Category Archives: News

Jeremy Browne MP responds to LDV debates about his book

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 08.06.08 Liberal Democrats LibbyThank you to everyone on Lib Dem Voice who has taken the trouble to comment on my book ‘Race Plan’. It is healthy to have an active debate about how our liberalism can be applied to address the big political events of our time. I am appreciative of the favourable comments; I also thought it might be of interest (and good manners) to respond to some of the main criticisms and themes that emerged on LDV.

Timing of publication

The timing was determined by the …

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“The fight is on; it’s time to pick a side” – Clegg launches European election campaign

Nick Clegg Q&A 19At a Town Hall style event in Colchester this morning, Nick Clegg launched the Lib Dem campaign for the European elections, which will see the party seeking to defend its 12 seats in the European Parliament.

Speaking at the event, Clegg framed the elections as a clear choice between internationalism and isolationism:

The election on the 22 May is about one thing: do you think Britain is better off in the EU, or do you think we should be out? Finally the big question at the heart of the European debate

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In Full: Nick Clegg on tearing down the barriers facing women at work and the £23 billion boost if we get it right

Clegg Speech 40I have always said that if I had to pick one policy enacted by the Coalition that summed up our liberal values it would be the revolution that Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson have enacted on parental leave. From next year, parents will be able to choose how they split parental leave following a birth or adoption between them rather than the mother having to take it all. It’s the stronger economy, fairer society and enabling people to get on in life all in one.

Yesterday, Nick Clegg made a

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Austin Rathe talks to the Standard about the importance of political geekery

imageThe appointment of Obama’s strategist David Axelrod to advise the Labour Party has prompted the Standard to take a look at the digital operations of the three main parties. All three are looking to the success of the Obama campaign’s collection and use of data.

We know that the most effective digital campaigners are those who spend most of their time on the doorsteps. Jo Swinson was a Twitter pioneer, as was Willie Rennie and we know how much time Tim Farron spends on there. These three share a massive commitment and …

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Lorely Burt to support female entrepreneurs

lorely-outside-parliament-1 lorely burtVince Cable has appointed Lorely Burt to a new role aimed at promoting and supporting female entrepreneurs. From the Yorkshire Post:

Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt will help women-led businesses to understand the help available to their new and growing firms.

She started her career in the prison service and rose to become assistant governor at HMP Holloway, a tough female-only prison in North London.

Ms Burt later worked for companies including Beecham and Europcar in the field of personnel and training before setting up

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Edward Davey MP writes… Massive boost for clean, green energy

2008 - Evopod 1/10th Sea Trials @ PortaferryToday I have announced the award of 8 new contracts for renewable electricity projects which will provide around £12 billion of private sector investment and once built will contribute around 4% of Britain’s electricity capacity.

These projects will support 8500 jobs and our overall electricity reform plans will generate over 200,000 green jobs. These projects and the jobs created will be across Britain – from the Moray Firth to Liverpool Bay and from Teesside to Norfolk.

Five of the projects are for offshore …

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Opinion: 3 days on Rebels and Radicals – a review of the Political Studies Association Conference

Che Guevara - Some rights reserved by StreetFly JZ

This year’s annual conference of the Political Studies Association (PSA) was held in Manchester, with the theme of Rebels and Radicals. For three days last week, PSA members attended panels, caught up with colleagues and drained the city’s bars. The conference, as ever, as is a fantastic place to take stock of evolving research and teaching practice across the discipline, meeting up with fellow academics at all stages of their careers to swap ideas and catch up.

As last year,

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Jenny Willott MP writes…Cracking down on copycat websites

imageThe internet has made life a lot easier in many ways for many people – I can hardly imagine a time when I wasn’t able to make online bank transfers, get a grocery shop delivered or book a holiday online. However, as we all spend more time online and use the internet to do increasing numbers of things, new problems and challenges arise which we have to address.

People deserve the same protection online as they get offline, and we need to make sure that we have the ability and resources to ensure this is the case.

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Lord Roger Roberts writes …What UKIP peers had to say about the Immigration Bill

House of Lords chamberAmong Liberal Democrats at least, the House of Lords is viewed as an institution deeply in need of reform. That said, the potential of this house to monitor and moderate the work of the House of Commons was absolutely evident during the passage of the Immigration Bill, which is due for its Lords third reading on 6 May.

The Lords were responsible for moderating the Bill in several important ways, such as:

  1. exempting student accommodation from the proposed ‘landlord checks
  2. creating ‘guardians’ for potential victims of child trafficking, and crucially
  3. blocking the Government’s plans to grant the Home Secretary the power to strip a naturalised citizen of their citizenship even if that would leave them stateless.
10 Comments

NHS under pressure across whole UK – how do we fund the health service we need?

StethoscopeA clinical commissioning group in South Warwickshire was heavily criticised last week for suggesting that it might charge patients for use of mobility aids like crutches, walking sticks and neck braces.  A rather hyperbolic Guardian column screamed that this was the “first painful step towards the dismantling of the NHS” which seems a bit strange given that they’ve been telling us for the past two years that the NHS had been all but privatised anyway.

The furore over this idea made me think, though. While you don’t and never should …

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Vince Cable to crack down on “rogue” directors

License Some rights reserved by eyewashdesign: A. GoldenVince Cable has rogue directors in his sights, announcing plans to stop people who are convicted of commercial crime overseas from being directors of British companies.

The BBC reports:

The business secretary said dishonest directors could cause “huge” harm.

UK criminals can already be banned as directors, and Mr Cable wants the same for those committed overseas.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said the measures are due to be tabled in the Parliamentary session which ends in spring 2015.

They would mean “stronger deterrents”

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Easter Politics Quiz: my second starter for 10

I asked the following questions via Twitter on Friday – they’re all taken from the now-deceased Punch magazine’s Election 1992 political board game, Landslide. Yes, I have kept it for 21 years in the hope that it would come in useful for a blog-post on a quiet holiday week-end: I’m that far-sighted.

You can tackle the first set of questions here.

Answer here.

Answer here.

Leave a comment

Shirley Williams on her mother’s wartime nursing service and role of women in World War 1

shirley williams by paul walterNext week, Shirley Williams is to take part in the Stratford Upon Avon Literary Festival talking about her mother Vera Brittain’s role as a nurse volunteer in the First World War and on the wider role of women generally before, during and after the war.

From the Birmingham Post:

Baroness Shirley Williams is incredibly proud of her “wonderful” mother Vera Brittain, whose First World War memoir has been adapted into a new BBC drama with an all-star cast.

Testament of Youth charts Vera’s personal journey from an Oxford scholarship

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Labour’s “Easter Clegg” – that’s grown up politics for you

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 08.14.13Labour’s Easter weekend headline grab isn’t about their policies. It doesn’t tell you why you should vote for them, why their vision is any good.

Oh no. It’s a highly personal attack on Nick Clegg in the shape of a chocolate Clegg. All very mature.

From the Mirror:

But the packaging warns the Clegg Eggs are “guaranteed to leave a bad taste in your mouth – and like the Deputy PM himself – are “completely hollow”.

The slogan for the campaign on Twitter suggests the eggs, shaped in the image

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Easter Politics Quiz: my starter for 10

I asked the following questions via Twitter yesterday – they’re all taken from the now-deceased Punch magazine’s Election 1992 political board game, Landslide. Yes, I have kept it for 21 years in the hope that it would come in useful for a blog-post on a quiet holiday week-end: I’m that far-sighted.

Answer here.

Answer here.

2 Comments

Linda Jack to announce Lib Dem party president campaign

Linda JackLib Dem activist Linda Jack will shortly announce that she will be a candidate for the post of Party President in the all-member election that will take place this autumn.

To date, two candidates have declared their intention to run: Baroness (Sal) Brinton and Pauline Pearce. I understand Linda will officially throw her hat into the ring after May’s local and European elections.

Linda Jack has twice been a parliamentary candidate for the party: in Luton North in 2005, and in Mid-Bedfordshire (up against Nadine Dorries) in 2010. She also …

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On Sarah Wollaston’s naming and shaming in The Times of “very aggressive male bloggers”

sarah wollastonBlogging is back in the headlines again today. Dr Sarah Wollaston, the feistily independent Conservative MP for Totnes, has hit back at those online critics who denounced her role in the trial of her fellow Tory, Nigel Evans, acquitted this week on all charges of sexual assault and one of rape.

In an interview with The Times, Dr Wollaston was keen to stress that she was in no way challenging the verdict in the case, adding that she empathised with Mr Evans and his ordeal. She confessed, however, that the

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Two Easter quiz questions from Olly Grender and Ed Stradling

First up, from Olly (former communications chief for the Lib Dems and Shelter, now a Lib Dem peer)…

And then from Ed (TV producer/director, the mastermind behind the excellent video The Lost Liberal Democrat Votes)…

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Steve Webb proposes fairer tax relief on pension contributions

Not content with the most radical reforms to private pensions in a generation, Steve Webb is proposing a flat rate of 30% of tax relief on pension contributions. Currently savers enjoy tax relief at the marginal rate of income tax they pay, so higher rate tax payers get the lion’s share, and standard rate tax payers have less incentive to save for a pension.

Steve told the Daily Mail

I’d like to see the benefits of pensions tax relief spread much more evenly.

Most people get 20 per cent relief, some people get it at 40 per cent. But the people

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Steve Webb on working with IDS: “When it comes to pensions I think he trusts my judgment.”

steve webbPensions minister Steve Webb is one Lib Dem minister who has emerged from Coalition with his reputation enhanced, praised even by such diverse admirers as The Sun, The Guardian and Quentin Letts. Today’s Daily Mail features a warm profile of him talking about his passion: pensions. Here are a couple of excerpts that give a flavour…

On working with Iain Duncan Smith

Today, he and Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith have become Westminster’s odd couple. IDS is renowned for his Right-wing stance on benefits and welfare, and Mr Webb

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Danny Alexander: More people in work than ever before, earnings now rising in line with prices

speech danny alexander 6Two pieces of good economic news today, as the BBC reports:

UK unemployment falls to five-year low of 2.2m

The number of people out of work in the UK has fallen by 77,000 to a five-year low of 2.24m in the three months to February, official figures indicate. The unemployment rate now stands at 6.9% of the adult working population, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

After six years, wages finally overtake inflation

After nearly six years of falling real wages, weekly earnings have finally edged above inflation. Weekly wages, including bonuses, rose by 1.7% in the year to February, up from 1.4% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Earlier this week, inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), fell to 1.6%. It is the first time that earnings have been higher than inflation for six years, apart from two months in 2010.

Here’s what the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander had to say:

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Daily Mail attacks Nick Clegg for Cyril Smith RIP tribute. Why?

mail cyril smith lib dems‘Squirming of the Lib Dems’ is the Daily Mail’s front page splash today. It’s the second successive day the paper has tried, a bit desperately, to pin blame on Nick Clegg for the extensive abuse allegedly committed by former Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith in the 1960s and ’70s.

The basis for the paper’s accusations is that Nick Clegg issued a tribute on his 80th birthday and when Cyril Smith died. As Nick has pointed out, “I would never have dreamed of saying the things …

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The verdict of Philip Collins, chief speech writer for Tony Blair, on Nick Clegg: “the Deputy Prime Minister should be applauded by all liberal voters”

Nick Clegg Q&A 19Philip Collins uses his column in today’s Times to write something not often written on that paper’s pages (or anywhere else for that matter): praise for the Lib Dems in Coalition. Here’s the paywalled link, and here’s a glimpse behind the paywall of what he has to say:

It is therefore a serious defence of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to commend them for things that would have happened had they not been there. It is in the nature of things that have not happened that we

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A message from Nick Clegg for Passover

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Clegg announces three new garden cities to be built

Nick Clegg Q&A York Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe BBC reports:

Up to three garden cities, each with more than 15,000 homes will be built to help deal with a “chronic” housing shortage, Nick Clegg has announced. The deputy prime minister promised “high-quality homes in thriving new communities”, on potential sites yet to be identified.

Funding from an existing £2.4bn pot will be made available for developments being built up to 2020. Councils will be asked to raise any concerns over the schemes.

Last year 109,370 new homes were completed in England, …

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By-election update: Lib Dems make a gain from Tories in Wantage

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Last Thursday saw four principal by-elections.

In Wantage Charlton (Vale of White Horse district council) the Liberal Democrats missed out on taking the seat by just 49 votes. The by-election, caused by the conviction of the previous Conservative councillor, saw the Tories hold the seat with 41.9% (-5.3%). Jim Sabbald, the Liberal Democrat candidate, took 38.4% (+2.5%). Labour came third with 11% and the Greens last with 8.8%.

However the by-election on Wantage Town Council caused by the disqualification of the same former councillor saw Jim Sabbald …

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Opinion: Regina v Nigel Evans should wake up MPs

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyNigel Evans’s acquittal on charges of rape and sexual assault has triggered various expressions of concern.
Those expressed, trenchantly by some, are:

    1. The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.
    2. The Crown treated him differently because he is an MP.
    3. The case shouldn’t have relied on alleged victims who did not consider themselves to have been victims.
    4. Nigel Evans is left with a huge bill to pay his defence.

“The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.”

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Opinion: The Scottish independence referendum – a lack of wisdom in the pro-UK camp?

September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"In September 2014, the Scottish public will vote on independence from the rest of the UK. As of mid-April 2014, the opinion polls suggest that the pro-UK camp is ahead, but over the past few weeks the pro-independence camp has been fast catching up. Why?

One reason seems to be the spat between the London-based UK administration and the Scottish National Party (SNP) over the role of Britain’s sterling currency. All three main UK national parties stepped in behind a sudden policy of non-cooperation with an independent Scotland …

photo by: amandabhslater
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#SelfEU: the way to win a day with ALDE’s Guy Verhofstadt*

Guy VerhofstadtYes, the #selfEU is actually a thing, as ALDE’s Guy Verhofstadt promotes his campaign to become the next President of the European Commission:

THE ONE AND ONLY “SELF-EU” CONTEST
It’s simple, just send us an EU selfie or a #selfEU, and you could win a day with Guy Verhofstadt.

The EU is about more than rules and regulations. Show us your favourite thing about the EU. Did you just board an airplane on a cheap flight, cross a border without having to use your passport or change currencies, or

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Lib Dems: “Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant and we have nothing but sympathy for those whose lives he ruined”

cyril smith bookWe reported here yesterday the latest revelations of extensive alleged paedophile abuse by former Liberal MP, Cyril Smith, in a new book co-authored by his Rochdale successor, Simon Danczuk. Today’s Observer highlights the party’s response, and the responses of two current Lib Dem MPs, John Pugh and John Hemming:

In a statement the party said: “Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant and we have nothing but sympathy for those whose lives he ruined. His actions were not known to, or condoned by the Liberal Party or the

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard Dean 24th Apr - 6:41pm
    My first impression was of some kind of immigration plan, possibly bordering on the German one in the 1930's and early 1940's or the Powellite...
  • User AvatarCaracatus 24th Apr - 6:35pm
    Thank you Jeremy - it is very refreshing to have a MP actually come back and respond to comments on an article they have written....
  • User AvatarAmalric 24th Apr - 6:35pm
    This is an interesting idea but I hadn’t really thought of the Liberal government of 1906-1915 as one working under the banner of national efficiency...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 24th Apr - 6:33pm
    I would have thought that "efficiency" cannot possibly be acceptable as a primary LibDem goal. Nor even a secondary one. It's just too reminiscent of...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 24th Apr - 6:29pm
    “I haven’t read the book but…” I'll plead guilty in advance to entering the debate on that basis. What I have read is the title....
  • User AvatarWill Mann 24th Apr - 6:27pm
    @Sal Brinton I appreciate there are some high-minded principles involved - but to the outside world, and particularly the women in the outside world, the...