects.

Pacts:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #423

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 423rd 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 July, 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 | 3 Comments

Farron’s first Sunday media marathon

Tim is doing the media rounds this morning with interviews on Marr, Murnaghan (at 10:20) and John Pienaar (at 10:35).

Here are some tweets from his Marr appearance:

adding that he wanted them to join the Liberal Democrats to fight the Tories on the appalling things that they are planning on doing.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 12 Comments

Bold new graphics for a new leader

There’s a lovely new range of graphics in a whole new style. Well done to the creative types in the party who have put them together, mainly from quotes from his speech on Thursday night. They are very pretty. And there’s not a Stronger Economy, Fairer Society in sight.

The first comes from a comment he made on Twitter to a Liberal Youth member which sums up his feelings on same sex marriage:

Farron Love is love

 

Farron graphic 2

Posted in News | Tagged | 36 Comments

The men who bankrolled the Liberal Democrat Leadership campaigns

So, I went looking for the Register of MPs’ Interests earlier today. My intent was not particularly noble. My heart was bleeding to such an extent over Tobias Ellwood’s penury that I just wanted to check if there was anything in there that might help help him out. Bless him, he only had the £3.5k for being in the Territorial Army to help supplement his £90k ministerial salary. His wife is only a corporate lawyer, too. I really don’t know how they manage. And, of course, Tobias is so full of empathy for his fellow poor people that he’s more than happy to walk through a voting lobby and freeze their benefits for four years while he picks up a £7000 pay rise.  Can you hear those violins? But at least he will get more of his money taxed at the lower rate this year, as George Osborne has taken pity on him and made sure that he’s increased the amount he can earn before he pays higher rate tax.

It turns out there’s a brand new Register out, released on Wednesday, so I thought I’d look our lot up. Nothing terribly exciting, except that at least some of the donations to the leadership campaigns have now been registered.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Talking Tim on Radio Scotland

Yesterday, I went on the Stephen Jardine show on Radio Scotland to spill all Tim Farron’s secrets and discuss his prospects with Stephen and John Crace from the Guardian. Sadly, I didn’t quite get through all of them, but that at least means I have them for another time.

You can listen to it all here from about 1 hour 18 minutes in. Do feel free to laugh at me criticising the party’s election messages for use of too many body parts and then using two myself in fairly quick succession.

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LDVideo: Tim Farron’s first speech as Liberal Democrat leader

Here it is in full, courtesy of Sky News – Tim’s first speech, delivered to a packed Islington Assembly Hall. I followed it on Twitter while I was on a train and it was giving me goosebumps so you might need to sit down with a cup of tea to watch the whole thing. Full of passion and energy and purpose and articulating an practical, relevant, optimistic, joyful liberalism.

A member of the audience fainted at one point and was incredibly apologetic but Tim was quick to reassure him and make sure he was ok.

There is a transcript on the party website, reproduced below for ease.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 26 Comments

Tim Farron is the new Liberal Democrat leader

BBC News announcement of Tim as leader

Congratulations, Tim, on being elected leader of a party that doesn’t often want to be led at one of  the most challenging times in its history.

And here’s the official tweet:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 185 Comments

“Soggy Syriza with sandals” – thanks, Danny, for giving Osborne a stick to beat us with

I almost choked on my Earl Grey this morning when I read Danny Alexander’s piece in the New Statesman in which he suggested that there was much to cheer in George Osborne’s budget. I wondered if he had forgotten that May, you know, happened?

The reason we lost so many seats to the Tories is,  at least in part,  that the people who voted for us no longer felt that we represented their values, the sorts of values that had seen us stand up for freedom and social justice. Those people turned to the Greens and Labour. Yes, of course the Tory tactics over the SNP were relevant but we kind of stoked that by legitimising it.

We also made a great thing during the election campaign of talking about our opposition to the Tories’ £12 billion welfare cuts proposals, much of which we had stopped in government. Now Danny suggests that we shouldn’t go out of our way to oppose them in opposition:

Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats should envisage a future as a sort of soggy Syriza in sandals. I  don’t like some of the welfare reforms in the Budget, but to make it the political dividing line is to fail to recognise the views of most people.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 46 Comments

Liberal Democrats should support a strong, member led trade union movement

Without trade unions. we wouldn’t have many of the rights we take for granted today. From parental leave to paid holidays to the right to strike, these organisations have helped build the case for better working conditions over the years. The right of workers to take action and withdraw their labour is an important one.

That’s not to say that unions always act sensibly. I grew up in the 1970s and was horrified by these mass meetings where people had to vote by raising their hands in front of everyone. If you didn’t agree with the scary leaders, would you not be terrified of what might happen to you if you voted against them? Abuse of power, wherever it happens, is offensive to the liberal mindset and what we had at that time was massive abuse of power by collectivist union leaderships. So, there were quite a few aspects of the Tory reforms of the 1980s that were helpful. Introducing secret ballots before strike action could happen was a very good thing. If Scargill had balloted the niners in 1984, the outcome might have been very different.

But now the Tories have come up with measures to completely undermine the unions. Even if we were having 1970s levels of strikes, some of these plans would not be appropriate. The requirement for 40% of those eligible to back the proposals imposes on unions alone a restriction not faced by the Government itself. Elected on just over a third of the votes of just over two thirds of the people, it is now free to impose its overall majority on all of us. Is that fair? It’s effectively questioning its own legitimacy but can’t see it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

The truth about Government measures on the gender pay gap – this was the work of the Liberal Democrats, not the Tories

This week has seen David Cameron trying to portray himself as some sort of equalities champion as he announced plans to force companies to disclose data on the gender pay gap.  You would never have thought that his party had spent most of the last government fighting such a measure, only to finally agree it almost at the last minute. He may attempt to take the credit, but it’s Jo Swinson who did all the work. She tweeted:

Back in March, Jo announced on this site that the Liberal Democrat policy was to become a reality. Here’s what she said back then:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

LIbLink: Willie Rennie: We need the facts on the M9 tragedy

Ten days ago, a small blue car crashed just off the M9 near Stirling. A call was made to the Police reporting the incident. Nothing was done for three days. The driver of the car, John Yuill, was already dead. His partner, Lamara Bell was still alive but, sadly, she too died on Sunday.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is one of the MSPs for the area. He has called for a comprehensive and wide-ranging enquiry to which all police staff should be free to contribute without fear of repercussions. He is concerned at attempts by the Chief Constable to pre-judge the existing smaller scale enquiry. Sir Stephen House apologised for Police Scotland’s failures but made it sound as though the fault was down to an individual. That seems to me to be grossly unfair to a member of staff. We know that pressure on staff has increased as control rooms have been closed and we need to look properly at the impact that these measures have had on staff wellbeing and their ability to provide the service we need from them. 

Posted in LibLink and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Lib Dem Lords fight for votes at 16 in Council elections

The Liberal Democrat campaign for votes at 16 enters a new stage today as the Lords debates the Cities Bill. Liberal Democrat Paul Tyler has put down an amendment which would enable 16 and 17 year olds to vote in Council elections in England and Wales.

Labour have said that they will support Paul’s amendment. If it passes, it will then be up to David Cameron’s Conservative MPs to overturn it. I suspect that they will have no problem doing that given that young people are hardly top of their list of priorities at the moment. However, you don’t need many Tory rebels to threaten the Government’s majority. The only thing is that you would need the SNP to vote in order to defeat the Government in the Commons. If the SNP does vote on this entirely English and Welsh matter, you would be less likely to get the Tory rebels. The chances of it becoming law therefore seem slim at this stage.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 12 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #422

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 422nd 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 July, 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 | 3 Comments

Conference controversy guaranteed – Renewal of Trident to be debated

Full details of the agenda for Autumn Conference will be released in due course, but reports on social media say that a motion calling for Trident not to be renewed at all will be debated.

If passed, this would mean an end to a succession of fudges on the issue in recent, and not so recent, years.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 41 Comments

Dangling on a rope, pulling pints, catching the tube – photos of Nick Clegg by the party’s official photographer

nick clegg with diver 17th April 2015 Photo by James Gourley from Liberal Democrats CCL Flickr photostream
James Gourley worked for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats as our official photographer until May.

He’s put up some super photos on this blog post.

Nick is seen at Go Ape where he famously went during the election, on the campaign bus, behind the scenes at Conference, sitting on the Government benches in the House of Commons, feeding a sea lion, waiting to catch a tube. He was even smiling when he was doing that!

You can see him delivering leaflets, blowing up balloons, rehearsing his speech for conference and much more.

The photos capture the mood of the moments beautifully and are well worth a look.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Tim Farron as many of us have never seen him before

A tweet from the Labour leader of Newcastle City Council won the internet yesterday. It shows the candidates for North West Durham in the 1992 election. Labour’s Hilary Armstrong represented the seat from 1987-2010, but her opponents in 1992 were interesting. There was one Theresa May for the Conservatives looking like she was about to leap out of the photograph and eat you if you disagreed with her and a very youthful Tim Farron.

He was just a month shy of his 22nd birthday when he stood in that election.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 13 Comments

The first big Conference clash – Doctor Who or the Rally?

Well, the BBC has given a little bit of a gift to the many Liberal Democrat conference goers who are Doctor Who fans. The new series starts on the Saturday night. Unfortunately, this presents a little bit of a dilemma to inveterate rally goers like me. Do I go and see the new leader at his first big event of the Conference, or do I go and watch Doctor Who with the other fans?

Conference is full of such clashes. In any given time slot there is likely to be at least 3 things you want to go to. To have one so early in the event, though, is unusual.

It would be really lovely if the Federal Conference Committee, at their meeting tomorrow, could look at the possibility of providing Doctor Who fans with a room and a screen somewhere so we could all watch it together. We never get the chance to do that and it would make us all very happy if they could. Here’s a taster of what we might see:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Some thoughts on the tube strike

Just about now, people across London will be thinking about how on earth they are going to get home. The underground system, on which so many rely, is shut down for the day due to a strike. What is the liberal approach to sorting the situation?

I am not often out late partying in London. Just over a year ago, I was down for the fantastic wedding of Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling. I was really shocked that the tube stopped running as early as it did on a Saturday night. I mean, public transport doesn’t usually run 24/7, but this was London, for goodness sake. I had a bit of a panic when I thought I’d missed the last Piccadilly Line train back to my hotel, but, thankfully, one turned up.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 29 Comments

Alistair Carmichael 1 Chris Grayling 0

So, after Alistair Carmichael’s use of a parliamentary device to deliver  a whomping defeat on the Government over their attempt to railroad through English Votes for English Laws, Chris Grayling has announced that he’s not going to put the matter to a vote on Tuesday after all. During the 3 hour debate instigated by Alistair, the Government’s case became even more incoherent. The Herald has the story:

Ministers were facing potential defeat in the Commons vote on ‘English votes for English laws’ – due to be held next week.

Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the DUP were all expected to vote against the proposals, which also caused disquiet on the Tory backbenches.

Chris Grayling, the leader of the House, told MPs the proposals would be redrafted and reintroduced later this year.

This is not over by any manner of means, but Alistair’s victory is important because it means that a major constitutional reform has not been brought in on the say-so of just one parliamentary chamber. This should be properly scrutinised. A draft bill examined by both Houses of Parliament would seem sensible to me – a bit like we had for the Snoopers’ Charter, or, indeed, just bring a proper bill through Parliament in the usual way.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Greg Mulholland’s row with the Speaker – the obvious solution

Yesterday, Leeds MP Greg Mulholland tried to ask a question about the availability of a drug to treat a constituent’s rare disease – and was prevented from doing so by the Speaker for being “long-winded.”  ITV News has the story:

Speaker John Bercow had warned Mr Mulholland to be quick in his statement but after referring to missed decision dates given to families by health authorities, the Lib Dem was told to resume his seat.

Six-year-old Sam Brown from Otley. Sam, who has Morquio syndrome needs Vimazim treatment, mentioned by Mr Mulholland, but NHS England deferred a decision over whether to provide the drug, then last week announced it would wait for guidance from NICE, the health body consulting on the drug.

There is a video of the exchange on the ITV site and, to be honest, I’m quite annoyed with John Bercow. Greg was no more long-winded than many of the other questions that day – Hansard has the details so you can see for yourself. All Greg had said before he was interrupted was this:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 15 Comments
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    What Richard said
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    He has now resigned from the Lords, taking advantage of an exit route legislated via David Steel.
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    Welcome aboard. Please consider joining the Green Liberal Democrats as well as the main party.
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