Category Archives: News

Clegg: “Suicide is preventable, it is not inevitable”

Liberal Democrats are making sure that mental health stays in the headlines, and that our policies are linked in people’s minds with the issues. Today the focus has been on preventing suicide. Here was Nick Clegg speaking this morning:

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Julian Huppert, banking on visibility

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem PPC for CambridgeVarsity – the Cambridge University student newspaper - has profiled Julian Huppert. It doesn’t begin too well:

“Huppert the Muppet, I call him,” says the cab driver taking me to see Cambridge’s most visible politician, Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for the city since 2010.

But it gets better.

“I think it will be a very tight race,” he says, “and it’ll be a question of whether people like my track record as someone who has worked for Cambridge and delivered for Cambridge.”

He does work hard in Parliament: They Work For You ranks him “well above average” for his participation in debates and questions, and he is in several all-party groups, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Yet Huppert cites constituency work as the most rewarding part of his position, talking at length about a constituent whom he had assisted in finding housing.

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Clegg: “Liberalism youthful, optimistic philosophy”, Ashdown threatens to eat Murnaghan & Grender reminds us of Labour’s NHS deals with private sector

It’s been a marathon this morning. Nick Clegg has been on the Andrew Marr Show and Pienaar’s Politics, Paddy Ashdown has been on Murnaghan talking about the debates and the Counter Terrorism Bill and Olly Grender took part in a panel on Pienaar’s Politics.

I have done a Storify thingy of all my tweets from all the interviews here but I shall outline the key themes in this post.

This was a morning when, as we’ve seen, there have been two powerful initiatives from the party on ending illiteracy by 2025 and improving mental health crisis care so that people don’t end up in police cells. These weren’t mentioned very much in any of the interviews.

Clegg – Lib Dems in Government have been obsessed with ensuring kids get best start in life

Clegg really came into his own in the Pienaar interview where he had more opportunity to talk about Lib Dem values and priorities than on the Marr Show. He outlined how initiatives like protecting the schools budget and giving extra money to disadvantaged kids in school had started to close the attainment gap. He talked about liberalism being a “youthful, optimistic philosophy which seeks to create a society where everybody can get ahead.

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Nick Clegg pledges to end illiteracy by 2025 by ensuring every child leaves Primary School able to read

Nick Clegg has unveiled a key manifesto commitment for the Liberal Democrats this morning:

The plans mean that every child born in 2014, who will leave primary school in 2025 will be able to read and write at a standard identified to lead to success in secondary school and beyond.

Nick Clegg explained why this is so important to Liberal Democrats:

I am proud of the scale of our ambition. We are raising the bar on what children should be able to achieve by the age of eleven and want all children to get over the bar by 2025.

The Coalition Government has

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Nick Clegg to be pelted with space hoppers?

Nick Clegg has set himself up for a potential pounding with space hoppers by agreeing to appear on Channel 4’s The Last Leg programme to convince presenter Alex Brooker that it’s worth voting.

From the Independent:

Nick Clegg has accepted a challenge to appear on television show The Last Leg as part of a quest to convince one of its presenters to vote.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he would happily face being pelted with space hoppers as part of the Channel 4 comedy show.

He was the only politician to respond to a challenge to poll presenter Alex Brooker but the video he initially sent in was not enough.

Mr Clegg appealed to the presenter to vote in May’s general election to “celebrate democracy” and hold politicians to account.

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Two deadlines all Scottish members and all Council campaign teams should be aware of

Be very aware that there are two deadlines rapidly hurtling towards us. The first is tomorrow, so you really need to get a move on.

It’s for ALDC’s postal voter mailing, the details of which you can find here.

As they say:

Turnout of supporters who receive literature and are contacted during a campaign exceeds 80%, far higher than the turnout proportion of our polling day Shuttleworth. This underlines the importance of getting known supporters onto postal votes, as it will help both our local and national results next May and could be the crucial difference.

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Norman Lamb praised in Cosmo…

Norman Lamb

Could we be on the brink of a huge  mental health breakthrough?

So asks no less a publication than Cosmopolitan in an article citing how Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has been making the weather on ensuring that the NHS has the money it needs in the future and for saying that improving mental health treatment is one of the key aims for the next Parliament.

Over the past ten years, there’s been a 77% rise in self–harm admissions to hospital among women under the age of 25, and young women are most likely to suffer from eating disorders. We’re also twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders, and one in four women will require treatment for depression at some time in her life. So it makes sense that the NHS needs urgent help to make these changes, doesn’t it?

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 21

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Warning: This post may damage your health – but, it’s ok, Sal Brinton will make it better

Sal BrintonIt’s not often we put health warnings on posts, but we do need to today. It’s not the post that’s the problem, it’s more the programme we’re suggesting you watch. Last night’s Question Time had one of its most habitually annoying contributors, David Starkey and if you watch it here on BBC iPlayer, he will make you very cross indeed.

I was quite amazed that I managed to get through the whole hour without either wine or even swearing out loud, even though the historian did everything he possibly could to live down to his reputation and beyond. His personal nadir was when he was trying to make out that children could have some responsibility for their own sexual assaults. And calling Mehdi Hasan Ahmed wasn’t much better.

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Have you sorted out how you are getting to Liverpool yet?

It’s just 8 short weeks till we all gather in Liverpool for Spring Conference. What’s even scarier is that it’s only another 8 weeks until we know the result of the general election.

On the party website, there’s information about all sorts of deals to help you plan your transport. I actually managed to get very cheap first class tickets ages ago. It means leaving in the middle of the bloomin’ night, but I’ll live with it.

Anyway, Virgin are apparently offering 20% off on fares from London (cos, clearly, that’s the only direction we’d go in to get there – rage) and if you’re going by coach, National Express are offering a 50% discount.

You can find all the details here.

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Call Clegg 15 January 15: The Cleggster goes cold on Carlile

Today’s Call Clegg was another lively affair. A bit of froideur towards a Lib Dem peer, a lot of distance put between Nick and David Ward and, of course, those debates.

The first question was about freedom of speech. The caller asked if there wasn’t a double standard between people getting away with insulting Mohammed but Muslims burning poppies were convicted. Nick was right to pick up that the second case was not the same thing. It was more causing a disturbance at an event and getting in the way of others expressing their views.

He made an interesting little barb about Alex Carlile the Lib Dem peer who was the independent overseer of terrorism laws under Labour governments over the snoopers’ charter .”He hasn’t agreed with the Lib Dems on this for years and years and years,” said Nick, “He’s not the touchstone of liberal thinking.” Ouch.

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The Hughester gits dan wiv da kids

Well, not really, the title above is rubbish, but Simon Hughes seemed to score a “street cred” point yesterday when an interview with him was carried on Buzzfeed.

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WATCH: How Lynne Featherstone secured an extra £23.5 million in NHS funding for local health services

This video shows how Lynne Featherstone went about remedying an inequality in NHS funding which meant that health services in Haringey received less in terms of funding than other areas of London. We love the bit where Lynne says:

If I see something that’s unfair, I want it made fair.

That’s very her.

She’s continuing her campaign because although the funding boost has enabled better facilities and staffing, it’s still not on an equal footing with other boroughs. Enjoy.

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Lord Roger Roberts: May’s Counter-Terror powers could enable her to ban liberalism

Lord Roger Roberts gave the following speech expressing his concerns about the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in the House of Lords at its Second Reading on Tuesday:

I was delighted that Lord Carlile mentioned, in his contribution to the debate, the four Albanians—two Muslims and two Christians—who walked together in the demonstration in Paris

Multi-faith groups exist in many places and people are able to say, “My brother, my sister, my family; we are one family”. We could really tackle a lot of these stresses before they become threatening. There is an opportunity in some way or another to encourage it.

However, the world is full of uncertainties. I am not the only one who remembers the time when it was better to be red than dead—so some said. Others said that it was better to be dead than red. Today it is the difference, between security and liberty. We are trying to see where is the line that needs to be drawn. This Bill seeks to draw that line. I sometimes measure our civilisation by Alan Paton’s (the author of Cry, the Beloved Country) values. In a lecture in 1953, he declared himself a liberal and defined the term thus:

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The West Wing cast back together again

Ten years ago the West Wing was the show for political geeks to watch. How we all wished we could have Jed Bartlet (the odd slip up with the death penalty notwithstanding) instead of George W Bush.

Yesterday, some of the cast reunited to record a video for the Funny or Die website. One of the West Wing writers, Eli Attie, tweeted this picture:

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Davey: Stop short-termist meddling in the energy markets

The FT reports comments by Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey aimed in part at George Osborne over recent interventions by the chancellor into the energy market:

George Osborne has been accused by a cabinet colleague of damaging the energy sector after the chancellor threatened “action” against companies which failed to pass on falling oil prices to consumers.

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, said he did not know exactly what Mr Osborne was proposing and that such criticism of energy companies by politicians would “damage markets, investment and our economy”.

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Pub landlord to call time on Farage

Oh joy! Oh rapture!

At last the prospect of some fun during the election campaign!

All hail to the ale!

The Guardian reports:

Comedian Al Murray has announced he plans to stand against Nigel Farage in the seat of South Thanet in May’s general election.

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The Independent View: After Charlie Hebdo, we must not sacrifice democratic ideals in the face of fear

The images of masked men walking around with assault rifles including the brutal execution of a French policeman will fill many of us with terror and fear. The chilling words of Charlie Hebdo writer Laurent Léger on the phone to his friend ‘Call the police. It’s carnage, a bloodbath. Everyone is dead’ are chilling.

It is tempting at a time like this to seek security at all costs and those in power are usually all too willing to oblige. We ask to be kept safe and they are more than happy to play the paternalistic state. They give the caveat that we must give up certain freedoms in order to achieve the safety that we crave both for ourselves and our loved ones.

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Who’d have thought you’d find THAT in a secret Lib Dem campaign email?

martin horwoodThe Gloucestershire Echo has somehow got hold of a campaign email sent round Cheltenham Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood’s team.

It says two main things:

… that the Lib Dems should have two “core messages” in Cheltenham: That Martin Horwood is the “best person to represent Cheltenham” and that it is “going to be a two horse race”.

Adding later:

“We think that we have got a very good local MP in Martin Horwood who is a great asset to the town.”

Secondly, there’s this highly surprising fact:

is “important to ruthlessly squeeze Green-ish voters who may wish to vote Green as an alternative to Lib Dem”.

The Greens didn’t even stand in the seat in 2010, but it is kind of basic campaigning that you try to squeeze the vote of all but your main opponents.

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Government concedes key points on judicial review

As you know, we’ve been following the parliamentary ping pong on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. Today it comes back before the Commons and, as the Guardian reports, the Government has made concessions on three points:

The first concession, not related to judicial review, was over the introduction of disciplinary powers to be used for confining convicted boys under the age of 15 and women in secure colleges. The Ministry of Justice amendment has accepted that there would have to be a further vote on a statutory instrument before the powers could come into force – a safeguard

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Scotland’s Assisted Suicide Bill under further Committee scrutiny

Scotland’s Assisted Suicide Bill has been considered today by the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament. This is the Committee which is taking the lead on the Bill, although the Justice Committee has also taken evidence on the legal aspects of the proposed reform.  The Bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald in November 2013 and has been taken forward since her death last April by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

The Committee took evidence this morning from legal and medical professionals. I was surprised to see the Scotsman report say that the Law Society of Scotland is suggesting that the law as drafted might be against the European Convention on Human Rights. They say it’s in conflict with Article 2, the Right to Life. That hasn’t seemed to have been a problem for the Netherlands and Belgium, where similar legislation was introduced over a decade ago. The point, surely, is that the law gives people the choice about what they want to do faced with a terminal illness. What could be more liberal?

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Human Rights Committee criticises Terrorism Bill for plans to block UK citizens and for challenges to academic freedom

The knee-jerk reaction to any act of terrorism is to propose yet more regulations and legislation to prevent future attacks or to deal with the attackers. As liberals we have to be very careful to ensure that our civil and human rights are not being curtailed unnecessarily.

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Lord Dominic Addington writes…Disabled students must have an equal shot at life

Last week I asked a question in the Lords on the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). The DSA allows those with a disability, a long term health condition, or dyslexia (like myself) an equal shot at higher education. The support people receive through this allowance can be vital in ensuring a student’s chances of academic success aren’t dictated by their disability or health, but by their effort and ability.

Like all areas of Government spending, the DSA is being examined for potential savings and to make sure money is going where it is needed most.  However, my question in the Lords was inspired by the amount of confusion there is within all the groups involved in the DSA, ranging from suppliers to students, over what exactly is going to be in place once these reforms go through.

At the moment there is a great deal of fear mongering about not having sufficient resources to enable people to be able to complete their course, let alone work independently as you’re supposed to in higher education. Any change that does not embrace this principle is effectively excluding certain groups unnecessarily.

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No ifs, buts or maybes. Liberal Democrats must not support Counter Terrorism and Security Bill in its current form.

I’ve written before that I have reservations about the Government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. Last week, there were signs that Nick Clegg was going to insist on changes when it comes to the House of Lords.

The very least you would expect for a Bill that’s supported by Liberal Democrats is that it meets human rights standards. Today, a report by Parliament’s joint committee on human rights says that amendments are required in several key areas of the Bill:

photo by: Francisco Diez
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LibLink Special: Martin Horwood’s cartoon column for his local newspaper in tribute to Charlie Hebdo victims

Martin Horwood, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham is also a skilled cartoonist.

He writes a regular column for the Gloucestershire Echo. This week, he felt it was time to pick up the pen again “for the right to write and draw and think in freedom.”

Martin Horwood cartoon column

 

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Lynne Featherstone writes on violence against women in India and Burma

Since 2010 I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the UK’s ministerial champion for tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) overseas – a role that’s followed me from the Home Office to Department for International Development and back, which makes sense. It’s a clear sign that as well as our commitment to tackling violence against women and girls in the UK, this Coalition Government is committed to working internationally to end this global problem.

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Featherstone and Hughes defend Coalition record on civil liberties in letter to Independent on Sunday

The coalition’s record on civil liberties took a bit of  a pasting in last week’s Independent on Sunday. Today, Justice Minister Simon Hughes and Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone defended the Liberal Democrat record in a letter to the paper. Their missive rather felt the sharp edge of the editor’s pen, but the full version (via the party website) is below. They have a good go at both the Tories and Labour.

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Je suis encore Charlie

It was a “you’ll remember where you were when you heard the news” moment.

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You can tell there’s an election coming up.. #1

You can always tell when there’s an election coming up when stories start appearing in the press in the category of: “Someone with an (incredibly tenuous) link to a Lib Dem has done a Bad Thing.”

The Guardian’s been guilty of two of those recently.

First they published a story saying that an “aide to Vince Cable” had tweeted that convicted rapist Ched Evans was “probably not guilty.” The person in question was a civil servant in Vince’s department.  I would imagine that the spokesman for Vince Cable quoted was also a BIS press spokesperson, not a Liberal Democrat.

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Tweets from the campaign trail – the first major campaign Saturday of 2015

I’m going to get told off for that headline, I’m sure, because I expect most Liberal Democrat campaign teams were out campaigning last Saturday too. Anyway, I thought I’d share a few tweets to give a wee flavour of what our candidates have been up to today.

We have to start with Tom Brake. Can you believe he’s been running street stalls in Wallington since 1990? That’s 300 separate occasions.

Lynne Featherstone shows that Lib Dem MPs get results:

The Cleggster was out and about in Sheffield.

And Christine Jardine wasn’t letting the snow stop her from socking it to Salmond in Gordon:

A warm reception on the doors, then.

Nobody was letting the seasonal weather put them off, especially not Tim Farron. It was quite appropriate that I’d been writing this morning’s article about him last night (I know how to live) while watching a programme about the excellent film Frozen.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmalc 27th Jan - 12:14am
    Why no calls from Caron for Nick Clegg's resignation for supporting secret courts? Surely that is also at odds with every thing the LibDems stand...
  • User AvatarAlice Thomas 27th Jan - 12:14am
    Simon - apologies yes, 4 black women and one woman of other ethnic heritage - see this article from 2012: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/21/page-3-sun-sylvia-barrie The intention is not...
  • User AvatarGlenn 26th Jan - 11:36pm
    P.S It's also worth pointing out the government and TV are obsessed with telling people how much exercise they should take. what to eat and...
  • User AvatarTim 26th Jan - 11:34pm
    I don’t think it is Labours campaign. Their campaign as far as I can tell is cost of living and NHS Labour don't really have...
  • User Avatarsimon 26th Jan - 11:33pm
    "UKIP is an establishment party in disguise" You need to get with the programme. The latest establishment line (and YOU are part of the establishment)...
  • User Avatarmalcolm blount 26th Jan - 11:30pm
    1 what greece needs is an invasion of retired german tax inspectors to gee up tax compliance--greece is lost until tax collection is improved ....