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.

And now for something completely different – Tim Farron is normal


The Telegraph Travel section has interviewed Tim Farron about his holidays in their Celebrity Travel spot.

He reveals some distinctly non-celebrity holiday behaviour:

My wife, kids and I tend to have one foreign holiday a year, either in France or Spain – this year we spent two weeks in Andalusia – to get a bit of sun and spend some time together as a family. Most recently, I spent a few days on the Isle of Arran with my family during the half-term break.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 3 Comments

Your thoughts on Osborne’s Autumn Statement


Before George Osborne steps up to the dispatch box today we already know which Government departments will be protected from the cuts and which will have to take the brunt. The Tories have pledged to protect the NHS, education, defence, pensions and foreign aid, so that leaves vulnerable the police, local government (and just think of the huge number of services they provide), social care, further education (apparently not considered ‘real’ education), renewable energy and, of course, welfare.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 33 Comments

LibLink: Shirley Williams tells George Osborne that he has 10 days to save the NHS


Writing in the Guardian, Shirley Williams picks up the baton passed on by Nigel Crisp, the former chief executive of the NHS, who four years ago wrote about his experiences in his book 24 Hours to Save the NHS.

Shirley explains that many of the financial woes in the NHS have been inherited from past schemes:

For example, the number of funded places for young men and women training in this country as nurses was cut by 12% – 2,500 places – in 2012. The consequent shortage of newly qualified nurses has been filled by people recruited by employment agencies. The cost of agency staff is one of the main reasons for overspending by NHS trusts. In 2014/15, agency staff cost the NHS £1,770m, a year-on-year increase of 29%.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Chris Maines elected as London Chair

Chris MainesCongratulations to Chris Maines who was elected as Chair of London Region on Saturday!

He succeeds Mike Tuffrey, who had come to the end of his term of office and was not eligible for re-election.

Chris has been a councillor for a total of 28 years, and has served as Leader of Bromley Council and Leader of the Opposition in Lewisham.  He has run for Parliament, and has been closely involved with party conferences as Chief Steward and currently on the Federal Conference Committee.

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LibLink: Guy Verhofstadt – David Cameron wants a two-speed Europe


Guy Verhofstadt heads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament and is the former Prime Minister of Belgium. In the Independent he examines David Cameron’s stance on Europe under the headline “EU referendum: David Cameron should spell it out. He wants a two-speed Europe“. He writes:

This week, or so we are told, the Prime Minister will set out his Christmas list of EU reforms to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk. A broad agreement on the UK’s renegotiation package is envisaged at the December summit of European leaders. There will be battles and setbacks in the weeks to come, but there are reasons to think a deal can be found.

Many in continental Europe strongly agree with David Cameron that the European Union of today is not fit for purpose and is in need of fundamental reform. Most accept that the direction of travel has shifted towards some form of “two-speed Europe”, broadly based around eurozone “ins” and “outs”. And clarifying these two types of membership would surely be progress, compared with the chaotic multi-speed, hotchpotch EU of today. Maybe it is time for Cameron to be explicit and use the expression “two-speed”.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 36 Comments

LibLink: Kate Parminter on puppy farming

Kate ParminterKate Parminter has written in the Huffington Post about her campaign against puppy farming. Under the headline “Parliament Must Do the Right Thing and Do What It Takes to Bring the Horrific Practice of Puppy Farming to a Halt” she writes:

Our nation’s love of dogs and the way we care for our pets often brings out the very best in human nature. But sadly when it comes to breeding, it can also bring out the worst. For most people, care for animals is instinctive, coming from a deep understanding of their vulnerability and need for love and attention. For a few heartless criminals, the huge demand for pets, dogs in particular, is viewed simply as an opportunity to make easy money, with no regard at all for the welfare of the animals that are at their mercy.

It is not enough to simply rescue and treat animals – we need to go further than that and stop the abuse from happening in the first place. What is needed is political action which tackles the problem at its source, not just putting a sticking plaster over a problem when the damage has already been done.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 6 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – MI5 access to phone calls kept secret from most ministers

Nick Clegg Q&A 8Writing in The Guardian today, Nick Clegg claims that in 2010:

When a senior official took me aside and told me that the previous government had granted MI5 direct access to records of millions of phone calls made in the UK– a capability only a tiny handful of senior cabinet ministers knew about – I was astonished that such a powerful capability had not been declared either to the public or to parliament and insisted that its necessity should be reviewed.

That the existence of this previously top secret database was finally revealed in parliament by the home secretary on Wednesday, as part of a comprehensive new investigatory powers bill covering many other previously secret intelligence capabilities, speaks volumes about how far we’ve come in a few short years.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 5 Comments

LibLink: Claire Tyler on Equality4MentalHealth

Baroness-Claire-Tyler-1We have covered the launch of the Equality for Mental Health Campaign this week and we also linked to Norman Lamb’s account of his son’s struggles with mental health. And now our spokesperson in the Lords on Mental Health, Claire Tyler, has written an article in Politics Home.

She outlines the campaign then writes:

Our job now is to hold this Government’s feet firmly to the fire and make sure the promised money finds its way into the system and, crucially, that money earmarked for mental health services is indeed spent on mental healthcare by Clinical Commissioning Groups. In a recent, and very welcome, spate of debates and questions in the Lords I have pushed for more details about where and when the additional £1.25 billion promised for young people’s mental health during this Parliament is going to be spent.

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Norman Lamb launches Equality for Mental Health campaign

Today, Norman Lamb launched a cross-party campaign for improved funding for mental health services. He was joined by Alistair Campbell and Andrew Mitchell MP, as well as a very impressive list of other politicians, professionals, celebrities, mental health charities and community leaders.

Ruby Wax said:

It’s unbelievable that it’s 2015 and there isn’t parity between mental and physical health. They don’t comprehend that mental illness is a physical problem – it just happens to be your brain which is another organ.

The Equality for Mental Health campaign has a lengthy petition which reads:

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I agree with Jeremy


Higher taxation for the wealthiest – tick

Greater public ownership – tick

An end to private involvement in the health service – tick

A national education service – tick

An agenda of “growth not austerity” – tick

Should I be embarrassed at finding that I agree with all of Jeremy Corbyn’s core beliefs?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 271 Comments

Shortlist for London Assembly elections


Voters at the London elections next May will be given three ballot papers each using a different voting system – let no-one claim that alternative systems to First Past The Post can’t work.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Conference agenda now available


The full conference agenda for Bournemouth is now available online here.  As we mentioned before, members will be debating a wide variety of topics, but now you can read the substance of the motions.

This is the time for members and local parties to go through the motions and decide whether to submit an amendment or two, or whether to put forward an emergency motion or a topical issue for debate. Full details on how to do that are to be found on page 9 of the agenda, but, in brief, the deadline for submitting amendments, emergency motions and topical issues is 1pm on 7th September.

Posted in Conference and News | Tagged | 5 Comments

From fishing lights to hat boxes

Here at LDV Towers we do get some very odd requests. Many of them are designed for search engine optimisation – using a well visited blog like ours to sneak in links to their own sites in order to push them up the Google rankings. But some are just bizarre marketing.

From China:

This is XXX from XXX LED Limited proudly introduce a new underwater fishing LED light. This is the most successful fish lure attraction ever invented.

1. Guarantee to catch fish faster and easier due to it’s attractive LED light.
2. Capable to function to the depth of  150 meter (492 feet).
3. Proven to catch Squid, Red snapper, Salmon, Plaice, and etc…
4. No more messy baits and smelly hand.

Please contact me for more details.  Thank you for your time!

Posted in Humour | 7 Comments

Ryan Coetzee to set up company to co-ordinate Yes to Europe campaign

The Financial Times reports that a cross-party group is setting up a company with the aim of co-ordinating the Yes to Europe campaign. It is being funded by Lord Sainsbury amongst others.

It seems that Will Straw is expected to take on the role of executive director. He stood as a Labour candidate in May, and is better known as the founder of the political blog Left Foot Forward. He is also the son of Jack Straw.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Cracking the WHIP

There’s a new kid on the block, and it’s called WHIP (website, Twitter, facebook). First watch this video:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Jack Straw to be part of Freedom of Information review

Nicholas Winterton, Cyril Smith (1928-2010) and Jack Straw, Members of Parliament for the textile towns Macclesfield, Rochdale and Blackburn respectively, stand outside 10 Downing Street in London on 10th June 1980.

Over the weekend the Cabinet Office announced a review of the Freedom of Information Act. Now it is always sensible to check any act that promotes civil liberties against actual practice. But alarm bells started ringing when the members of the review panel were revealed.

Chief among them is Jack Straw, who brought in the Act in 2000 as Home Secretary. But he is now saying that “inquiries about ministerial communications and the formulation of government policy should not be allowed any more”. I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that the secrecy surrounding the development of government policies, especially the role of lobbyists, was precisely why we needed freedom of information. He has also said that citizens should be charged for FoI requests. Interestingly ‘a Labour source’ has distanced the party from his appointment, saying that Straw is acting in a personal capacity, and not representing the party, and that “If the government were genuinely interested in improving the workings of the act, it should have chosen a more balanced panel.”

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 21 Comments

Nick Clegg’s first interview since the election

Nick Clegg was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the Sunday Politics show yesterday. Amongst other things he discusses how PR could be a condition of any further coalition.

Posted in News | Tagged | 20 Comments

Have you got a first class stamp?

tim farron norman lamb squarish by paul walterYou’d be wise to get one if you haven’t yet voted in the Leadership election. The deadline for ballots to be returned in this Wednesday, so put it in an envelope NOW and get along to the postbox.

No … wait … we have some final LibLinks to share with you to help you make up your mind. Huffington Post published articles by both candidates on Friday.

First, Tim Farron wrote under the headline: The Time for Britain’s ‘New Federalism’.

I love the unitedness of our kingdom. Ours is a rich tapestry that is unrivalled in the world, a union of histories and rituals and oddities, stronger together than our individual parts. But our unity should never come at the cost of these individual streaks. We should never confuse togetherness for conformity; never seek to leak the colours away from our towns and cities and shores, for some bland notion of oneness. Union does not mean uniformity.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

LibLink: David Hall-Matthews on Liberalism in anxious times

David Hall-MatthewsIn its quarterly journal Juncture, IPPR has published an article by David Hall-Matthews entitled “Liberalism in anxious times: Constructing a clear, positive liberal vision for society“.

David’s starting point is Nick Clegg’s resignation speech in which he said that liberalism was under threat, and not just in the UK. Is that true?

Globally, Putin’s neo-dictatorship and ISIS terror are fundamentally illiberal – but they are no more significant than recent liberal turns in international relations, such as the increasing economic strength and political integration of the BRICs.

In the UK context, is the astonishing success of the Scottish Nationalist party (SNP), with its broadly social-democratic approach, really a threat to liberal values? For Clegg, having fought a centrist, makeweight campaign, all radicals are a threat. He went as far as to cite ‘unity’ in his speech as a fundamental liberal value, though it could be argued to be the opposite of liberal respect for difference. Ed Miliband, too, found himself forced to decry the SNP as a nationalist danger, primarily for tactical reasons. Both ultimately found it difficult to convince floating voters that their differences from the SNP were greater than their common values.

After the general election debacle, and with a Lib Dem leadership campaign underway, there is an opportunity, as well as a necessity, to set out a clear, positive liberal vision for society.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Keep them coming!

Here at Lib Dem Voice we have finally returned to a semblance of normality after a very intense week. So many of you wanted to write about the results and the fightback and I’m afraid we had to turn down a number of perfectly good posts simply because they said much the same as previous ones.  Thank you so much for wanting to use LDV as the vehicle for your thoughts, and for your good humoured patience.

You will see that today is once again full of opinion pieces, but they are moving forward. Two writers want to start a debate …

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Norman Lamb running for leader

Norman Lamb has this evening confirmed that he will be a candidate in the leadership election.

It is widely expected that Tim Farron will also put his name forward, but he has not confirmed that yet.  Nominations will not formally open until this Wednesday and will close on 3rd June.

The full timetable for the leadership election is here.  Anyone who has joined the party by 3rd June may vote.

An amazing 8000 people have already joined, or rejoined, since polling day. You can join here.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 41 Comments

An apology to contributors and commenters

This is by way of a pre-rebuttal …

Here at LDV we have been overwhelmed by wonderful contributions from readers, and it is taking time for us to go through them all, so please bear with us. As the Monday editor I have been sifting through about thirty posts just today. Not surprisingly, many of them make very similar points, so I am trying to select ones that add something new to the debate.

So please understand if we don’t respond immediately to you, or are unable to post your contribution.

We have a similar issue with comments. Every time I check the comments …

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LibLink: David Howarth’s thoughts on the way forward

David HowarthOn the Social Liberal Forum website, David Howarth (who was MP in Cambridge before Julian Huppert) has been telling us five things that we should never do again:

  • We must never again accept coalition with the Tories 
  • We must never again promote coalitionism
  • We must never again push centrism 
  • We must never again ignore evidence
  • We must never again fail to have the will to change 

and three things we should do now:

  • Clarify our values 
  • Find new ways of promoting our values
  • Rebuild a core vote
Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 71 Comments

5pm update: the final score

We need to complete our roll-call of Lib Dem target seats.  Tessa Munt lost to the Conservatives in Wells, Andrew George also lost in St Ives, and Julie Pörksen failed to take the seat in Berwick, previously held by Alan Beith.

That leaves us with just eight MPs:

Nick Clegg

Tim Farron

Norman Lamb

Greg Mulholland

Tom Brake

John Pugh

Mark Williams

Alistair Carmichael

We do have to congratulate them for bucking the trend, and to wish them all the best in the future as they uphold Lib Dem values in the Commons – but it is difficult for anyone to feel joyous when surrounded by the carnage.

The updates since close …

Posted in News | 9 Comments

Election night update: 6am – what do we do now?

Charles Kennedy had to concede defeat by the SNP after representing in the wonderfully named constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber for 32 years. He will be sorely missed.  And we have lost another much valued minister in Steve Webb in Thornbury and Yate. David Laws lost his traditional LibDem seat in Yeovil while Danny Alexander crashed in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey.

Mike Crockart lost Edinburgh West, so did Simon Wright in Norwich South, John Hemming in Birmingham Yardley, Dan Rogerson in North Cornwall, Julian Huppert in Cambridge, Lorely Burt in Solihull, John Leech in Manchester Withington, Steve Gilbert in St Austell & …

Posted in News | 90 Comments

Election night update: 5am – Nick Clegg safe, but many great campaigners are out

Contrary to some rumours Nick Clegg held on to his seat, but with a reduced majority.

The biggest shock of the hour was Vince Cable’s result in Twickenham where he was beaten by the Conservatives.

But there were more staggering losses of wonderful campaigning Liberal Democrats. Simon Hughes was beaten in Bermondsey and Lynne Featherstone in Hornsey and Wood Green, both by Labour. Adrian Sanders (Torbay), Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) and Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam) all succumbed to the Tories. And in Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine Robert Smith lost to the SNP.

Steve Bradley was unsuccessful in Bath, following Don Foster’s retirement.

But it was heartening to see Tom …

Posted in News | 15 Comments

Election night update: 4am – it gets worse

Tim Farron is back in Parliament, safely elected in his Westmorland & Lonsdale constituency, and so is Alistair Carmichael in Orkney & Shetland who safely resisted the SNP advance.

But sadly we have lost Ed Davey in Kingston & Surbiton (to the Conservatives), Jenny Willott in Cardiff Central (to Labour), Duncan Hames in Chippenham and Mike Thornton in Eastleigh.

We also lost three seats that we were defending after the incumbant had retired – Redcar, Brent Central and North East Fife.

Follow the election night live blog here.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Election night update: 3am – some good news, but more bad

The first good news of the night came when Mark Williams held on to his seat in Ceredigion.

Then sadly we lost Jo Swinson in Denbartonshire East (to the SNP), and both Bob Russell in Colchester and Roger Williams in Brecon & Radnorshire (both to the Tories). Gordon Birtwhistle was beaten by Labour in Burnley.

Follow the election night live blog here.

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Election night update: 2am – the long wait

More rumours and despondency.

Apparently Nigel Farage didn’t really want to win in South Thanet this time round; it was just a step in his strategy for 2020.

And John Curtice is suggesting that there is a serious possibility of a Conservative majority.

Follow the election night live blog here.

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Election night update: 1am – the night is dark

No news of Lib Dem seats yet, but plenty of predictions and rumours that are not encouraging.

The BBC’s exit poll would leave us with just 10 MPs, all male. A Leadership election would be triggered, but the choice of Leader would be severely restricted because many of the big hitters would have lost their seats.

Too many lost deposits already. Not looking good.

Our live election blog is here.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Nov - 3:53pm
    Sarah Noble 28th Nov '15 - 3:22pm Sorry, you cannot know that, because of confidentiality. The use of extreme words, such as 'nobody', 'everybody', 'all',...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 28th Nov - 3:53pm
    @nvelope2003 "Unless Jeremy Corbyn resigns there is no way he can be removed because the overwhelming majority of Labour Party members want him to stay."...
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    Conor McGovern 28th Nov '15 - 1:11pm Of course not, he is his own man.
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    malc, Myra Hindley was imprisoned in Holloway for thirty years, and nobody demanded she be put in a male prison because she was a danger...
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    Andrew McCaig: other polls show a different picture. Support for air strikes does not necessarily indicate support for active involvement in the war. The outrage...
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    The use of Smith rather than Mao for McDonnell to make his point would indeed have been more intelligent politics. I would certainly like to...