Category Archives: News

Ryan Coetzee switches from Clegg’s Director of Strategy to Lib Dems’ General Election Director of Strategy

Ryan+CoetzeeIt’s almost two years since Ryan Coetzee was appointed as Nick Clegg’s director of strategy, replacing Richard Reeves. His experience as a liberal politician and campaigner with South Africa’s Democratic Alliance meant that he was welcomed, even by many of those often sceptical of advisers and their worth.

One of his first actions was to start identifying the Lib Dem ‘market’, those voters who would consider voting for the party. His research, backed up by the party’s first major private polling operation about which I wrote here, has informed much of the national party’s campaigning since, including its “Stronger society, fairer economy” strapline.

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LDVideo: Interview with Ben Fearn, “youngest ever Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate”

Ben Fearn, the 21 year-old Manchester University graduate selected earlier this year as Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Derbyshire Dales – seat of the Tory transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin – has been interviewed by Digital Journal (hat-tip Charlotte Henry). You can watch a 3-minute video below, which includes the announcement of his selection, and read a fuller interview with him here. Incidentally he’s billed as the “youngest ever Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate”, but are there rivals to that title? Let us know below-the-line…

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Fairer funding for Wales: “Lib Dems will actually do something about it,” vows Kirsty Williams

rally kirsty williams 1Yesterday we reported plans from Lib Dem home office minister Norman Baker to restore the public’s trust in the police. Another policy within the party’s ‘pre-manifesto’ is reported by BBC News Online – to reform the funding arrangement that has long been criticised for short-changing Wales:

Wales could benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds under Lib Dem plans to change the way funds are allocated to devolved nations, it has been claimed. The current system, known as the Barnett formula, is based on population levels and has long been criticised for short-changing Wales. Suggestions to re-draw the formula have been fiercely resisted in Scotland.

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Norman Baker: “The Lib Dems want to restore the public’s trust in the police”

Norman BakerToday’s London Evening Standard front page splashes on the news that the Lib Dems intend to tighten the laws on stop and search, and require some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone:

Armed police, riot squads and officers carrying out some stop-and-search in London would have to wear body cameras under Liberal Democrat proposals unveiled today.

The law and order reform, which will be in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, will also require police to get a judge’s approval to carry out controversial Section 60 stop-and-searches. The existing law lets a senior officer authorise the stopping and searching of individuals in a certain area without suspicion of wrongdoing if he or she believes violence is about to erupt or that people are carrying weapons without good reason.

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LibLInk: Lord (Paul) Tyler – Just Deserts?

Paul TylerOver at Lords of the Blogs, Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler gives short shrift to the complaints of his parliamentary colleagues complaining that the red benches cannot accommodate the 22 new peers appointed last week:

What a nerve! If on 10th July 2012, having given the Government’s Bill a huge second reading majority, those very same MPs had allowed it to make progress, this alleged problem would have been solved. Egged on by Peers and journalists, they broke their manifesto promises to bring democracy to the Lords by playing party games. Had the Reform Bill passed, political appointments would have ceased by now and we would be preparing for the first election of 120 members representing every region and nation of the UK, next year. The choice was theirs two years ago: popular election or party patronage. They are now getting what they asked for.

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ALDE sets sail for a new world from a old port

image aldeThe Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) have confirmed that they will be holding their next Annual Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, a country not known for its liberal politics in recent years.

However, as part of ALDE’s efforts to encourage the growth of liberal forces across the continent, links with a new group in Portuguese politics, Nos Ciadados (We Citizens) have been established, and it is hoped that, by meeting in Lisbon, that those links might be strengthened and nurtured.

In the light of the recent European Parliamentary election results, …

Also posted in Europe / International | Tagged and | 1 Comment

How to enter the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALLThe English Premier League kicks off this Saturday and LibDemVoice has revived its Fantasy Football League to mark the occasion. So if you fancy pitting your soccer selection skills against fellow party members, here’s your chance.

To enter all you have to do is click on this link.

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Vince to quit? The party’s “senior sources” have been out and about stirring again…

It’s not even six months since my co-editor Caron Lindsay urged fellow Lib Dems to make nice and drop the internal briefing against colleagues. This followed a spate of whisperings against Vince Cable and Tim Farron among others. The voices off against Vince even prompted Nick to start an internal inquiry, though, as Jonathan Calder observed here, nothing more was heard of it.

Today, though, the Mail on Sunday reports:

Allies of Vince Cable reacted furiously last night over a Liberal Democrat ‘whispering campaign’ suggesting that he is on the brink of walking out of the Coalition. The Mail on Sunday has been told by two well-placed sources within the party that the 71-year-old Business Secretary is considering leaving the Cabinet immediately after the party’s autumn conference.

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“Lynne Featherstone ‘horrified’ over homophobic abuse at Lib Dem councillor”

Lynne featherstone by paul walterMany Lib Dems will have read with sadness of the resignation of Sam Phripp from Somerset County Council owing to “hostility, intimidation and bullying” – including “being referred to as ‘that dirty bloody homosexual’” – from activists from other parties. Here’s what the Lib Dems’ international development minister Lynne Featherstone has had to say about it:

“I was horrified to hear of the treatment of the local Lib Dem Councillor in Somerset,” Ms Featherstone, the Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green told PinkNews.co.uk. We’ve come such a long way in this country to achieve equal LGBT rights and I couldn’t be prouder that this government introduced equal marriage.

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Clegg: “I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough in mental health research”

lib dem mental illness posterThe Lib Dems have unveiled plans to increase funding spent on mental health research by £50m, by 2020, as the party seeks to ensure it’s are treated as seriously as physical illnesses are. Here’s Nick Clegg:

“Mental health issues have been treated as a sort of Cinderella service compared to physical health issues. I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes. That is why I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough

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Norman Baker: in profile

normanbakerThe latest Total Politics magazine has a profile of Lib Dem health home office minister Norman Baker. Here’s a snippet:

at the Home Office, Baker’s relationship with his boss Theresa May has developed into one of mutual respect. (May apparently told Baker early on that she didn’t know where the “spitting tacks” comment had come from.) According to one fellow MP: “He probably likes her because she stands up to Number 10. For her part, Theresa May doesn’t suffer fools gladly. It would’ve leaked out if she was unhappy with him.”

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Six new Lib Dem peers named

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentThe names of six new Lib Dem peers have been published today. They are:

  • Chris Fox – Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
  • Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport
  • Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher
  • Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council
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    The Sun: “Nick Clegg makes a powerful case for reform of our drugs laws”

    The Lib Dem website says this: “Nick Clegg has announced that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to end imprisonment for possessing drugs for personal use, so that no one is sent to prison, where their only offence is one of possession. Under the proposals, users would instead receive non-custodial sentences and appropriate medical treatment.”

    That’s not so surprising. The Lib Dems have long argued for a more rational approach to our drugs laws, with Nick making the point before that “If you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform.”

    More surprising is that The Sun newspaper says this:

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    Maajid Nawaz speaks out against Baroness Warsi’s “selective principle” against Israel

    maajid-navazWhile Paddy Ashdown has praised Conservative peer Baroness Warsi for quitting the foreign office, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz is less keen. Here’s his letter in today’s London Evening Standard:

    Over the past couple of weeks, Pakistan — my country of origin — has been shelling positions in North Waziristan to kill Pakistani Taliban terrorists, leading to more than 870,000 displaced refugees and an unreported number of civilian deaths.

    Baroness Warsi claims she resigned out of principled opposition to Government policy towards Israel’s actions. Few have called her out for presiding over an increase in this year’s aid to Pakistan by nearly £200 million.

    45 Comments

    Gaza: Clegg demands UK suspends arms export licences to Israel, Ashdown writes to Warsi to discuss next steps

    With the truce in Gaza in its second day, and indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives taking place today, Nick Clegg has stepped up the pressure for the UK government to work more actively to secure peace in the area. The BBC reports:

    The Liberal Democrats are calling for the suspension of arms export licences to Israel, adding to the pressure David Cameron is facing over Gaza. … Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Israeli military operation in Gaza had “overstepped the mark” and called for the suspension of arms export licences to Israel. He said he

    Also posted in Europe / International | Tagged , , and | 12 Comments

    Jo Swinson on shared parental leave: “It means mums might go back to work earlier and dads might get to spend more time with their children”

    swinson and hamesThere was an in-depth interview with Jo Swinson, Lib Dem business minister, in Tuesday’s London Evening Standard – her first interview since returning from maternity leave, having given birth. You can read the full feature here, but snippets below…

    Jo Swinson on her (and Duncan Hames’) baby being the first carried through the voting lobby of the Commons:

    “Given that we’re still voting until 10pm on a Monday, that makes our lives slightly easier. It saves you having to leave the baby with a stranger.” Is Swinson pleased it was a male MP who was the first to do this? “Yes. Having a baby has an impact on dads too — and people don’t always recognise that.”

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    In full: Nick Clegg’s immigration speech – “Successful immigration systems have to be managed”

    Nick Clegg York Q&A Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsHere’s the full text of Nick Clegg’s speech today on the Lib Dem approach to immigration…

    It should come as no surprise that I’m a believer in the benefits of well-managed immigration.

    I lead, in my view, Britain’s only real internationalist party. For the Liberal Democrats this nation is always at its best when we are open and outward-facing. We draw immense pride from living in a country which, throughout its history, has always said: if you come here, if you contribute, if you play your part, Britain will give you a chance.

    So I am never going to advocate pulling up the drawbridge because I think it’s what people want to hear. The Liberal Democrats are never going to mimic the likes of UKIP and others – the scaremongering, the immigrant-bashing, the seductive promise that all our problems will disappear if only we shut up shop and stick a ‘closed’ sign on the door.

    We don’t meet every visitor with automatic suspicion. We believe everyone, no matter where they come from, should be treated with respect.

    It wasn’t the Liberal Democrats who arranged for vans emblazoned with the words ‘Go Home’ to prowl around the streets of London. Had Jeremy Browne – the Liberal Democrat in the Home Office at the time – been consulted we would have put a stop to it then and there.

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    ‘Lib Dems record of delivery for lesbians’ #AddForLesbiansToAHeadline

    mail lesbiansA couple of weeks ago, Nick Clegg poked fun at the Daily Mail’s everyday sexist approach to reporting the Cabinet reshuffle.

    Today the Lib Dem Twitter account has had a pop at the paper’s stablemate the Mail on Sunday for its widely-mocked front page headline, ‘NHS to fund sperm bank for lesbians’ — the new Health department-backed centre is in fact open to everyone (lesbians included) — using the delicious Twitter hashtag #AddForLesbiansToAHeadline:

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    “Homeowners could get payout if house values fall” – Nick Clegg on garden cities

    In an unexpected intervention – an interview on BBC’s “Countryfile”, Nick Clegg has suggested that existing homeowners in areas where new garden cities are to be built could be compensated for any fall in value that might be caused by the building work;

    We could maybe give deductions on council tax over a period of time during which the garden city is being built, we could possibly also say to those homeowners where they think the price of their homes will be effected, we will guarantee the price of their home, by buying it, if you like, up front.”

    The …

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    LibLink: Norman Baker – I want to see the end of all animal testing

    Norman BakerIt is, perhaps, unusual for a minister to declare that he or she would like to see the end of part, or all, of their job. But then, Norman Baker isn’t necessarily your average minister. It is ironic that, given his record as an anti-vivisection campaigner, he was given responsibility for the regulation of animal experimentation. In an interview with BBC News, he said that he wants to see an end to such testing, although he understands that it “would not happen tomorrow”.

    Unexpectedly perhaps, the number of experiments using …

    Also posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 22 Comments

    Announcing the Liberal Democrat Voice Awards 2014

    (C) Manny Begum Yasadein PhotographyIt’s less than 9 weeks until Federal Conference in Glasgow. And late on the Saturday night of Conference, for the 9th year, Liberal Democrat Voice will be holding  annual awards.  As usual, they’ll be awarded in a budget lavish and deliciously random ceremony in Castle 3 at the Crowne Plaza between 10 and midnight. The dress code is “imaginative.”

    There will be a fantastic selection of Liberal Democrats presenting the awards. You can read about last year’s ceremony, where Nick Clegg called us infuriating and inspiring here.

    We revamped the Awards last year and people seemed to like what we have done, so we’ve kept the format the same with one wee tweak. We think that we should give your imaginations free rein with the photoshopping and the parliamentarians so there’s a separate category for them.

    This year’s awards are as follows:

    • Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year
    • Liberal Democrat Blog-post of the year
    • Liberal Democrat Tweeter/Facebooker of the Year
    • Best use of social media by an elected representative (Tim Garden award)
    • Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat
    • Lib Dem Councillor of the Year
    • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Tory MP award
    • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Labour MP award
    • Best online campaign of the year (non Lib Dem)
    • Best photograph of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian (real life)
    • Best photo-shopped photo of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian
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    Julian Huppert’s Tory opponent in Cambridge next May will be… an ex-Lib Dem London mayoral hopeful

    chamali fernandoThe Cambridge News reports that Chamali Fernando has been chosen by the Conservatives to contest Julian Huppert’s Cambridge constituency:

    A barrister and Liberal Democrat defector has been named as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cambridge. Chamali Fernando, 35, was adopted by party members to fight the 2015 poll at a special general meeting. She joined the Tories in 2009, two years after she unsuccessfully sought the Liberal Democrat nomination for the London mayoral poll. And it’s a case of second time lucky in Cambridge for Ms Fernando, who missed out

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    Opinion: TTIP: What could possibly go wrong?

    The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA to allow for freer trade between the two. We received an upbeat assessment of its progress and potential from Nick Thornsby a couple of weeks ago. It is currently Liberal Democrat policy to support it, but I have serious reservations about whether we are doing either liberalism or democracy any favours in this instance.

    A trade agreement that reduced barriers and increased access to markets, thus lowering prices for customers, and increasing quality would be a great thing. However, this is not …

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    LibLink: Tim Farron: Ending the silence

    Tim Farron has written an article for the Huffington Post about his new report on youth mental health services.

    He describes why and how his volunteer team produced the 127 page documents, motivated by the young people who came to his surgeries in desperate need of help:

    There are then events that have a particularly profound and lasting effect on me – the deaths of young people who have struggled with mental health conditions. These tragic events and the circumstances surrounding them have brought to light serious flaws in the way in which we support our young people and the need for

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    Clegg on schools, post-Gove: “We need to reset the relationship”

    clegg - tardisNick Clegg has used a major interview in the TES magazine to signal a turning of the page in the Coalition Government’s relationship with teachers following the removal of Michael Gove from the Department for Education.

    Clegg on Gove’s departure:

    “It’s an open secret that Michael Gove and I did not agree on a number of important substantive issues … It’s an opportunity to turn a page on the somewhat acrimonious relationship that existed between the government – and the Department for Education in particular – and a number of teachers,” he said. “We need to reset the relationship. Not, I should stress, by summarily abandoning all government policy or reforms, but first and foremost by ensuring that, where there is debate and discussion between the teaching profession and government, it is conducted in a spirit and tone of mutual respect. And that we seek out every opportunity to celebrate, and not always seek to denigrate, the fantastic work that teachers do.”

    Clegg on the teachers’ strikes:

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    Charles Kennedy: Independence would “inflict huge damage” on rural Scotland

    Charles Kennedy is not one for the sort of sloppy, casual scaremongering we’ve seen from both sides in the Scottish independence debate. Danny Alexander has form for it, saying, unhelpfully,  the other day that independence would be worse for Scotland than the 2008 economic crash. So when he expresses concerns about stuff, we should probably take notice.

    He will be talking today about the effects of independence on rural Scotland, like the massive area he represents. He’s particularly concerned with the costs of providing the postal service.

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    Stephen Lloyd on the Eastbourne pier fire: “I am as shocked and heartbroken as everyone”

    Eastbourne pier on fireStephen Lloyd, Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne, has posted the following message on his Facebook page to update people on what action is being after the fire which ravaged the town’s pier:

    Dear all,

    Thanks for the support posted here after the tragic fire at the pier yesterday. I am as shocked and heartbroken as everyone. The important thing now is to get this fixed; keep pushing out that Eastbourne is well and truly open for business and to do what we can to help the Pier owners and the folk who had concessions on the Pier. Some of the kiosk owners have lost their livelihood and it’s important we rally around.

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    It’s all kicking off in Calderdale as Liberal Democrats help oust Labour administration and win concessions from Conservatives

    You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were in a situation where you were running a minority administration that was dependent on the casting vote of the Mayor, you might be a bit more consensual in your approach to local government.

    Not so the Labour party in Calderdale who, from this Storify compiled by Jennie Rigg, seem to feel some sort of entitlement to power. I cut my political teeth campaigning against Labour in the East Midlands so it’s no surprise that they think like that but it’s depressing that nothing has changed in 25 years.

    In Calderdale, they projected some sort of humility in May, saying that they would work in a consensual manner and then proceeded with a controversial crossroads against the wishes of the local community.

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    The Lib Dem retreat to seat-by-seat campaigns. The right tactic, but not a long-term strategy

    Stephen LloydThe Guardian’s Rafael Behr has written of his experiences in Eastbourne, a seat won from the Tories by the Lib Dems’ Stephen Lloyd in 2010. His majority, 3,435, would need a swing of just 3.9% to be wiped out. The recent Lord Ashcroft poll of Tory / Lib Dem marginals indicated an average swing away from the Lib Dems to the Tories of 3.5%. This, then, is the kind of seat within the Tories’ reach and which they need to win if they are to gain an overall majority. …

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    Michael Moore MP to trek Tweed to raise funds for children and rescue charities

    At the Voice, we are always keen to support our parliamentarians in their fund raising activities, whether it’s giving up booze for a month like Alistair Carmichael did last year or scale an Ecuadorian volcano like Greg Mulholland did in May.

    Michael Moore has announced that he and Borders Council Leader David Parker will be undertaking a 97 mile fundraising walk along the River Tweed at the end of August. From the Borders Telegraph:

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    • User AvatarCaractatus 23rd Aug - 11:58am
      It will allow that clubs to introduce cheaper ticket prices ! They can do that anytime they want with or without standing.
    • User Avatarsimon F 23rd Aug - 11:55am
      "Of course- but the Tory/Labs get support by their own media." Because the people reading/watching that particular media support the respective party, and it makes...
    • User AvatarShaughan Dolan 23rd Aug - 11:17am
      Whilst the escalation in Ukraine may or may not been a result of EU expansionism I cannot say - but I feel we have gone...
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      Another 'pledge' *sigh* I think the issue of safe standing should be left until the Hillsborough inquests have been completed.
    • User AvatarAC Trussell 23rd Aug - 11:15am
      Simon F ; "Every political party gets mocked by the media" Of course- but the Tory/Labs get support by their own media.
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      It seems to me that you are happy with the 'FS' part of the message, but not the 'SE'. In truth, they are interdependent --...