Author Archives: Joe Otten

The real problem with #EdStone is that Miliband cannot be sure he will be able to deliver

We are all sneering – myself included – at Ed Milliband’s decision to inscribe a monolith with 6 election pledges. Even the Labour-supporting Guardian has likened it to Neil Kinnock’s Sheffield Rally.

Preposterous as this seems, I suspect that the intended message – that they are really serious about these pledges – may nonetheless seep through, while politicians and reporters clutch their aching sides, to the wider public.

Posted in Op-eds | 29 Comments

My challenge to Ed Miliband – your core message may be a fabrication

Ed,

Yesterday on Question Time, you said, as you have said many times during this campaign:

There are some people who tell you that the way we succeed as a country is as long as a few people at the top do well and large corporations, that’s what powers the economy…

Here’s a good question, which you’ll be glad I asked you: Who are these people who tell us this? Have we heard of any of them? Are they standing for election? Can you give us a direct quote or two?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 63 Comments

Why Labour and Conservative supporters should vote Liberal Democrat

We are facing four main scenarios for after this election; they are:

  1. A Labour led government with some sort of support from the SNP.
  2. A Labour led government with some sort of support from the Liberal Democrats.
  3. A Conservative led government with some sort of support from the Liberal Democrats.
  4. A Conservative led government with some sort of support from UKIP and the DUP. (Blukip)

It is hard to dispute that a Conservative in a Labour – Liberal Democrat contest should vote Liberal Democrat, and likewise a Labour supporter in a Conservative – Liberal Democrat contest. I will argue that for the first time, the converse is also true. Conservatives and Labour supporters should elect Liberal Democrats competing with their own candidates.

Posted in Op-eds | 133 Comments

LDVideo: Dialogue over Division

The politics of the Devil’s songs is easy, anyone can do that … but the politics of releasing the better angels of our nature – that’s much tougher.

Posted in YouTube | 29 Comments

Tim Farron is the most engaged MP on twitter

Tim FarronAnalysis of politicians’ tweets by Demos shows Tim Farron to be the most engaged MP on twitter, while of the three party leaders, Nick Clegg is the most likely to interact with followers, as measured by the proportion of @ replies.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Further steady fall in unemployment

Yesterday’s monthly update from the office for national statistics shows unemployment down 97,000 in the last quarter of 2014 and by 486,000 on a year earlier.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 28 Comments

Theatre Review: The Absence of War

This revival of David Hare’s play loosely based on the 1992 General Election sees Sheffield Labour MP and party leader George Jones as channelling Neil Kinnock and Ed Miliband in similar measure. As in 1992 the country is emerging from recession, and the voters perhaps do not feel rich enough to afford a Labour government yet.

Posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

Commons to vote on 2.001 parent babies

A free vote is due this afternoon in the House of Commons on whether to allow a process of transplanting a nucleus into an ovum or embryo with healthy mitochondria so that parents may have their own (99.9%) genetic child while preventing mitochondrial disease in that child. Details on the BBC.

Calling a child born following this process a ‘3 parent’ baby is a little hyperbolic, and helps to add oil to the flames of the “ethical” debate surrounding every kind of intervention in the embryo or germ line. I believe that mitochondrial disease is a bad thing and preventing it is a good thing and that ethics demands unequivocal support for this process, but I do recognise there is a debate to be had.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments

The left cheers Syriza while Miliband equivocates

The victory in Greece of anti-austerity party Syriza (in coalition with a hard right junior partner) has been warmly welcomed by anti-austerity commentators here.

Perhaps jumping the gun a little regarding the difference between voting to end austerity and actually ending it, Zoe Williams in the Guardian talks of a “a successful, transformative movement”.

Posted in Op-eds | 68 Comments

Cochrane review: Vaping can help you quit smoking

A review published by the Cochrane Collaboration – which serves to compile and make accessible evidence from clinical trials – has found that electronic cigarettes do help smokers reduce smoking or quit altogether.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 24 Comments

Devo Sheffield announced: transport, skills, business support, housing, no mayor

Nick Clegg is in Sheffield today to confirm a city devolution deal which will shift power from Whitehall to the Sheffield City Region combined authority, giving the city region greater control over transport, skills, housing and business support. This historic deal for Sheffield will allow the city to introduce “oyster-style” travel cards, and local councils and businesses will have control over the majority of the skills budget for the area for the first time.

This comes a month after the Northern Futures Summit, which brought together local people and businesses to share their vision for strengthening the economy in the region. The deal does not impose any specific form of governance over the city, such as a metro mayor.

Posted in News | 29 Comments

LibLink: Farron – we need to be honest about the housing crisis

Tim Farron writing at politics.co.uk is calling for 300,000 homes a year to be built to end the housing crisis in contrast to some of the less ambitious policies around.

The key issue in housing isn’t that first-time buyers can’t get on the ladder, nor that rents are too high. ‘Help to Buy’ isn’t the cure-all to our ills and whilst a rent cap might help renters in the short run, in the long run it will only disappoint. The politicians who propose these short-term measures will also disappoint, unless they have a more thorough approach. Unless we aim to end the housing crisis in its entirety, instead of just tinkering at the edges, we are just short-changing people for short-term electoral gain.

Posted in LibLink | 46 Comments

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 | 88 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
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSteve Way 5th May - 6:47pm
    @Paul Barker Clegg has today said he is not opposed to a referendum in principle....
  • User AvatarSteve Way 5th May - 6:43pm
    I would hope Caron would comment following Clegg's interview today where he gave the strongest hint yet that he will accept a referendum....
  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 5th May - 6:35pm
    paul barker 5th May '15 - 5:26pm "The big problem with any Con/Libdem coalition is the planned Referendum, I dont see any compromise we could...
  • User AvatarHelen Dudden 5th May - 6:17pm
    That was obvious to me a long time ago. If you are interested in something you give it your all. I think its just being...
  • User AvatarPeter 5th May - 6:15pm
    Good news for democracy if Clegg drops his plan to veto a referendum, even if it is for selfish reasons. If Clegg wants us to...
  • User AvatarStuart 5th May - 6:03pm
    @Peter "Clegg’s admission that such powers have been handed to the EU together with his refusal to seek the approval of the UK electorate, is...