Category Archives: News

One of my favourite broadcasting moments of the year…

It was very satisfying to see Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis demolish Daniel O’Reilly, the so-called comedian behind the controversial Dapper Laughs character. O’Reilly was axed from ITV2 following highly inappropriate material in a stage show in  which the character appeared to be encouraging violence towards and rape and harassment of women.

I’ve seen a few people suggest that his comments, while distasteful, were not beyond the pale and that too much fuss has been made about it. They were men, funnily enough. I wonder how they would feel if they lived in a world where most of the powerful characters were women, where men were routinely treated as decoration for the titillation of women. Imagine how it would then feel if a woman, as part of a comedy routine, talked about forcing them to take part in sexual acts, tying them down with tape if necessary, if he said that no didn’t really mean no. If you are sceptical you should maybe try reading Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism book which was this week placed on Waterstone’s Book of the Year list.

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Ed Davey: Onshore windfarm opposition risks UK jobs

Wind turbine - Some rights reserved by thomas vlThe Guardian reports:

Energy secretary Ed Davey has warned that the Conservative party’s opposition to onshore wind turbines risks undermining the creation of British jobs as new data showed 15,400 people are now employed in the wind power industry.

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Let yourself go on the 303

A303 photo by κύριαsityThe A303 is quite a legend amongst roads. It must be one of the few British roads that has its own song (which includes the words of the title of this post) and had a television programme devoted to its history.

But it has also been a recurring feature in the parliamentary career of David Heath MP.

When the Prime Minister addressed the CBI annual conference yesterday, he made reference to the A303 when talking about a need to ‘improve some of the most important arteries in our country’. Responding, David Heath said:

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Labour’s Mili-madness is over. Now what?

Labour’s moment of Mili-madness is over: Ed will lead his party into the next election. Alan Johnson’s re-re-re-confirmation that he has no appetite for the job has thwarted any chances that he might be drafted into the post as caretaker leader to see his party through the remainder of the season.

It was a plan borne of desperation. Alan Johnson is admirable in many ways — he’s had a life before politics, he speaks human — but he has ruled himself out too often, too categorically, to be a credible potential Prime Minister. His is not the modest, aw-shucks-if-I-must reluctance of an ambitious politician who knows better than to look too ambitious: it is genuine. That many in Labour have been so keen to promote a man unwilling to be promoted says much about the incumbent.

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Stephen Gilbert to introduce Bill calling for National Defence Medal

St Austell and Newquay Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill into the House of Commons today, Armistice Day. He seeks to shame the Government into awarding a National Defence Medal to all veterans of the Armed Forces who served for more than two years whether they saw armed conflict or not.

He talked to the Sunday Telegraph about why he thinks this is important:

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Kirsty Williams calls for right of recall for AMs

rally kirsty williams 1What happens when Parliamentarians misbehave? Not a lot unless they are sent to prison for over a year, apparently. The clamour for a right of recall, to make errant parliamentarians face their electorate if found to have been involved in serious wrongdoing, has been growing since the MPs’ expenses scandal five years ago. Last year the case of Bill Walker, the MSP convicted of violent assaults on three wives, showed why such a law was necessary.

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European Arrest Warrant: I’m a sceptic (but not a Eurosceptic)

As I write, the House of Commons is debating the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Well, sort of. In fact, the Speaker, John Bercow, has already pointed out that “there will not today be a vote on the specific matter of membership of the European arrest warrant”. But Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling say there will. In the Tories’ Alice in Wonderland world, when they use the word vote it means just what they choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

As with any debate involving Europe, there is a danger of it being used as …

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Nick Clegg and Colombian leader to build pressure for drugs reform

Nick Clegg might not be having much luck with the Conservatives on drugs reform, but he’s trying to build an international consensus. He’s agreed a joint approach with Colombian leader Juan Manuel Santos according to the Observer:

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Norman Lamb writes … Improving mental health services for children and young people

healthreportImagine for a minute you are a teenager, perhaps working hard for your A-level exams, struggling with relationships and all the social and academic pressures of school.  And on top of this, you might be among the 1 in 10 of your peers suffering from depression, an eating disorder, or another mental health problem.

But if mental health services are the “Cinderella service” of our NHS, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are the Cinderella Service of Cinderella Services.  Effective support for a young person experiencing a mental health problem can have a transformative effect on the course of their entire life.  But the current CAMHS system too often is woefully inadequate.

Earlier this year, I launched a CAMHS Task Force involving experts in the field, and also young people who have experience of mental health problems themselves.  The Task Force will look at how we can modernise children’s mental health service, making the best use of the resources available, and reforming services to end the “cliff edge” which occurs when young people move from under-18 care to adult services. It will look at how we can improve access – including through the use of exciting new online services – and how we can reduce the stigma of mental health services.

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Opinion: Let’s tell the truth about EU budget surcharge

Euro by Alf MelinOver the last couple of days I have been disappointed that the Lib Dem leadership has seemed to go along with the Osborne/Cameron version of events with respect to the ‘reduction’ in the £1.7 billion owed to the EU.

On Friday, Osborne claimed that through his tough negotiations the UK would only be paying £850 billion.  However reports later on explained that the only deal done was over the timing of the payment, and that the reduction was simply due to the UK’s EU budget rebate being applied.

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Clegg tells CBI: Liberal Democrats guarantee economic stability

All three party leaders have been speaking to the CBI Conference today, setting out their election stalls. Nick was keen to emphasise the contribution the Liberal Democrats have made to the Government. It was the right message for an audience of businesspeople. 

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Nick Clegg’s message for Remembrance Day 2014

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Clegg talks to Cosmopolitan

This week Nick Clegg talked to Cosmopolitan magazine, answering questions put to him by students.

He tackled the tuition fees issue head on:

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Eluned Parrott selected to fight Welsh Assembly Cardiff Central seat

In 2011, one of the most heartbreaking results in Wales was losing Jenny Randerson’s former constituency of Cardiff Central by just 38 votes Losing by such a small amount is horrible. Welsh Liberal Democrats hope to win it back in 2015. They’ve now chosen their candidate, South Wales Central list AM Eluned Parrott, who has made a significant impact since she was elected in 2011.

In 2012, she wrote about her experience of Post-Natal Depression for Time to Change Wales as one of four AMs who decided to be open about their own experiences. A year later, she followed that up with an article about the impact that decision had had on her life:

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Kramer urges Councils to make use of enhanced powers to check taxi drivers’ backgrounds

The Standard reports that Transport Minister Susan Kramer has written to Councils across England to urge them to take advantage of enhanced powers to check on the backgrounds of taxi drivers. 

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ALDC by-election report: 6th November 2014

There were just two principal council by-elections yesterday. In the Cornwall UA contest in Mevagissey, the Conservatives increased their vote share in the ward by 8.2% to gain the seat from Labour in a closely thought election. The Conservative candidate polled 32% to win with a majority of 67 ahead of UKIP in second.  The Liberal Democrats were the only other party to see an increase in their vote share from the previous contest in the ward during the 2013 local elections, as UKIP, Labour and the Green Party all saw a vote share drop. A 4.3% increase saw Christopher Maynard poll 18% as he finished just 7 votes adrift of the Labour candidate to finish in fourth. The election sees Labour reduced to just 7 representatives on Cornwall council whilst the Conservatives have increased their representation to 31 although they remain third in terms of council representation behind Independents and the Liberal Democrats.

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Lynne Featherstone wins Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone MP was named Stonewall’s ‘Politician of the Year’ at their annual awards ceremony yesterday. It was awarded jointly to Lynne and to this guy off Eastenders.

Lynne has been tireless in promoting LGBT+ rights over the last four and a half years and was the architect of the bill legalising same sex marriage.

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Lib Dem membership up for 15th consecutive month

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKIt’s over a year since we first reported that Lib Dem membership, which plummeted in the aftermath of the formation of the Coalition, had started rising again. That meant the party finished 2013 with more members than it began the year.

Well, the upward trend is continuing, as an email to members tonight notes:

Liberal Democrat membership has once again increased in the previous quarter, which means we’ve now grown continuously for the past 15 months. Membership now stands at

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Lib Dem scientists announce their ‘Team Science’ candidates

Aldes — the Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists — have put together a shortlist of Liberal Democrat MPs and parliamentary candidates who they think can play in important role in the Commons thanks to their background and/or interest in science.

As Aldes explain:

The Team Science campaign thinks that candidates with a background in science, engineering, technology and medicine have a great deal to contribute to politics and are currently underrepresented in Parliament. For this reason we are championing support for the following team of Lib Dem candidates in the 2015 general election.

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‘Drones could be used to deliver Focus leaflets’ – peer

FocusIn a House of Lords debate on drones this week, Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Lee of Trafford said:

It may even be possible to develop a delivery system that delivers Focus leaflets which I would have thought would be very much appreciated by these benches.

That could eventually provide material for a Glee song…

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Nick and Miriam join Lorraine to talk about inspiring women and school meals – and grate cheese

Nick Clegg got cheesy yesterday morning on ITV’s Lorraine show. He was helping their chef make ragu for going on bonfire baked potatoes and was entrusted with chopping onion, carrot and celery and grating cheese which he seemed to carry out with reasonable competence. My mind boggled a bit when he asked which bit of the grater he should use. It was for going on top of a baked potato. It didm’t really matter.

Anyway, he took the opportunity to talk about the successful introduction of his school meals policy. This was not a serious political interview. It was never going to be, but it is quite nice to see well-informed discussion of the issues in an informal way. I think Nick should be doing much more of these things. You can watch him here.

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Lorely Burt’s Conservative opponent lectures her on sexism

It all started with an innocent tweet from Solihull MP Lorely Burt:

It’s all about this story in which Steve Webb plans to allow payment habits, good or bad, of absent parents who pay maintenance for their children. If an absent parent doesn’t pay their maintenance, then this information, passed on to credit reference agencies, could stop them getting credit or a mortgage You shouldn’t require an incentive like that to actually provide for your children, but, unfortunately, some people do.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Don’t blame immigrants – sort our problems

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWriting in the New Statesman, Tim Farron says we should direct our focus on solving this country’s housing shortage and wage inequalities problems, rather than blaming immigrants for our problems:

Looking at poll after poll shows that many communities are worried about the impact of immigration. I do understand their concerns. But it would be hugely disrespectful to the British public if we looked at those polls, and the problems they highlighted, and weren’t honest about the underlying drivers.

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Norman’s conquest: Mr Baker ‘will be missed’ – Independent

normanbakerAs he quits mud-wrestling with Theresa May to spend more time with Piccadilly Circus (available in all good music outlets), Norman Baker receives very high praise indeed in an Independent editorial today. “The outgoing minister was more than just a troublemaker in the Home Office”, says the strapline, with the article including this passage:

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Clegg backs Fawcett Society over feminism t-shirt

Nick Clegg has said that he believes that the Fawcett Society would never have knowingly commissioned their “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt if they had been thought it had been produced in the conditions described by the Mail on Sunday. The Standard has the story:

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Clegg: We may need to “reserve places” for women candidates

Nick Clegg Q&A - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAppearing on BBC3’s “Free speech” Nick Clegg said Westminster is a “ludicrously clapped out place” which, on Wednesdays at lunch time, resembles “Downton Abbey gone a bit loopy”. He also said he favoured a “one off” measure to increase the number of Liberal Democrat women candidates:

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US Mid-term elections: Republicans sweep all before them

 Stars and stripes, US flag - Some rights reserved by :: Wendy ::
At about 04:30 our time, ABC News projected that the Republicans would win the US Senate in the Mid-term elections. They did so as they called Iowa and North Carolina for the “Grand Old Party”. In virtually every race, where the Democrats had a slight chance, they lost. Nate Silver reckoned, as ABC News made their declaration, that the Republicans could finish with as many as 55 Senate seats.

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Belinda Brooks-Gordon on Women’s Hour speaking out against “Nordic Model” on sex work

IMG_9128Today the Commons debates amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill which would criminalise the purchase of sex. Sarah Noble argued against this approach yesterday. The party emphatically passed policy which rejected this “Nordic Model” on the basis that all the evidence suggests that this puts sex workers in danger.

Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, who summated on that motion at Conference, debated the issue on Women’s Hour on Radio 4 with the amendment’s proposer Fiona McTaggart MP. You can listen here from about 20 minutes in.

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Willott and Hunter stand down as Assistant Government Whips, Burt and Brake take over

Jenny Willott has stepped down as Assistant Government Whip to free herself up to concentrate on her constituency and to be able to speak in the House of Commons. Here are the letters exchanged between Jenny and Nick Clegg in full:

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++BREAKING: Lynne Featherstone to replace Norman Baker at Home Office, Lindsay Northover to go to DFID

I have to say I’m pretty chuffed with Nick Clegg’s announcement that Lynne Featherstone is going back to the Home Office for the final 6 months of this Government. She spent the first two years there and in that time did all the set-up work for the Same Sex Marriage Bill. Since she’s been at DFID, she’s maintained a good working relationship with the Home Office because she’s been implementing a cross-Government plan to tackle FGM that involves them. I hope that she might also be able to dig her Transgender Action Plan out of the long grass where it’s …

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  • User AvatarTsar Nicolas 21st Nov - 11:42pm
    @Simon If Nick Clegg said in front of the cameras tomorrow that he was going to personally ensure the implementation of an immigration/emigration policy that...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 21st Nov - 11:36pm
    "a fairer distribution of resources to pay for essential public services.... Fair and more equal..." The problem with this is that "fair" is the most...
  • User AvatarStephen Campbell 21st Nov - 11:36pm
    Again, more proof of how far rightward the political centre has drifted over the past 30 years. For those who do not remember, the Liberal...
  • User AvatarSesenco 21st Nov - 11:31pm
    nvelope2003 wrote: "As regards Mr Clegg I heard him comment on the radio but what is there to say ?" "I resign." Those are the...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 21st Nov - 11:30pm
    @peter "Why has the press not been asking in two foot high letters, “Where is Nick Clegg?”." Perhaps the press just doesn't care.
  • User Avatarsimon 21st Nov - 11:29pm
    I have posted on this website for a number of months and have repeatedly told you why you are so unpopular (it isn't rocket science...