Author Archives: Stephen Tall

Stephen has been Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice since 2007. He edited the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He writes a fortnightly column for ConservativeHome and 'The Underdog' column for Total Politics magazine. He also writes at his personal website, and is a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum. He was awarded the inaugural Lib Dem ‘Blogger of the Year’ prize in 2006, was a councillor for eight years in Oxford, including a year as Deputy Lord Mayor, and appears frequently in the media in person, in print and online. Stephen combines his political interests with his professional life as Development Director for the Education Endowment Foundation, though writes here in a personal capacity.

UK decision to stop migrant rescue operations attacked by Teather (“unethical”) and Ashdown (“inhuman”), defended by Clegg (“Italian decision”)

Conservative home office minister James Brokenshire defended the Government’s decision to withdraw support – along with all other EU member states – for future search-and-rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean. The BBC reports:

James Brokenshire told MPs the change would “save lives rather than putting them in peril.” About 3,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year. That is out of an estimated total of 150,000 to have made the trip by boat across to Europe. Mr Brokenshire said operations to rescue migrants encouraged more people to make the “perilous journey” across the Mediterranean in the hope of being granted asylum. He said the “despicable work” of human traffickers had made the problem much worse, and must be tackled. On the new approach, he added it was “inconceivable to suggest that if a boat were in peril, that support would not be provided”.

Italian officials have made clear they intend to scale down their government’s current operation, known as Mare Nostrum, as the EU introduces a new operation known as Triton. Triton will focus more on border control – tasks such as vetting asylum seekers once they are ashore, and coastal patrols – rather than search and rescue in international waters. Mr Brokenshire said that 28 EU member states had “unanimously agreed” to the new proposals, and criticised those attacking the policy for seeking to “politicise” the issue.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather was not impressed by the minister’s defence:

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged , , , , , and | 11 Comments

Half of current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in 2010

“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote 7 years ago, November 2007. So I was interested to see this post by YouGov’s Peter Kellner – ‘Ukip, the Greens and the new politics of protest’ – which looks at his firm’s polling data to find out more about the current spike in support for the Greens.

In it, he aggregates three weeks’ polling data to create a sample size large enough to find out who these new Green voters are. One finding probably won’t surprise many of us: half current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in May 2010:

yougov - green vote

Here’s how Peter Kellner analyses it:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 67 Comments

Nick Clegg: I’m not voting in this Thursday’s PCC by-election

Police helmetThere’s a by-election taking place this Thursday. The good news is the Lib Dems won’t lose our deposit.

The reason is the party’s not standing a candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner by-election triggered by the resignation of former PCC Shaun Wright over the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal.

Here’s how Nick Clegg explained the decision to the BBC earlier this month:

“Having looked at the experiment of police and crime commissioners, I’ve come to the conclusion it just doesn’t work. Look what happened in South Yorkshire and across the whole of the north of England; it’s all re-hashed, re-tread Labour politicians and, guess what, the public don’t like it and they don’t bother to vote for it at all.”

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 31 Comments

What Lib Dem members think about devolution – and what their local priorities would be

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll ran just before the party conference.

Majorities say Education and NHS should be governed at local/regional level

Which of the following should be decided mainly at a local/regional level?

Posted in LDV Members poll | 9 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 8

Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 8, with a whopping 484 points. However, not far behind are George Murray (472) and 2013 Liberal Voice of the Year, Sam Bowman (470). However, as just 39 points separate the top 10, it’s fair to say it’s still very much anyone’s season.

For the record, I’m only 82 points off the lead, biding my time, ready for my Premiership-winning push. Like Arsenal. And I suspect I have about as much chance of winning as the Gunners do.

And not that it matters in the least, but the …

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Alex Salmond to make Westminster comeback – threat to Lib Dem seat of Gordon?

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshFormer Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted he might make a comeback at Westminster, as the BBC reports:

Alex Salmond has said he has not made up his mind whether or not to stand for a Westminster seat at the next general election. The outgoing Scottish first minister was asked on the BBC’s Question Time programme if he would consider becoming an MP again. Mr Salmond said he had “absolutely decisively” not made up his mind, but agreed that the door was not closed.

Alex Salmond made his name at Westminster, as MP for Banff and Buchan for 23 years (1987-2010). However, two factors will be in his mind.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 24 Comments

Voting for the next Lib Dem party president starts a week today

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderA week today, Wednesday, 29th October, ballot papers will be sent to all c.44,000 Lib Dem members enabling us to vote for the next Party President in succession to Tim Farron, who’s held the post for the past four years. Other than the party leader, the presidency is currently the only other post in the Lib Dems determined by a vote of all its members.

Three candidates successfully secured nomination — click on their names to follow the links to their campaign websites:

Posted in Party Presidency | Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Is this the front page of the next Lib Dem manifesto?

Ryan Coetzee, recently appointed the Lib Dems’ General Election Director of Strategy, was snapped today clutching papers which look like they might reveal the party’s top four priorities for the 2015 manifesto.

The four priorities read:

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 90 Comments

How you can take part in LibDemVoice’s exclusive party member surveys

libdemvoiceLibDemVoice’s surveys of party members signed-up to our discussion forum have been running for over six years now. (I posted yesterday the final set of figures from our most recent poll.)

Our surveys are a way of testing members’ views on a variety of hot topics. And as they’ve been running throughout the four-and-a-half years of the Coalition they’re also an interesting record of changing views on how the Coalition is regarded within the party.

If you would like to take part in the LibDemVoice surveys, there are simply two steps you …

Posted in LDV Members poll | Leave a comment

10 Years on from The Orange Book: What should authentic liberalism look like?

Orange_Book“10 Years on from The Orange Book: what should authentic liberalism look like?” That was the title of a Lib Dem conference fringe meeting in Glasgow, organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), at which I was speaking alongside MPs Tim Farron and Jeremy Browne, Orange Book co-editor Paul Marshall, the IEA’s Ryan Bourne and ComRes pollster Tom Mludzinski. Here’s what I said…

I often describe myself as an Orange Booker. Like most labels it’s a short-hand. To me it simply means I’m a Lib Dem at ease with the role of a competitive market and who believes also in social justice. To many others in our party, though, Orange Booker is a term of abuse – Orange Bookers are thrusting, smart-suited, neoliberal Thatcherities, never happier than when mixing with red-blooded free-marketeers like the IEA.

What I want to do briefly is make a pitch for something that’s become quite unpopular among the party ranks: I’m going to make a pitch that the Lib Dems should be a party that’s unabashedly of the liberal centre.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 75 Comments

Economic liberals or social liberals? Pragmatists or ideologues? How Lib Dem members describe their own political identity

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll ran just before the party conference.

How do Lib Dem members think of their own political identity? I asked this question in April 2011, when the Coalition was less than a year old. With less than a year of the Coalition left, I thought it was time to revisit it.

60% social liberals,

Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged , and | 35 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 7

Congratulations to George Murray and Jon Featonby, who lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 7, with 421 and 419 points respectively. They’ve opened a bit of a gap at the top — but just 18 points separate the next 8 places.

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALL_7

There are 149 players in total and you can still join the league by clicking here.

Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 85 Comments

Mori’s Sir Bob Worcester increases his forecast for Lib Dem seats in May 2015

Sir-Robert-WorcesterYes, you read that headline right: founder of MORI, Sir Bob Worcester, increased his forecast of how many seats the Lib Dems would win in May 2015 when asked for a prediction at last week’s Lib Dem conference.

I’ll be honest, though: I don’t think he meant to.

Last year, you may recall he predicted the party would win 24 seats. I certainly remember: Bob Worcester forecasts Lib Dems to be reduced to 24 seats in 2015. I’ll run naked down Whitehall if that’s the result (17th Sept 2013). I …

Posted in Polls | Tagged , , and | 39 Comments

How should we share the gain and the pain in the next Parliament?

resolutionfoundationThat was the question the Resolution Foundation posed at a Lib Dem conference fringe meeting in Glasgow last week. Some of what follows was inspired by (ie, copied from) IFS Director Paul Johnson’s excellent LibDemVoice article, Balancing the books: some unpalatable choices, published last week. Some of it I’ve previously rehearsed in my ConservativeHome column, Make no mistake, these are deep and meaningful cuts – and there’s more to come. Anyway, here’s what I said…

“The gain and the pain.” I want to congratulate the Resolution Foundation on taking a glass half-full approach to the next five years. But I also want to challenge the premise of the question. Because – and I don’t want to be too depressing in what follows – I can see quite a lot of pain and I’m at a bit of a loss to see where the gain is likely to come from. Here’s why.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

ICM has Labour ahead, Ukip moving into 3rd place, Lib Dems on 11%

The Guardian published its latest ICM poll — commonly regarded as the ‘gold standard’ — this week. The top-line (with changes on the previous months) was: Labour 35% (=), Conservatives 31% (-2), Ukip 14% (+5), Lib Dems 11% (+1) and Others 10% (-3).

icm poll - oct 2014

Polling in September/October tends to fluctuate, as the noise of conference season often leads to spikes in support for each party in turn which soon fade. There have been two additional events which may have further confused matters: the Scottish independence referendum and last week’s Clacton by-election.

Posted in Polls | Tagged , , and | 71 Comments

Israel-Palestine conflict: the views of Lib Dem members

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

This afternoon the House of Commons debates the issue of Israel and Palestine: a backbench motion calling on the British government to recognise the state of Palestine. This follows the summer’s latest outbreak in the ongoing Israel–Gaza conflict, with seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority of them Gazans. We asked Lib Dem members for their views…

61% sympathise primarily with the Palestinians

Posted in LDV Members poll | 7 Comments

General election 2015: broadcasters propose 2-3-4 leaders’ debates formula

Nick Clegg in TV leaders debate, 2010The BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 have announced their preferred plans to hold three debates during the 2015 general election campaign. The BBC reports:

One would involve a head-to-head debate between just the Conservative and Labour leaders, and another would include the Liberal Democrat leader. The other debate would involve all three leaders plus Mr Farage. The broadcasters said the proposed formats reflected “changes in the political landscape” since the three prime ministerial debates during the 2010 general election, which featured Conservative Mr Cameron, Labour’s Gordon Brown and Lib Dem Mr Clegg. … The broadcasters have written to the party leaders to invite them to take part. The suggested schedule is for debates on 2, 16 and 30 April, ahead of the election on 7 May.

Here’s how the Lib Dems have responded to the proposal:

Posted in News | Tagged | 48 Comments

A Lib Dem reshuffle? If it happens, here’s who party members would like to see promoted

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Jo & Lynne top choices for promotion to cabinet

The Lib Dems are expected to hold a ministerial reshuffle after the Scottish independence referendum. Which minister would you most like to see promoted to the cabinet?

Posted in LDV Members poll | 12 Comments

Nick Clegg’s speech: 5 initial thoughts from me – and reaction from members and pundits

Nick Clegg has just delivered his seventh conference speech – you can read it here. Five quick thoughts from me:

1. It’s rare to remember party leaders’ speeches. However, I’ve a feeling this one will be remembered. Not necessarily stylistically — its rhetoric or his delivery — but for a government policy announcement: the emphasis on mental health-care which Nick made a centre-piece and which he has said will be on the front page of the party’s manifesto. Yes, there were plenty of positioning soundbites. But, more importantly, this announcement demonstrated, better than any finely crafted words, the point …

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , and | 78 Comments

Je ne regrette rien? Would Lib Dem members have voted for Coalition knowing what we know now?

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll run last Thursday and Friday.

Since the Coalition began, I’ve been asking the question about whether members support the party being in coalition with the Conservatives. Pretty consistently, across more than 20 separate surveys, around 80% have said yes. But I realise this question is, to some extent, skewed by the fact that we …

Posted in LDV Members poll | 28 Comments

Hung Parliament: what Lib Dem members think will happen… and what you want to happen

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll run last Thursday and Friday.

(All figures below are compared with the last time we asked this question, a year ago, in September 2013.)

68% of Lib Dem members predict another hung parliament in 2015

photo by: Francisco Diez
Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged and | 76 Comments

Who’s up, who’s down? How party members rate the performances of leading Lib Dems

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

LDV asked: How would you rate the performances of the following leading Liberal Democrats and government ministers?

Full results are published below, but here’s two key lists for those who want to cut to the chase… (with comparison to April 2013 ratings in brackets)

Top 5 Lib Dem performers in the Government:

Posted in LDV Members poll | 8 Comments

Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

ldv vince danny

Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged and | 15 Comments

All in a day’s Lib Dem conference: hustings, fringes, OMOV and sex work

It’s felt like a slow start to conference – I’m habituated to the Friday night rally and meaty policy debates starting at bleary o’clock on Saturday morning. But with the rally moved to Saturday night, conference itself wasn’t opened until this afternoon.

20141004_100527_resizedHowever, that meant there was time this morning for the first official hustings of the Party Presidential contest, with Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne all present. In fact, there was possibly too much time – 90 minutes in a too-efficiently air-conditioned room at times dragged a little. No fault of the candidates themselves – they were all fluent and thoughtful – but they also all agreed on pretty much everything of substance. All pledged to be the independent voice of the membership and to speak truth unto leadership power.

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 8 Comments

EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Party Presidency – first members’ poll results are here

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President ends this year. The contest to succeed him appears to be a four-way election between four female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne.

They hold their first official hustings today, Saturday, 10-11am But don’t worry if you can’t make that – LibDemVoice is hosting a special “Who Wants to be Party President?” fringe meeting tomorrow, Sunday from 1-2pm, in the Crowne Plaza (Castle 2), where you can hear from all four, with past party president Baroness (Diana) Maddock chairing.

We asked a series of questions about the party presidency in our survey…

Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged , , , , and | 28 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 6

Congratulations to George Murray and Jo Featonby, who lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 6, separated by a single point, on 358 and 357 points respectively. George’s ‘Marauding Fullbacks’ are in 2,405th position in the global league of 3.29 million players – not bad!

However, with just 36 points separating the top 10, there is still all to play for. Or maybe I’m kidding myself – after a first week top 10 appearance, I’ve slumped to 44th thanks to my inability to select Diego Costa as captain in the right weeks. Anyway, if you’re busy in Glasgow at the …

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

EXCLUSIVE POLL: As Lib Dem conference begins, here’s what members think of the Coalition so far

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 80% to 17%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Changes since last time question asked, April 2014).

Posted in LDV Members poll | 51 Comments

Cameron’s conference: Giveaway budgets are dead! Long live giveaway speeches!

David CameronPoliticians don’t do giveaway budgets any more. It seems just too blatant to ‘bribe’ voters a matter of weeks before an election. Instead politicians now do giveaway leaders’ speeches.

Nick Clegg pulled a policy rabbit out of the hat last year by finding a spare £500m a year for free school meals for infants.

And yesterday David Cameron pulled two policy rabbits out of his top hat by announcing tax-cuts for basic-rate taxpayers (extending the personal allowance to £12,500) and higher-rate taxpayers (raising the threshold at which it becomes payable to £50,000) over the course of the next parliament.

This Tory pledge to extend the personal allowance — we really can’t call it a tax-cut for low-earners any more: most of those who benefit come from better-off households — provoked lots of outrage from Lib Dems.

Some pointed out that this was our idea. Forgive me if I excuse myself from joining the chorus of “But we thought of it first!” Others pointed out that it was an unfunded promise. True, but so’s ours.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Favourability index: Ed Balls more unpopular with Lib Dems than George Osborne

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

96% of Lib Dem members view Ukip unfavourably, compared to 88% for Tories, 72% for Labour and 41% for the Greens

I’m a fan of the polling company ComRes’s ‘Favourability Index’, which asks the public whether they view the parties and their leading figures favourably or not. It gives a much more accurate read-out of perceptions, I think, …

Posted in LDV Members poll | 19 Comments
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    >It seems to me that Clegg is simply factually incorrect I get that feeling a lot. He's going with the whole "we like to have...
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    No Benj, London does not act like a “black hole”, because it spews out vast amounts more in tax revenue than it receives in total...
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    Because they are not a charity, and are already charging as much as the market will bear No they're not, they're charging the market clearing...
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