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 AvatarPeter Martin 29th Mar - 8:08am
    It may be a silly question but why has Article 50 been written in such a way as to warrant the term 'trigger'? This implies...
  • User AvatarMartin Walker 29th Mar - 7:56am
    Matt - thanks for writing this article. Although aware of the issues and the injustice of what was happening in general terms, your article was...
  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 29th Mar - 7:45am
    The country is being led into the unknown by a Prime Minister who has resolutely put party management above every other consideration. Whether she is...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 29th Mar - 12:13am
    It's excellent to have all this detailed reasoning from Nick to draw on, to back our case for staying in the single market and, hopefully,...
  • User AvatarTonyJ 29th Mar - 12:13am
    Thanks Rob. So refreshing to be able to express an opinion on social media and get a genuinely friendly, /human/ response! Why, it's almost like...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Mar - 11:12pm
    "Heroin addiction can drive people to commit burglaries and thefts. " Is heroin addictive? Is it really the underlying lifestyle which is addictive? Is it...