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.

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:

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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 & …

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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.

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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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Good news about Tim and Samantha

Can you predict how someone will vote from their first name?

YouGov has been busy analysing the political preferences of people with 130 different first names. And it seems that if you are called Tim then you are most likely to vote Lib Dem, if you are called Nick you don’t like Labour, and if you are Nigel you are least likely to vote Labour but prefer UKIP.

So far so good. But what about Samantha ? It seems she is very unlikely to vote Conservative and has switched to the Lib Dems.


Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Six red lines

Over the last week Nick Clegg has been drip-feeding his negotiating red lines. And here they are:

key_NHS-red-line (1)


key_Public-sector-workers-red-line (1)

key_tax-red-line (1)

key_economic red line

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Tales from the campaign



I spotted these two handwritten notes side by side when I was out delivering last week. In case you can’t see this too clearly on your device, they say:

“I will vote for the party who doesn’t waste paper. Give me a leaflet and you’re off the list ..”

“I am undecided. Keep the leaflets coming …”

Ah – a dilemma indeed.

Posted in Campaign Corner and Humour | 4 Comments

Britain’s first Youth Leaders’ debate

A while ago we told you about the Youth Leaders’ debate on Channel 4 organised by Shout Out UK, which is an independent news network for young people.

The debate is happening at 8pm tomorrow evening and you can watch it here. Alex Harding, the Chair of Liberal Youth, will be our representative.

Shout Out asks:

We are hoping to get as much exposure as possible for this historic event.

As such, would you mind helping us promote it by joining our thunderclap?

To join simply CLICK HERE.

Thank you so much for your support and please do watch the debate on All4 at 8pm on Tuesday!

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This will upset some Lib Dems …


Last week, Nigel Farage told a public meeting in Rochester:

I would like to see the BBC cut back to the bone to be purely a public service broadcaster with an international reach, and I would have thought you could do that with a licence fee that was about a third of what it currently is.

According to The Independent:

The move could see the end of more frivolous entertainment programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 20 Comments

VoteMatch, TickBox and other VAA*s


* Voter Advice Applications.

I have been drawing your attention to a number of websites which either tell you who the candidates are in your constituency or help you to decide who to vote for, such as Unlock Democracy’s VoteMatch.

MySociety has produced a list of the latter types under the snappy title:  A list of Voter Advice Applications – AKA ‘who should I vote for?’ tools – for the UK General Election. It lists a dozen or so sites, and others are mentioned in the comments.

Now although it is comforting …

Posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Labour is confused on immigration

Labourleaflet039I went to see David Hare’s play ‘The Absence of War’ last night. I hadn’t seen it before and it is absolutely gripping at this stage in the election campaign. So if you can make it to the Rose Theatre in Kingston between now and 25th April, you are in for a treat.

The plot follows the (fictional) Labour leader and his core staff during the election campaign in 1992, and examines whether it is possible for politicians to maintain their integrity and project their real personalities, when all around are urging party discipline.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Democratic dashboard

Democratic dashboardI’ve been telling you about a number of independent election-related websites that either provide you with an answer to a simple question (Do I need my NI number to vote?) or mash-up data from many sources in one convenient package (Online democracy tools that inform the general election debate). Today’s example is one of the latter.

When you go to Democratic dashboard you enter a postcode and are then presented with a rich selection of information about the constituency, its history and demographics, the current candidates and the polling forecasts. This is probably the most comprehensive collection of data readily available for voters.

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Do I need my NI number to vote?


Now I imagine that anyone who reads a political blog like ours will have made sure that they are on the electoral register.

But all activists need to know how to advise a voter on registering. Simple, you just go to, enter your personal details including your National Insurance number and all will be sorted.

But what if you have lost your National Insurance number or you are away from home and can’t get hold of it  – does that mean you are disenfranchised? Believe it or not, there is a website whose sole purpose is to answer that question, and it’s neatly called (I’ve inserted a few capital letters to make it easier to read but, as you all know, URLs are not case sensitive).

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments

What to do with your election leaflets is one of those simple, focused websites that provides a service that no-one else has thought of.

Anyone can upload photos of election leaflets that they have come across, and you can then search them by constituency or by party. That’s it.

Like Lib Dem Voice, the site is run by volunteers, so we have to thank them for the time they put into analysing and annotating the leaflets. The project is a brainchild of Unlock Democracy.

They have a target of gathering 10,000 leaflets between 1st January this year and polling day. The national media use it as a valuable resource. So you all know what you have to do, don’t you … ?

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

What’s happening on P-31, Monday 6th April?


As any activist knows, Bank Holiday Mondays during an election campaign are not given to us for fun days out but for extra deliveries and canvassing. In most years, though not all, we get the use of the Easter Bank Holiday Monday as well as the May Bank Holiday during the short campaign.

The big yellow battlebus, with Nick Clegg and media on board, continues its journey around the target seats. This morning it will be stopping in Surbiton, home of Ed Davey and his team (including me). There’s a large local party, a …

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Sal Brinton and the grassroots

Sal Brinton addresses the rally Liverpool Spring conference 2015 Phoito by LIberal DemocratsYesterday Party President Sal Brinton was interviewed by Dermot Murnaghan for Sky News.

You can read the full transcript of the interview here, but here are some snippets:

DM: … you are in touch with the Lib Dem grassroots as President and we heard from Lord Steel, the former leader, saying there is no appetite amongst Lib Dems for another coalition.

SAL BRINTON: That’s not the grassroots that I’ve been talking to.

Posted in News | Tagged | 15 Comments

A tale of a fox and a duck

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Recent Comments

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    @Richard Underhill I do not understand your proposal. A possibly contaminated blood supply for the politically correct?
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    The desparation of the migrants at Calais might be partially caused by people traffickers taking all their available money. An earlier investigation into so-called "Snakeheads"...
  • User AvatarPeter 29th Jul - 10:35pm
    The evidence based rules may need reviewing, revising, or whatever. Public safety rules in a dynamic society always require updating from time to time. Activities...
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    And what do you mean by "keeping the UK democratic?" Millions of adults cant vote in GE elections here. We have a Queen. The Establishment...
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