Author Archives: Nick T

Strong showing for liberals in The Netherlands

Nick Clegg with Mark Rutte in 2010

As the FT reports, VVD, the liberal party of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, will once again be the largest party in the Dutch parliament:

Prime Minister Mark Rutte looks certain to form the next Netherlands government, with his party projected to secure a clear general election victory over rivals including populist challenger Geert Wilders.

The projected victory was welcomed by moderates and pro-EU politicians across Europe and has calmed their fears that the continent was poised to fall under the sway of nationalists following the UK’s Brexit vote and the election of President Donald Trump in the US.

Posted in News | 15 Comments

The triumph of mendacity, and what we can do about it

Brexit. Syria. Trump. 2016 in three words. It is human nature to see commonalities where there are none, but there are surely some here.

First, of course, there is the not-so-invisible hand of a resurgent Russia to be seen in each. Time magazine’s choice of Donald Trump as its Person of the Year was a mistake: it is not Trump but the subject of his admiration, Vladimir Putin, who has shaped world events this year more than any other individual.

Second (and not entirely unrelated to the first) is the triumph of mendacity. Key to each of the year’s key events was dishonesty. The referendum campaign felt at points like a contest to see which side could bend the truth furthest but it will, in the final analysis, be the Leave campaign that will be viewed as one of the most dishonest political campaigns in this country’s democratic history. Its mendacity was of course easily surpassed by Donald Trump, a man who in the face of inconvenient facts doesn’t just deny their existence but creates his own new reality. It didn’t help that the Democrats nominated a candidate much of whose political career has been defined by sleights of hand and questionable dealings: lying simply became relative.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments

Was this the funniest moment of the coalition?

Four years ago this week. Enjoy:

Posted in Humour | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Missing the civility of coalition

The perceptive-as-ever Rafael Behr makes a good, but subtle, point in his latest Guardian column. Many of the mistakes that the government is now making, Behr argues, are a function of the majority one-party rule that eluded David Cameron in his first term in No 10:

So how is that working out? Unshackled from coalition, Cameron and George Osborne are now at liberty to find extra billions of budget savings from the benefits bill. Except in so doing, they managed to provoke conscientious rebellion on the Tory benches over tax credits, and drive Iain Duncan Smith into self-certified compassionate exile from the cabinet.

Posted in News | Tagged | 28 Comments

Review: Coalition, by David Laws

Coalition: The Inside Story of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government (Biteback; £25)

David Laws CoalitionIf journalistic reportage is the first rough draft of history, then the politicians’ memoir has a good claim to be the second — at least as far as contemporary political history is concerned.

Few are better placed to give the inside account of the UK’s first national coalition in living memory than David Laws. Laws was at the heart of the coalition before it had even been conceived, as part of a small Lib Dem team preparing for a hung parliament, and was then one of four Liberal Democrats to make up the party’s negotiating team when possibility became a reality in May 2010. From thereon in he bore witness to every significant decision made over the next five years, even though two of those years were ostensibly spent on the backbenches.

Laws has two other advantages, too. The first is the intelligence and insight that has earned him respect across the Lib Dem party — even from those with whom he often disagrees — and beyond. The second is his proximity to Nick Clegg, who allowed Laws access to his papers from his time as deputy prime minister in the preparation of this book.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

What Cameron and Osborne said about Vince Cable’s proposals on corporate transparency

Given this week’s coverage of the so-called Panama Papers — the cache of 11.5m confidential files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — this week, it was interesting to come across this account in David Laws’s book, Coalition, from a meeting in 2013:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 26 Comments

LDVideo: “A new, more rational approach is desperately needed” – Norman Lamb introduces his cannabis bill

Norman Lamb yesterday introduced his ten minute rule bill calling for the legalisation of and implementation of a regulated market for cannabis. You can view the bill and follow its progress here. It will move to second reading on 22 April.

And here is Norman’s Commons speech from yesterday:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 10 Comments
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  • User AvatarSteve Holbrook 24th Apr - 12:10am
    Of course Lord Wallace's thoughts are inspiring to us because we belong to the thinking, caring body in society. On closing the eyes, there appears...
  • User AvatarTim Hill 23rd Apr - 11:00pm
    Michael BG "it had in 2010. However we have not elected a councillor to Wandsworth Borough Council ever! There was an Alliance councillor 1982-86." So...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 23rd Apr - 10:59pm
    I reccomend that everyone should read Mark Pack on our prospects. However I disagree with some of his conclusions, in particular I think there are...
  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 23rd Apr - 10:15pm
    If we didn't exist Bob would probably invent something looking very close to the Social Liberal Forum.
  • User AvatarGeorge Crozier 23rd Apr - 10:14pm
    Delighted (and a little surprised) to hear this. Bob M-A's a bit of a lefty but a strong defender of liberal values like the rule...
  • User AvatarChris 23rd Apr - 9:39pm
    "My point was essentially that a standard model suggests that at about 15% (which might be optimistic given the static polling since Wednesday) the Lib...