Author Archives: Joe Otten

Emily Thornberry resigns over tweet

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has resigned from the front bench over a tweet from Rochester which shows, at best, a gulf of understanding between the Labour front bench and working class “white van man”.

Posted in News | 69 Comments

Lynne Featherstone wins Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone MP was named Stonewall’s ‘Politician of the Year’ at their annual awards ceremony yesterday. It was awarded jointly to Lynne and to this guy off Eastenders.

Lynne has been tireless in promoting LGBT+ rights over the last four and a half years and was the architect of the bill legalising same sex marriage.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Labour hang on in South Yorkshire – my guilty part

Labour have retained the post of Police and Crime Commissioner, following the resignation of Shaun Wright, with 50.02% of first preferences ahead of UKIP on 31.66% with a turnout of 14%. The Liberal Democrats did not stand a candidate.

The campaign was dominated by the issue of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, with UKIP accused of crassly exploiting the issue for their own political ends, and Labour accused of being responsible for the authorities that failed those children. Both accusations have merit, though in my book failing to protect 1600 children is worse than crass politicking. I’m not suggesting that Labour’s policy was to fail these children, but any virtual one-party state is likely to fail its people and needs to be voted out.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Liblink: Catherine Bearder MEP on UKIP’s collapse in the European Parliament

As we reported yesterday, the loss of a Latvian MEP, Iveta Grigule from UKIP’s “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy” group mean that is no longer eligible for group status, losing substantial budgets and (unwanted, unused) influence.

Catherine Bearder writes in the New Statesman

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 14 Comments

A fair and fast economic recovery

The Labour Party has two attack lines on the economic recovery these days. One is that it is the slowest recovery ever, and the other is that it is happening particularly unfairly. Both are wholly without merit, and show that Labour are living in a fictional dreamworld.

The charge that this is a particularly slow recovery seems to be based on the length of time it is taking to return to trend, looking at graphs such as this:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 87 Comments

ISIL Debate Open thread

House of Commons. Crown Copyright applies to this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/4642915654/The recall debate in the House of Commons is about to begin. This is the motion that has been tabled

That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognises the clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognises the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

On twitter

Posted in News | 64 Comments

Could it really not be any clearer than this?

Ed Balls MP, Denton - (Labour Leadership Campaign) - 2010Defending the clarity of his party’s position on the deficit after forgetting to mention it in his speech, Ed Miliband said

Ed Balls talked this week about our approach on the deficit. I have talked about our approach on the deficit. No one should be in any doubt about my approach on the deficit.

My approach is clear – we are going to get the deficit down, we are going to get the debt falling and we could not be clearer about that.

photo by: Harry Potts
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 34 Comments

That Ed Miliband speech in full… (2)

The following arrived in a brown envelope at Lib Dem Voice Towers, this morning. It is probably an early draft.

Ed speechThankyou so much.

Friends, this country will never turn our back on the world and on the principles of internationalism. Those values are reflected not just in this country but in this party, and in the great team of Manchester United.

Posted in Humour | Tagged and | 13 Comments

The English devolution battleground

Yorkshire RoseThe prospect of more devolution to Scotland has, rightly enough, ignited the debate in England over devolution. The country has been alive with this, and the party seems to me at times a microcosm of this with some pulling in the direction of English Votes on English Laws and others in the direction of a constitutional convention and devolution to the regions of England.

Nick Clegg speaking earlier reasserted the idea that groups of local authorities should have the right to demand powers are devolved to them, while nodding at the McKay commission on English and England-and-Wales votes in the Commons.

There may be a danger here that we, England, fight ourselves to exhaustion over which solution we want to the West Lothian Question (WLQ) and end up with none of them.

Posted in Op-eds | 41 Comments

Must do better, UK

Whatever the outcome of Scotland’s independence referendum, we should all be shocked at the magnitude of the Yes vote. Surely we should never expect more than a few percent of any population to wish to renounce their citizenship due to dissatisfaction with their government and country, and opt instead for some smaller, weaker, largely untested and unknown alternative. That around half of a population may wish to do this might be expected in Iraq or Syria, but not in one of the more stable, peaceful, prosperous and free parts of the world.

How, then, has it come to this? Yes, there …

Posted in News and Op-eds | 24 Comments

Nick Clegg calls for Police and Crime Commissioners to be scrapped

Speaking on Radio Sheffield this morning (here, from 1h36m) Nick Clegg has said that he always had misgivings about Police and Crime Commissioners, and has said it is “now time to scrap this experiment”.

The Conservatives have to explain “why their promise that PCCs would attract independent members of the public have actually become a way for ex or failed politicians to have another lease of life, which is what we have seen in Shaun Wright and others like him.”

Posted in News | 14 Comments

Harm reducers hit back against WHO e-cigarette denormalisation

Various outlets are reporting research by University College London indicating that for every million smokers who switch to electronic cigarette, 6,000 lives per year can be saved. This follows WHO advice that vaping indoors in public places should be banned in order to maintain the culture war against smoking.

Posted in News | Tagged | 36 Comments

Nick Clegg calls for Ashya King to be reunited with his parents

The case of Ashya King, the little boy with a brain tumour, brings into sharp focus an ethical dilemma where expert, official, police and parent may come into conflict while each trying to do their best for a desperately ill child. When he disappeared, the hospital was rightly concerned for his safety, knowing that he needed specialist care. As it seems to have turned out, the Kings took every precaution to provide Ashya what he needed while seeking what they believe to be a better treatment in another country.

Nick Clegg has now called for Brett and Naghemeh King to be allowed to see their son, and that it is not appropriate to throw the full force of the law at them, for trying to do what is best for their child.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

Reflections on Rotherham (3): Believing and taking responsibility

It was difficult to read the Alexis Jay report into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham. 1400 girls and 200 boys brutally abused and exploited.

And then we have the response from the council and the police. Denial. Victim blaming. Placing children into care homes where they were more at risk than they were in the family home. Sending looked-after children to school by taxis implicated in grooming and abuse. Regarding abused children as consenting participants. Treating an abused child as a criminal. Failure to investigate crimes. Vilification of those trying to raise awareness.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Channel 4 announce Clegg film

Channel 4 have announced that there will be a 90 minute drama about Nick Clegg and the formation of the coalition, broadcast in the run up to next year’s General Election.

Posted in News | 23 Comments

GDP above pre-crash level; strongest growth in G7

Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show growth of 0.8% in the second quarter of 2014, bringing UK GDP above the level it was before the 2008 crash.

With GDP 3.1% higher than a year earlier, the UK has the fastest growing economy in the G7.

Cheif Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander comments

Today we are passing a major milestone on the long road back to full recovery. There is still a long way to go but Britain has recovered the economic ground lost under Labour and is forging ahead.

The main reason that we stepped forward to

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 64 Comments

Full steam ahead on infrastructure

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterOne thing that struck me about Tim Farron’s Beveridge lecture last Saturday was the scale of his ambition for investment in infrastructure.

Conservatives have often talked about their admiration of Victorian values – if only they really did admire those values, because Victorian values included ambition to build an infrastructure, to create a transport, communications and logistics backbone to our economy, to make a difference, to see a problem and not worry about whether fixing it would fit with your ideology, but to just get on and fix it.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 34 Comments

Lower unemployment and more full time jobs

3D Employment GraphRecently I wrote about challenging Labour’s narrative on unemployment with the facts. Since then, the points made in that article have been confirmed with even stronger jobs growth, lower unemployment, and a greater still proportion of full-time jobs.

Updates of those figures, and figures used in this article are summarised here drawn from data in here. The number of new, net, full-time jobs is now up to 1.3 million, and David Blunkett’s post-Soviet style meltdown more distant than ever.

I dealt in …

Posted in News | 24 Comments

Call Clegg 11 July – data retention, Israel, Royal Mail, Germany to win World Cup

call cleggCall Clegg began with a question on the retention of communications data, with a supplementary of whether this is one of those things that can be blamed on the EU.

Nick was very clear that this law is just to underpin the maintenance of existing arrangements for data retention, as have been applied for many years, and not extending them. That the ECJ had struck down the EU Data Retention Directive, was a reasonable exercise of the checks and balances of a mature way of making decisions but left data retention without a legal framework.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Cable backs right to strike and opposes strikes

Vince Cable speaking to mediaQuoted in the Independent

We believe that getting round the negotiating table is better than striking.

We do not believe unions should be striking and causing mass disruption when everyone has been affected by similar pay conditions.

This reflects the fact that a better deal for one group of public sector workers would be paid for out of taxes on other workers, that the strikes if successful would not win a better deal for working people in general, rather for some at the expense of others. There is …

photo by: bisgovuk
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 78 Comments

Nick Clegg launches economic vision for the north of England

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Vince Cable, Business SecretaryNick Clegg is speaking in Leeds today to launch the Northern Futures project to find the best ideas for realising the north’s economic potential. An announcement on a series of Growth Deals, giving local leaders access to a £12 billion pot to support jobs, competitiveness and home building is expected on Monday.

While getting the north performing to its full potential is perhaps the prime economic challenge our country faces, there is something of a news blackout in the national media, …

photo by:
Posted in News | 11 Comments

Cameron pre-announces failure in Europe

David Cameron, British Prime MinisterIn a display of perverse pride, David Cameron has been spinning today that he will lose a vote on the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission. You might expect such a failure of (megaphone) diplomacy to be a source of shame, but I suppose failure is what the Brexit agenda demands, and hang the national interest.

In doing this he is, we are told standing up for the principle that the heads of government, not the European Parliament appoint the commission and that the …

photo by: bisgovuk
Posted in Op-eds | 33 Comments

Bath Labour councillor and Miliband adviser defect to Liberal Democrats

labour to lib dem defectCllr Rob Appleyard of Westfield ward, Bath and North East Somerset, has joined the Liberal Democrats. Quoted in Now Bath, he says

I’ve been proud of Labour’s stance on education, but I’ve been disappointed at the way they have played games over our children’s futures.

Posted in News | 39 Comments

Challenging the narrative: Employment

3D Employment GraphI was engaged in a twitter argument yesterday with someone who was disputing the progress we have seen in employment, putting the improved figures down to a million people enslaved on zero hours contracts.

The Office for National Statistics have provisionally estimated the number of zero hours contracts to be between 583,000 and 1.4 million. There isn’t an established data series for this that would enable historical comparisons, but there are such statistics for full time and part time workers. According to these the number of part time workers is up 356,000 since May 2010, and the number of full time workers is up 1,114,000.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 27 Comments

Appeasement or Opposition?

clegg farage lbcNothing is more annoying, said one voter on the radio, than mainstream politicians telling us why we voted UKIP.

But at risk of causing further annoyance, it is important to try to understand the UKIP vote, what it represents, and to what extent it is right to respond with appeasement, like Labour’s Sadiq Khan, and many others of left and right, or opposition. To be fair to Khan, despite the apology, he largely makes the same arguments Labour have been making for years.

Uniting the issues of immigration, Europe, and …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 39 Comments

Labour VAT attack poster backfires badly

Twitter is alive this morning with a Labour attack poster on the subject of VAT

labour-VAT

Unfortunately for Labour

Posted in News | 48 Comments

…or you could vote for not having an opinion

imageOn Wednesday I went to my first hustings as a European Parliament candidate (number 3 on the Yorkshire and the Humber list). When the Green candidate announced that he supported staying in the EU, I had a quiet conversation with the Labour candidate sitting next to me.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Lib Link: Paul Tyler on establishment of the church

York Minster by Paul WalterOur own Stephen Tall broke the story last Slownewsday that disestablishment of the Church of England is a longer-term project than the Times and Telegraph might have realised.

Now Paul Tyler in Lords of the Blog, addresses the reasons for the historical presence of Bishops in the House of Lords as ‘Money, not Morals’.

I am a practising Anglican (trying to improve) but I have been firmly committed to disestablishment for over 50 years, for the sake of both church and state. The muddled

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 6 Comments

Knife crime leaks reveal coalition battle over mandatory sentencing

The Court House - Warwick - Coat of ArmsLetters between government ministers debating whether a second offence of carrying a knife should attract a mandatory prison sentence have been leaked to the Daily Mail. The timing of these leaks must suggest an attempt by some Conservatives to exploit the appalling murder of Anne Maguire for political ends.

It may be a little less precise, but I am reporting this as ‘second offence of possession’, because more serious knife-related offences attract mandatory prison sentences already, including the offence, new in 2012, of …

photo by: ell brown
Posted in News | Tagged | 13 Comments

Steve Webb proposes fairer tax relief on pension contributions

Not content with the most radical reforms to private pensions in a generation, Steve Webb is proposing a flat rate of 30% of tax relief on pension contributions. Currently savers enjoy tax relief at the marginal rate of income tax they pay, so higher rate tax payers get the lion’s share, and standard rate tax payers have less incentive to save for a pension.

Steve told the Daily Mail

I’d like to see the benefits of pensions tax relief spread much more evenly.

Most people get 20 per cent relief, some people get it at 40 per cent. But the people

Posted in News | Tagged and | 28 Comments
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  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 25th Nov - 8:31pm
    @Simon Shaw 25th Nov '14 - 7:18pm " ... the true green party in British politics". I truly used to believe that Simon -it was...
  • User AvatarMark Valladares 25th Nov - 8:11pm
    @ Ian, The two Romanian returnees get us closer to the ECR, but not quite back into fourth place. On the positive side though, ALDE...
  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 25th Nov - 8:11pm
    @ Stephen Hesketh "I followed your link John and looked at the thirteen Independent-selected Green policies – an interesting mix – but I would urge...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 25th Nov - 8:04pm
    Interestingly 28 seats is the mid point for the spread betting market (or it was the last time I looked). The point about spread betting...
  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 25th Nov - 8:04pm
    @ Simon Shaw "Well I’m an active member of the true green party in British politics, and I obviously talk to fellow Lib Dems, so...
  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 25th Nov - 8:02pm
    Well done Paul. “Reasonable Chastisement” !!!!!!! Unbelievable.