Author Archives: David Hennigan

Opinion: My Lib Dem Star of 2013 (2)

The debate about our Lib Dem hero of 2013 has thrown up a number of names.  The campaign to pardon Alan Turing, led by William Jones, John Leech and John Sharkey would, in normal circumstances get my vote – but this was the year that saw the passing of Stan Hardy.
Stan, was an exceptional man – someone who truly encompassed everything a Liberal should.  ‘A worker… a winner’ is a bit of a Lib Dem cliche, but Stan was exactly that.  His support for the likes of Simon Hughes MP and Baroness Susan Kramer was immense.
Stan, was an unsung hero,

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Opinion: The best type of electoral reform

As a young councillor in Manchester in 1999, I was often suspicious of a postal vote system that allowed people, who couldn’t make it to the ballot box to be able to vote by post.  It’s not that I wanted to curtail anyone’s democratic rights – it was just that I wanted to ensure the system was safe from electoral fraud.

Since 2001, here in the UK – you can vote by post without giving a reason.  ‘Bringing the ballot box to your doorstep’, argued some, ‘Putting the convenience back into politics’, said others.  Now, I’ve no problem with the elderly …

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Opinion: Is UKIP a threat to community cohesion?

ukip-poster-manchesterMuch has been made of the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party under Nigel Farage.  Watch any of Mr Farage’s rabble rousing appearances on Question Time and one might feel that here is a man who speaks common sense.  A man on your side – a party ready to change the three party system in this country.

Delve a bit deeper into UKIP and you’ll see a slightly sinister side more akin to the Far Right.  It was only 3 years ago that, at the invitation of Lord Pearson (then UKIP Leader), the Dutch Far Right politician Geert Wilders showed an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords.  Cheered on by the English Defence League, UKIP claimed that this was a victory for free speech and common sense.

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Opinion: Planning in Rochdale descends into farce

I know many current and former councillors would agree with me that being on a municipal planning committee is a thankless task. Explaining the quasi-judicial element of the role to residents can be a nightmare. Every council contains councillors of different shapes, sizes and abilities. That is why the role of a planning officer is critical – to help you through complex planning law. We may not agree with their advice but we need concrete planning reasons on which to base our decisions. Or do we?

The recent BBC programme The Planners certainly brought back memories for me about my time …

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Northern council cuts are Labour’s choice – it’s that straightforward!

Manchester City Hall - some rights reserved by nik_doofA New Year, same pain is the message coming from Labour Councils – mainly in the North. Looking at my old stomping ground of Levenshulme, Manchester – the cuts beggar belief. Labour’s slash and burn approach to Municipal Governance has come to the fore. Levenshulme has fought off attempts to close their swimming baths three times – now the campaigners are out in force as Labour tries again.

A letter written by the Labour Leaders of Liverpool, Sheffield and

Posted in Local government and News | Tagged and | 28 Comments

Opinion: why elected Police Commissioners will be less democratic and accountable

Firstly, let me declare an interest. I am against elected Police and Crime Commissioners. I see them as a step backwards, allowing personality politics at the top of our police forces. It was in the Coalition Agreement though, so you would think the Liberal Democrats would be taking their strong message about tackling crime to the country.

On November 15th, we see the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in England and Wales. London has already plumped for Boris, who will take on this remit as Mayor of London. Let’s just say that the lack of interest in these elections is startling but …

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Opinion: The Lib Dem leadership’s attitude to the Police Commissioner elections is baffling!

“Liberal Democrats – soft on crime” was the headline that has often screamed off Labour leaflets over the last decade. Indeed, in the latter stages of the 2010 General Election, Labour strategists used that message to squeeze the Liberal Democrat vote when we were on 29%.

Looking at the partial, last-minute collapse in our vote, it’s difficult to argue that this line of attack didn’t work. The ‘soft on crime’ attack was used against us in the Oldham East and Saddleworth By-election. Labour’s Christmas Card to constituents in Oldham even featured a snowman with a police …

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Opinion: Why Sir Cyril was wrong

Now, it’s easy to pretend that your political hero is perfect. It’s easy to write hagiographical accounts of a life without mistakes.

I felt that about the late Sir Cyril Smith MBE, formerly MP for Rochdale. I shall forever feel proud about how Cyril took me under his wing. I will be forever proud now that Sir Cyril called me his friend and gave me so many tips, so many words of advice about how to do my job. (I was Lib Dem Agent in Rochdale from 2004 – 2009) I wrote about ‘our Cyril’ for his 80th

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Opinion: Why Wrexham Labour Party should be ashamed: The curious case of Aled Roberts

It’s estimated that well over 30% of the Welsh population speak Welsh as their first language – that is growing year on year. Hundreds of thousands more across the world speak it – even in a distant corner of Argentina – the valleys of a Patagonia. My partner from Rhosllanerchrugog and her family speak Welsh. They are fiercely proud of their heritage and would be absolutely disgusted with the treatment of Aled Roberts AM. It appears that they don’t speak Welsh at the Electoral Commission!

Now let me declare an interest, I don’t know Aled Roberts, I know his mum …

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Opinion: surveying the wreckage

As a political organiser, I’ve seen the highs and now the lows that come with the territory. In Rochdale in 2005 and Manchester Withington in 2010 – the results made all the effort and long hours worth it.

In Manchester last week, I presided over losing every single seat. Yes, every single one!

It wasn’t through lack of effort. Take for example Simon Ashley, the former group leader. Simon has delivered close to 200,000 leaflets since May, good quality leaflets focusing on crucial issues like the closure of his local swimming baths (where his 2000 plus …

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Opinion: Why I am so pleased Yarl’s Wood Immigration Prison will be closed for families by this Government

Today, at Prime Minister’s Questions, the spotlight was on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Being the first Liberal to speak to the Commons from the despatch box in place of the Prime Minister was a weird and wonderful thing.

Jack Straw was expected to come out on top, yet his ranting, especially about Sheffield Forgemaster’s, was a confirmation that Labour in opposition continues to put petty, political interests in front of the national interest. Nick Clegg stood up well: he wasn’t brilliant, but did far better than many of the media expected.

The continual baiting of Nick and …

Posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

Sir Cyril Smith on his 80th!

When I tell people from across the country that I work in Rochdale they invariably say – “Is that Cyril Smith still alive?” I don’t tell them that I work in politics, or for the Liberal Democrats – just Rochdale! That is the mark of respect for someone who made a difference, and I am pleased to tell them that Sir Cyril is still making that difference. Whether it be writing his letters to our local paper, advising Paul Rowen, or just making his voice heard – Sir Cyril Smith will never change and neither should he.

I first …

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OPINION: Fib Dems? A compliment!

It was well over 10 days into the Sedgefield By-election. Things seemed to be going well and it was clear that the Conservatives were in 3rd place. Then again – Sedgefield is further North than Watford so it was no surprise!

One thing was missing and the campaign team knew it.

High quality literature was being produced and delivered. Canvassing showed a move towards Greg Stone and the Lib Dems. Even the Northern media were on board. Then it came…

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 30 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCharles Rothwell 28th Jul - 7:04am
    I assume jedibeeftrix's comment about "our true destiny in the EU" is meant in an ironical sense, but when it comes to "shared values", the...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 28th Jul - 4:17am
    Simon, it's nothing personal and my problem isn't with everyone who signed "Lib Dems 4 Change". I don't believe in having far leftists as members...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 28th Jul - 4:01am
    I don't agree with doing an anti-armed police campaign. I live in a pretty peaceful town too, but I needed them back in 2005. Unfortunately,...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 28th Jul - 12:22am
    Am argument could be that the "official" centre ground is taking a line of what works in practice for the improvement of society as a...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 27th Jul - 11:43pm
    "I can’t help but feel that people who say Vote No to Independence because we really want Federalism are falling into the same electoral trap...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 27th Jul - 11:42pm
    @Paul K How so? If 50% buy from left van and 50% from right, the average is still the centre, but centre van has no...