Author Archives: James Graham

What part of Yes do you not understand?

We don’t normally republish lengthy pieces from other people’s blogs, but in the case of James Graham’s review of Don’t Take No For An Answer by Lewis Baston and Ken Ritchie, which doubles up as a detailed post-mortem on the AV referendum, we’re happy to throw those rules out of the window because of both the post’s excellence and the importance of the issues to future campaigning and hopes for electoral reform.

So here is a slightly revised version of the post which first appeared on James’s blogYou can also read Mark Pack’s (much shorter!) review of Don’t

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 21 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats must not compromise on fairer taxes

Today, the Social Liberal Forum has published an open letter to Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander expressing our concerns prior to the emergency budget which will be unveiled next week. By coincidence, Simon Hughes, Malcolm Bruce and Lord Oakeshot are reported in the FT today expressing similar sentiments on capital gains tax.

The SLF letter covers a lot more ground than CGT including socio-economic inequality, income tax and VAT. But it is a fundamental issue which, more than anything else, will determine the future direction of the coalition. For the past month, Tory backbench MPs and the rightwing press …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 53 Comments

Opinion: Could low voter registration cost the Lib Dems seats?

The Hansard Society’s latest Audit of Political Engagement has added to the view that there is likely to be another risible turnout at the impending General Election. The study finds that only 54% say they are certain to vote.

The Hansard Society have offered some ideas about how to boost turnout. They suggest that more should be done to target groups such as the ‘disenchanted and mistrustful’. Apparently, a quarter of adults, mostly young and working-class, fall into this category of voters who distrust politicians but not yet entirely hostile.

But a report from the Electoral Commission would suggest that efforts to get these …

Posted in Election law, General Election and Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 7 Comments

Looking beyond the Lib Dem ghetto

The Lib Dems have always selected their candidates by “one member one vote” (OMOV). It has always seemed the most logical and transparently fair system, and it is certainly better than having candidates hand-picked by an inner cabal. It still does a fairly good job at selecting candidates for the House of Commons, although as membership levels drop that is becoming less true. But it has been quite inadequate for selecting candidates for larger constituencies, particularly for the European Parliament and London Assembly.

Here’s the fundamental problem: a significant proportion of our members are concentrated in our held and target constituencies. Target seats become target seats because they have a larger pool of activists from which to draw. In turn, in order to become winning seats they have to recruit more activists. The more tightly we focus on target seats, as the Lib Dems certainly have for the past two decades, the more the gap between target seat and what we sometimes euphemistically call “development seats” widens.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

Jo Swinson’s expenses: why you should write an email today

I’ve been very gratified by the entirely positive feedback my articles about the Daily Telegraph and Jo Swinson yesterday have received.  This is entirely in keeping with the broadly sympathetic reaction Jo has received on both the blogosphere and on Twitter.

That the story has had such a positive backlash is of course a good thing.  The trouble with such stories however is that they often grow in the retelling.  I’ve already cited how the BBC and Guardian have contributed to this.  What if a candidate opposing Jo in the general election campaign were to base a dirty tricks campaign …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

The database state and the true cost of Labour’s free lunches

During the Unlock Democracy debate at the Convention on Modern Liberty last month, Justice Minister Michael Wills defended the growth of the database state by arguing:

“We’ve heard a lot of about datasharing today. But that datasharing, that so many here today say is an unacceptable intrusion of privacy by the state, can actually help thousands and thousands of children who are eligible for free school meals but don’t get them at the moment… Look, it’s all very well for you to sit here. You’ve probably all had a hot meal in the last week. One

Posted in Big mad database and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 7 Comments

@LibDig Pig Number Thirteen

Welcome to the thirteenth edition of Lib Dig Pig, being a roundup of non-Lib Dem oriented gems on the internet, as voted by Lib Dem members using Lib Dig (if you aren’t one, and are a Lib Dem member, sign up here:

You can now get twitter updates of stories which appear on libdig – simply “follow libdig” to sign up.

This week has a very clear theme – and I don’t mean Tony Hart:

1. ID cards database breached by nosey council staff (Computer Weekly). Submitted by me: ‘”They haven’t even fully launched it yet, but our worst fears are being confirmed (see the NO2ID Take Jane page.)”

2. Publication of ID cards reviews would jeopardise support for the scheme, claims government (Computer Weekly). Submitted by me: “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH! FREEDOM IS SLAVERY!”

3. Morph ‘flashmob’ at Tate gallery (BBC News). Submitted by me again: “Does using the internet to come together to make plasticine models give you cancer?”

4. To politicians, we’re little more than meaningless blobs on a monitor. Bring on the summer of rage (Guardian). Submitted by Alix Mortimer: “Yay! @charltonbrooker, welcome to our world.”

5. Bagehot’s notebook: Shami’s frog and Tory splits (The Economist). Submitted by Martin Tod: “Bagehot’s review of the Convention on Modern Liberty: ‘My main conclusion, however, was this: the Conservatives are heading for a big and not-too-distant bust-up over this whole agenda'”

6. ‘Obscene’ Gravity must be repealed, says Harman (Daily Mash). Submitted by Will Howells: “Ordinary families are dreading September and the prospect of millions of ripe, juicy apples bouncing off their hard-working skulls.”


No popular video this week, so I’m going to bombard you with more civil libertarian propaganda:

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarjames 26th Oct - 9:54pm
    there is currently a story on the telegraph online (fairly near the top) about this by-election and EU policy positions that many on this thread...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 26th Oct - 9:26pm
    In my opinion, all political parties should put up a candidate and fight for their beliefs with vigour. The electorate have a right to choice,...
  • User AvatarNigel Jones 26th Oct - 9:20pm
    @Nick. Agreed. A few years ago I noticed a reduction in flights to Rome from airports not too far from where I live in North...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 26th Oct - 9:15pm
    Such a shame that we have failed to act on this issue within the party itself. Always best to get your own house in order...
  • User AvatarJohn Nicholson 26th Oct - 8:50pm
    In response to Simon Shaw: In 2010, 92% of votes went to the Conservatives and the LibDems, so there is a large soft Green and...
  • User AvatarEthics gradient 26th Oct - 8:35pm
    @Andrew McCaig fate can often be amenable to change. you draw an interesting 3rd point as to why a middle ground soft brexit will not...