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.

Right to be forgotten: 47% of Lib Dems say deleting results individuals do not like amounts to censorship

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.

Should internet search engine results be removed on request by individuals?

The ‘right to be forgotten’ hit the headlines this summer following controversy over a European Court of Justice ruling that search engines are responsible for the content they point to, and that therefore search engines like Google are required to comply with EU data privacy laws. This …

Posted in LDV Members poll | 4 Comments

Julian Huppert writes to Theresa May over Snoopers’ Charter allegation: “I would expect you to issue a public correction and an apology at the earliest opportunity”

Julian Huppert MPRemember when the Tories were, briefly, a party which stuck up for individuals’ privacy? It happened, honestly – when they were in opposition. But now, in government, home secretary Theresa May is happy to push the traditional authoritarian measures beloved by Tories and Labour alike.

And so it was, again, today that she pushed forward the Snoopers’ Charter (aka the little-loved Data Communications Bill), noting, accurately, that it would already be law if it weren’t for those pesky Lib Dems. Fair enough: it’s an honest argument. Lib Dems believe in civil liberties, Tories tend not to.

But Theresa May went well beyond honest debate, alleging that Lib Dem opposition to the state’s right to track your every internet move was a direct threat to children’s lives. Hold on a moment, points out Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Julian Huppert in a letter to Mrs May published this evening (see below), that’s just not true and you owe the party an apology.

photo by: Policy Exchange
Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

The current state of the economy: what Lib Dem members think about it

Economy-in-the-UKLib 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.

“The economy is in a bad way, but is starting to show signs of recovery”

That’s the view of the current state of the economy, according to 44% of Lib Dem members.

Posted in LDV Members poll | 14 Comments

Ashcroft’s poll of Lib Dem battleground seats: incumbency is alive and well but 2015 will be a survival election for the party

Tory peer and pollster Lord Ashcroft has published his latest set of constituency findings. He polled some of the key Lib Dem / Tory and Lib Dem / Labour battlegrounds in the summer – he’s now followed that up by looking at a further 22 seats. Of these, 2 are Lib Dem targets, 15 the party is defending against the Tories, and 5 against Labour. You can see the full results here .

Here are the headline findings:

  • Of the 20 Lib Dem-held seats polled, the Lib Dems would retain just 6.
  • The Tories would gain 7 and Labour would gain 4. The other 2 would be a tie (though actually a further 5 are statistical ties within the margin of error).
  • The Lib Dems would win neither of their two targets.
  • Posted in Polls | Tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 37 Comments

    Lib Dem members on intervention against ISIS: 59% back air strikes, 49% support sending troops

    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.

    Support for British intervention in Iraq and in Syria to stop ISIS

    MPs voted on Friday for limited British intervention in Iraq to combat the threat posed by the terrorist group Islamic State/ISIS. According to our survey of party members, that action has the backing of most Lib Dems. By a more than 2:1 majority – 59% to 27% – Lib Dem members approve of the RAF taking part in air strike operations.

    Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments

    UPDATED: Full list of Lib Dems standing in our held seats and top 50 targets

    We’re less than 8 months away from the May 2015 election so here’s my latest running check on how candidate selection is going in our held and key target seats…

    Lib Dems winning hereI published a first draft of this list a year ago, and asked readers to help me update it. Many thanks to those of you who have helped me keep it updated, including the party’s Candidates Services Office. Here’s the latest version of the list of (re-)selections in our held seats and the top 50 targets for the party.

    It’s a snapshot of how the party’s doing in getting people in place in the battleground seats that will determine the extent of Lib Dem influence in the next parliament:

    Posted in News and Selection news | Tagged | 34 Comments

    Meanwhile, in Clacton… Meet the Lib Dems’ by-election candidate, Andy Graham

    andy-graham-at-clacton-lib-dem-officeEvents in Scotland have rather dominated these past few weeks, but we shouldn’t forget there’s another election soon to take place: the by-election in Clacton triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip.

    Early polls shows Carswell is the front-runner to retain the seat in his new colours. The local Lib Dems have selected a candidate to fly the party’s colours: Andy Graham, “a former teacher in Clacton has performed in shows at the Clacton’s West Cliff Theatre”.

    Details of how you can help Andy in Clacton are as follows:

    Posted in News | 10 Comments

    LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 4

    Congratulations to George Murray, whose Marauding Fullbacks lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 4 with an impressive 264 points. That puts him in 4,909th place in the global league of more than 3.2 million players.

    Just three points then separate the next four players and fewer than 20 points the entire top 10. For the record, I’m languishing at 29th, not helped by my insane decision not to make Diego Costa my team captain in the week he scored a hat-trick. Ah well. At the other end of the table, by the way, Ceredigion Premier is ranked last, with 53 points. Still, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

    fantasy football wk 4

    Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Scotland says no to independence: here’s my first thoughts the morning after

    The people of Scotland have spoken. As that sound echoes, here’s what I think its rejection of independence means…

    The SNP are strengthened:

    45% of the Scottish electorate voted Yes. That’s a far higher figure than many of us would have predicted even a few weeks ago. Yes Scotland’s campaigning, driven by the SNP, has proved far superior to Better Together’s, driven by Labour. If the Nationalists resist the temptation to turn in on themselves they can expect to reap the electoral rewards of their grassroots activity next May. The Scots, by decisively rejecting independence, have lost their negotiating leverage: I expect them to turn to the SNP as an insurance policy against being forgotten about by Westminster. That poses a big threat to Labour, but also to the Lib Dems — after all, one-fifth of our MPs sit for Scottish seats.

    The Tories are weakened…

    Did Cameron panic or was it one of those things that seemed a good idea at the time? I’m referring to the ‘vow’ he co-signed with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, published in the Daily Record, promising more powers for Scotland and the safeguarding of the Barnett Formula financial settlement for Scotland. This opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of constitutional questions which are likely to dominate debate at least until Christmas. That part of it won’t bother Cameron: the irresistible logic of devo-max for Scotland is de facto home rule also for England – in other words, English votes deciding English laws – which, given the Tories’ strength in England, boosts their prospects of remaining in power, at least in the short-term. However, the promise to retain the Barnett Formula is another matter altogether. It offers an obvious opportunity to Nigel Farage to exploit: “It’s right that Scotland should have more powers,” he’ll say, “but it’s also right that there’s a fair financial settlement for the English, too. Public money should be allocated according to need.” And the worst of it is he’s 100% right on this, and he’ll now be the lone voice among the four main party leaders able to make that compelling case to the voters in the lead-up to the next general election. The Tories (as well as the Lib Dems and Labour) have placed ourselves on the wrong side of this issue.

    Posted in News | 27 Comments

    Anti-politics: the Lib Dem problem

    A very interesting blog-post from two Southampton academics, Will Jennings and Jerry Stoker – Parties and anti-politics – examines the problems each of the four parties has with the current mood of anti-politics (hat-tip John Rentoul). Its introduction summarises its argument:

    How and why do political parties struggle to ‘get’ anti-politics? They all nod in speeches and policy statements in the direction of public disenchantment with politics but fail to take tackling its causes seriously. UKIP seek to exploit it, the Tories want to wish it away, Labour under Miliband claim innocence and ineptness in their defence, while the Liberal Democrats misread it and think constitutional change is the answer.

    The section on the Lib Dems is especially worth highlighting:

    Posted in News | Tagged and | 29 Comments

    Scotland votes today: 8 things that have struck me about the independence campaign

    My own position remains unchanged from February:

    “If I were a Scot with a vote in September, I’m not sure which side I would favour. I see no reason why an independent Scotland wouldn’t do quite well out of new arrangements, but it would of course be a risky venture into the unknown (which is why I don’t think the SNP’s bid will succeed). As that great liberal Ludovic Kennedy once rhetorically asked, “I still believe that if Denmark can run its own affairs, why can’t Scotland?””

    The debate has been depressing:

    I don’t actually mean the acrimony between the …

    Posted in Op-eds | 32 Comments

    What do you think will be the result of the Scottish independence referendum? Your predictions, please…

    st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TAlmost all the polls have now been published and election day is tomorrow – so the time has come to put your pundit’s reputation on the line and say what you think will be the result of the Scottish independence referendum.

    A quick reminder for those who’ve been fogged by the blizzard of polls in the last couple of days:

      Ipsos MORI: Yes 49%, No 51%
      Panelbase: Yes 48%, No 52%
      ICM: Yes 48%, No 52%
      Opinium: Yes 48%, No 52%
      Survation: Yes 48%, No 52%
    Posted in News | 68 Comments

    Scotland’s independence referendum: here’s what our survey says 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.

    Scotland votes this Thursday in its independence referendum. We asked our sample of Lib Dem members for their views and here’s what we found…

    62% of Lib Dem members say we’re Better Together

    Do you support or oppose Scotland becoming a country independent from the rest of the United Kingdom?

    Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged | 7 Comments

    What the academics say: 7-in-10 voters know the name of their MP – and 82% of Lib Dem MPs are local

    Ballot boxWhat do MPs want from voters? Well, knowing the name of their man in Westminster would be a start. What do voters want from their MPs? To come from the area they represent is the single most important requirement – 80% want that, far more than wanting more female (50%) or more working class MPs (58%).

    So both MPs and the public might be encouraged by the findings of two recent surveys.

    Britain’s MPs are more local than you think (Demos)

    photo by: FutUndBeidl
    Posted in What do the academics say? | 5 Comments

    New LDV members’ survey now live: your views on Scotland, the Coalition, ISIS and Israel/Palestine, and the Party Presidency

    imageThe new LDV members’ survey is now live. So if you are one of the 1,500+ registered members of the Liberal Democrat Voice forum — and any paid-up party member is welcome to join — then you now have the opportunity to make your views known.

    Questions we’re asking this month include:

    • do you support or oppose Scotland becoming independent?
    Posted in LDV Members poll | 4 Comments

    No football last week, so why not pick your Fantasy Politics team instead?

    fantasy politicsThis week’s internationals mean no English Premiership action so no further update: positions are as they were at the end of Week 3.

    Which gives me the opportunity to preview Demos Fantasy Politics which operates throughout the party conference season. All you have to do is select a dream-team of up to nine MPs, three from each party: you have until the start of Labour’s on 20th September, a week today, to enter your team. I’m part of the judging team for the Lib Dem conference. Further details as below…

    As conference season approaches Demos Fantasy Politics is back, letting politicos battle it out to prove their insider know-how and political nous.

    Demos Fantasy Politics lets you select a dream-team of up to nine MPs, three from each party, and score points in a series of conference-based categories. Media coverage and social media mentions will be rewarded, while embarrassing gaffes and tiresome clichés will be suitably punished.

    Posted in News | Tagged | 12 Comments

    Those Scottish independence polls: why the Don’t Knows mean Yes should be concerned

    Since the YouGov poll showing a narrow Yes lead was published at the weekend the Westminster Village has flailed into hyper-active over-drive. Even today’s Prime Minister’s Questions was cancelled to allow the three party leaders to descend on Scotland and bolster the flagging No campaign.

    Personally I cannot begin to describe the extent of my ambivalence. As a federalist, I’m caught in a pincer of equal distaste for Alex Salmond’s and his cybernats’ nationalist aggression and the shrill Anglo-presumption of unionist politicians and commentators that the Scots need saving from themselves.

    The Better Together campaign’s frayed nerves will be partially soothed by the latest poll released tonight purporting to show No leading by 53%-47%. I use the word purporting quite deliberately. Here’s why, courtesy ComRes’s blog:

    Ignore the “don’t knows” at your peril

    Most of the recent headlines have been generated by reports which have excluded “don’t know” respondents from the calculation. This gives a neat prediction of the final split. But it can be a misrepresentation of the polls.

    Posted in News | 30 Comments

    Yes, Scotland should have more independence. Wales too. But don’t forget the English

    I’m a federalist which, I guess, places me somewhere between the unionists and the separatists. Which means that, as I ‘fessed up last February, I’m much more ambivalent about the case for Scottish independence than most Lib Dems:

    I believe in power being as close to the people as possible. Is ‘devo-max’ or full independence the best way to achieve that? That’s the key question Scots need to be able to answer by September. Ironically, it’s the one not on the ballot paper.

    So I’m not as fazed as many down south are by the apparent tightening of the polls suggesting …

    Posted in News | Tagged | 28 Comments

    Lib Dem pre-manifesto launched: includes policies to reform drugs laws and bus pass discount for under-21s

    pre manifesto documentLast week’s pre-manifesto launch by the Lib Dems was postponed owing to the international situation. Thankfully no important news has broken over the past couple of days which might over-shadow today’s launch. Unless, that is, you think the potential break-up of the UK or a new Royal Baby are headline-grabbing events.

    You can read the Pre-Manifesto in full below.

    The party trailed its publication today with a couple of announcements intended to highlight key policies:

  • ‘Exclusive: Liberal Democrats to announce decriminalisation of all drugs’ headlined Politics.co.uk:
  • Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 32 Comments

    ‘Yes Scotland’ takes first poll lead of campaign. Peaked too soon or Big Mo timed just right?

    st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TTwo polls in the Scottish independence referendum debate were published last night. The one that’s (understandably) getting all the attention is YouGov’s showing a wafer-thin Yes lead, 51% to 49%. It’s only the second poll to have found a pro-independence majority (the previous one was over a year ago). The other poll, commissioned by the SNP, continues to show No in the lead, 48% to 44%.

    Peter Kellner in the Sunday Times has a good summary of the factors that will likely decide the outcome in the final 10 days’ campaigning:

    Factors that could favour a Yes vote

    Posted in News | 39 Comments

    David Rendel selected as Lib Dem PPC for Somerton and Frome

    David Rendel - Some rights reserved by Martin TodCongratulations to former Lib Dem MP for Newbury, David, Rendel, who was last night selected by Lib Dem members in Somerton and Frome as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the May 2015 general election. David will be attempting to retain David Heath’s seat, won in 2010 with a majority of 1,817 over the Tories.

    The party has previously selected a PPC for the seat. Sarah Yong was selected in February this year, but stood down five months later. There had even …

    Posted in News and Selection news | Tagged , , , and | 10 Comments

    LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 3

    Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after the third week, with 198 points. It’s an impressive tally which means he’s in 2,550th position in the global league of 3.2 million players (ie, the top 0.08%). And he’s done that even with Wayne Rooney as his team captain.

    But George Murray (189 points), William Jones (187) and Lucy Keating (186) aren’t far behind: in fact, just six points separate the next six places. You can see the full top 10 below.

    There are 144 players in total in our league and you can still join it by clicking here.

    Posted in Fantasy Football | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Clacton and the Lib Dems’ post-2015 wastelands problem

    Clacton Pier.The Clacton by-election triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip will take place on 9th October – David Cameron’s birthday, but also the day after the Lib Dems’ autumn conference concludes.

    That’s not great news for the Lib Dems on two counts. First, it means the media will likely be obsessing more about Clacton than what’s happening in Glasgow (unless, that is, Yes Scotland has won the referendum).

    And secondly, the party’s not expecting a great result. There have been two constituency polls conducted to date (

    Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 49 Comments

    Postponed: Lib Dem pre-manifesto launch delayed owing to international situation

    Liberal Democrat manifesto front coverThe news of a further murder of a US hostage by ‘Islamic State’ broke last night. The Lib Dems have, therefore, decided to postpone today’s scheduled launch of the party’s pre-manifesto.

    The pre-manifesto is the document agreed by the Lib Dems’ elected federal policy committee (FPC) to be submitted to this autumn’s conference for approval. Its contents have been heavily trailed throughout the summer. By my count, 19 policies (mostly policies already agreed by conference, and listed at the foot of this post) have been unveiled, as the party gears up the publicity machine to try and get its key messages heard by the voters ahead of May’s general election.

    Party process purists won’t much like the publicity preceding the official conference vote, but the reality is unless the Lib Dems take every opportunity to hammer our policy messages home then what we have to say won’t ever be heard. A bit like leaflet delivery in an election campaign, it’s only when we’re sick and tired of hearing the message that there’s a slim chance the electorate might have noticed it even once.

    Posted in News | Tagged and | 32 Comments

    What if… David Davis had won the Tory leadership contest in 2005?

    Cameron and DavisWhat-ifs are, as Peter Snow would say, just a bit of fun: a counter-factual parlour game for historians. It is impossible to know exactly how one event ricocheting off in a different direction would have altered the subsequent reality.

    This one does genuinely intrigue me, though: What if David Davis had won the Tory leadership contest in 2005, rather than David Cameron? Davis did, after all, begin as favourite. His disastrous 2005 party conference – a dud photo-op and a lacklustre speech – coupled with David “let sunshine win the day” Cameron’s triumph meant his second leadership attempt sank without trace. He was trounced 68%-32% in the all-member ballot that followed.

    But what if he’d won? Would David Davis have been a more effective leader of the Tories than David Cameron has turned out to be?

    Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

    And the top book read by Lib Dem MPs this summer was…

    capital pikettyPolling firm ComRes has published its annual list of the books MPs have been reading this year, based on a survey of 154 MPs weighted by party and region to be representative of the House of Commons.

    Here’s what Lib Dem MPs have taken to the beach with them…

    2014
    1. Capital in the 21st Century – Thomas Piketty
    2. When Britain Burned the White House – Peter Snow

    (And here’s what they took last year…

    2013
    1. What Has Nature Ever Done For Us – Tony Juniper)

    Piketty’s tome polled strongly with MPs of all three main parties; though Margaret Thatcher (who topped last year’s list) wasn’t far behind:

    Posted in Books | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

    A new Lib Dem presidential candidate enters the race

    daisy cooperThis is the text of the email I received this morning from Daisy Cooper:

    Today, I’m delighted to announce my candidacy for Liberal Democrat Party President, with the backing of Catherine Bearder MEP, Norman Baker MP, experienced councillors and some of the party’s finest campaigners.

    I have huge ambitions for our party. I’m 32 and I’m prepared to spend the next 50 years of my life fighting for our political beliefs. The next few months will be challenging but they also present an unrivalled opportunity for us to lay the foundations for a Liberal Revival.

    Our Councillors and grass roots campaigners are the forgotten army on which our future depends – in this party, our place is front and centre.

    As President, I would:

    Posted in Party Presidency | Tagged | Leave a comment

    LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 2

    Congratulations to Nick Davies, Jon Featonby and George Murray, who lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 2, scoring a cumulative 137, 136 and 135 points respectively. Only three players appears in all three of their teams, by the way: Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey.

    There are 135 players in total and you can join the league by clicking here. All the rules are available to read here. As predicted, my appearance in the top 5 proved fleeting. I’m now languishing in 17th place. Not lost my deposit yet, though…

    Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

    The 3 Lib Dem seats where the Greens are a threat

    green party logoIt’s three months since the Lib Dems were beaten into fifth place at the European elections: the party which nudged us out was the Greens. Ukip may be grabbing the media attention, but it’s the party of Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas which poses the bigger threat to our party.

    It’s not hard to see why. Ian Warren of the @election-data blog has analysed which groups of voters were most likely to vote Green last May. See if you can spot a trend:

    Posted in News | 16 Comments

    ++ Coup for Ukip as Tory MP Carswell defects, triggers by-election in Clacton

    Douglas Carswell, elected in 2010 as Conservative MP for Clacton, has today announced he’s joining Ukip and will fight a by-election under his new party’s banner.

    In one sense, the news isn’t a surprise. Carswell is a member of the Tory awkward squad, its sixth most rebellious backbencher according to Revolts.co.uk, having defied the party whip on 46 occasions during this Parliament.

    But on another level it’ll be a real shock to the Tories: Carswell’s right-wing brand is much less swivel-eyed than that of many of his fellow rebels like Philip Hollobone and David Nuttall. He’s generally a thoughtful, independent-minded …

    Posted in News | 114 Comments
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