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.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 94 Comments

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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  • User Avatarmatt 30th Mar - 11:18pm
    I get why a patients own GP's are reluctant to carry out assessments because it might cause friction with their patient if they did not...
  • User Avatarfrankie 30th Mar - 10:43pm
    Trust me I'm a Tory. Difficult one that, I think the answer needs to be a resounding NO.
  • User AvatarGlenn 30th Mar - 10:34pm
    The basic problem is that PIP was introduced to reduce the benefits bill. This is why it involves humiliating interviews and you can't just send...
  • User AvatarRichard Fortescue 30th Mar - 9:24pm
    Steve, my understanding is that the 9-1 grading is explicitly a return to norm referencing. But, as someone teaching 9-1 GCSEs, I am not wholly...
  • User AvatarFiona 30th Mar - 8:57pm
    I accept that theoretical premise of not wasting time and resources on cosmetic changes is reasonable, but there must be a rigorous system in place...
  • User AvatarFiona 30th Mar - 8:49pm
    You might be happy with "impressionable people" thinking you are out of touch, but are you happy with them getting their drugs advice from drug...