Author Archives: Joe Otten

Cable on Brexit Bill

Vince Cable was on Radio 4 this morning – jump to 2 hours 48 minutes – on the subject of the bill to incorporate EU law into domestic law.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Breaking out of the bubble?

With the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference approaching (16-19 September), and less than a week away from the deadline for amendments (4 September), this is my highly partisan tirade on the agenda, here to provoke you into sending your views, either to us at Liberal Democrat Voice or to the good people at the Federal Conference Committee.

The first party conference after a General Election is an opportunity for the party to reflect on the results, good and bad. While it is good to move forward, many of us expected more progress in the face of such a gulf in the centre. It is as if Corbyn and May fed off each other’s weakness, and we did not have the strength to stand out as an alternative.

Our conference, as usual, will make policy to demonstrate our values and soft virtues, to the neglect of other qualities: the toughness required to govern in coalition while under siege from all sides, and the fierce dedication to our communities that we show in local government.

Posted in Op-eds | 69 Comments

Was Champion right to “resign” from front bench over Sun article?

Trigger warning for child abuse.

There are kind of rules – good rules that are there for good reasons – governing how we talk about racial issues, when we must. Properly contextualise. Look for similarities rather than differences. Don’t make or appear to make generalisations about groups of people.

When I was at school we had leaflets thrown over the school fence with the faces of white people who had been killed by black people. The object of the leaflet was to encourage racially motivated violence to “even up the score” using crimes that, if they happened at all, probably weren’t racially …

Posted in Op-eds | 31 Comments

The other new party of the moderate liberal centre

Hardly a day goes by on my social media feeds without some form of the following conversation:

Commentator/political has been: What we really need is a new moderate centre party in the UK, standing up for all the internationalist, tolerant liberal values that Corbyn and May have abandoned.

Liberal Democrats: Helloooooo!!!!!

Every time somebody calls for a new centre party, a puppy dies, goes the tweet.

It is always more an observation than a plan. Starting from 0% and 0 MPs and councillors is always going to be harder than starting where we are. But I don’t think the commentators and has beens are being obtuse. There are reasons they are not all saying we should join the Liberal Democrats, and I’d like to reflect on those reasons and what we can do about them. Do please all submit further articles expanding this theme.

Posted in Op-eds | 161 Comments

Liblink: David Laws – the ‘poor’ quality of education policy

In the Guardian today, Peter Wilby speaks to ex Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws about his life and careers so far and his work at the new Education Policy Institute.

Like the IFS, Laws’s institute will, he tells me, be “data-driven, influencing debate by the quality of its analysis and its quantitative skills”. The quality of education policymaking is poor, Laws argues, and the institute wants to make it better.

Was policymaking poor when he was schools minister? “Yes. A lot of decision-making is not based on evidence but on hunch. I had little coming to me from civil

Posted in LibLink | 45 Comments

Rumours of talks with the Conservatives put to bed

The Times is reporting discussions between Conservative and Liberal Democrat chiefs of staff.

Before we get all breathless about ‘deals’ being struck it is worth noting that Times is no suggesting that so much as

The Conservatives confirmed that they had spoken about working together on areas on which they agree. The two parties have a number of shared priorities, such as mental health …

And the Press …

Posted in News | 25 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – a deal can be done on freedom of movement

Writing in the Financial Times, Nick Clegg shows how, as on many other issues, British politicians are wrongly blaming the EU for the consequences of decisions taken in Britain affecting immigration from EU member states.

Crucially, there is far more latitude for member states to apply restrictions to freedom of movement than is commonly appreciated. The Belgian authorities aggressively deport EU citizens who do not work and cannot support themselves. Under EU law, the UK authorities could do the same for EU citizens who have failed to find work after six months. Access to Spanish healthcare requires registering with

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 29 Comments
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  • User AvatarSimon Horsman 23rd Sep - 9:51am
    Response to Richard Easter - I feel MOST strongly that the regulations should be enforced
  • User Avatarjames 23rd Sep - 9:50am
    Liberalism is all well and good however the Lib Dems have to learn that it works both ways. Yet then the Lib Dems don't really...
  • User AvatarSimon Horsman 23rd Sep - 9:49am
    I’m pragmatic on this but allowing Uber and others the freedom to function is both liberal and Liberal. BUT does anyone have the facts as...
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 23rd Sep - 9:43am
    So how are Uber drivers and vehicles regulated? Or are people expected to get into a Uber taxi knowing nothing whatsoever about the competence and...
  • User AvatarColin Rosenstiel 23rd Sep - 9:43am
    "It is reasonable to have concerns over safety, but to pretend that these concerns should be limited to Uber and not the wider taxi market...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 23rd Sep - 9:38am
    I see no mention of Uber flouting regulations, with its Greyball software, failing to report criminal offences causing the police to speak out against them,...