Author Archives: Mary Reid

Mary Reid was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, and has developed websites for several parliamentarians and Lib Dem organisations. She manages the annual conference for the Social Liberal Forum.

Nick Clegg on The Last Leg tonight

last-leg204Nick Clegg will be appearing on The Last Leg at 10pm on Channel 4 this evening.

I will certainly be watching – in fact, I have been a fan of the programme since it first appeared during the 2012 Paralympics. After tiring but exhilarating days spent working as a Gamesmaker, it was great to flop down and watch this totally refreshing and irreverent take on the day’s events with disability at its heart. It cleared away a lot of misconceptions through its #isitok feature and the regular joshing between the three presenters, two of whom have …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

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

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

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

Posted in News | Tagged and | 15 Comments

How the Daily Mirror works

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

Posted in News | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Paddy Ashdown’s voice

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

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

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

Posted in News | 14 Comments

Clegg: “Suicide is preventable, it is not inevitable”

Liberal Democrats are making sure that mental health stays in the headlines, and that our policies are linked in people’s minds with the issues. Today the focus has been on preventing suicide. Here was Nick Clegg speaking this morning:

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Human Rights Committee criticises Terrorism Bill for plans to block UK citizens and for challenges to academic freedom

The knee-jerk reaction to any act of terrorism is to propose yet more regulations and legislation to prevent future attacks or to deal with the attackers. As liberals we have to be very careful to ensure that our civil and human rights are not being curtailed unnecessarily.

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Are Lib Dems normal?

SuttonWe missed this story when it broke earlier in the month, but were alerted to it when it surfaced in the Sunday Times (£ – and to be honest I’m not prepared to pay £6 per week just to be able to read this article in full) yesterday.

It seems Lib Dem run Sutton is the most normal place in the UK. That view was expressed by Neil Couling when he was giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. He explained that the new benefits IT system, which had been plagued by problems, was being tried out in the London Borough of Sutton.

Asked why Sutton had been chosen he said:

It’s the most normal place in Britain. It’s population is average for the United Kingdom as a whole. It’s a wonderful place and I adore it.

… Although he did admit that he had never visited it.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb on integrated funding for health and care

Norman LambIn an interview with Public Finance Norman Lamb says that he has his sights on 2018, as the date by which all health and care spending will be pooled in England. He said:

I want the approach to evolve rather than having anything imposed. The only imposition is to say that we have got to get budgets pooled locally completely, and I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and I think we’ve come up with a neat solution to achieve the pooled budget without a national reorganisation, which nobody wants.

The Better Care Fund seems to me to be the sensible way of achieving that objective, to progressively increase the extent of the pooling, and as you do that I think you remove the perverse consequences of the gaming across the boundary between the two.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Linda Jack drops out of race for party president

linda-jack-6The election for the new president of the party is underway. Ballot papers will be sent out on Friday  to all members of at least one year’s standing to everyone who was a member on the qualifying date at the end of September.  

Candidates had to collect 200 nominations from conference representatives across at least 20 different local parties, with no-one allowed to nominate more than one. Traditionally the candidates try to get the requisite signatures at Autumn Conference, but this proved to be a particular challenge this year.

Linda Jack has issued this statement:

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David Laws on Lib Dem plans for the General Election

Yesterday Nick Clegg officially launched our pre-Manifesto, which will be debated at Federal Conference next month. David Laws was asked by the BBC about the costings, and he said:

We will publish the figures before the next election, but what Nick Clegg did say today is that the proposals that are in our pre-manifesto that we published today are considerably less expensive than the manifesto that we stood on in 2010. I personally am confident that if we were a Liberal Democrat government by ourselves, and we didn’t have to negotiate with other parties, then all that we’ve put in our pre-manifesto is actually deliverable.

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The Airports Commission says ‘no’ to a Thames estuary airport, but Boris hasn’t given up

borisislandBoris Johnson’s proposal for a new London airport on the Isle of Grain in the inner Thames estuary, to replace Heathrow, is not dead in the water despite being rejected by the Airports Commission. The Commission’s decision on the proposal was published today.

Whilst acknowledging that a new (‘ITE’) airport on the Thames estuary would provide extra capacity and improve noise impact, the report cites the loss of protected habitats, the issues with being sited next to a Liquid Natural Gas storage facility, plus the costs of infrastructure, housing and access improvements. The cost of the airport could be anything from £67 billion to £120 billion depending on whether it had three or four runways.

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Zero hours contracts – closing the loopholes

Vince Cable at Social Liberal Forum conference 19th July 2014 - photo by Paul WalterYesterday was a public holiday (except in Scotland, where they have more important things to think about), but it seems the party never takes a holiday.  It chose a wet and windy Bank Holiday Monday to announce that Vince Cable was crowd-sourcing loopholes in zero hours contracts. He is specifically concerned about those that require an employee to work exclusively for the one employer, even though no work is guaranteed.

Vince is launching a consultation and inviting employers, unions …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 13 Comments

LibLink: David Ward writes about a non-violent path to peace and security

David WardDavid Ward has been a little, shall we say, controversial in his statements about the conflict in Gaza. Today he has written about his petition calling for and advocating a non-violent solution.

On his website he writes:

I unreservedly condemn the use of military action by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But how do we arrive at peace in a non-violent way?

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 38 Comments

LibLink: Shirley Williams “Europe has a duty to Gaza”

Shirley WilliamsWriting in the Guardian today, Shirley Williams says:

The tragedy of the centenary we commemorate this week is that it falls as some of the most brutal and merciless wars of those same hundred years are raging.

She refers to the current conflicts in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Attacks on Belgian and French civilians, including children, by Germany’s invading army in August 1914 shocked the public and politicians in Britain and elsewhere into intervening, and many individual men into enlisting – so much so that

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Food for Thought: Scottish independence?

An educational charity called WORLDwrite contacted Lib Dem Voice recently with a link to their programme below.

This was made by WORLDbytes, which is a “unique online Citizen TV channel set up and run by the education charity WORLDwrite. Dedicated to advancing new knowledge, skills and ideas, the charity promotes excellence in citizen reporting and provides free training to volunteer-learners which combines practical film making with tackling challenging issues.” It offers a 6 week training programme for 16 – 25 year olds, so may well be of interest to any Liberal Youth readers.

This is a video their volunteers made about the Scottish referendum.

Posted in News | Tagged | 8 Comments

A bit of our party’s history remembered

1988On 29th July, exactly 26 years ago, Paddy Ashdown was elected as the first leader of the newly merged Social and Liberal Democrats (which quickly settled down to being known as the Liberal Democrats).  The leadership contest was between Paddy Ashdown and Alan Beith, who had my vote. But what a leader Paddy turned out to be!

The Guardian marks the anniversary by airing an editorial of the day, part of which was a tribute to David Steel who had decided not to enter the leadership contest. David Steel had led the Liberal Party into the Alliance with the Social Democrats and acted as one of the two interim leaders of the Social and Liberal Democrats after the merger.  He had been the baby of the House when elected at the age of 26, and was one of the youngest party leaders ever when he took up that role 11 years later.

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Lord Sharkey calls for convictions for homosexuality to be posthumously disregarded

While the attention yesterday evening was on the Lord’s debate on revenge porn, Lib Dems were also supporting another amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, this time on posthumous pardons for men convicted of homosexuality.

During the debate, John Sharkey explained that 75,000 men were convicted of homosexual acts under laws repealed in the 1960s. Legislation passed in 2012, gave 16,000 of them still alive the right to apply to have their convictions disregarded, but this left 59,000 similarly convicted, but now dead, unable to get such redress. Last year Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

Women bishops – at last

women bishopsAll liberals, of whatever political persuasion, will welcome the news that the barriers to appointing women bishops in the Church of England have now been removed.  There has been a lot of misinformation flying around, with the glib portrayal of the bishops as a crowd of geriatric misogynists, so a few facts might help to improve the debate.

The General Synod, which is the governing body of the Church of England, first approved the appointment of female bishops in principle in 2008. Since then it has been trying to agree on the provisions to be made for those local churches which will not accept them, just as it did when women were first ordained as priests.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

The Sun calls for a VAT cut on UK holidays

stephen gilbertAfter the energetic debate in these columns over the photo of Nick Clegg holding the free World Cup edition of the Sun, it is, shall we say, interesting to be able to report a Lib Dem MP praising that newspaper for a campaign it is running.

Stephen Gilbert, the MP for St Austell & Newquay, in the holiday county of Cornwall, is quoted as supporting the Sun’s petition to cut VAT on holidays in the UK. He says:

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David Cameron should make Nick Clegg end the Coalition, say Tory MPs

Nick Clegg and David CameronThat is the headline over at Huffington Post, and it certainly makes for fascinating reading. How about this:

Tory MP John Redwood said Cameron should deliberately antagonise his Liberal Democrat partners into leaving, and warned the prime minister that terminating the coalition early may not be ‘”wise” as he had “given his word” and “it’ll not look good if the leader of the main party was to end the coalition”.

“What should happen now is the Conservative majority in the government should start to press very strongly for two or three distinctively conservative policies, and if the Liberals really don’t like it, they could push to leave on the grounds that they wish to impede from the benches of opposition,” he said.

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Steve Webb: Pensions minister with the future of millions in his hands

webb 01In a profile in the FT, Pensions Minister Steve Webb is described as “one of the Coalition’s most hyperactive lieutenants”.

Now Steve is highly efficient and has achieved a huge amount since he took on the role four years ago, but he is also unflappable and “hyperactive” is not a term I would normally use about him. And whilst the term “lieutenant” usually refers to someone who is second in command, which is technically correct for a Junior Minister, no-one in Government beats his deep knowledge of his subject.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Nick Clegg attacks human rights abuses in China

Nick Clegg Q&A 12Yesterday we commented on Nick Clegg’s press conference in which he launched the first phase of the manifesto.

We did not then cover the comments he subsequently made about the visit by the Chinese Premier to the UK.

Nick is quoted:

We can’t ignore the large-scale and systematic human rights abuses which still continue in China to this day the very widespread use of the death penalty.

We have seen economic transformation on a scale possibly unheard of in the modern world where millions of people have become economically

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Some questions on those Trojan Horse Ofsted inspections

school lockersYesterday a commenter on Lib Dem Voice asked why the party had not responded to the Trojan Horse allegations about schools in Birmingham. Now I make no claim to any knowledge about the affair, apart from what I read in a decidedly partisan press, but I can at least raise some questions.

I was struck this morning by an article in the Guardian by the assistant principal on one of the schools that has been downgraded from Outstanding to Inadequate.

Lee Donaghy writes under a headline ‘Ofsted’s slur on the Muslim community of Park View School‘:

photo by: hans s
Posted in Op-eds | 78 Comments

++Breaking news: Matthew Oakeshott commissioned the Guardian poll

Lord Matthew Oakeshott addresses conferenceThe Independent has revealed that Matthew Oakeshott was the ‘Lib Dem supporter’ behind the ICM polling which we covered here.

In an article headed ‘Vince Cable allies accused of plotting to bring down Nick Clegg‘ it claims:

Lord Oakeshott has been a close friend of Mr Cable for many years and has made no secret of his desire to see the Business Secretary succeed Mr Clegg.

Posted in News | Tagged | 55 Comments

Research on impact of change of leader on four key seats

Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Vince Cable vote for the Make it Happen resolutionThe Guardian today leads with a sorry tale headlined: Clegg taking Lib Dems to wipeout.

An unnamed Lib Dem supporter has commissioned ICM to carry out research in four key Lib Dem constituencies, including Nick Clegg’s own seat, and the report has been leaked to the Guardian.

Voters were asked how they would vote in a General Election if the party were led by Nick Clegg, Vince Cable or Danny Alexander.

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It’s election time

Liberal Democrat posters - Some rights reserved by Brett PattersonIt’s election week, and all the workers volunteers at LDV towers are heavily involved in the action on the ground.

Not surprisingly many potential contributors are also either shackled to Connect or getting sunburn and blisters while out delivering and canvassing.

So you must excuse the rather thin offerings this week. We will do our best to provide you with some light reading while you are soaking your feet, but can’t guarantee quantity.

On the other hand, if you have something you are dying to say, and you are not needed in the battlefields, now might be a good opportunity for you. See our guidelines for contributors before you send anything in to us.

Good luck to all candidates and activists!

Posted in Site news | 38 Comments

Social Liberal Forum conference 2014

slflogoSocial liberalism is right at the heart of Liberal Democrat values, and all Lib Dems, right across the political spectrum, believe in fighting for the rights and needs of the disenfranchised and disadvantaged.

The Social Liberal Forum is a membership group within the party who are committed to making sure that these values drive policy and strategy. Its key aims are to promote social justice and to narrow gaps in power.

Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Nick Clegg announces £500million investment in green cars

POD-PointThe Liberal Democrats have just announced a new Government initiative to encourage the use of electric cars.

Drivers of electric cars already benefit from zero road tax and zero congestion charge in London, as well as the knowledge that they are helping to reduce air pollution. But they have also had to plan journeys carefully so they can find charge-points when they need them.

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Pauline Pearce on the Daily Politics Show

Pauline Pearce was the studio guest in Monday’s Daily Politics. She deals with questions on Iain Duncan Smith’s latest reforms of the welfare system, and on Nigel Farage and the EU.

Half way through the show there is a profile of Pauline, which explains why she became known as the Hackney Heroine. It is followed by a discussion between her and David Lammy about the Hackney riots – I leave you to decide who won!

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Imprints on online political ads?

Do you remember Bingo graphic that Grant Shapps tweeted last month, which not only went viral but attracted a lot of parodies?

At the time nobody commented on the fact that the ad did not have an imprint. Party activists all know that any printed political literature must have a ‘Published, promoted and printed …’ imprint on it, and not having one can be a criminal offence during election time. And yet there is no such requirement for online ads.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments
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