Category Archives: News

Review of 2014 European and Local Election Campaign

Election count progressingAfter the elections in May, the Leader tasked a group with reviewing the elections, assessing what worked and what didn’t, and produce recommendations to improve our campaigning for the future.

On Monday, the Review Group presented our findings to the Leader and later to the Federal Executive. I am pleased to say that they endorsed both the report and its recommendations, and we will now set about putting them into practice well in advance of next year’s elections.

In what was the most-read Party email in some time, more than 700 …

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By-election update: A very near miss

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This week saw nine by-elections in principal authorities – Argyll & Bute, Cornwall, East Dorset, Harrogate, two in Herefordshire, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Oxford and Redditch.

In Harrogate Clare Skardon held Hookstone ward for the Liberal Democrats with 51.7% of the vote; an increase of 9.1%. Cllr Skardon successfully managed to squeeze all her opponents’ share of the vote: the Conservatives acquired 32.1% of the votes (-1.8%), UKIP were third with 12% (-4.3%) and Labour came last with 4.1% (-3%). Cllr Skardon puts her …

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PSA: Advance rail tickets for Glasgow are now available

Train at Alloa StationThe cost of Conference, especially of travel, can be a burden on those of us attending conference, so it’s worth noting that Advance tickets to get to Glasgow on the 3rd & back on the 8th of October are now available on the national rail website.

Advance will be the cheapest available ticket type, but can be used on the booked train only – no open transfers, so choose carefully!

Furthermore, if you are planning to travel with a friend in both directions, it’s a good idea to …

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Lower unemployment and more full time jobs

3D Employment GraphRecently I wrote about challenging Labour’s narrative on unemployment with the facts. Since then, the points made in that article have been confirmed with even stronger jobs growth, lower unemployment, and a greater still proportion of full-time jobs.

Updates of those figures, and figures used in this article are summarised here drawn from data in here. The number of new, net, full-time jobs is now up to 1.3 million, and David Blunkett’s post-Soviet style meltdown more distant than ever.

I dealt in …

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Social Liberal Forum welcomes change of tack on “Bedroom Tax”

Social Liberal ForumFollowing yesterday’s press release from Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander regarding the underoccupancy charge (known colloquially as “Bedroom Tax”) we’re delighted at the Social Liberal Forum.

The policy was introduced as a follow up to Labour’s introduction of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ for private tenants, and has left people with little housing options being penalised for being unable to move. Far from saving money, it simply created hostility in the social housing sector and brutally discriminated against those in poverty.

Members in the party have …

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Baroness Barker: Nicky Morgan’s appointment “disappointing”

Protest against a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriageThe appointment of former treasury minister Nicky Morgan to the post of education secretary and minister for women and equalities has come under fire from Liberal Democrat peer Elizabeth Barker given Morgan’s recent opposition to same sex marriage (though it should be pointed out that the responsibility for the implementation of same sex marriage has been given to skills and enterprise minister Nick Boles).

Pink News has the story:

Speaking to PinkNews, Baroness Barker said: “It is good to see equalities firmly within education,

photo by: Fibonacci Blue
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++Breaking…Clegg: “We must axe Bedroom Tax”

I got wind of this about an hour ago.

Here is tomorrow’s Daily Mirror front page.

Clegg axe bedroom tax

More to follow. In the meantime, have a read of my post from earlier.

That’ll be number 22 on Stephen Tall’s list of policies that we share with Labour…

Update: 22:47.

This email has just been sent from Danny Alexander explaining the party’s thinking. We’re not going for abolition, but for a great reform which means that nobody would have to pay unless they had turned down an offer of a smaller property which ticks a lot more of …

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Duncan and Andrew Hames make history

Last week Harriet Harman said a rumour had been put round that she’d - shock horror- taken a baby through the voting lobby:

When I came back after having my first baby I was reported to the serjeant-at-arms for breaking the rules by taking my baby through the division lobby under my jacket.

What a difference 30 years makes.

Tonight, Jo Swinson tweeted:

At least, we’re assuming that it …

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Bedroom Tax review raises serious questions – abolition or serious reform is now essential

Bedroom tax demo , all the photos taken with a iphone 5In amidst the excitement of the Cabinet reshuffle, the Government slipped out its first interim review of what is technically called the “Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy”. That’s the “Bedroom Tax” to you and me. The conclusions are pretty damning:

At the time of the research, four out of five claimants affected by the RSRS were reported by landlords to be paying some or all of their shortfall, although half of these had failed to pay in full. There

photo by: paul bevan
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LibLink: Lord Ken MacDonald: How the DRIP Bill will help us convict criminals

A telephoneThe Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill cleared its Commons stages last night after a long debate which saw Julian Huppert speak at every stage and in great detail. He was pretty much doing the job of a Minister and very clearly and rationally put the case for the Bill, at all times stating his own personal commitment to civil liberties.

Lord Ken MacDonald, who has been pretty sound on things like secret courts, the statelessness provisions in the Immigration Bill and the cuts to Legal Aid, has written an article …

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Nick Clegg tackles the Daily Mail’s sexism with humour

So, this is the Daily Mail’s sadly predictable response to women being promoted to high or higher office.

Daily Fail catwalk

I guess you can’t really expect better when 7 of the top 10 stories on their sidebar could be easily headlined: “Woman goes out in public wearing clothes.” That’s actually quite low for them.

Nick Clegg responded with humour in a tweet today.

 

You …

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How you can support One Member One Vote for Party Committees

lib dem conf votingIn March, Sue Doughty invited members to take part in a consultation on the idea of allowing one member one vote for party committee elections and on party policy at Conference. The Internal Democratic Reform Working Group, which Sue chairs, then looked at the submissions they received and the feedback at a consultative session at York Conference. They have now drawn up some radical proposals which will give every  member the right to vote on policy at Conference and in Committee elections which they want to submit for debate at …

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Lord Rennard remains suspended

According to the BBC, Chris Rennard’s challenge against his suspension from the party has been rejected.

The former chief executive of the Lib Dems had been suspended amid claims that he had brought the party into disrepute by failing to apologise over sexual harassment allegations.

Lord Rennard challenged his suspension from the Lib Dems, saying it was against party rules.

A Lib Dem source said: “His appeal against his suspension has been rejected. He remains suspended while the investigation continues.”

 

Please note that all comments will be moderated on this post.

 

 

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It’s Party awards time!

key_awards1It’s that time of year again when members decide who should be in line for an award at Conference.

It could be someone who has worked tirelessly in their local area to elect Liberal Democrats or implement our policies or someone who has given years to our cause by working hard as councillors or candidates.

Maybe a political assistant to a councillor or someone who has supported a local MP in the hard work that they do.

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Reshuffle: One Nation Toryism has gone to meet its maker

David Cameron - Some rights reserved by The Prime Minister's OfficeDavid Cameron’s extensive reshuffle of the Tory ministerial ranks will continue today. Last night we learned of the casualties; today will be dedicated to the winners. But there’s no doubt at all about the biggest casualty: moderate, One Nation Toryism.

Ken Clarke, famously dubbed the sixth Lib Dem cabinet member, has gone. Too sensible to be left in charge of the Justice ministry he was exiled to the Cabinet’s fringes in 2012; now he has been retired completely. William Hague – transformed …

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SLF Conference 2014 – Governing as Liberal Democrats

Social Liberal ForumThe Social Liberal Forum have organised their next conference to take place in London on this Saturday  19th July. You can register via the website. We have an excellent line up of speakers and all Liberal Democrats of various shades of opinion are very welcome to attend, and for that matter anyone outside the party who is interested in the Liberal Democrats.

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UPDATED: Sarah Yong stands down as Lib Dem candidate for marginal seat of Somerton and Frome

20140201-202125.jpg Sarah YongIt’s six months since Sarah Yong was selected as the Lib Dem candidate for Somerton and Frome, held by David Heath since 1997. Today she’s announced her decision to stand down. Here’s the letter she’s sent to her local paper, announcing the news:

Dear Editor,

I just wanted to let you know that it is with great regret that I’ve decided to stand down from my role as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Somerton and Frome. I have made this decision for personal reasons and as a result of changes in

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Laws: “99% of schools now have a plan in place to deliver universal free school meals in September”

school mealsI’ll be honest. If I had the choice over where to direct £500 million a year of taxpayers’ money, universal free school meals for infants would not be top of my priority list.

That said, the sheer desperation of right-wing newspapers like the Daily Mail for the policy to fail just to spite Nick Clegg strikes me as pretty mean-spirited. It’s a policy which is highly popular with headteachers, and will be with parents too. Perhaps more surprisingly, it’s possibly the only Lib Dem policy ever to attract the support of …

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Opinion: Post 16 transport: It’s time to change the law to enable everyone to get on in life

Ear buds 'n' earsFor many 16 year olds across the country the post-exam, pre-result time in the summer should be a time of freedom, working a summer job to save some money or hanging out with friends and family, sure in the knowledge that come September they will be on track to take the next steps in life.

Northumberland’s young people are facing uncertainty this summer. The previous Liberal Democrat administration at County Hall had guaranteed the right of free post-16 transport to the most suitable accessible course. This has been taken …

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Vince Cable shows why Liberal Democrats need him to be our Economic Spokesperson for the General Election

Vince Cable, Business Secretary at the launch of the joint government and UK automotive industry's automotive strategyVince Cable was interviewed by Andrew Marr yesterday. His confident and credible manner and his clear explanation of Liberal Democrat priorities make it very clear to me that he should be our Chief Economics Spokesperson during the election campaign. He can take the fight to both Conservatives and Labour in a way that nobody else can. Stephen Tall has been saying this for a long while. I have to confess that while my heart was …

photo by: bisgovuk
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Opinion: Welcome to Bournemouth – eventually

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/artimagesmarkcummins/ Bournemouth Summers Eve'At last our party will have a proper seaside conference again in 2015. Bournemouth is the ideal spot for it.

The town has a remarkable story; from almost nil population in the present town centre area in 1810 it has grown to 180,000 today. It first developed as a place where the wealthy came to spend the winter.

Some would say that the rot set in with the arrival of the railway in 1870.

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A longer read for the weekend… Edward Lucas on the threat posed to peace by Russia and what the West should do about it

edward lucasEdward Lucas worked for Paddy Ashdown, has helped at by-elections, and was active in the National League of Young Liberals (NLYL) and the Union of Liberal Students (ULS). He’s better known, though, for being a senior editor at The Economist and an expert on energy, cyber-security, espionage, Russian foreign and security policy and the politics and economics of Eastern Europe. In 2008 he wrote The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In 2011 he wrote Deception, an investigative account of east-west espionage. And earlier …

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Departing female EU commissioners lobby for more women in new Commission

Neelie Kroes 10 or MoreThe current 8 female EU commissioners have written to new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to support his call for member states to appoint more women. The commissioners stated that they wanted to see at least 10 women appointed. The picture shows Dutch liberal commissioner Neelie Kroes holding up her hands to show symbolise support for the Ten or More campaign.

Their letter said:

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Dear Daily Telegraph, Enough already. It’s actually okay for MPs to claim 11p for a ruler.

The_Daily_TelegraphSo the Telegraph is back to its old tricks on expenses. Five years ago, the paper uncovered some serious abuses by MPs at the taxpayers’ expense – along the way, the paper was also (as I wrote at the time) “guilty of flaky fact-checking, unfair distortions and disgraceful smears”.

Yesterday the paper attempted, rather desperately, to re-live past glories by running the story, ‘MPs’ expenses: Ken Clarke bills taxpayer for 11p ruler’. It wasn’t just Ken who attracted the Telegraph’s ire though: ‘Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, was found to …

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By-election update: Lib Dems jump from 4th to 1st to take seat from Tories in Julia Goldsworthy’s Cornish battleground seat

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)There were five by-elections in principal authorities this week (Cornwall, Torridge, Barnsley and two in Cheshire West and Chester) and one deferred election in North Hertfordshire.

The Liberal Democrats jumped from fourth place to take a seat from the Tories in Illogan (Cornwall Unitary Authority). David Ekinsmyth won 23.8% of the vote for the Liberal Democrats; an increase of 10.1%. The Tories slumped to third behind Mebyon Kernow with both parties receiving 18%. The UKIP vote fell by 9.1% to finish fourth (13.4%), Labour came fifth (11.1%), …

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The best time to recruit is now

Liberal Democrat membership formsI find the most powerful words before asking for help are “thank you”.

With ten months still to go before the next election, if you knock on a supporter’s door, you’re not just yet another politician, who only calls at election times. And if the first thing you say is ”thank you”, that’s powerful.

When I do it, I get smiles of surprise and pleasure. They know perfectly well that there’s another reason for my visit, but we all like to be thanked.

A lot of us are nervous to …

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++Ian Swales MP to stand down at next election ‘for personal reasons’

Photo by Keith Edkins - 640px-Ian_Swales_at_Sheffield_2011GazetteLive has the details:

Redcar MP Ian Swales is to stand down at the next General Election.

The Liberal Democrat, who was elected in 2010, said the decision was due to personal reasons.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to represent my local area in Parliament,” he added.

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Call Clegg 11 July – data retention, Israel, Royal Mail, Germany to win World Cup

call cleggCall Clegg began with a question on the retention of communications data, with a supplementary of whether this is one of those things that can be blamed on the EU.

Nick was very clear that this law is just to underpin the maintenance of existing arrangements for data retention, as have been applied for many years, and not extending them. That the ECJ had struck down the EU Data Retention Directive, was a reasonable exercise of the checks and balances of a mature way of making decisions but left data retention without a legal framework.

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The security bill: why I think dirty hands are better than empty hands

Hands on ! Photo by craig Sunter Cjs*64Today saw the surprise springing of emergency new surveillance legislation, announced by David Cameron and Nick Clegg and agreed with Ed Miliband. The Lib Dems have been quick to assert this isn’t the Snoopers’ Charter Revisited – torpedoed by Clegg after a Lib Dem grassroots’ revolt in April 2012 – but any attempt by the government to legislate in these areas gets liberal hackles up.

I’ve not had chance to read and absorb the details yet, though I’m reassured by the clear …

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An idea to put a stop to those public sector strikes

Don't Work and Fight BackSchools, libraries, the Welsh Assembly and other government offices were shut or operating a reduced service day because of a strike by several public sector unions in protest at their falling wages, increasing pensions contributions and longer working lives.

David Cameron has a totally wizard wheeze to stop all this from happening. He wants to shift the goalposts so that a certain threshold have to turn out to vote in favour of strike action. Oh, Dave, really. If you start questioning the legitimacy of elections with low turnout, …

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