Category Archives: News

Last-minute Christmas present ideas from the LDV team

There are just two shopping days left ’til Christmas, so if you’re still scrambling round for a last-minute pressie for a politico, here are a handful of ideas from Stephen Tall, Caron Lindsay and Paul Walter to help…

Stephen Tall

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Liberalism: The Life of an Idea – Edmund Fawcett
There are lots of books around about liberalism as an idea: this one focuses on liberalism as reality, and how it’s decisively shaped the past 200 years of American and European history. In the wrong hands, this could be scholarly but dry, important yet dull. As it is, Fawcett’s touch is both light and incisive (eg, ‘At times the liberal state tamed the market. At others, the liberal market tamed the liberal state.’). Highly recommended.

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Jo Swinson MP on new measures to rank companies’ human rights performances

2014Business_Forum_headerIn early December I attended the 3rd annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva.

The Forum gave an opportunity for key stakeholders to discuss how we can ensure universal human rights standards are upheld in business practices. As a Liberal Democrat and an internationalist I know, on an issue as important as this, co-operation with our global partners is the best way of ensuring transnational businesses maintain their responsibilities to their employees and their consumers.

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Are Lib Dems normal?

SuttonWe missed this story when it broke earlier in the month, but were alerted to it when it surfaced in the Sunday Times (£ – and to be honest I’m not prepared to pay £6 per week just to be able to read this article in full) yesterday.

It seems Lib Dem run Sutton is the most normal place in the UK. That view was expressed by Neil Couling when he was giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. He explained that the new benefits IT system, which had been plagued by problems, was being tried out in the London Borough of Sutton.

Asked why Sutton had been chosen he said:

It’s the most normal place in Britain. It’s population is average for the United Kingdom as a whole. It’s a wonderful place and I adore it.

… Although he did admit that he had never visited it.

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Five party leaders at the funeral of Jeremy Thorpe

Paddy Ashdown, Nick Clegg, David Steel, Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell attend the funeral of former Liberal Party party leader Jeremy Thorpe at Saint Margaret’s Church on December 17, 2014 in Westminster. The eagle-eyed will also spot Tim Farron on the right.

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Study shows that voters in Liberal Democrat seats trust their MPs more

Mike Smithson at Political Betting talks about data from the British Election Study that shows how well thought of MPs are in their own constituencies. Liberal Democrat MPs come out well on top, being much more liked even among opponents than their Tory and Labour counterparts. His graph illustrates thus:

LD MPs wider respected

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What does Alex Salmond think he’s playing at?

 

When he saw the writing on the wall and was desperate to get people to vote Yes, Alex Salmond made a last ditch appeal on the Andrew Marr Show the Sunday before the independence referendum. He said that people had a once in a generation or even a lifetime chance to vote for independence and they should take it.

Now, it was fairly clear to me and I expect most other people that he absolutely didn’t mean what he was saying. There was no way that the entire nationalist movement was just going to give up and take up crochet if they lost. Of course they were not. They sincerely believe that independence is the best option for Scotland in the same way that I believe that a liberal approach to our problems is the best way to run a society. I’ll never give up my quest to see a truly liberal world.

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Tim Farron on Murnaghan: “There is massive space for the Liberal Democrats standing up for strong economy, fairness, human rights and civil liberties”

Tim Farron has just been on Sky News Murnaghan programme. Someone on there didn’t do their research. First all, Dermot said that Tim was handing over to “Sarah Brinton.” Yes, that’s her official name, but everyone knows her as Sal. You wouldn’t run up to Elton John and say “Hi, Reg”, now, would you?

Then he asked Tim the equivalent of wasn’t he just a rat deserting a sinking ship, stepping down now. Tim was able to say that this wasn’t his choosing, he had served the two terms he was allowed.

After that easy one, the line of questioning got more conventional. Every Liberal Democrat will be asked the “wipeout” question. Farron answered it well, although he could have got in there that in local government by-elections, the Liberal Democrats have made net gains this year as Britain Elects showed us the other day:

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Time to lambast the economic stupidity of Tory posturing on immigration

 

The main headline in today’s Sunday Times (£) is something of a milestone. (Helpfully, the Murdoch empire make most of the story available on Sky News without a paywall).

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Norman Lamb: Fixing dysfunctional mental health services takes time

Nobody could ever accuse Norman Lamb of political spin. He’s been in his ministerial job for 2.5 years and he’s totally honest about the still poor state of mental health services, particularly for young people. He says what he’s trying to fix it, but the pace of change must be frustratingly slow for him. He (and Paul Burstow before him) and Nick Clegg have done a massive amount in recent years to transform and improve mental health services but it’s more than a one-term job.

Norman has been talking to the Bournemouth Daily Echo about what he’s done and what he has set in progress. It’s clear that the effects of his changes will be felt for many years to come.

First of all, he talked about tackling stigma and getting people to talk about mental health more – partly because that then opens the way to a properly funded service:

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Liberal Youth unveils its General Election campaign plans

LY Cardiff campaign weekend Dec 2014One of the nicest things that’s happened to me this year was when I logged on to Facebook last night and found an invitation asking me to sign up for a Liberal Youth Action Weekend. It’s a long time since I was involved in one of its predecessor organisations, but it brought back memories of the great fun we used to have campaigning in Aberdeenshire under the guidance of party legends like Sheila Ritchie. It was great being at university in Aberdeen because the local party really embraced the students and wanted them to be part of the local organisation outside the university and treated us all like human beings, not just fresh legs to deliver leaflets. It’s no coincidence that that combination helped to lay the foundations for such a strong base in the North East of Scotland. It’s also no coincidence that most of that Aberdeen University contingent are still involved in the party in some way. 

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 16

Congratulations to George Murray’s ‘Marauding Fullbacks’, who, with an impressive 928 points, continue to lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 16. It’s tight, though: just 12 points separate the top 3.

We’re entering the festive period, a time when you’ve probably got lots of other things to do. But, beware: there’s lots of football action, so, if you take your eye off the ball, you could find yourselves plummeting.

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By-election update: Gains on the year

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)

Just two principal council by-elections were contested yesterday. The Conservatives held their seat in St James ward in Kingston upon Thames LB, winning 42.9% of the vote. Liberal Democrat candidate Annette Wookey polled 33% to increase the party’s vote share by 11% from the ward’s last election this May.

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Helena Morrissey evaluates party’s progress on her recommendations

Last year, Helena Morrissey published her Report into the Processes and Culture of the Liberal Democrats and made 9 recommendations for change. Here are Stephen Tall’s and Caron Lindsay’s thoughts on it from then.

It was always intended that Helena would come back and evaluate the party’s progress on implementing her recommendations. Her progress report is published today and can be seen here.

This is what she has written in the foreword:

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Lord William Wallace writes…Evidence shows EU serves Britain well

European FlagIf you’re interested in the evidence about UK interests at stake in EU membership, it’s now available: over 2000 submissions, to 32 government reports.  And the overwhelming evidence, from small business and large, from legal bodies and service providers, is that the EU serves British interests well, above all in the regulations that underpin the Single Market, but also in fighting cross-border crime and providing a multilateral framework for UK foreign policy.

Eurosceptic Conservatives hoped that this exercise would demonstrate how Brussels regulations cramped British enterprise and undermined English common law.  Four rounds of consultation over two years, on topics as diverse as fisheries policy and police and criminal justice, have concluded that the current balance fits British companies and public services well.

photo by: rockcohen
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Vince’s Royal Mail privatisation: independent report concludes “the right decisions were made”

An independent report by Lord Myners published today has concluded Vince Cable and the Government made “the right decisions” during the process of selling off Royal Mail.

royal mail sell off

The BBC explains the background:

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Fixed-term parliaments: 56% of voters support them, finds YouGov

I’ve written before about the fact I like fixed-term parliaments: In praise of 5-year fixed-term parliaments. You may remember that a few years ago, former Cambridge MP David Howarth tried to introduce them. Then in the Coalition Agreement, they became reality.

YouGov has asked the public what they think about them, and you can see the result below courtesy the New Statesman’s May2015 polling website:

yougov fixed term parliaments - 1

photo by: garryknight
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Civil partnerships can now be converted into marriage

As of last week, couples in England and Wales have the choice to convert their civil partnership into marriage, concluding a historic process of changing the law to give same sex couples the right to get married.

The Liberal Democrats were the first party to support same sex marriage and have delivered our promise to couples to allow conversions into marriage to take place. There is now no reason in the law why two people of the same sex cannot be married.

Liberal Democrat Minister for Equalities Jo Swinson said:

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Devolution must go beyond Westminster

Yesterday in parliament, William Hague announced four options to address the “English votes for English laws” issue. They are:

  1. Barring Scottish and Northern Irish MPs from any role in English and Welsh bills and limiting England-only bills to English MPs
  2. Allowing only English MPs, or English and Welsh MPs, to consider relevant bills during their committee and report stages, where amendments are tabled and agreed, before allowing all MPs to vote on the final bill
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Equal Marriage now a reality in Scotland

Same sex couples in Scotland are now free to arrange their weddings to take place from 31st December. Some people are sure to have a very happy Hogmanay. Some had a very happy 16th December as they converted their civil partnerships into marriages.

One of the things I’m most proud of is that organisations like the Equality Network and LGBT Plus Lib Dems (thanks, Dave Page) were listened to and we don’t have the cruel spousal veto up here.

Also, the Guardian published a poll today that shows that equal marriage has never had such high support, with 68% of people backing it:

According to ScotCen Social Research, 68% of people in Scotland now agree that gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry if they want to, compared to 61% in 2010 and 41% in 2002.

There has also been an increase in the strength of this support, with those saying they agree ‘strongly’ that gay couples should be allowed to marry increasing by 14% over the past four years, while only 7% ‘strongly disagree’ in 2014.

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“The best opinion poll I’ve seen in a long time” says Nick Clegg

Nick’s Bite the Ballot Leaders Live Q & A this evening went pretty well. Those watching were asked to tweet #yesNick or #noNick to indicate what they thought on four different subjects, jobs, education, health and immigration.

All I can say is that I hope all these young people have votes. Here are the scores on the doors:

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Nick Clegg live Q & A at 7pm tonight

Nick Clegg answers live questions on the interweb thingy tonight at 7pm. That’s in just 45 minutes’ time. A group of young people will be asking him about the issues that they care about.

Watch here:

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Our worst nightmare? Peter Kellner’s scenario 3: “Lib Dems choose who’s the PM”

cameron clegg miliband 2Just over a year ago I wrote a piece titled Nightmare scenarios: what are the 2015 election results the Lib Dems, Tories and Labour most dread?

In it, I argued that the trickiest prospect for the Lib Dems would be an evenly poised general election outcome in which the Lib Dems held the balance of power:

In the nightmare scenario would have a genuine choice open to us: a second coalition with the Tories or a Lib-Lab pact.

Do a deal with the Tories – if that’s even

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Two Liberal Democrats win European awards

Its awards season at the moment and last week the focus shifted to Europe where the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe held its annual LeaDeR (Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians) Awards. Two British Liberal Democrats were successful.

David TuttThe first was Cllr David Tutt, Lib Dem group leader of East Sussex County Council and leader of Eastbourne Borough Council who had been nominated for the Achievements in Government prize by MEP Catherine Bearder. He won for:

…his visible leadership in having put core liberal values of innovation, forward-thinking and opportunity into action in transforming what was officially the worst Council in the south-east of England into one widely recognised as among the very best in the country.

Catherine explained why she nominated David:

David has worked tirelessly in Eastbourne to ensure the town continues to go from strength to strength and when I heard about the awards I was delighted to put David’s name forward as I know the huge impact his work is having on the Eastbourne community.

 David is now a winner, just as he’s made Eastbourne a winner.

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Judicial Review: Parliamentary Ping Pong delayed until New Year

It had been originally thought that the House of Commons would debate the Lords amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill yesterday.

This has now been delayed, probably until the New Year, indicating that there may be some chance of a Government compromise on the points of dispute.

The Lords have now voted twice to give judges some discretion about letting cases proceed even if they fail the “highly likely” test. The Government hasn’t yet given way on this one but you would hope that they would accept Lord Pannick’s amendment passed last week which would allow cases to proceed if it was in the public interest for them to do so.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Decades of not understanding Mental Health has left too many Unhelped – but we are getting there

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Minister, has written for the Huffington Post about the changes he’s been trying to implement in mental health care and treatment.

First he talked about services for young people:

Recent provisional data shows that hospital admissions for self-harm for young people aged 11-19 are at their highest for five years. Maybe it is better reporting, maybe it is a result of the added stresses young people face. But these figures represent real young people and their families and the serious emotional distress they face.

Some find it difficult to talk about their mental health, which is why it is so important for those who can to be open about the problems they have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is to encourage others to feel they can talk about it. In a way, it’s the most important thing.

I want young people to get good and compassionate personalised care. I want them to be given both physical and mental health care which helps them in their time of need but also gives them techniques and support to help prevent or manage further problems.

That’s why, earlier this year, I convened a Taskforce to advise us on improvements to mental health services for children and young people. This is the first time a group of experts from across, health, education and social care have come together to focus on making sure every young person gets the care they need. Crucially, we are also involving young people in this work so they can give their views on what they want from services. And it’s my aim that services don’t just stop at the youngsters themselves – services need to support entire families to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness.

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Clegg: senior Labour ex-ministers should give evidence to UK torture inquiry

Nick Clegg Q&A 12Last week came the revelations from the US Senate Intelligence Committee about the extent of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

It immediately promoted questions about what the then Labour Government knew about what was happening on the watch of its closest ally. Nick Clegg has called for senior ex-ministers to give evidence to Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) on what they knew about torture conducted by UK or US intelligence agencies in Iraq or Afghanistan, as The Guardian reports:

The deputy prime minister said

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Vince Cable on the Tories’ “extreme ideology”

As we reported yesterday,, on the Andrew Marr show Vince Cable said:

We are committed to financial discipline but we’re not veering off to the kind of extreme ideology that the Tories seem to want.

Here is a video clip:

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Africa Liberal Network General Assembly concludes with spectacular success

International officeThis year saw the 11th Africa Liberal Network (ALN) General Assembly, which took place in Marrakech, Morocco, between 26 – 29 November 2014. President of the ALN Olivier Kamitatu said: “This year, the ALN accomplished a number of historic firsts including the election of a gender representative executive committee, the adoption of a robust new constitution and the acceptance of 9 new observer member parties, taking the total number of members to the largest in the Network’s history, with 44 parties.”

It was also the first conference to bring the ALN and the Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy together making this the biggest in the history of the network with over 90 delegates from 22 African countries.

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Vince speaks out against “devastating and ideologically driven” Tory spending cuts plan

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterThe Tories have been “well behaved” over the past few years because the Liberal Democrats have kept them on a tight leash, apparently. So said Vince Cable on the Andrew Marr Show this morning. He said that we were now getting a glimpse of what they would be like without that leash, adding that the consequences of their spending decisions would be that there would be around half as much money to spend on Police, defence, local government and social care.

He highlighted the differences between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat approaches to the economy and what a vote for each would mean:

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Clegg: No country can prosper without basic freedoms

From earlier this week, here’s Nick Clegg’s message for Human Rights Day:

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmalc 22nd Dec - 11:57pm
    Tim Hill Your on! I think it's one of the hardest seats to call, but I fancy the Tories to take it. The RSPCA is...
  • User AvatarShaun Whitfield 22nd Dec - 11:55pm
    Nothing 'normal' about Sutton's schools - it appears to retain a selective grammar school system.
  • User AvatarTim Hill 22nd Dec - 11:37pm
    Malc - £ 50 donation to our chosen charity on the Sutton result ? I say Burstow will win. You don't . Whoever's wrong donates...
  • User AvatarTim Hill 22nd Dec - 11:34pm
    I'm proud to be an active Liberal Democrat. Unlike the moaners, the gripers and the gloaters, I don't sit on my arse typing hostile, tribal...
  • User AvatarTim Hill 22nd Dec - 11:22pm
    Show some respect for crying out loud:-(
  • User AvatarPeter 22nd Dec - 10:23pm
    No
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