Category Archives: News

Sniggered at Stephen Tall’s naked run? You need to donate. Them’s the rules

You do wonder what was in Stephen Tall’s mind. He could so easily have said: If the Lib Dems only get 24 seats, I’ll bake everyone lemon drizzle cake. But, no, he said he’d run naked down Whitehall. It’s one thing to do it in the pub with a few mates, but he did it on live tv.

Yesterday, Stephen’s run hit the Sun. Not the yellow thing in the Sky, the Murdoch raggy thing in the newsagent.

A prominent Lib Dem will run half a mile down Whitehall semi-naked after losing a bet.

Before the general election Stephen Tall, the former deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford, bet the Daily Politics that if the Lib Dems were reduced to 24MPs or fewer he would do a naked dash.

The party was all but obliterated at the polls in May with just eight MPs returning to the Commons.

And now Mr Tall, a Lib Dem blogger, has pledged to jog naked from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square – for the viewing pleasure of office workers from a string of government departments.

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+++Breaking: Lib Dem Jean Davis in stunning by-election win – from SNP #libdemfightback

Congrats Cllr Davis

It’s a while since there’s been good news for Liberal Democrats north of the border, but that has changed today. Jean Davis has just pulled off an audacious by-election victory in the Aird and Loch Ness by-election in the gorgeous Highlands. More to follow, but don’t let anyone tell you the SNP can’t be beaten.

The ward takes in the towns of Beauly, Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus and covers some of the most utterly beautiful terrain in the whole country. It’s a massive ward, which now has two Liberal Democrat councillors representing it. Given that we came fourth in this ward in 2012, this result is stunning. It’s really embarrassing for the SNP as it’s the seat vacated by their new MP for Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey who beat Danny Alexander in May.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Britain should stick to diplomacy if it really wants to help Syria

Nick Clegg has been writing in the Evening Standard about how he think the UK can best help Syria:

The impression the Conservatives seem to give is that they wanted to take military action all along but were thwarted in doing so by the Labour Party — or because they didn’t have a majority in Parliament of their own.

This is not true. The decision not to bomb Syria was taken by Cameron and myself and discussed across both sides of the Coalition. The logic was simple: there was no coherent ground campaign in Syria to which air strikes could usefully contribute.


Lib Dem Jim Hume’s Bill to stop smoking in cars with children present passes first Holyrood hurdle

Jim HumeThis week it’s become illegal to smoke in a car where there are children present in England. The responsibility for this area of law for Scotland lies with the Scottish Governemnt. For some time, Jim Hume, Liberal Democrat MSP for the South of Scotland has been preparing to introduce legislation as a private member to do the same thing in Scotland. Today his bill passed its first Holyrood hurdle.

This is one of these controversial issues where you can come to agree with the proposal or disagree with it from liberal principles. We don’t like banning things unless there is a very good reason to do so and we also want to look at the enforceability of such a law. I take a very dim view of anyone who breathes poisonous fumes over children in a metal box, but I am worried about the slippery slope of such a measure. I’d have been happy with a massive public awareness campaign. However, JS Mill would, I feel, back the Bill. While people have the right to cause harm to themselves, do they have the right to inflict toxic by-products on to their children in a manner that it is proven causes much more damage than smoking at home or outside would do.

Jim’s speeches from the debate are reproduced in full below:

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Tim Farron on Question Time: Open Thread

It’s time to gather together your Question Time survival kit – at least two of the following:


A nice up of tea

Gin on an intravenous drip

A nice glass of red


Pillow to hide behind or bite when Melanie Phillips  is on (although there is an argument we should be grateful it’s not Katie Hopkins, although a Hopkins vs Farron encounter would be deeply entertaining.

Tonight, though, at least we have Tim Farron on. He’s been on stonking form recently and he has made it very clear what he thinks of both Theresa May’s and David Cameron’s speeches this week.

Those lovely people in the Lib Dem Press Office have given us this to help us:

Do comment during the programme.

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Tim Farron is on Question Time tonight – join our open thread

If you have been impressed by the way that Tim Farron has responded to the slough of nastiness, prejudice and general not getting it that was the Tory Party conference, you can watch him tackle the Tories (and the SNP) in person tonight.

I have long since given up watching when Melanie Phillips is on for the sake of my health and sanity. However, tonight, I will hide all hard objects (to protect my tv screen) and watch Tim talk sense. He has always been very good in that sort of environment.

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What’s your favourite liberal poem?

It’s National Poetry Day today so we thought it might be worth asking you to nominate your favourite poem with a liberal message. What poem has moved you or made a liberal point in a unique way. Let us know in the comments.

We also thought you might like to see  this piece from 2012 in which Edis Bevan looked at the poetry of Denmark’s Piet Hein. We are nothing if not good Europeans.

In a mad world, remember Denmark’s Piet Hein. Theoretical physicist, poet, wartime resistance activist, mathematician and simply a human being in all its warmest glory. His short poems (Grooks) have a haiku-like quality, reflecting on the simple complexities of life, and as a consequence of real politics as it hits real people. I have cherished these gems for a long time, and wonder if other Liberal Democrats might find them helpful.

His first ever Grook was published in the newspaper Politiken under the Nazi occupation of Denmark. It was

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Ignore the spin – social housing is still under threat from the Conservatives

Tim Farron has put David Cameron’s new housing policy under the microscope and found it wanting. We should take notice of what he says because he knows a lot about housing, the issue that brought him into politics and has made his number one priority. Writing in the New Statesman, he says:

This is still an economically illiterate and socially divisive policy with devastating consequences, which was flung into the Conservative election campaign in a last minute attempt to grab some votes by invoking memories of Thatcher.

Firstly, selling off housing association homes does nothing to address the national emergency in housing. The huge shortage

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Willie Rennie and Kirsty Williams challenge Scots and Welsh Tory leaders to disown Theresa May’s “borderline xenophobic” comments

Tim Farron was quick to condemn Theresa May’s speech yesterday, saying that she, not immigrants, were damaging to social cohesion. I think it was one of the most disgraceful speeches we have ever heard from a Home Secretary and, let’s face it, Jack Straw, John Reid and David Blunkett had already ensured that the bar was in the gutter. At the time of writing, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition has not yet deigned to challenge her.

We’ve seen over the Summer how the Welsh and Scottish Tory leaders have set themselves apart from the wilder rhetoric coming from senior Conservatives, such as the “swarm” comments of the Prime Minister. Their Liberal Democrat counterparts Kirsty Williams and Willie Rennie have challenged them to dissociate themselves from Theresa May’s comments.

Kirsty said:

Andrew Davies must speak out against Theresa May’s outrageous speech or we must assume that he shares her views. He was right last month to call for extra help for refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria, but his position is at odds with the borderline xenophobia we heard from the Home Secretary.

Britain is socially, culturally and economically richer for our outward looking, tolerant approach. Yet this Conservative government is whipping up fear and mistrust.

Willie added:

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David Cameron’s speech open thread

David Cameron makes his 10th speech to Conservative Party Conference. His ministers have already sickened many with comments on immigration, young people’s productivity and justifying cutting benefits for poor people by suggesting that they need to work harder. Let’s not forget that the Tories have already given a massive cut in Inheritance Tax for the very wealthy.

It’s almost as if the Tories think they are off the hook. They can say what they like because they feel no threat from Jeremy Corbyn. They feel that their election campaign for 2020 is written. All they have to do, they think, is put out leaflets with his “nuclear button” comments. Will there come a point, though, when that just can’t help them? I certainly hope so.

And before he even gets up, I’m annoyed. The BBC’s Jo Coburn gave us some commentary on Samantha Cameron’s outfit as she and Dave walked over to the Conference Centre. Why?

I guess the question is whether the world will actually last through the speech – a Christian group has predicted its demise today, although that would be unfortunate given that it’s the Bake Off final tonight.

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Jim Hume questions Scottish Government on gender identity clinic waiting times

If you are a young transgender person still at school, struggling to come to terms with your gender identity, you need specialised help pretty quickly. You should not have to wait a minimum of 7 months to see a specialist. If you are older, you should not be told that the waiting list is a year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume has highlighted this as another area in which the Scottish Government is failing to meet its 18 week target for referrals. This one will take a lot of thinking about as there are so few specialists in the gender identity field. They will have to come up with some long term plans to recruit and train more.

Kaleidoscot reports on Jim’s call for the Scottish Health Secretary to review provision for transgender people:

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Adrian Sanders to stand in Torbay council by-election

Exactly a month ago, the party lost one of its most successful campaigners when Ruth Pentney from Torbay died. Her son Nicholas wrote a wonderful tribute to her here.

Ruth wouldn’t stop working even immediately after electoral victory. Her energy really was that boundless. On election night 2010, I stayed awake long enough to see the Torbay result come in. I was pleased but in no way surprised that Mum had done it again and Adrian had been re-elected. Contented that Torbay was to remain in Lib Dem hands, I went to bed. A few hours later, at approximately 3.30am, I woke to the sound of someone busying themselves somewhere in the house. To my astonishment, I found Mum doing the domestic errands that had been neglected over the course of the election campaign. Apparently, the fact that she had been awake for around 36 hours at this point did not seem to bother her. This was frankly staggering and perhaps even a little bit scary!

Now a by-election is to take place for her Council seat. The candidate will be the man she got elected so many times, Adrian Sanders, the former MP for Torbay. He represented the ward way back in 1984. The Western Morning News has more:

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Reaction to Theresa May speech

It is a sobering thought that this country might have two Conservative women prime ministers before there is a single one of another party. Today Theresa May made her pitch, and here is some of the reaction.


15 years on – Lib Dems up the ante on the Human Rights Act

Parliament Acts by -JvL- FLickr CCLTim Farron tweeted on Friday:

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Jo Swinson: Tories preferred SNP MPs to Liberal Democrats

The most successful parties in the UK at the moment are the Conservatives and the SNP, parties which are supposedly totally opposed in terms of values but who seem to be fuelling each others’ gains.

We know that Alex Salmond helped give oxygen to the Tories’ increasingly incredible and hyperbolic claims during the general election by hinting at demands he’d make of Ed Miliband. We know that the Tories spent a small fortune in seats they couldn’t win in Scotland in a strategy that could only have had the effect of ensuring that the SNP won.

There is a school of thought in this party that puts our atrocious result down to the Tory’s scaremongering about the SNP and Labour in coalition. Others say that this is a smokescreen and that actually our poor messaging was at fault. Actually, I think both were pretty strong factors and I think that we legitimised what the Tories were doing by running scared of it rather than calling it out for the nonsense it was.

The Herald reports Jo Swinson’s comments about the impact of the Tory campaign in her seat and others:

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Tributes to Denis Healey

Denis Healey was the first Chancellor of the Exchequer that I can ever remember. The 1970s when I was growing up seemed like very scary times and he seemed to be a wise and calm presence in all of that. It was only later that I truly understood the pressure he must have been under, even greater than Alistair Darling faced in 2008. Balancing the competing requirements of the International Monetary Fund and the trade unions and labour movement was not an easy job.

I remember that epic political battle between him and Tony Benn for the Deputy Leadership of Labour. It seemed to me as a 13 year old to go on for ever, far longer than the Labour leadership election seemed in 2010 or this year. The result when it came was knife-edge thin.

It seemed like such a nasty, hostile fight then, but it was good to hear that the two men were personally reconciled and that Tony Benn had been a great support to Healey five years ago when his wife Edna died. In fact, Healey had campaigned for Benn in Chesterfield during the 1984 by-election, saying at the time that:

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A tale of two conferences in Bournemouth

It was a little weird leaving Bournemouth a week past on Wednesday to think that the Greens would be moving into the same space a couple of days later.

The Liberal Democrat Conference had a super atmosphere and was always very busy. I couldn’t believe the number of people who attended those 9am sessions to do such things as scrutinise the financial accounts and most times when I went into the hall for speeches or policy debates the only seats left were in the gods.

All the fringe meetings were packed to capacity as the Conference was the biggest we’d ever had in terms of members attending. It was great to meet so many new members, too and all I spoke to were having a great time.

Lib Dem member Ryan Lailvaux, attending his first Conference, said:

What an amazing conference it had been. An opportunity to meet great human beings and take back wonderful memories. Never have I been so inspired or so proud to be part of a movement. A liberal movement.

Compare and contrast with this article on Bright Green which talks about the Greens event:

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LibDemJobwatch: Last chance to apply for paid internships with ALDC

This weekend sees the last chance to apply for paid internship positions with ALDC. The deadline is tomorrow, 4th October. Previous ALDC interns have gone on to work in politics or for other campaigning organisations. Ellie Hudspith, one of last year’s interns, now works for CAMRA, the campaign for Real Ale. She said:

My internship at ALDC was a fantastic opportunity to work with other Liberal Democrats, and gain skills from experienced campaigners. It’s a unique chance to work outside of London but still be involved with the party nationally. Getting to attend party conferences and training events allows you to meet and learn from other campaigners from across the country.

More information about the posts is available here.

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Nick Tyrone leaves CentreForum to become Chief Executive of British Influence

Nick Tyrone has left the CentreForum think tank, where he was Executive Director, to become Chief Executive of  British Influence. His old job has been split in two.

Anthony Rowlands will continue as Executive Director, Head of Resource and Operations while Natalie Perera, who previously worked in both the Department for Education and the Cabinet Office, joins the think tank as Executive Director, Head of Research. This is welcome, but the organisation still has a long way to go in getting anything like decent gender balance. Four out of its five trustees are men and its advisory board has 21 men and 3 women. Given that they are developing policy ideas, it’s difficult to have confidence that they will fully have tested the impact of their ideas on women and girls.

UPDATE: Natalie was quick to come back to me on Twitter about this:

Former Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil David Laws remains the Executive Chairman, overseeing an extensive programme of work on education, mental health and justice reform.

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Willie Rennie and the Banchory Beast

Willie Rennie thought he was just going to speak at an Aberdeenshire dinner last Friday night and then nip home on the Saturday morning.

One of the dinner guests had other plans and, as Willie said, “dragooned” him into taking part in the Banchory Beast 10km obstacle race the next day, where he actually finished fifth. You can see some of the obstacles he tackled here.

The Deeside Piper has the story and reports a surprising confession:

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Working with other parties in Local Government – What is it about Labour?

I have been fortunate, if that’s the right word, to have managed to stay a councillor at various levels of local government since 1987. However, with advancing years playing a greater role, I am currently only serving on the Lincolnshire County Council. For over 28 years I have had to work with colleagues of all political persuasion and some who profess to have none, so I have a fair amount of experience of how they react to the fact that I just happen to be a Liberal Democrat. Perhaps ‘true blue’ Lincolnshire is not a good example from which to draw; but it’s all I know.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is far easier to get on with Conservatives than it has ever been my experience with Labour members. Perhaps it is because Tories expect to rule around here and, indeed, since the County Council was established as a local authority in 1973, until two years ago, only once before have the Tories failed to form an majority administration, namely between 1993 and 1997 when Labour and Lib Dems ran the show. Although I was only a humble Town and District Councillor at that time, I do recall talking to my County Council colleagues and being told what hard work it was trying to get agreement from the larger Labour group.

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Stephen Tall really is running naked down Whitehall – how you can help him raise money for charity

Stephen Tall is making good on what turned out to be an ill-advised pledge in 2013 that he would run naked down Whitehall if the Liberal Democrats got 24 seats in this year’s General Election. He has decided that others should benefit from his immodesty and is raising money for Medecins Sans Frontieres. The charity will already be benefiting from £5000 promised by Kelvin Mackenzie, the former editor of the Sun, on live television last week. Stephen has set up a JustGiving page to augment that sum.

You can find out more about the amazing work that MSF does here on its website. I was particularly moved by this post where former MSF emergency co-ordinator wrote about the people she met while working on MSF’s search and rescue vessel. Here she tells the story of 17 year old Sako:

He had been in Libya for five years, and he had seen it fall into lawless anarchy and violence. His uncle who brought him there, died. His best friend died last year after a child soldier, about the same age as him, hit him in the head with a steel bar. He didn’t die immediately; it took a long time before he gave up. There are no hospitals.

“Child soldier my age.” Suddenly it struck me how young he looked. “17,” he said with a big smile. My mind spun again. So he was 11 when he arrived in Libya? He is still a minor, even though he has seen and survived more than any man I know has in a lifetime.

I explained how in Europe you are still a child until you are 18 and that if he wanted I will make sure he gets off together with all the other minors we had on board.

He nodded. Looked down. Suddenly he looked like a child after all.

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New Liberal Youth and IR Cymru Executives elected

Liberal Youth logo 2014Elections for the Executives of Liberal Youth and the Welsh organisation IR Cymru have been taking place over the past few weeks.

The 2015-16 Executives will take office on 1st November and are made up as follows:

Liberal Youth

Chair: Michael Chappell/Charlie Kingsbury
Vice Chair: Alex White
Policy Officer: Emily Tester
Campaigns Officer: Ryan Cairns
Communications Officer: Chris Whiting
Events Officer: Tara Murray/Nathan Issacson
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The Lib Dem legacy: right to 30-day refund becomes law

The BBC reports:

New consumer protection measures – including longer refund rights – have come into force under the Consumer Rights Act.

For the first time anyone who buys faulty goods will be entitled to a full refund for up to 30 days after the purchase.

Previously consumers were only entitled to refunds for a “reasonable time”.

There will also be new protection for people who buy digital content, such as ebooks or online films and music.

They will be entitled to a full refund, or a replacement, if the goods are faulty.

The Act also covers second-hand goods, when bought through a retailer.

People buying services – like a garage repair or a haircut – will also have stronger rights.

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Entente Nucleaire?

We have had a lot of articles about Trident in the build up to conference. Now the motion has now passed with amendments, conference has commissioned a working group on what to do without Trident. The group has been asked to assess strategic threats; how best to promote non-proliferation and disarmament; the implications for Britain’s defence commitments to both NATO and our European alliances; and the scope and implications of other kinds of nuclear deterrent. Here is a proposal to consider.

In his article, George Cunningham argues that the international situation has changed enough that we should retain our nuclear capability after a broader re-evaluation of defence policy.

And George Potter writes that our stockpile is overshadowed as a deterrent by America’s NATO-wide umbrella, but enough of a threat to hostile nuclear powers to single the UK out as a target.

My sympathies are with the unilateralists. The reports and rumours I have read about outdated protocols, lax discipline, and the resulting almost-accidents are enough to make the blood run cold. The presence of nuclear weapons and their destructive force is a permanent risk to all of our lives. In an ideal world, we would use the scrap to plough our furrows. (In an ideal world, the radiation would make the crops super-big.)

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Jo Swinson to take part in Willie Rennie’s gender balance working group

Willie Rennie has announced the four members of his working group into improving gender balance which he announced last month. He made it clear that he wants to see the party adopt a raft of measures including all women shortlists. Today he met with the Women 50/50 campaign to discuss improving gender balance.

What’s interesting about the make-up of his working group is that it includes people who have historically been sceptical about measures such as all women shortlists. If they support his plans, it will be a very clear message to the party that it is time for serious change. I would be very surprised if they didn’t come up with other measures, such as intensive support for the campaigns of female candidates. They should make sure that they consult LGBT Plus Lib Dems to ensure that the plan that emerges is fully inclusive for transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid and non-binary people.  Steering clear of long-term proponents of procedural measures to achieve gender balance may well be a clever move by Willie.

The members of the working group are:

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Lib Dem Jobwatch special: Fancy trying to keep Tim Farron under control?

Every  leader does need someone they trust who can look into their eyes and tell them not to be an idiot. Or encourage them to do something that they are nervous about. Or boost their confidence when it wanes. Ben Rich has been doing that job for Tim Farron since he became leader in July, but it was only ever going to be a temporary role.

Tim is now advertising for a permanent  chief of staff. The official advert says:

The Chief of Staff will be able to provide high quality, insightful, senior counsel and strategic advice to the leader and work hand-in-hand with him to develop his vision and priorities.

A fuller job description gives the qualities considered essential for applicants:

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Alistair Carmichael election petition: new hearing ordered by judges

The judges who heard Alistair Carmichael’s application to dismiss the election petition against him delivered a partial judgement today and ordered that a further hearing take place. From the BBC website:

The judges have ruled that the language used in section 106 was “wide enough to encompass a statement made by a candidate about himself”.

However, they said they wanted to hear evidence about the two remaining issues before issuing a determination on the case.

These are whether the words were false statements of fact which related to Mr Carmichael’s personal character or conduct, and whether they were said “for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election”.

The judges said they wanted to hear evidence on these issues because each case had to be considered on its own facts.

You can read the entire judgement here.

Commenting on today’s news, a Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:

Alistair Carmichael will continue to play a full role in the new stages of the legal process that are ongoing, confident of a positive outcome. Alistair’s focus will remain working hard for his constituents and doing his job as MP for Orkney and Shetland.

Alistair will need even more help to pay the exorbitant legal fees. If you want to see a good man have a fair fight against well-funded opponents, you can donate to the fund-raising site started by his old friend Sheila Ritchie here.

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Jeremy Corbyn speech open thread

Jeremy Corbyn’s first speech to the Labour conference as leader is due to start shortly.

All such speeches are played to two audiences: one in the hall and one in the country. How Corbyn plays this will be particularly interesting, his being a candidate of the left wing core vote and, it is suggested by his opponents, putting two fingers up to moderate public opinion.


Susan Kramer responds to John McDonnell speech

Susan Kramer - Some rights reserved by David SpenderLiberal Democrat shadow chancellor Susan Kramer has responded to John McDonnell’s speech at the Labour conference yesterday.


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarBolano 9th Oct - 11:36pm
    @David Evans What is being discussed here isn't representative democracy. If we follow Matthew Huntbach's reasoning, a smaller share of the vote for both the...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 9th Oct - 10:39pm
    @ Matthew Huntbach - I too am sorry, but it is sad to hear a good Lib Dem like yourself describe a rationally argued point...
  • User AvatarPhyllis 9th Oct - 10:17pm
    Richard Underhill Cameron, Osborne and Gove are great mates. Gove and May loathe each other. So May gets the cold shoulder. Yes sometimes things are...
  • User AvatarPhyllis 9th Oct - 10:13pm
    The irony of a (seemingly) all-male panel of contributors taking over this thread, started by a Lib Dem woman, about the role of women in...
  • User AvatarDavid Wallace 9th Oct - 8:54pm
    Might donate tomorrow. I admire his balls (pardon the pun). Well done Stephen!
  • User AvatarDavid Morrison 9th Oct - 8:49pm
    I remain to be convinced of the alleged benefits of education campaigns in this regard. If some people are genuinely ignorant of the harm to...