Category Archives: News

++ BREAKING: Mark Hunter MP steps down as Deputy Chief Whip

It’s just been announced that Cheadle MP Mark Hunter has stepped down as the Liberal Democrats’ Deputy Chief Whip.

He told Nick Clegg in his resignation letter that he had never intended to stay in post for the whole duration of the Parliament and that the end of the Conference season was the time to move on:

Tagged and | 4 Comments

Thank you, Glasgow

As well as making us welcome for the conference itself, Glasgow again provided a fine place to stroll and explore. Here are a few snapshots of this wonderful city, snatched in between LibDem meetings. Scroll down to view.

york street_tm crop

Tagged and | 6 Comments

Call for feedback on progress since Independent Inquiry of June 2013

As set out in my Report into ‘Processes and Culture’ within the Party, I would now like to assess progress made against my recommendations. Taken together, the recommendations formed a suggested – but by no means exhaustive – blueprint for change over both the medium and long term. Less than 18 months has passed since my initial Review, so it was never my expectation that all would be resolved by now, rather that the direction of travel be firmly established.

A number of people attended a ‘surgery’ I hosted with the Pastoral Care Officer, Jeanne Tarrant, during Conference last week. Those inputs have been very helpful – thank you.  I’d now like to hear from anyone who has relevant experiences and views to help me assess the degree of progress made. As in my original Call for Evidence, it would be helpful if feedback could be given around three areas, with specific examples being particularly useful:

Tagged and | Leave a comment

General election 2015: broadcasters propose 2-3-4 leaders’ debates formula

Nick Clegg in TV leaders debate, 2010The BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 have announced their preferred plans to hold three debates during the 2015 general election campaign. The BBC reports:

One would involve a head-to-head debate between just the Conservative and Labour leaders, and another would include the Liberal Democrat leader. The other debate would involve all three leaders plus Mr Farage. The broadcasters said the proposed formats reflected “changes in the political landscape” since the three prime ministerial debates during the 2010 general election, which featured Conservative Mr Cameron, Labour’s Gordon Brown and Lib Dem Mr Clegg. … The broadcasters have written to the party leaders to invite them to take part. The suggested schedule is for debates on 2, 16 and 30 April, ahead of the election on 7 May.

Here’s how the Lib Dems have responded to the proposal:

Tagged | 48 Comments

Remembering Sarah – Thanking Nick

Almost two years ago I arrived home in the early hours from the Children and Young People Awards, to see the lights on. My stomach hit the floor – if my daughter was still up something was wrong. I was right – my sister Sarah had been found dead in her house, suspected suicide. Members in Watford will know Sarah as one of their deliverers, two weeks before she died she was out with me delivering for the PCC elections in Bedfordshire. But Sarah had one of the most painful illnesses known to man or woman – she was bi-polar and schizophrenic. She was also one of the most loving people you would ever meet, a carer all her life, a house always full of children, especially those who she thought needed feeding! However, her illness led to so much misunderstanding and prejudice, and even for someone like me – trying to get her the right care was like banging your head against a brick wall.

12 Comments

UKIP breakthrough, Labour scrape through

The overnight news is that Douglas Carswell has been elected as a UKIP MP in Clacton with a majority of 12,068 over the Conservatives and 60% of the total vote. Liberal Democrats lost our deposit in 5th place, the 10th lost deposit this parliament.

Meanwhile in Heywood and Middleton, a Labour seat since its creation in 1983, Labour clung on with a majority of 617 votes over UKIP. This time, however, the Liberal Democrats did a little better, coming 4th with 5% and saving our deposit.

Here are the full results:

257 Comments

The Guardian’s “10 things we’ve learned from the Lib Dem conference”

The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow has once again collected together his thoughts on the ten main things we have learned from the last few days in Glasgow.

Here are the first three:

1 – The Lib Dems have no desire to give up power. Given that the experience of being in coalition has been so electorally catastrophic, you might expect the party to have some regrets. But they don’t, and there’s no appetite for a spell in opposition. As well as a desire for another try at government, the Lib Dems are also assuming there’s a good chance it will happen. If it doesn’t, the party is in for a psychological shock.

Tagged and | 34 Comments

The Glee Club makes the headlines

Glee Club 2014There’s no question that the Liberal Democrats’ traditional end of conference sing-a-thon is very marmite and Brussels Sprouts. I love it and am usually in my place for the start at 10 pm. This time, though, I didn’t get there till nearly 1 in the morning. It took me from 11pm when I arrived back at the Crowne Plaza after going out for dinner till then to cover the short distance from the door to the room where it was taking place because I kept meeting friends and new people and chatting away to them. I do hope that the people I was chatting to were sober enough to remember the ideas for articles that we talked about. “Confessions of a Trotskyite at Liberal Democrat Conference” is one I definitely want to read.

Anyway, I missed the traditional gathering of the Scots to sing Oh Flower of Scotland, but I did get there just in time for a very non-traditional rendition of English Country Garden. Do not ever find out the lyrics of this song if you are of a delicate disposition. I thought I was broad-minded but there were some things I didn’t know and had to ask. It is the smuttiest thing you will ever read.

The Liberator Song Book is a satirical and nostalgic meander through our party’s history. From The Land, a centuries old radical protest song calling for land value taxation to a song castigating Don Foster for ending our support for student grants (in order to maintain free tuition) in the 1990s, each song and its backstory means something to us. Rumour has it that at the Conference where this was debated, a pint found its way over Don’s head in a late night heated discussion in a Conference bar.

8 Comments

Tim Farron’s “active and ambitious government” – some thoughts and questions

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsI am a fan of Tim Farron. His decency, thoughtfulness and authenticity add a great deal to our party and to our politics. He is also one of the party’s best speakers.

But I don’t always agree with him.

His speech to conference on Tuesday was very well-delivered. It also contained some interesting themes and observations.

I was very pleased to hear Tim defend globalisation, though it is a shame he chose to do so so briefly:

Don’t get me wrong: the rewards of globalisation are real.

The free movement of people, of capital, of ideas, have all made our society better.

And Liberals should always defend that freedom.

As I have written before on LDV, the successes of globalisation are immense, particularly in the reduction and, in places, near-elimination of destitution.

Tagged and | 28 Comments

Praise for Norman Lamb’s work on mental health

Here is the video shown to Conference showcasing the work that Norman Lamb has done on mental health which was shown before his speech. 

Tagged and | 6 Comments

IN FULL: Nick Clegg’s leader’s speech to conference

Clegg SpeechHere’s the text of Nick Clegg’s speech to the Lib Dems’ autumn 2014 conference:

Before I say anything else, I’m sure I speak on behalf of all Liberal Democrats when I say that our hearts and condolences go out to the family and friends of Alan Henning and David Haines for their tragic loss.

These were good men. In the work they did they stood for hope and compassion – the things that everyone in this room believes are more important than anything else. We have to take on the cowards who

Tagged and | 25 Comments

Glasgow Gossip: Fashion special

After all the obsession with Nick Clegg’s clothes yesterday, here’s some more Glasgow Conference fashion:

Here are Reading’s John Grout resplendent in yellow trousers with candidates for Reading East and West Jenny Woods (left) and Meri O’Connell.

john grout and co

Nottingham’s Sarah Brown resplendent in her crocheted black and yellow dress which she made herself. She takes commissions and does a great line in glittery crocheted Santa hats:

sarah brown

 

 

 

And this fellow was part of a Friends of the Earth campaign to get solar …

Tagged | 2 Comments

Conference Speeches: Tim Farron: Time for ambitious, active, liberal government

Tim Farron’s final speech to Conference was a cracker. Continuing the theme from his lecture to Social Liberal Forum Conference in the Summer – in fact he may have used some of the same lines – he made the case for a bold, distinctive liberal party to rebuild the country’s infrastructure for the 21st century.

He also made a powerful challenge to the Tories on human rights, asking Cameron directly to explain what it was about the right to life or freedom from torture that he found quite so frustrating.

He is trying to map out a way in which we can acknowledge the concerns of those tempted by the likes of UKIP without pandering to them. Here is the speech in full:

24 Comments

Conference Speeches: Kavya Kaushik from Saturday’s Rally

We have managed to get hold of a  wonderful speech given by former Liberal Youth co-Chair Kavya Kaushik at Saturday’s rally in which she talked of the joy of campaigning across the country and of the importance of defending our liberal values. Here it is in full:

Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Tall and Lindsay make the Liberal Democrat “power list”

The  Times (£) today publishes its list of the Top 50 most influential Liberal Democrats which has been compiled by blogger turned LBC presenter Iain Dale. This site’s two co-editors and our Associate Editor are both in it.

At 33, Stephen Tall is described thus:

Last year Tall replaced Mark Pack as co-editor of the hugely successful Liberal Democrat Voice, the must-read site for party activists. A research associate at CentreForum, he is usually more at home with the politics of David Laws than of Simon Hughes, but rarely picks factional fights as a critical friend of the party who prefers to talk up its achievements rather than knock them down.

This is all fine except its not accurate that he replaced Mark Pack. They worked together for several years.

Tagged , , , , , and | 10 Comments

Glasgow Gossip #2: Jumpergate

If you’re interested in welfare, you’ll know thatGeorge Potter has been one of the most ardent campaigners against the Coalition’s welfare reforms. And, true to form, he spoke in yesterday’s welfare debate. However, it’s not what he said that riled Louise Mensch. It’s what he was wearing.

She was reacting to George’s tweet showing the BBC picture of him speaking:

In a series of tweets, Louise and others slated his fashion choices and accused George of whining when he complained.  Have a look at these:

Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Conference speeches: Kirsty Williams: Liberal Democrats are the radical, positive choice

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams gave her keynote speech to Conference this morning. Full of passion, radicalism and determination to fight the divisive, dog-whistle politics we are seeing more and more of these days. I don’t think I have ever wanted to run out of the hall and get a speech up on here quite so much. I have to say to Paddy that if he doesn’t make sure Kirsty is on telly every single day of the short election campaign and as much as possible between now and then, I will actually challenge him to a fight. And I will win.

Here it is in full. I particularly loved the section on why Scots voted yes. She was realistic and shows the sort of attitude that I felt that we needed to see more of during the campaign. And she said it straight, that complacency in Westminster allowed nationalism to thrive in Scotland.

Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Conference Speeches: Steve Webb: “We spend £37 billion on pensions tax relief, mostly on well-off. Next Government will need to address the unfairness

Continuing our series of Conference speeches reproduced in full, here is Steve Webb’s from this afternoon. He said that he wants the next Government to look at tax relief on pensions and he looked back on the work that he had been doing on pensions over the last four years. He also revealed that the donor who gave £1 million to UKIP is standing against him in May. If this bothers you, If this bothers you in any way, you can donate to his local party here.

Those of you who were paying attention to the news last week will have seen the story of the former Tory party donor who has now given a million pounds to UKIP.   What you may have missed is that he has announced that he will be standing against me at the next General Election.

This sort of announcement certainly focuses your mind on the issue of fund-raising, and our next jumble sale will have to be a real corker!   Indeed, if anyone in the hall would like to help us level the playing field in Thornbury and Yate, I will be available to receive donations, but nothing over £100,000 please..

Tagged , and | 20 Comments

Conference Speeches: Willie Rennie – “If you want to stop the talk of ‘the 45′ or ‘the 55′ and talk about ‘One Scotland’, to take forward a programme of reform to unite the country, then we are your party.”

Willie Rennie challenged Nicola Sturgeon to reveal whether she is a Borgen Liberal or a Salmond Nationalist. He was also keen to emphasise that more powers must be delivered. He said that Labour and the Tories must not be timid in their approach:

For the first time ever the people of Scotland were given the power. 

The democratic power to decide whether to continue our relationship with our friends in the rest of the United Kingdom.

With ballots not bullets. 

By the people not the Lairds. 

After open debate not behind closed doors. 

I am so proud that people quietly, but with confidence, said no to independence.

And in numbers now rarely seen in democracies they said yes – yes to partnership, yes to sharing, yes to our common endeavour and yes with an open hand;

Comfortable in our own skin, generous in our compassion, proud of who we are.

Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Conference speeches: Alistair Carmichael – Coalition with Tories is like having a cat

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference morning, strangely devoid of news of his victory at the Lib Dem Disco last night.

Good morning conference and welcome back to Glasgow.

It has been quite a year since we last met here.

Last November this was a city united in grief when Police Scotland’s helicopter fell from the sky and crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub at the other end of Argyle Street, killing ten people.  The response from the people of Glasgow at that time was remarkable.   They showed the truth of the slogan that is on the lanyards most of you are wearing today – People Make Glasgow.

In July we hosted the best Commonwealth Games ever.

We saw some truly memorable world class performances.

No sooner was that over than we led the nation and the Commonwealth in commemorating the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

And then we had a referendum.

I confess I am speaking from a text this morning but I think that even without it I might have managed not to do a Miliband and forget to mention it.

Tagged and | 4 Comments

Conference Speeches: Paddy Ashdown “You were never this nice when I was leader”

ipaddy 2014 glasgow rallyHere is Paddy’s speech from the rally last night.

OK – now it begins.

What comes next is the fight of our lives.

And it’s going to be tough.

But I am up for it and I know you are too.

As a liberal I am used to fighting against the odds – tell you what, I relish it

And taking a small band of trained and dedicated insurgents onto enemy territory against the odds – its what I was trained for – what I am used to

-its what we have had to do before

-and I am immensely proud, this time, to be doing it with you.

We all know what we have to do.

You’re the best street campaigners in British politics

– now you are going to have to prove it – again.

Now, we have a message – A STRONG ECONOMY, A FAIR SOCIETY; OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE.

Tagged | 30 Comments

Conference Speeches: Jo Swinson to Conference rally

Jo swinson 2014 rally glasgowHere is Jo Swinson’s speech to the rally last night:

Conference – hello and a very warm welcome back to Glasgow!

It may still be a bit wet and chilly, but it’s still the friendliest city, and most importantly, still in the United Kingdom.

A lot has happened since we met here last year.

Fantastic year for sport:

Winter Olympics, record medal haul for the UK

Huge success of the Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow this summer – inspiring athletes from 13year old swimmer Erraid Davies to Jo Pavey’s fantastic gold medal at 40

England won the World Cup – obviously in women’s rugby

We’ve seen some key political milestones:

No one pays income tax on the first £10,000 they earn

Tagged and | Leave a comment

Liberal Democrat voice awards 2014 – the results

Ldv awards 2014We surpassed ourselves at our annual awards last night. Every year there is some typically Liberal Democrat random “feature” of the ceremony. Last night’s event was no exception.

It’s a very long story involving great preparation and, then, the intervention of fate in the shape of a locked hotel room, several mobile phones on voicemail, mad dashes around the conference complex, rolled up old newspapers and a large shopping bag.

2 Comments

Glasgow Gossip #1

A couple of tales which have reached my ears. Both of which involve the over-imbibing of alcohol.

Tagged and | 3 Comments

Nick Clegg arrives at conference

Nick Clegg Glasgow conference by Paul Walter 2014

My photo here shows Nick Clegg arriving at the conference in Glasgow at noon today. He chats briefly with the four Presidential candidates, from left to right: Sal Brinton, Linda Jack, Liz Lynne and Daisy Cooper. The four candidates were hot foot from the first Presidential hustings of the conference, which was packed.

Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Lord Brian Paddick writes… Is it reasonable to ban runway expansion across the UK?

Runway photo by Today is a good dayThis Conference we will be debating our Pre-Manifesto.  Of the huge number of policy proposals there is one likely to incite a great deal of considered debate within the Party – the commitment to no net increase in runways across the UK.  The pre-manifesto bans any expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick and it prohibits a new airport in the Thames Estuary.  Is this a reasonable position to take?

I am a loyal Liberal Democrat and like most of us, I am conscious of the need to protect our environment.  I don’t have a car.  My world is my Oyster Card and unless I’m late for a very important date, I take the bus, train or tube everywhere.

Tagged , , , and | 47 Comments

The big difference between what Olly Grender said and what the Mirror said she said

The Mirror ran a big splash yesterday saying that Liberal Democrat peer Olly Grender was complaining that her House of Lords allowance is insufficient. “We struggle to get by on £300 per day tax free allowance” screams the headline.

If you actually look at the substance of the story, there is absolutely nothing to substantiate  that total misrepresentation of what she was saying. They even run a little poll asking if you could get by on £300 tax free.

Tagged , , , , , and | 24 Comments

Caron’s Conference Selection: must-read stories from today’s press and online commentary

Here are my must-read stories from today’s press about Liberal Democrat Conference. You wouldn’t expect anything else from a Guardian editorial than to emphasise our shortcomings and the electoral challenges we face. And this one certainly does that. It notices with curiosity the results of yesterday’s survey which show that 80% of respondents to our survey support the Coalition. However, it recognises that we are unique in one respect and are needed on the political scene:

 In the Guardian’s view, British politics needs the Liberal Democrats for one thing above all. It needs them to provide the parliamentary nerve of outrage against an unreformed political system and against encroachments on civil liberties which is so often dulled in the other major parties.

It follows, especially in a week when the Tories have signalled more anti-terror powers and neutering the European human rights court, that the Lib Dems must make a virtue at every turn of their principled liberal view of justice and human rights. They may wish to claim to have done good work in government on pensions, school finance, bank reform and increasing personal allowances — and some bits, perhaps even all, of that may be true in some ways. But the party’s uniqueness remains its commitment to the rule of law, to human rights, to empowering the individual against an over-mighty state, to reforming and devolving politics and government, and to insistent internationalism. It matters that a party that stood up for proper press reform, against the snoopers’ charter and asked some of the questions others have feared to ask about the Edward Snowden revelations should survive.

Tagged and | 21 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 6

Congratulations to George Murray and Jo Featonby, who lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 6, separated by a single point, on 358 and 357 points respectively. George’s ‘Marauding Fullbacks’ are in 2,405th position in the global league of 3.29 million players – not bad!

However, with just 36 points separating the top 10, there is still all to play for. Or maybe I’m kidding myself – after a first week top 10 appearance, I’ve slumped to 44th thanks to my inability to select Diego Costa as captain in the right weeks. Anyway, if you’re busy in Glasgow at the …

Tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: Human trafficking must be an important part of safer sex work strategy

The policy motion about safer sex work is an interesting topic to debate especially as fifty-five victims of human trafficking were identified in Scotland last year.

Conference will be concerned about solicitation and sex workers being forced into isolated areas where they are more at danger of sexual and physical violence. This is all fair and well but surely this is a concern of human trafficking too?

The definition of trafficking a person is the movement of them for the purpose of exploitation, which often leads to what is known as modern day slavery. It’s usually the most vulnerable people who become trapped. There are four main forms of human trafficking they are forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and deprivation. This motion concerns sexual exploitation a form of human trafficking but is only mentioned as a concern in the motion and then later  promoting solutions to combat international trafficking is mentioned in passing.

Tagged , and | 7 Comments



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRabi Martins 22nd Oct - 11:04pm
    I have deliberately refrained from responding to the comments in the hope somebody would pick up the central point of my article - namely that...
  • User AvatarDenis Mollison 22nd Oct - 10:54pm
    Absolutely. The closure of Parliament Square to protesters, in 2005 I think, was part of the "war on terror" restriction of civil liberties; it would...
  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 22nd Oct - 10:54pm
    Yes, Jedi, it sure is a shame. It's also a shame that the NHS is at creaking point, that wages (both public and private sector)...
  • User AvatarStuart 22nd Oct - 10:48pm
    Horrified to see the creep who did this popping up on a certain popular BBC1 programme earlier. He should be contemplating a criminal record instead...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 22nd Oct - 10:45pm
    Sorry, Lib Dem participation in this undemocratic chamber is appalling. Hypocritical. Do what democrats in other countries do when faced with undemocratic institutions. Boycott. Refusal...
  • User Avatarsimon 22nd Oct - 10:24pm
    See my last post is under review. Makes a change. :-) Here's a question for you, my Lib Dem friends. The most recent poll shows...