Category Archives: News

So how worried should we be about the Ashcroft poll on Bristol West?

Lord Ashcroft has released a further six constituency polls today. There is serious Liberal Democrat interest in only one of them – in Stephen Williams’ constituency in Bristol West. The results make depressing reading, showing Stephen in 3rd place behind the Greens. The figures, after they’ve been through Ashcroft’s magic manipulator, his not very transparent methodology.

Ashcroft Bristol West poll bar chart

 

As always he doesn’t use the candidate’s name, which makes no sense during an election. Let’s face it, the voters will be filling in ballot papers with the candidates’ names on them. Not only that, he doesn’t even name the constituency.

Party sources are quite bemused that Ashcroft hasn’t even tailored the poll to suit the seat. For example, with UKIP not a key player, he still asks if people have received literature from them. Yet the Greens are supposedly on 25% and he didn’t bother to ask if people had heard from them.

There’s also a feeling in the party that the truth on the ground isn’t as gloomy as the raw data would suggest for 3 reasons:

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Lib Dems react quickly to Cameron’s “brain fade” West Ham moment

David Cameron had one of those moments on the campaign trail this morning. This is what happens when you are too used to reading your speeches off an autocue, I guess. He was talking about how he wanted to see Britain at ease with multiple identities.

From the Guardian:

Where you can support Man Utd, the Windies and Team GB all at the same time.

Of course, I’d rather you supported West Ham.”

Asked to clarify his loyalties after his speech, which he read from an autocue, Cameron replied: “I had what Natalie Bennett described as a brain fade.

I’m a Villa fan … I must have been overcome by something … this morning.

But there we are, these things sometimes happen when you are on the stump.

It’s the sort of gaffe that anyone could make and it’ll make us all laugh for 30 seconds and move on. Although I do wonder if Conservative peer Karren Brady, who’s vice-chairman of West Ham, had anything to do with it.

Those digital geniuses at Lib Dem HQ have reacted quickly though to give that amusing moment a little extra traction. They’ve done a few amusing “page not found” jokes before. Here is today’s:

David Cameron Aston Villa

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Willie Rennie accuses Conservatives of trying to pull the UK apart

For the third time in ten days, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has hit out at the Conservatives, accusing them of putting party before country and risking the future of the United Kingdom they say they want to keep together.

Their actions are very different, though. Last week, Michael Fallon talked up the entirely ridiculous suggestion of a deal between Labour and the SNP on Trident with the aim of persuading swing voters in middle England to vote Conservative. They also sent their Scottish leader campaigning in North East Fife, a seat they know that they can’t win. Willie Rennie said at the time:

Just the other day the Scottish Conservative Leader was visiting North East Fife claiming they can win.  It’s a seat the bookies say is a close race between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.  The Tories are also rans.  The only result of their reckless actions would be to divide the non-SNP vote and let the SNP win.

Yesterday, Willie described the Conservative plans for English votes for English Laws as “unstable and reckless.”

We agree that there does need to be a stronger voice for England in parliament.

But we will not entertain a Conservative attempt to gerrymander those votes in order to give the Conservatives a majority say on these important matters when they don’t command a majority of peoples’ votes in England.

Like all other forms of devolution in the United Kingdom any change must be based on fairer proportional voting, not Tory plans to create a majority by the back door. The Conservatives unstable and reckless reforms threaten to undermine the future of the UK.

And, finally, today, he condemned a Conservative poster being shown in England, saying that the Tories have joined the SNP in trying to pull the country apart.

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Opinion: A challenge for LDV readers

The BBC has a Hung Parliament Coalition Builder, based on various projections of seats, and different possible outcomes depending on small voting shifts in the handful of marginal seats.

The challenge is to get a coalition without the Lib Dems. It is almost impossible!

There is an assumption this election –the Lib Dems are going to be at the negotiating table on May 8th.

But, given the likely outcome for our party, what if we start from the assumption that we will not be at the negotiating table, and we will go into opposition and oppose any and all Queen’s Speeches? What would our red line(s) be?

I have one red line – PR – and the argument is for good government and a fair democracy:

The Conservatives will get 33% of the vote and nearly half the MPs. Labour will be similar.

The Lib Dems will get about 9% of the vote and anything from 3 – 5% of the MPs depending on how effectively we can work in the next two weeks.

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 33

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Baroness Sal Brinton writes…How Gallipoli marked one young life forever

2nd Lt "Mary" Coningham of 32 Squadron, The Somme, 1917Today marks one hundred years since Gallipoli and my brother and I will be at the Cenotaph to mark this special ANZAC day, as my grandfather, Arthur Coningham, a very young New Zealander, was there and survived. We never knew him because he died in an air accident in the Bermuda Triangle in 1948 but we know from family that his experience in the Dardenelles affected him greatly.

Arthur Coningham later went on to join the embryonic Royal Flying Corps (where he was known as Mary, thought to be a distortion of Maori), and became a fighter pilot. However, he nearly didn’t make it because of his early experiences as an ANZAC.

He was born in Australia in 1895, and after his parents’ notorious behaviour in a celebrated court case they moved to New Zealand where he grew up. His parents subsequently divorced, especially outrageous in the early 20th Century, and the whole family really suffered, with all the children being bullied and humiliated. His mother was a hairdresser, doing her best to keep herself and her three children. He went to Wellington College on a Junior Free Place, where he excelled at sports, but wasn’t at all academic. When he left, he went to work on a sheep farm as he had no idea of what he might do.

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Danny Alexander’s note to Liam: We won’t let you or the Tories screw up the recovery

Five years apart, two letters tell a very different story. David Laws found this on his desk at the Treasury:

 

Liam Byrne's note

 

Danny Alexander got round to replying today:

Danny Alexander's reply

As George Crozier pointed out last week, this recovery is very much a Liberal Democrat recovery:

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Danny Alexander says HSBC worries about UK leaving EU show dangers of Conservatives and UKIP

HSBC has said today that it might consider pulling out of the UK and cited uncertainty over Britain’s position in the EU as part of its reasoning. From the Guardian:

HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, has issued a stark warning about the economic risks of the UK pulling out of the European Union as it revealed it was considering moving its headquarters out of London.

The surprise announcement of a full-blown review into where the bank should base its operations will stun politicians on the general election campaign trail.

HSBC listed the economic uncertainty created by the risk of the UK going alone – a blow to the Conservatives which have pledged to hold an “in-out” referendum on the EU.

It would be a massive deal if HSBC were to leave as 48,000 jobs would go.

Danny Alexander said that this highlighted the dangers of a Conservative/UKIP government:

Today’s HSBC announcement confirms fears that businesses have over a swing to the right and the prospect of a ‘Blukip’ coalition pulling us out Europe.

David Cameron, held hostage by UKIP partners and the right wing of his party, would drive the country further towards a ‘Brexit’ – which would hit both jobs and business.

As I revealed today, the markets and businesses are increasingly showing their concern at the prospect of an unstable government.

Only stable government with the Liberal Democrats in the mix will stop Britain from being pulled sharply to the right with Nigel Farage, or to the left with Alex Salmond.

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Paddick: Tories are playing a dangerous, divisive game over English votes for English laws

I still feel aggrieved that in the immediate aftermath of a bruising referendum campaign, our Prime Minister, rather than say something comforting and unifying, came out and picked a fight with Labour over English votes for English laws. Today, the Tories are highlighting their plans to resolve the constitutional conundrum. From the BBC:

Under the Conservatives’ proposals, the line-by-line scrutiny of new bills would be reserved for MPs from the nations affected by the legislation. A new grand committee of all English MPs – or English and Welsh MPs where appropriate – would also have to approve any legislation relating only to England.

Mr Cameron will promise firm proposals within 100 days of forming a government, which would be “fully implemented” by the time of the Budget in March of the following year.

Speaking on Question Time, Scotland’s Finance Minister John Swinney said the proposals ignored the fact that elements of income tax policy that will still apply to the UK as a whole would remain reserved to the Westminster government.

Labour says the issue should be considered along with other potential changes by a constitutional convention after the election.

The Liberal Democrats favour a grand committee of English MPs, with the right to veto legislation applying only to England, with its members based on the share of the vote.

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Lib Dem Elaine Bagshaw comments on removal of Tower Hamlets mayor Rahman

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has been found guilty of corrupt electoral practices and removed from office. There is a 200 page judgement which outlines in detail the allegations against him which range from personation to the old offence of “undue spiritual influence.” There is a section on that latter offence which goes through the history of it being used in Ireland against the undue spiritual influence of the Catholic church in the 19th century. The judgement also goes through the history of toxic Labour factionalism in the borough which is an eye-opening read to say the least. The judgement also relies on the judgement in a case which may well be familiar to readers – that of Phil Woolas, when the Oldham East election result was overturned back in 2010.

It is pretty shocking to have the result of an election turned aside because of compelling evidence of various types of fraud.

There will now be a by-election in which Rahman will not be allowed to stand. He will also have to pay £250,000 in costs.

Local Liberal Democrat candidate for Poplar and Limehouse Elaine Bagshaw commented:

Community politics and cohesion is central to a liberal society, so as Liberal Democrats we will be working in the by-election that will now happen to unite our community so that we can move forward and build a stronger economy and a fairer society in Tower Hamlets.

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Willie Rennie takes his son to work

Willie Rennie’s campaign theme today was all about the support Lib Dems offer families. Note the impressive absence of the awful phrase “hard-working families” from any of his utterances.

He also had his son, 11 year old Stephen, with him as he and Alan Reid visited a nursery in Argyll and Bute as part of a Take your child to work day.

Here are the pair setting off from home:

And once there, Stephen really got into the swing of things and was totally undaunted by all the attention:

Willie outlined all the things Liberal Democrats would do to help families:

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Nick Clegg’s message to the National Union of Students Conference

All party leaders (apart from Nigel Farage) were invited to submit a short video to NUS for their recent conference. Given the Greens supposed popularity among students, it was, shall we say, surprising that they didn’t put one in.

Nick Clegg’s did not shy away from the issue of tuition fees, but he did point out how much less people would be paying per month than under the old system, giving them more money at the time when they needed it most, when they were starting out on their working lives. He went on to talk about 3 issues which showed what the Liberal Democrats offered young people – on drugs, mental health and help with housing costs.

You can watch all the videos submitted here. Nick is on first. It was a pretty reasonable effort in the face of NUS’s unpleasant £40,000 Liar, Liar advertising campaign. It’s worth pointing out that however badly we handled the tuition fees issue, what we did when confronted with a situation when there was no money left, we spent it on breaking down barriers for disadvantaged people. A generation of kids from poorer backgrounds are already benefitting from the extra a money Nick Clegg sent their way to help them in school and from the extra year in nursery.

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Shirley Williams highlights SNP’s failings in government

SCaron and Shirleyhirley Williams has written to the Times (£) to highlight that the SNP has not been as successful in government as it would like people to believe. She highlights failures on student debt, class sizes, the NHS and, importantly for anyone of a liberal mindset, its many failings on civil liberties.Here’s her letter:

The election campaign in the United Kingdom has been seriously impoverished by the absence of any detailed analysis south of the border of the SNP’s record in government.

Today the Scottish NHS is in crisis, with targets for cancer treatments not being met. More than 1,000 beds have been closed in Scottish hospitals since 2012. Last year, expenditure on the NHS in Scotland fell by 1.2 per cent while in England it rose by 4.4 per cent. Expenditure on training nurses and midwives in Scotland has been cut by 11 per cent.

In education, the SNP pledged to limit primary school class sizes to a maximum of 18 — a pledge it made when it first came into government in 2007. In fact, class sizes have risen in every year since 2010.

University students have been saddled with greater debt because they have to start repaying their loans once their incomes reach £16,500, while the figure in England is now £21,000. Worst of all, part-time college places have been cut by 130,000 — a travesty at a time when the UK needs skilled women and men to get the economy back on track. The SNP has not even met its unambitious target to build 6,000 affordable homes, despite the obvious need.

Additionally, the SNP’s troubling record on civil liberties has been further extended by its efforts to build an identity database based on NHS records. Its creation of a single national police force has been to the detriment of local policing and communities they serve; Highlanders have been aghast at the sight of armed police undertaking routine duties on their streets. It is a bigger insult that local communities’ calls to reverse the policy were ignored.

The SNP now seeks to present itself as a party with a strong interest in the future of the UK. Its own record makes that very hard to believe.

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Liberal Democrats launch Manifesto for Disabled People

Manifesto for Disabled PeopleNick Clegg launches the party’s Manifesto for Disabled People today. In the foreword, he writes:

Liberal Democrats believe that no matter who you are, where you come from and what your circumstances, you should not be denied the opportunity to fulfil your potential.

It is essential to break down the unfair divisions in our society, yet disabled people in Britain today still face significant barriers to getting on and living happy, independent lives.

Providing opportunity for everyone is the test of a liberal society.

In Coalition Government, I am proud of the important progress Liberal Democrats have made in driving improvements.

From fighting to protect schools and teaching budgets, to investing £400m in carers’ breaks, or launching the No voice unheard, no right ignored programme to ensure people with disability, autism and mental health conditions get the best care possible.

But we can and must go further.

In Government again, we will ensure that disabled people get the support and help they need to find work, whether it is supporting those who want to work, or ensuring fairer assessment and support of those who can’t.

We will work to improve the benefits system for disabled people, ensuring assessments are truly fair, with quick access to financial help for those who cannot work.

We will move towards an integrated health service with more joined up care, more personal budgets so people have more control over the care they need, and delivering equality of care for mental health patients.

Only the Liberal Democrats will create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Labour will borrow too much, risking the economy. The Tories will cut too much, threatening public services and sacrificing the least well off.

We are determined to stick with the approach we set out in 2010
– a fair way of restoring the nation’s finance. The fruits of Britain’s recovery must be felt by all – providing disabled people with real opportunities to achieve their potential, and the support they need to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

The key measures are:

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Get set for #cleggleg 2 at 10pm tonight

Nick Clegg on the Last Leg 8After the triumph of his first appearance on The Last Leg in January, Nick Clegg returns to the sofa tonight. It’s a risk, for sure. Can he repeat the success of the last time when Twitter was full of praise for his sense of fun and natural manner? Remember when he persuaded Alex Brooker to vote by comparing it to a visit to Nando’s?

As I wrote at the time:

Well, people liked him because he was natural and funny and entirely himself. No other political leader in Britain could have come out of that unscathed. If you meet him in person, you have to be trying really hard to dislike him. It’s a pity we can’t get him onto 40 million doorsteps.

We are all invited to send him our questions via Twitter?

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Kelly-Marie Blundell on walking the high wire: “It was absolutely terrifying but not so bad after the first fall”

You will be relieved to know that Guildford Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell survived her tightrope walk in one piece. She was very brave indeed, getting back on after she fell off. That sort of persistence, courage and determination is definitely what you need in an MP.

The event has been covered in the media, on the BBC’s Election Live page (at 15:26 today):

Kelly-Marie on the High Wire

 

And on the Guildford Dragon:

Guildford’s Lib Dem candidate for Westminster showed her skills at holding the balance of power this morning (April 22) with the help of the Moscow State Circus.

33-year-old Kelly-Marie Blundell’s only previous experience has been walking the political tightrope between left and right.

She said: “I have never even done anything like this before, not even gymnastics.

“It was absolutely terrifying but not so bad after the first fall. Actually, it was easier than I thought.”

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Why Lib Dem Councillor Zoe stood down and what we should learn about our expectations of councillors

Liberal Democrat councillor Zoe Franklin is clearly a talented, caring and committed local servant. Her blog tells us that she’s someone who cares deeply about child poverty, the cost of childcare, and she likes to keep residents informed about what’s happening.  It’s a great shame, then, that she’s standing down as councillor for the Stoke ward in Guildford.

She’s written on the Guildford Dragon about why she’s made the decision not to run again for election. The toll the job takes both personally and financially just got too much. Her story of how she became involved sounds very familiar:

I

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Opinion: What’s worse than a watery grave?

The news this week has been dominated by the horrendous tragedies of over 1000 deaths in the Mediterranean. With the notable exception of the vile Katie Hopkins, this tragedy has moved the hardest hearts, not least because of the number of children who have died.

For me it’s far closer to home and I confess I have spent the last couple of days fighting back the tears. I have the enormous privilege of caring for two children who made that same journey. And the danger for them didn’t begin when they climbed into a rickety boat, it began as they crossed the Sahara, in cars carrying maybe 30 passengers, many hanging on to the outside, where if one of them fell off they would be left to die in the scorching sand. Or in the insanitary, cruel and overcrowded cells of a Libyan detention centre.  And then, having reached ‘safety’ sleeping rough and eating out of bins while all around you people are dying.

As a family we have heard the horrendous stories of the children who are now part of our family, neither of them knowing where their birth families are, both very clear that they were prepared to take the risk to get here because the alternative was worse. Both now lauded by their schools for being role models for other students with their diligence, good humour and determination to succeed.

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Does anyone give a hoot about the Grant Shapps furore? Even if the Lib Dem press office and Nick Clegg make us laugh

Grant Shapps, a Conservative who’s been getting himself into all sorts of scrapes for some years now. That is, of course, if he can remember his name. 

We’ve clearly got to that stage of an election where the journalists just want to have some fun. Rather than discuss the major issues of the day – remember that hundreds of people have drowned in the last week – the media is all in a spin about a Guardian story which suggests that Shapps is behind a Wikipedia profile which has edited the pages of various Conservatives, including Shapps, to either add or remove critical or embarrassing facts.

The Lib Dem Press Office responded with great humour and have had some great plaudits for it:

And even Nick Clegg got in on the act, saying rather mischievously at his press conference that:

Well, Grant Shapps has fervently denied that he had anything to do with it. He himself does not have the time apparently to edit his own Wikipedia entry. I’m prepared to believe him. It could have been someone else. Michael Green for instance.

It is all very funny, but how many votes is this going to win for anyone? Will people actually change their vote based on this? Does anyone outside the Westminster media bubble actually care?

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Nick Clegg outlines pay rises for public sector workers

Public sector workers would be guaranteed pay rises of at least the rate of inflation if the Liberal Democrat had their way. Nick Clegg is to give the details of the plan today. This would mean a minimum pay rise of £350 for a nurse on £25,000, £420 for a police officer on £30,000 and nearly £500 for a teacher on £35,000 over the next two years. After that, the government would recommend to pay review bodies that they give above inflation increases so that wages can rise in real terms.

Outlining the plan, Nick Clegg said:

Workers across the public sector have made enough sacrifices. You have done your bit to help get the country back on track.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats believe it is time to end the era of pay restraint.

Under our plans, we will give all public sector workers – from teachers and nurses to social workers and police officers – pay rises that at least keep pace with the cost of living every year.

No more pay freezes or below inflation pay rises. We can do this because with the Liberal Democrats, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

For two years pay in the public sector will, at the very least, keep pace with prices. After that, we will make sure it rises above inflation – giving millions of workers a real terms pay rise for the first time in years.

If you are a public sector worker worried Tory cuts threaten your job, or Labour’s refusal to deal with the deficit means another year of pay cuts, then only a vote for the Lib Dems will guarantee you a fair pay deal.

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Lib Dem candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell to walk tightrope at Moscow State Circus

Kelly-Marie and friendKelly-Marie Blundell is nothing if not courageous and tenacious. For those of you who don’t know her, she’s our candidate in Guildford, a member of the party’s Federal Policy Committee and prominent member of the Social Liberal Forum. She’s been behind many of the excellent motions on welfare reform and food banks which have been passed at Liberal Democrat conference in the last few years.

She’s leading a lively campaign in Guildford, a seat held between 2001 and 2005 for the party by Sue Doughty. Just the other day, I saw that she was committed to many hustings meetings. But she’s managed to fit in fulfilling a lifelong ambition. Tomorrow morning at 9am, she’ll be doing this:

Clearly we are putting our parliamentary candidates under too much stress if this is what they do for a rest!

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The lighter side of the election

There is a bumper crop of funny election related things today. I hope that this cheers you up as you come in, tired, from the campaign trail.

Bizarre headline of the day

Clown seen running off with Liberal Democrat poster from the Telegraph:

In a Stroud Life article, Adrian Walker-Smith, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the Stroud constituency, said: “Our supporter was hanging out her washing in the garden when she heard a crack and saw a young man wearing clown trousers dashing along the street with the board.

I think Adrian may have been a little harsh with his suggested penalty, though:

We will replace the poster and will not be troubling the police, but if the culprit is identified we suggest the use of the historic Bisley lock-up.

Fancy turning Ed Davey into a scottie dog?

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Scottish Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes saves our civil liberties…again

There may only be five Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs,sadly, but by heavens they have delivered incredible things.

As Justice Spokesperson for the last four years, Alison McInnes has stopped the SNP Government in its tracks several times. She couldn’t stop them centralising the Police, but she could make a fuss when statistics showed that officers were stopping and searching children. She made a fuss when the SNP started using armed patrols on routine duties in peaceful Highland communities. She defended our rights when the SNP tried to remove the requirement for corroboration in our legal system. She explained why this was so important at our Conference in Autumn 2013:

This is a profound change – sweeping aside centuries of well-established Scottish legal practice.

Conference, Scots Law is not safe in the hands of the Scottish National Party.

In Scotland the Crown prosecutes in the public interest. We must guard against any shift towards prosecuting in the victim’s interest. That would be at odds with our fundamental liberal belief in the need for a robust, transparent and independent justice system.

We need to defend the principle of the presumption of innocence and safeguard against false accusation, wrongful conviction and miscarriages of justice.

The SNP’s proposals will mean that someone could be convicted on the basis of the testimony of just one person, even if five of the fifteen jurors believe that they are innocent.

Witnesses can be honest yet mistaken. Their evidence persuasive but wrong.

And, unfortunately, witnesses do sometimes lie to the police and in court- out of earnest to ensure that the accused is convicted, because of the strength of their convictions or through spite.

I am concerned that scrapping corroboration could mean that false accusations could become more common. The Law Society of Scotland warns that trials could be reduced to “a contest between two competing statements on oath”.

Eventually, after protest from many bodies across Scotland, the government agreed to a review – which would report after the legislation had been passed. Alison rightly thought this was ridiculous and didn’t rest until the plans were postponed until the publication of the review.

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Paddy Ashdown swears on the BBC seven times before noon

Paddy is a legend. “My old friend” he called John Major and then proceeded to outline in robust and pithy language how David Cameron would be beholden to 60 “b*****ds should the Tories gain a majority in the election. He said Major only had 16, but Cameron would have 60 troublesome right wingers to deal with and outlined the chaos that could then ensue.

The Huffington Post has transcribed all the offending excerpts.

If you watch no other Paddy interview this election, watch this one. It’ll make you laugh. And then read what I wrote earlier about the SNP and how people should just stop being scared of them – although there are three reasons I think people should choose Liberal Democrat sitting MPs over their candidates.

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The spouses of Parliament. By that, the Telegraph means husbands of female MPs

The Telegraph reports on a Grazia magazine feature about “husbands of politicians.” It’s interesting because it captures some of the preconceived ideas we have about gender roles and stereotypes. And also because it features two people well known to us, Duncan Hames and Andrew Poole, Jenny Willott’s husband. It encapsulates the sacrifices that both Members of Parliament and their families have to make.

Duncan said that people are more likely to talk to Jo about their baby son:

After Andrew was born, the only thing anyone in Jo’s constituency wanted to talk to her about was the baby – and for me it was just nice if anyone did! When I first went door-knocking with him, typically, if a woman answered you’d have a conversation about parenthood there were a few men who kept their gaze firmly at eye level, just did their best to have this conversation as if the baby wasn’t there,” he recalls.

Duncan hopes that by trying to parent equally, they’ve paved the way for other couples.

“There are probably a lot of workplaces where, if dads take time out for things like children’s doctors’ appointments, there’ll be the underlying assumption: ‘Isn’t that what a mother does?’ It’s one of the barriers to equality. So those of us who don’t fear the consequences of doing this are, I hope, helping others by doing so.”

Andrew Poole describes how he and Jenny manage their time:

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Lib Dems on 48% in poll… really!

The Liberal Democrats are on 48% in a poll with the closest rival, the Greens,  trailing in our wake with just a third of that total.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change anyone’s vote. It’s in the Big Beard Poll on Keith Flett’s blog. Keith runs the Beard Liberation Front which earlier this year announced our Julian Huppert as the Parliamentary Beard of the Year.

The campaign says that it is entirely up to voters to decide but a key criteria is how Parties are prepared to go in signing up to the BLF Beard Friendly Britain Manifesto (below)

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, “Of course the LibDem leadership is as clean shaven and suited as other parties but the LibDems still do retain some of their traditional hirsute following. The LibDem candidate for Cambridge Julian Huppert, for example, is a former winner of the Parliamentary Beard of the Year Award.”

The Beard Liberation Front manifesto is as follows:

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Farron: Chilcott delay “simply not good enough”

The BBC says that the Chilott Inquiry into the Iraq war may now not report until next year, a full 13 years since the misguided and ill-fated invasion.

A source close to the inquiry, which began in 2009, told Newsnight “nobody thinks it will come out this year”. An inquiry spokesman declined to comment.

British forces lost 179 personnel during the conflict, of whom 136 were killed in action.

By 31 August 2010, when the last US combat troops left, 4,421 US personnel had been killed, of whom 3,492 were killed in action. Almost 32,000 had been wounded in action.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians also died as a result of sectarian killings and a violent insurgency.

The inquiry was commissioned by the previous government to investigate the background to UK involvement in the Iraq War, which began when Tony Blair was prime minister.

The Liberal Democrats have long called for its swift publication. Foreign affairs spokesman Tim Farron was not impressed with this further delay:

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Willie Rennie launches Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto for a “Decade of Opportunity”

Edinburgh West is clearly the place to launch your election manifesto these days. However, when Willie Rennie, Mike Crockart and Jo Swinson launch the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto it won’t be in a massive venue surrounded by an audience of cheering party supporters, it’ll be in the heart of the community, in a small business, in South Queensferry.

Ironically, it’ll be almost exactly opposite the spot across the Firth of Forth in North Queensferry where he gave his first interview as Scottish leader in May 2011.

Last year, Willie talked about a “sunshine strategy” and it looks like he’ll be getting plenty sunshine and 15 degree temperatures for the launch.

Willie said:

Liberal Democrats are driven by our ambition of creating opportunity for all.

Our prospectus to the people of Scotland is proudly Liberal Democrat. Standing on the record of progress in government and vision of the future.

In just five years we have got the economy back on track and done so fairly.  We are now closer to our ambition of creating opportunity for everyone.  But with wins for the Liberal Democrat in this election we can make it a decade of opportunity.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for children by investing in education especially in the early years.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for everyone by investing £800million in our NHS and bring mental health care to the fore.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for workers by creating even more jobs and cutting their taxes too.

With Liberal Democrats we can create opportunity for Scotland by delivering more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

These are Liberal Democrat ambitions because they build a stronger economy and a fairer society, in a stronger Scotland.

It is a positive offer to create a decade of opportunity for everyone in our country.

The manifesto can be read here.

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Sal Brinton appeals for help for Nick Harvey in North Devon

Party President Sal Brinton appeals to supporters in and around Devon to go and help Nick Harvey’s campaign, It certainly looks lovely, warm and sunny there.

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VoteMatch, TickBox and other VAA*s

Votematch

* Voter Advice Applications.

I have been drawing your attention to a number of websites which either tell you who the candidates are in your constituency or help you to decide who to vote for, such as Unlock Democracy’s VoteMatch.

MySociety has produced a list of the latter types under the snappy title:  A list of Voter Advice Applications – AKA ‘who should I vote for?’ tools – for the UK General Election. It lists a dozen or so sites, and others are mentioned in the comments.

Now although it is comforting …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCaron 26th Apr - 8:27am
    @JRC: massive ID database, allowing indiscriminate stop & search, armed police in Highlands against wishes of communities.
  • User AvatarPeter kemp 26th Apr - 8:23am
    Just go to or phone canvas in any of our target seats. If in North London .... Come to Hornsey & Wood Green for Lynne...
  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 26th Apr - 8:10am
    Adrian PR 26th Apr '15 - 7:11am "The emerging potential for Labour to be in a position where it not only wants to be seen...
  • User AvatarPaul In Wokingham 26th Apr - 8:09am
    Today's Mail On Sunday leads on Teresa May saying that a Lab/SNP deal would be "the worst crisis since the abdication" and that "4 in...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 26th Apr - 7:52am
    very kind of you to say so, stephen.
  • User AvatarJohn Minard 26th Apr - 7:45am
    I'm still uneasy about setting out red lines before people have voted but I'm certain that if we do lose a significant number of MPs...