Category Archives: News

++ Jeremy Browne to stand down as Lib Dem MP in May 2015

Jeremy Browne, Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane, has announced he will not be standing again in May 2015. Here’s his tweet, complete with resignation letter:

Here’s Nick Clegg’s response to the news:

‘Jeremy Browne has decided that now is the right time to announce he will not stand at the next election and the Liberal Democrats wish him all the best for the future. The Deputy

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Opinion: The proposed televised debate format does not help pluralism

So, there will be televised debates prior to the 2015 General Election. The question that beckons is what form they should take. ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC are all set to host the party leaders, each with a different composition. Channel 4 have invited Ed Miliband and David Cameron, the BBC have added Nick Clegg to the mix and the trio becomes four as Nigel Farage will attend the ITV debate.

The big controversy, of course, is ITV’s decision to invite UKIP to their debate, given they have only one MP. Personally, I absolutely support the move. As Liberal Democrats we support a pluralistic approach to politics that welcome many democratic voices. Furthermore, UKIP have been able to ride on a wave of press hype that been allowed to ferment exactly because they have been the outriders of traditional political debate.  By inviting them into the fold in televised debates we are able to call UKIP out on the flaws in their policy platform. We can paint ourselves as the antithesis of UKIP’s insular and nationalist philosophy and appeal to those voters that oppose this view. Ultimately, the inclusion of UKIP offers an opportunity to bring the party to account.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Why we must reduce teachers’ workloads

Nick Clegg has been writing for the Times Educational Supplement on the need to make sure teachers’ workloads were more manageable. He recognised that most teachers put in much more effort than they get credit for:

There’s an outdated preconception, which hasn’t quite died out, that a teacher’s working day starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm, with 12 weeks off a year to recuperate. Yet, ask anyone who actually spends their days trying to inspire and educate a classroom of children and they’ll tell you a very different story.

They’ll talk about 50 hour working weeks, the unnecessary bureaucracy they have to deal with every day, the challenges of helping children, from all different backgrounds, get the skills they need and also the rewards, like that moment when you see a young boy or girl in your care thrive.

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Fancy seeing Adam Stachura dangling on a rope?

Scottish Director of Campaigns works very hard. He has had a referendum and a European election to deal with this year so he’s been putting in many hours. You can tell how much of a slog it’s been for him by what he chooses to do on one of his rare days off.

On Sunday, Adam and his partner Gemma will be abseiling down the 165 feet of the Forth Rail Bridge to raise money for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  I never knew he had a head for heights. He doesn’t need to have on the golf course where he normally spends his free time.  This You Tube video quite accurately conveys the height and the wind and the conditions Adam and Gamma will face. I’m not embedding it because it gave me Vertigo, but it’s worth a watch. Just as an aside, the white building across the road is the Hawes Inn in South Queensferry where I had my wedding reception. 

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Lynne Featherstone on shortlist for Stonewall Politician of the Year

Lynne Featherstone at PrideOn 6th November, Stonewall’s annual awards ceremony takes place in London. Many Liberal Democrats have had their issues with Stonewall in the past, but I’d say that they are definitely improving. For example, it’s good to see Stonewall Scotland’s “Some people are Trans, get over it” t-shirts. They may have come late to the equal marriage party, but they got there eventually.  On top of that,  their resources for schools are excellent.  Stonewall Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, who is doing some great work in making the organisation more inclusive, spoke at our Conference in Glasgow.

Up for Politician of the Year is our own Lynne Featherstone, the woman who set the country firmly on the road to same sex marriage. Alex Neil, the Minister who was responsible for the Scottish bill, is also nominated. As an aside, it was announced yesterday that the first Scottish same sex marriages will take place on Hogmanay. That’s not a huge amount of time to organise a party, but I’m sure some will manage it.

The shortlist in full is:

Lord Cashman
Lynne Featherstone MP
Lord Fowler
Kerry McCarthy MP
Alex Neil MSP

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What makes Nick’s work worthwhile: the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn PPB

The Autumn PPB film crews spent time following the Cleggster around. It’s not bad, and you can really see what makes him tick:

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Lib Dem Peers try to make revenge porn a criminal offence

Next Wednesday, 22nd October, the House of Lords will debate the following amendment  to the Criminal Justice Bill which, if passed, would make revenge porn a criminal offence. It follows :

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++ 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:

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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

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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

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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 …

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohnTilley 24th Oct - 3:28pm
    Matthew, Apologies that last comment got whisked off before I had if finished. It should have ended But I think you are just factually incorrect...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 24th Oct - 3:27pm
    Protest politics is as legitimate a form of politics as making arguments door-to-door — and even if it is not effective at convincing politicians to...
  • User AvatarMatthew Green 24th Oct - 3:14pm
    Well I certainly agree that proper engagement in politics is better than single-issue protests - I so do I agree with much of this article....
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 24th Oct - 3:06pm
    Matthew I agree with you when you say -- "...So we have been pouring enormous subsidies into nuclear power stations for more than fifty years...
  • User AvatarT-J 24th Oct - 3:04pm
    Marketising a service is a way to take it effectively out of the political sphere and into a slightly different category of just so situations....
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 24th Oct - 3:01pm
    The written word is very helpful for those of us who have hearing difficulties!