Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

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 | 3 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 | 6 Comments

Tory welfare plans are anathema to Liberal Democrats. We should not miss any opportunity to condemn them

I suspect most Liberal Democrats will have what we in Scotland call “the dry boak”when they watched Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne outlining plans to impose even more cuts on those people who can least afford to take the hit. A two year freeze for those who have least, including those who are working. Restricting benefits for young people. The benefits cap was a bad idea in the first place, but reducing it further is really wrong. But by far the most egregious of the measures announced yesterday was Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to introduce benefit cards instead of cash to bank accounts. Talk about illiberal. Talk about creating stigma.

What is very clear is that all these things would be being done now if the Liberal Democrats were not there to stop them. It’s a horrible glimpse into single party Tory rule. We can’t subject people to that.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 36 Comments

A bit of a howler in the Tories’ press lines…

Sky News have managed to get hold of a Tory briefing document which gives its MPs and media spokespeople the messages they want to emerge from their Conference. It was drawn up in the wake of the Reckless defection and Newmark resignation. Things drawn up in haste can often cause more problems than they resolve and this is no exception. Take, for example, the bit where they say that they are not stating red lines in coalition negotiations before, er, stating one:

Q. Is policy X a red line for future coalition negotiations?

A. We’re not going to answer hypothetical questions about red lines for coalition negotiations. Our aim is to win an outright majority at the next election so we secure a better future for Britain and that’s what we’re working towards.

Q. But what about your Europe referendum? You’ve said that’s a red line?

A. As our commitment to have a referendum would have to be fulfilled by a specific date after the next election, we think it is right in this one instance to confirm it’s a red line.

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Conference Preview 2014: The Pre-Manifesto Debate

libdemmanifesto 2010 wordleI thought it might be an idea to get some discussion going about the key Conference debates which are now just days away.

Arguably the most important of these is the motion on the Pre-Manifesto. It’s our shop window to the country, the cornerstone of everything we say or do between now and May.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 23 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #391

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our xxxth 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 (21-27 September, 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:

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Conference Preview 2014: The Training

Conf 14 Training GuideEvery year, a few days before Conference, my brain goes into complete meltdown as I try to juggle all the competing demands on my time. There are usually at least 37 things going on in each time slot that I want to go to. Actually, that’s 34 things that I want to do and 3 that I have to do. No wonder I look at Hermione Grainger’s Time Tuner in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabahn so jealously.

I shall try over the next few days to give you a flavour of what’s on offer in Glasgow this year. There’s so much, in the debating hall, in the training rooms, bars and on the fringe. And all it takes is meeting a long lost friend by chance in a corridor to put you off course because you end up talking to them for ages.

Sorting out our timetables has been made much easier in recent years with the smartphone App. It was supposed to have been ready yesterday, but according to Neil Monnery, there’s been a problem at Apple’s end and it won’t be ready until Monday. That company really hasn’t had a good week, has it? Next thing they’ll be announcing that Ed Miliband is their new CEO.

Anyway, let’s have a quick look at the training on offer. This is always an important part of Conference, but even more so in the run-up to a General Election. For a start, campaign teams need to know the legalities because the last thing we need is for an election agent to end up in jail. This year there are courses on election law and the new defamation law designed to keep us out of trouble.

There are courses for every conceivable aspect of the campaign from leaflets to social media to fundraising to membership. It’s worth your local party sitting down and splitting people up between all the sessions or if there aren’t enough of you, teaming up with others to pool the notes.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

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

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

First of all, David Cameron tells the Sunday Times (£)  he wants to lead a government “unencumbered by Liberal Democrats.” He can take it from here, he says. We all know what that means. Demolishing human and employment rights, more welfare cuts, a crazy EU renovation which probably won’t give us the right to vote on what we have already but on a package of opt-outs, if such a thing is achievable which sees us with fewer protections in law than we have already.

His plans on welfare for young people, which aren’t a million miles away from Labour, put the Liberal Democarats in an awkward position come any future coalition negotiations. We surely can’t ever agree to anything like this:

Our ambition is to abolish youth unemployment and make it the case that it’s simply not possible any more to finish school, leave home, sign on and get a flat through housing benefit. That should not be possible in the future.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

New campaign aims to give women equal representation in Scotland’s parliaments and councils

A cross-party campaign aimed at ensuring gender equality in the Scottish Parliament has been set up. The idea comes from Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale and Green MSP Alison Johnstone and has the support from MSPs across the political spectrum including Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes.

Scotland on Sunday has the details:

With Lord Smith of Kelvin’s newly established commission examining the transfer of more powers to the Scottish ­Parliament, the group of six MSPs believes control over equality legislation should be moved from Westminster to Edinburgh.

This would allow MSPs to introduce legal quotas to achieve a 50/50 ratio of females to males at Holyrood, in local government and in the ­Scottish Government’s public bodies.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 17 Comments

A bad day for the Conservatives, Brooks Newmark and journalistic ethics

Well, that’s not a good start to their Conference for the Conservatives. Their MP for Rochester and  Strood Mark Reckless lived up to his name and defected to UKIP, leaving the Tories another £100,000 out of pocket as they defend the second by-election to arise in these circumstances.

Then their Civil Society Minister Brooks Newmark resigned when it emerged that he’d sent a fairly lewd photo to a male Mirror journalist who had been posing as a female activist. When I first saw the details, I tweeted that I wondered what went on in the heads of these public figures  who think that they can send photos like that over social media and not have them exposed. I mean, they might as well cut out the middleman and send them straight to the editor of every tabloid. I did also say that it wasn’t right that the picture had been publicised and that I did feel sorry for Newmark.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 45 Comments

Call Clegg: Nick robust about need to act on ISIL

Nick Clegg LBC squareHere’s today’s Call Clegg. There were some lively exchanges about the rights and wrongs of air strikes in Iraq against ISIL.

I was quite surprised that so many people thought that everyone should just sit down and talk to ISIL. They have shown no sign so far of being “get round the table” sort of people. There will eventually have to be a political and diplomatic solution, but is that really feasible right now? And how best to help the people who are being so brutally tortured and murdered by them. Nick explained that as he saw it, we were part of a broad international project to tackle ISIL in several ways and we were just one part of the jigsaw.

Asked whether he’d have notes when he made his conference speech, he said he would “be speaking with the trapeze safety of an auto cue system.” That has conjured up a mental image I don’t think I’m going to get rid of very quickly.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Rennie chooses Michael Moore and Tavish Scott to represent Liberal Democrats on Scotland Devolution Commission

Willie Rennie announced two very different Liberal Democrat representatives for the Scotland Devolution Commission to be headed by Lord Smith of Kelvin. On one hand you have former Secretary of State, co-architect of the Edinburgh Agreement, statesman, diplomat. On the other you have plain-speaking, uncompromising former leader Tavish Scott. They will be quite a formidable double act,  a parliamentary good cop/bad cop. 

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Wednesday in the Park with Ed

Ed Miliband park photo by ARCHIVE depart,ent of energy and climate changeBefore anyone says anything in the comments, yes, I know what follows is a little childish, but it is fun. I also know that all political leaders share personal stories in their speeches, but they do tend to do it with less clumsiness than Ed Miliband did it yesterday and there’s usually more substance from their speech to write about.

My mission to the world, or at least my friends on Facebook and Twitter this morning was simple. If you met Ed Miliband in a park, what would he say about you in his next Conference speech? the creative minds of social media went for it in style. Here are just a few of the replies.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Nick Clegg explains Liberal Democrat ministers’ decision to support air strikes on ISIL

RAF lightning II aircraft photo by defence imagesNick Clegg has sent an email to all party members this evening to explain why the parliamentary party will be supporting air strikes on ISIL in Iraq.

It contains the entire broadcast interview which he did this afternoon. He talks about what a”vile and murderous” outfit ISIL is, about how the action is legal and how this isn’t being done by “the west” to “the rest”. It comes as part of a coalition of countries acting on a formal request from the legitimate government of Iraq.

Posted in Europe / International, News and Parliament | Tagged , , and | 36 Comments


Glitterball photo by pixelthingNever in the field of Liberal Democrat fundraisers has one event attracted quite so much media attention as the Lib Dem Disco which is due to take place in just 10 days’ time at our Glasgow Conference.

This has been arranged by Cambridge Liberal Democrats to raise  funds for Julian Huppert’s re-election campaign. He will MC the event, assisted by 4 guest DJs, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael Don Foster and, wait for it, me.

Posted in News | Tagged | 10 Comments

Do you support British involvement in air strikes against Islamic State?

It looks as though Parliament will be recalled this Friday to discuss British involvement in air strikes against Islamic State. I thought it might be a good idea to see what you, our readers, thought about this.

I don’t often approve of military action, but I might be open to the possibility on humanitarian grounds alone. I certainly was ok with the airstrikes on Libya in 2011. On IS, we cannot have these people being allowed to chase whole communities up mountains and leave them to starve. We can’t have people being summarily executed for refusing to convert to a particular religion. Standing by and doing nothing while that is going on is not an option. However, we can’t just go wading in there. Air strikes alone will do little more than contain IS. We need a long term solution.

Legality is important and international law professor  Philippe Sands has said that strikes on Syria may not comply with international law. It’s less problematic in Iraq because their government are likely to formally request our help.

Of course any military action is likely to lead to more murders of hostages. We don’t know how many British hostages they have, although Newsweek reports that they have potentially thousands of hostages from across the region including 186 Kurdish schoolgirls taken around the same time as the Boko Haram kidnappings of 20o girls in Nigeria.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 88 Comments

No wow factor from Ed Miliband as he forgets part of his speech

Joe Otten has already given you his inimitable take on Ed Miliband’s speech. I do love it when he gets cheeky.

I thought I’d stick my oar in as well with a few not quite so witty observations.

Six days ago, I was lucky enough to see Gordon Brown make one of the most incredible speeches I have ever heard. It had some welly behind it. It was absolutely superb. Close to the top of the list of things I never thought I’d say is that Gordon gave me goosebumps, but it really was electric. It had the melody that the Better Together campaign had been lacking, although it was definitely more Motorhead than Idina Menzel. Maybe it spooked Ed, because yesterday he forgot to thank Gordon for the role he’d played in the campaign to keep the country together.

Now Ed, shall we say, doesn’t quite pack the same punch. Today he spoke for far too long. It was all very earnest and it had a theme of Together that kind of worked, but it had no energy behind it. It had all the passion of the slogan of this year’s conference, the stultifying “Labour’s Plan for Britain’s Future”. I mean, 8 months out from an election you would assume they had one. Although Ed Balls seemed to spend half his speech yesterday apologising for everything from the 10p tax rate to their failure to regulate the banks – and now they’re asking for another 10 years to fix the country?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 35 Comments

Jo Swinson marks Bisexual Visibility Day

Bisexual Pride Flag23 September every year is Bi Visibility Day. Why, I hear you ask, do we need such a thing in these tolerant and accepting times? Didn’t we just pass same sex marriage?

Well, actually, there is still a fair amount of homophobia around. And if you are bisexual, you can actually experience  discrimination even from within the LGBT community.

A couple of years ago, The Bisexuality Report produced by the Open University and contributed to by LGBT+ Lib Dems’ Jen Yockney gave a snapshot of what life can be like for bisexual people in the UK. Many of its recommendations aim to tackle marginalisation of bisexual people and to promote a wider understanding of the specific problems they face.

Last year on Bisexual Visibility Day, LGBT+ Lib Dems’ Dave Page wrote an excellent post in which he outlined why this day is needed:

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Let’s get some action on votes at 16

As I said on Friday, one of the best sights of the Independence Referendum was seeing enthusiastic 16 and 17 year olds heading to vote. They were so engaged in the process and it seems so unfair to take it from them now. Votes at 16 has been our party policy for a long time. It was our Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore who, along with Nicola Sturgeon, made it happen for the Referendum. It may not be practical to implement before next May, but we should at least try to get legislation passed this Parliament if we can.

Funnily enough, there is a Bill being debated in the House of Lords, a Private Members Bill brought in by our Paul Tyler. It was introduced on his behalf by Alison Suttie in June. It needs the Government to give up some time for it. This is something that we could make happen.

Unsurprsingly, Alistair Carmichael says it’s a matter of when, not if, 16 year olds get the vote:

The energy and enthusiasm of young people in the referendum campaign is something of which Scotland should be proud.

I have always believed that young people are much more politically engaged than they are given credit for. Never has that been clearer than during the referendum campaign. One of the most active volunteers for Better Together Orkney was in fact fifteen year old Jack Norquoy of Birsay.  Jack spoke at a packed meeting in Kirkwall Town Hall alongside Shirley Williams.  He made a powerful and compelling case for what he believed in.

Our young voters were given the opportunity and seized it with both hands. I believe that it is now only a matter of time until we see votes at 16 rolled out across the UK. That time should be now.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 42 Comments

Salmond’s bizarre public dig at critical commentator Torrance shows Scotland had a lucky escape

A couple of weeks ago, Alex Salmond picked a fight with the BBC’s Nick Robinson. Cue a mob descending on the BBC’s shiny new Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow demanding that the journalist be sacked. In fact, much as it pains me to admit it, Robinson was actually in the right on that occasion. Salmond hadn’t answered a question he’d asked. He’d spent several minutes giving  a rambling answer about the first part of his question before lambasting the BBC for publishing a story that the Royal Bank of Scotland would move its HQ from Scotland in the event of a Yes vote. It was quite bizarre to see hundreds of people demand that a news station takes the Government line. Where else would you see that?

Yesterday, political commentator David Torrance, who is probably one of the most fair minded people around, wrote a pretty critical but in my view accurate article about Salmond for the Herald. Torrance had written a well-received biography of the First Minister some years ago. This is what he had to say yesterday:

But then blatant hypocrisy never seemed to bother Mr Salmond. The Liberal Democrats, another party which wasn’t spared his tribal warfare, were pilloried for reneging on their no-tuition-fees promise after the 2010 General Election, yet three years previously Mr Salmond had ditched a manifesto pledge to eradicate all student debt, even though it had arguably captured a significant chunk of the student vote.

And in spite of lofty rhetoric about being “positive”, divide and rule was a hallmark of his style, as was phoney outrage.

Anyone not perceived as a threat was treated with charm and thoughtfulness, but for those who fell outside that category condescension, pettiness and often downright rudeness were the order of the day.

I can think of no other politician who behaved as badly as often and, more or less, got away with it.

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

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #390

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 390th 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 (14-20 September, 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:

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Paddy Ashdown warns of national civil revolt as gap between Westminster elite and people grows

Nick Clegg used strong language earlier. However, that sounded like sweet nothings compared to Paddy Ashdown’s comments on the Murnaghan programme earlier. You can read the whole transcript here, but here are some of the highlights:

PM and Miliband should play Join the Dots in a darkened room

An interesting turn of phrase here as Paddy tells the two “old party” leaders to take a reality check:

Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron are already running away from the promises they made.  Mr Cameron didn’t seem to realise that when he made that promise he may not be able to carry his MPs with him and is now amending it so that it is somehow tied to English parliaments and English votes – we’ll come on to that in a minute.  Mr Miliband by the way, Labour didn’t even want to have devo max, they didn’t want it, they didn’t want it, they didn’t want it and then at the very end in a panic they accepted it without accepting it’s implications and now they are running away from it too.  Look, I suggest these two old leaders go away into a quiet room, these two leaders of the old parties, go away into a quiet room this afternoon and play a game of join the dots because if they don’t realise that there is something very close to a national citizens revolt against Westminster – it may be that the Scottish revolt, near revolution, may go away but I rather doubt it listening to Mr Salmond earlier on and his, in my view, entirely justifiable anger.  Now join that dot with the other dot, Farage and UKIP running a campaign against Westminster and the Westminster elite and you’ve got to realise that this is a profoundly dangerous moment, a moment by the way that I’ve been warning was coming for ten years now as the gap between government and governed grew.  To renege on a solemn promise like that will destroy Westminster’s legitimacy and reputation in Scotland and will do the same in England too and the consequences of that are very great.

I’m slightly more sceptical of Salmond than Paddy. The First Minister accused Cameron of breaking a promise that hadn’t been made on Friday, stoking the fires of frustration amongst independence supporters. It seems that what Paddy and Nick are trying to do is to insert some backbone into Cameron and Miliband but there is no real sign at the moment that they are not going to deliver on the powers for Scotland. I think Paddy is right to call on them to reiterate that that will happen and that the process is completely separate from the English  issue. He’s just trying to block of any potential escape routes, but I think he needs to be careful not to over-egg the pudding. It’s perfectly fair, though, to eviscerate Cameron for his political ambush of Miliband.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 61 Comments

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

sundaypapsHere’s my selection of stories to infuriate, inform and inspire from today’s Sunday papers. I can’t pick all the stories, so please add your favourites in the comments.

Obviously the fallout rom the Scottish independence referendum dominates. Don’t blame me. Blame David Cameron for using the occasion to pick a fight with Ed Miliband to try and make him out to be anti-English ahead of the General Electiona and, more immediately, the Labour conference. Labour wanted the week to plug their platform for the election. No such luck, it seems. It’s very annoying that Scotland has been caught in the crossfire.

The Independent on Sunday quotes Nick Harvey, Bob Maclennan and Paul Tyler on what they see as the way ahead. Nick Clegg is urged by Harvey to do a deal with Cameron and implement it before the election:

Sir Nick Harvey MP, a defence minister for the first two years of the coalition, said that Lib Dems should agree to support Tory calls for English votes for English laws in exchange for regional reforms. Sir Nick said that this could include more powers for local councils or city regions.

The Lib Dems have long called for decentralisation of political power, and in their 2010 general election manifesto even pledged to help develop regional stock exchanges. Lib Dems complain that the UK is one of the most centralised western states in the world – but whatever the prize, many activists do not want to see another deal with the Tories.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

A film night, at Conference? Really?

Party conference serves so many purposes. It’s there to make policy, to deliver training and for members from around the country to get together and chat. I have to say that I’ve never thought that the big thing missing from our annual gathering was a film night. In fact, putting me in a warm, dark room after 4 sleep-deprived nights is likely to have me snoring in seconds.

I was therefore surprised to see some weeks ago that a film night was to happen and the party  was running a vote on its website so that people could choose what film was shown. We could choose between all sorts of blokey political culture from Watergate to In the Loop. Why could we not have had Aaron Sorkin’s The American President on the list? What about Made In Dagenham, a film about the fight for equal pay at the Ford car plant. When that latter film came out 4 years ago, Lynne Featherstone criticised it being given a 15 rating because it had one incident of the F word (not the federalism one) but praised the film itself:

That fight still goes on today – with a pay gap between men and women in full time work – as unacceptable now too.

But outside of the issue itself – which is extremely timely with the coalition commitment to promoting the right to request flexible working to all and promote equal pay – it is just a brilliant film.

It is in the genre of Billy Elliot and Brassed Off – and I hope that everyone sees it – as it is truly inspiring.

Posted in News | Tagged | 8 Comments

Last chance to vote in Liberal Youth elections

Liberal Youth logo 2014

Voting closes in the Liberal Youth annual elections tomorrow at noon. All members of the party under 26 are eligible to vote. Those members for whom we have an email address should have received a ballot paper from Opavote. If you haven’t received one, check your spam to make sure isn’t in there, then email me on [email protected] with proof of age and Liberal Democrat membership.

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Strong language from Nick Clegg on more powers for Scotland: This opportunity cannot be hijacked

I had a sneak preview of an article Nick Clegg wrote for today’s Sunday Post. I was a bit disappointed in its blandness. We needed more robust language, I felt. Why? Well, when Cameron had just had almost half of Scots who voted tell him they wanted out of the Union, his main message in response was to pick a fight with Labour on the so-called “West Lothian Question.” Really, Dave, is that what you take from all of this? By making more powers for Scotland seem contingent on resolving the English votes for English laws issues, he exacerbated tensions up here.

Yes supporters were already, entirely understandably, devastated. I only need to think of the anxiety I’ve felt over the last couple of weeks to understand entirely how it feels for them. The last thing these people needed to do was to find themselves in the middle of a scrap between the Tories and Labour over something that was irrelevant to them. There needed to be a very clear message that the powers would be delivered on time. If they aren’t, then, frankly, the three pro-UK parties are completely stuffed. As Ming Campbell memorably put it on the BBC News Channel on Friday night, you might as well hand out free membership of the SNP.

Rather than use his resignation statement to bring people together and soothe people’s emotions, Alex Salmond sought to raise tensions by suggesting that David Cameron had reneged on a commitment to have the Second Reading of the new Scotland Bill by 27th March. That was never part of the deal. As an MP of 20 years’ standing, Salmond should know that even if it had had its second reading by then, it would have fallen as Parliament is due to be dissolved days later. The commitment was to have a Bill ready to be debated by the next Parliament immediately after the election. That’s what the Better Together election poster explicitly said:

Better Together election poster


Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 39 Comments

Last chance to apply for ALDC internship – a Lib Dem Jobwatch special

The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners, to give it its Sunday name, is recruiting two paid Campaigns and Communications internships based in Manchester from next month to June next year.

From their site:

This is a full-time role, paid at the UK National Minimum Wage (£6.50 per hour for over 21 years olds), based at our Manchester city centre offices.

ALDC is the national organisation for Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners. This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the work of the organisation in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

The successful applicants will be helping us with our campaigns output, our communications and social media, and also helping campaign ‘on the ground’ with one of our partner local parties in Greater Manchester.

Successful candidates must have sympathy with the aims and values of the Liberal Democrats.

The deadline for applications is Monday 22 September 2014.
Interviews will take place in central Manchester on Tuesday 30 September 2014.

You can find out more details, including how to apply, here.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Dorothy Thornhill selected as Liberal Democrat candidate for Watford

Dorothy ThornhillMy co-editor Stephen Tall is incredibly efficient. He’s off on holiday, but he managed to edit his post on where we are with candidates in our held and top target seats to include Dorothy Thornhill’s selection in Watford before he headed to the airport at some ridiculous hour of the night.

Dorothy is currently in her fourth term as Mayor of Watford, elected for the first time in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, 2010 and in May this year. She’s a former teacher.

Party President Tim Farron welcomed her selection on Twitter last night:

Posted in News | 4 Comments

The post-independence referendum to do list

I am so relieved this morning. I don’t think I have ever been as scared and anxious about any political event in my life as I was about the result of the referendum on independence. I really do think that a win for Yes would not have brought the help for the most vulnerable in society that was promised.

I don’t feel any great sense of victory. I know that many of my friends, who have the same values and want the same things for our society as I do, are feeling distraught this morning. I’ve been on the receiving end of defeat enough times to know its pain. These are good people and I feel for them.

I need desperately to sleep but before I do, and while I wait for Salmond to make his statement at 10 am, I thought I’d jot down a bit of a to do list for a whole variety of people. It’s ambitious.

1. Deliver on the more powers pledge – putting something like Liberal Democrat policy into practice.

The result was not a massive vote of confidence in the UK as it stands. The union has been put on probation. If people are not given signifiant new powers that make a difference, we’ll be back here in 5 years’ time. Do it quickly and inclusively.

2. Develop a strategy for tackling poverty and inequality at UK and Scottish level

In some ways the “more powers” thing was a bit of a red herring. People wanted more powers but they also wanted to make life better for the most vulnerable people in society. We need a bit of vision on delivering better housing and getting people out of poverty. That will really give the 84% of people who turned out yesterday a reason to do so again.

3. No excuses, no delay: we need votes at 16 now

One of the best sight of yesterday was seeing 16 and 17 year olds heading to the polling station for the first time in a UK election. It worked. They shouldn’t have that vote taken away from them now. Is it possible to implement it for the General Election next May? There is no reason it couldn’t be rushed through Parliament, surely. No taxation without representation, after all.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Is Mike Crockart voting Yes to Independence?

You might think so from these photos of his office in the heart of Edinburgh West

Crockart yes 1

Crockart Yes 2

Not for the first time, his staff have had to take down Yes posters which had been glued on to the office windows.

Yesterday a cavalcade of Yes cars parked outside the office and played loud music next to Mike’s No Thanks street stall. Why do they bother with nonsense like that.

This, sadly, is one of the milder incidents of intimidatory behaviour which are becoming commonplace across Scotland.  I have lost count of the number of committed and passionate No voters who have very politely declined to take a poster because they are worried that their windows would be knocked in if they display it. It shouldn’t be like this. 

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 34 Comments

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