Category Archives: News

New Liberator magazine out

This issue’s free sample online content is the Commentary on how the party might react to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, and why the campaign to stay in the European Union should not allow itself to be dominated by business leaders with little popular appeal.

Also as a free sample, former Devon North MP Nick Harvey exposes how Liberal Democrat polling during the general election showed the party losing almost every seat and that its messages were unpopular, yet those in charge of the campaign refused to change their plans.

Elsewhere the issue has news and gossip in Radical Bulletin, book reviews, Lord Bonkers’ latest thoughts and among the articles:


Tim Farron MP writes…If we allow fear to win, then really we have lost


In the aftermath of the atrocities on Friday, my thoughts remain with the families of those killed and injured. As the world watches on in collective horror and mourning, the families and friends of those who are lost will be dealing with their own private grief, and among the discussions of international response and foreign policy consequences we must not forget that each of the 129 who have died is a personal tragedy as well as a global one.

As events unfolded over the weekend the political stage was crowded, in most cases with people simply responding to events, but also with those desperately using it to justify their own positions or forward their own agendas.

It is critical that political leaders here in the UK fight the temptation to do the same, and instead work together to understand the facts before attempting to state with confidence what should or shouldn’t be done, at home and abroad, in response to the attacks.

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Chris Maines elected as London Chair

Chris MainesCongratulations to Chris Maines who was elected as Chair of London Region on Saturday!

He succeeds Mike Tuffrey, who had come to the end of his term of office and was not eligible for re-election.

Chris has been a councillor for a total of 28 years, and has served as Leader of Bromley Council and Leader of the Opposition in Lewisham.  He has run for Parliament, and has been closely involved with party conferences as Chief Steward and currently on the Federal Conference Committee.

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Towards a family friendly House of Commons

There was a Commons debate this week on making the Houses of Parliament more family-friendly. We’ve already covered the breastfeeding angle but it’s worth looking at some of the other issues raised.

Jo Swinson, in an article for the New Statesman, talked about what she thought was necessary to make Parliament more accessible for parents.

Lots of positive suggestions were put forward in the debate, including better scheduling of Parliamentary recesses to coincide with school holidays, more predictability of debates and votes, a drop-in crèche facility to complement the nursery, introducing maternity cover for MPs and compassionate carers’ leave for staff facing family emergencies. Rightly, the debate included family responsibilities beyond parenting, whether for elderly relatives or for partners who become ill. Professor Sarah Childs, the respected expert on gender and politics from Bristol University, is currently preparing recommendations for reform of Parliament to make it more accessible to people from under-represented groups, so it was a timely discussion.

She talked about the history-making change that had made a real difference to her and her husband when their son was born:

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Britain’s economic recovery is precarious and an economic storm is coming

Vince Cable has form for predicting economic disaster, so you take notice when he says that there could be another one on the horizon, even if he qualifies it with an anecdote from his professional life:

I use the word “could”. I am always mindful of the day 20 years ago when I was greeted in my role as chief economist at Shell with a plaque, in Arabic, which translated meant “Those who claim to be able to forecast the future are lying even if, by chance, they are later proved right”. The reputation of economic forecasting as a science, which makes astrology looks respectable, reflects the same scepticism. And that scepticism was greatly reinforced by a total failure of standard economic models based on efficient financial markets to anticipate the last disaster.

Writing in the Independent, he outlines the factors which could indicate that all is not well: the high level of debt, the asset bubbles which have been created particularly in housing and the international economy, particularly any shock waves from a Chinese slowdown.

One side-effect of keeping economies growing through cheap money and credit creation through quantitative easing has been the generation of asset bubbles, especially in property markets. Britain demonstrates the problem in an extreme way, magnifying underlying imbalances between housing demand and supply. Double-digit housing inflation is not merely creating appalling social problems and division between classes and generations but grossly distorting investment from productive activities to property holding. The Bank of England has tools of macro-prudential management to curb this inflation but the extreme timidity in using them reveals the high level of dependence on this precarious and dangerous form of growth.

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Solidarity with Paris

French flag

For the second time in ten months, we have been shocked by events in Paris.

People doing what we are all lucky enough to be able to do on a Friday night – head out for a meal, to a football match, to a gig – meet death and violence.

I just felt heartbroken watching events unfold last night, thinking of all those people, of the emergency services coming to their aid, of President Hollande, whose shocked face spoke for us all, for those waiting for news of their loved ones.

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Go to help Jane Brophy in Oldham West and Royton or Paddy will be coming after you….

Last week I wrote about the three reasons you should go to Oldham for your own good. I said:

If you’re looking for ways to invigorate your campaigning locally, a busy by-election is the place to be. The most up to date campaigning tricks and techniques will be there for you to see. Also you might learn about things as simple as ways to organise your delivery rounds or canvassing. If you’re in the office doing clerical work, learn from how it’s managed. You can pick up tips on all aspects of running an election that you can develop and use back home.

You would hope that it would be shining Lib Dem examples of brilliance that you would learn from but the other parties can teach you stuff too. There was one Scottish by-election where a former Lib Dem parliamentarian was seen shinning up a lamppost at dead of night to nab an SNP poster which, he declared, was brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness. Well, he may not have put it quite like that, but you get the drift.

If you are the only Lib Dem in your village, used to leafletting with only your dog for company, it can be really invigorating to be part of a big group going and covering loads of ground really quickly.

There now appears to be a fourth reason – self preservation. Paddy will be after you if you don’t.

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A new dawn in Myanmar: cause for great celebration

The Guardian reports:

Aung San Suu Kyi has won Myanmar’s landmark election and claimed a staggering majority in parliament, ending half a century of dominance by the military and providing the symbol of a decades-old democracy movement with a mandate to rule.

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Farron: The Northern Powerhouse is a sham

Tim Farron has been in Yorkshire twice this week. He spoke at Yorkshire and the Humber (note, the name of the region is right this time) Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday and he was back for the Annual Dinner in Greg Mulholland’s seat on Wednesday.

While he was there, he spoke to the Yorkshire Post and was not impressed by the Conservative’s model of devolution:

One of the reasons the northern powerhouse is a sham and a failure is because this Government are now so obsessed with making sure that we reduce the size of the state that we are therefore not investing in the rail services that we need, in the housing that we need, the green energy we need, the broadband we need.

“Whilst the Labour Party is completely wrong-footed, completely in denial that the deficit needs to be reduced, cleared and to balance the books, George Osborne is mistaking the need to make sure you balance the books on your day to day expenditure with having to at the same time not invest in capital expenditure.

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Lembit on being able to afford a pint

We read the Daily Express, so you don’t have to you.

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Nick Clegg’s new book announced

If you were wondering what former Special Adviser Phil Reilly had been up to lately, he reveals all today on his blog,

Blimey O’Reilly

He’s been helping Nick Clegg write a book about the febrile nature of today’s politics. It’ll be published next year:

For the last few months I have had the privilege of helping Nick Clegg to prepare his upcoming book (hence the sporadic nature of these blogs), which has been formally announced by the publisher today. Politics: The Art of the Possible in an Age of Unreason will be published next year on The Bodley Head, an arm of Penguin Random House.

Nick has been clear from the start that he didn’t want to write a long-winded political memoir or a salacious kiss and tell. This is a serious book that uses his experience at the top and bottom of British politics, and his time in government in particular, to grapple with a big question: why has politics become so volatile and unpredictable? From Cleggmania and Corbynmania to the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the unlikely has become the commonplace. From the SNP and UKIP at home to Syriza and Podemos abroad, populism and the politics of identity is on the rise. In Politics, Nick explores why that is and what the future holds, especially for those who believe in the politics of evidence, reason and compromise.

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Former chair of Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats is ejected from the party

The Independent reports:

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera, former chair of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD), was told his membership had been terminated with immediate effect last week, after an internal disciplinary panel upheld allegations of harassment and intimidation against him.

However, senior figures in the EMLD, which champions diversity in the party, have reacted with outrage, refusing to accept the decision, and plan to write to the party’s president and its leader, Tim Farron, demanding Mr Uduwerage-Perera be reinstated.


Obituary: Dennis Wrigley

Dennis Wrigley, who died earlier this week, was an inspirational pioneer in the rejuvenation of the Young Liberals and the Liberal Party in the Manchester region and the North West during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dennis came to national prominence in the High Peak by-election in 1961, in the year before Orpington. A combination of the rising national Liberal vote, a lot of outside help including Manchester students and YLs, and Dennis’s personal charisma and campaigning energy produced a Liberal vote of 30.5%, narrowly third but up by more than 10% from the General election in 1959. He contested the seat at the following three General Elections, polling well but never as well as at the by-election.

In 1964 the Labour candidate was the subsequent Liberal Democrat peer and Lords Chief Whip John Roper. The story that both of them told is (from Dennis) “Of course I was able to preach in every chapel in the constituency” with the riposte from John “Yes but I drank in every pub!” Unfortunately neither won that year.

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Chris Rennard elected to Federal Executive by Lib Dem peers

There has as yet been no official confirmation, but it is being widely reported that the Lib Dem group in the House of Lords has elected Chris Rennard as its representative on the party’s Federal Executive.

First, here is a reminder from the party website (where you can see the other current members) of the FE’s role:

The Federal Executive (FE) is the governing body of the Federal Party. It is responsible for directing, co-ordinating, and implementing the work of the Federal Party.

The FE is Chaired by the Party President, and has representatives of the members (15 members elected by Conference), the state parties, MPs, Peers, MEPs, and councillors.

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David Cameron is hoist with his own petard

Hat-tip to Peter Black for inspiring the title

Here below is some fascinating reading. First, a letter which David Cameron sent to the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (bearing in mind the PM’s constituency of Witney is in Oxfordshire) and then the reply he got.

Via, it seems, a somewhat incautious researcher or adviser, Mr Cameron reveals an extraordinary ignorance of local government finance, coupled with remarkable arrogance.

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London Region Elections: Anuja Prashar’s pitch for Chair

I am standing for Chair of London region because after the European and local elections 2014 and GE 2015 election, Liberal Democrats need committed support and dedicated focus to rebuild local party capacity for important elections coming up in the next 3 years. The Chair will have a pivotal role, to build up local party teams for a series of campaigns, by providing them the resources and support needed to take their energy and turn it into election wins.

I have served as Chair of my local party for 3 years, executive of London region for 3 years, stood in a council by-election 2012, campaigned all over London as European list candidate 2013-2014, PPC in GE 2015, worked on several policy working groups and worked at many levels of the party – including chairing the GLA selection committee 2015 and representing Lib Dems at ALDE policy groups in Brussels. I have also seen what our new members can do if given the right institutional support at the local level. I have complete conviction that Lib Dems in London can regain and indeed acquire new political territory over the next 3 years. 

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London Region elections: Chris Maines’ pitch for Chair

The party has entered a new phase in our history, recovering from the electoral fallout of coalition, a new Leader, new members and a renewed determination to build a more tolerate and Liberal society.  Our first test in London will be the high profile Mayoral and Assembly elections. We have probably our best ever team, led by the experienced and highly regarded Caroline Pidgeon. For the first time Caroline, as our Mayoral candidate tops a well-balanced regional list to ensure a campaign focused on improving our representation at City Hall.  A London-wide election is always a challenge to the region; it needs to find the resources, fight for media coverage and ensure consistent messages across the capital. It is also a great opportunity to ensure we campaign in areas not used to Liberal Democrat activity and to motivate our thousands of new members.

I am confident that the Liberal Democrats will do surprising well in London next May. We will demonstrate to the media and the public we are back.

The role of regional Chair and regional party is look beyond the next 6 months. It needs to build the foundations for local parties to win back support, councillors, MEPs and MPs over the next 5 years. I have three priorities

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LibLink: Kate Parminter: It’s time to stop puppy farming once and for all

HazelKate Parminter has written for Politics Home following her question on puppy farms in the House of Lords the other day.

She asked:

We need new legislation to tackle the appalling conditions that thousands of puppies suffer in the UK when they are bred for sale. Do the Government agree that no puppies should be sold under eight weeks and that all people selling puppies and dogs should have a licence, which will then give local authorities the resources to tackle puppy farming?

The Minister gave a broadly sympathetic but vague response.

Sue Miller followed up Kate’s question with:

My noble friend mentioned the very high volume of trade that takes place over the internet. Do I understand from the Minister that the Government intend to make sure that anyone advertising puppies for sale on the internet will have to have a licence number?

Describing the Minister’s answer as a “glimmer of hope,” Kate outlines in her article the change she wants to see:

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Sir Simon Hughes knighted by the Queen

Sir Simon Hughes’ knighthood is official! Yesterday he went to Buckingham Palace to receive his insignia from the Queen.

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Cameron sets out 4 EU demands

cameron-europeThe BBC is reporting Cameron’s central ask of the EU as being

  • Protection of the single market for Britain and other non-euro countries
  • Boosting competitiveness by setting a target for the reduction of the “burden” of red tape
  • Exempting Britain from “ever-closer union” and bolstering national parliaments
  • Restricting EU migrants’ access to in-work benefits such as tax credits

Bearder, Wallace and Brake set out alternative ask of EU

Catherine Bearder - Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0David Cameron is expected to announce his list of proposed EU reforms today in a letter to EU council president Donald Tusk. Catherine Bearder, Jim Wallace and Tom Brake have written an alternative letter advocating British leadership in Europe on refugees, tax evasion, climate change and organised crime. Text follows.

Dear President Tusk,

Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, will today be putting forward a list of demands which he believes are necessary to win over those in his own party and amongst the British public who are sceptical about the EU ahead of the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s EU membership.


Alistair Carmichael case rumbles on

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Today the Election Court will be sitting in Edinburgh to hear witnesses in the legal challenge, as we explained here. It is expected to carry on for 4 days. At the end of the process the court will report to the House of Commons, and any action will be decided by them.

The hearing will not be in public this time, apart from the summing up. Apparently tweeting has been banned.

Back in May, Alistair issued this statement.

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Watch Liberal Democrat peer Jeremy Purvis being mocked on US tv

Poor Jeremy Purvis. The Liberal Democrat peer found himself mentioned in comedian John Oliver’s US show Last Week Tonight. Oliver was telling Americans about the Tories’ defeat in the House of Lords over tax credits and in doing so had a good go at its archaic traditions – and mentioned that it even had a member called Lord Purvis of Tweed. What he didn’t, of course, mention, is that Lord Purvis of Tweed was most definitely on the side of the angels over tax credits and that if his party’s proposals had gone through, the proposals would have been killed off completely.

Just to make it all a bit worse, some media outlets described Jeremy as “Lord Pervis.”

Watch the clip here:

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Tim Farron and Lib Dems mark Remembrance Sunday

As always on the Sunday closest to November 11th, the anniversary of the Armistice in the First World War, the country stops to remember those who have been killed in conflict.

Here are how senior Liberal Democrats are marking the occasion.

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In Full: Tim Farron’s speech to Yorkshire Liberal Democrat Conference

Tim Farron has been busy today. Not only has he been opening our campaign headquarters in Oldham West and Royton (of which more later), but he’s been at the Yorkshire and the Humber Liberal Democrats’ Regional Conference in York. The core speech is not really knew – what he’s delivering as he goes round the regional conference is what they would call in The West Wing “Modified Stump”. Anyway, enjoy.

Here is his speech which is pretty much in full. You can’t make this guy stick to a script – and one thing in particular is how the joke changes as he goes round the country about who comes to the report sessions at Federal Conference. In today’s version he singled out Jennie Rigg along with former LDV co-editor Mark Pack.

Thank you, it’s a massive pleasure to be here – despite the inherent risk for a Lancastrian in crossing the Penines.

Then again, I’m told that York was actually on the side of the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses so I’m sure I’m amongst friends.

What’s more, there one thing that will always unite both sides of the Pennines and that’s discrimination from Westminster against the North!

It’s absurd that it takes me over an hour longer to make the 100mile journey here from my constituency in Cumbria than it would to travel the 200 miles from London. So let me start with a pledge: we need to be absolutely solid in demanding better transport links across the north of England and the early electrification of the cross-Pennine route.

That’s not just self-interest: if this government’s rhetoric about northern powerhouses is to mean anything then it’s time to put up or shut up and that means some real solid investment to enable the north to come together and really take on London and the south east – I mean in a spirit of friendly rivallry of course and we Yorkists and Lancastrians know all about that don’t we?

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The race for the ALDE Presidency – and why it might matter

Four years of an ALDE Party led by Sir Graham Watson is nearly at an end and, following his announcement in Oslo in May that he would not be seeking a third term, one might not be surprised to hear that the campaign started almost before he sat down. I for one was lobbied by a potential candidate at the reception that followed and, since then, two candidates have emerged to contest the succession. So, who will the Liberal Democrat delegation, which represents 12% of the votes to be cast, have to decide between?

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Building a more accessible candidate selection process – the campaign phase


Three weeks ago, Zack Polanski offered us a perspective on the way we, as Liberal Democrats, select candidates, focusing in particular on the barriers to participation that campaign spending limits create. And, whilst I am not Mark Pack, I am prompted to offer a different perspective on the problem by Mark Platt’s suggestion of a ‘Packian response’.

First, some context. The 1997 European Parliamentary selection was the first where, almost regardless of where you were, there was a serious prospect of a Liberal Democrat being elected. In South East England alone, seventy-two members applied to be on the shortlist. In the absence of restrictions on spending, certain candidates were seen to have attempted to buy a place high up on the list. As a result, it was strongly suggested that spending caps be introduced, a concept that the English Party adopted readily. As Anthony Fairclough noted, it was for local shortlisting committees to determine a limit appropriate to their circumstances, with an overriding limit of £1 per head – one letter to a member would take up a chunk of that.

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++ Breaking news: Adrian Sanders wins in Torbay


Congratulations to Adrian Sanders, the former MP for Torbay, who won a local council seat in yesterday’s by-election, increasing the percentage of votes from 30% to a stonking 69%.  The by-election followed the sad death of long-standing Lib Dem councillor Ruth Pentney.

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Liberal jottings: Stephen Tall’s weekly notebook

Blind chance

Here’s a paradox I’ve often pondered – why are so many Lib Dems who support name-blind job applications against external assessment of children in schools? What’s the link, I hear you ask. Okay, let me explain… Lynne Featherstone did a great job over many years highlighting the need for applicants’ names not to be disclosed on job applications to avoid employers’ bias (inadvertent or otherwise) against individuals, especially those whose gender and, in particular, race is evident from their name. There’s a stack of evidence demonstrating that equally qualified candidates are less likely to get called for interview if, for example, they have a non-white-sounding name. Increasingly, companies are going further, introducing ‘CV blind’ methods so that applicants are interviewed by panels who know nothing about their educational backgrounds. Of course, none of this is a guarantee against discrimination – after all, race and gender cannot be hidden at interview – but it does get closer to eliminating bias, conscious or unconscious. A good thing, yes?

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Alex Carlile rejects suggestion support for intelligence agencies may have been influenced by business relationship with ex-spy chief

Alex Carlile has rejected any suggestion his public support for the intelligence agencies may have been influenced by his business relationship with one of the UK’s ex-spy chiefs. Speaking to the Guardian he said:

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    @expats You may not believe it, but it was my throat, and I was there. You may not believe Miffed 'Red Tory', but (s)he knows,...
  • User Avatarmalc 25th Nov - 11:35pm
    I also agree with Willie. Lets hope this very worthy rally is well supported and gets the media coverage it deserves.
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    Islam is a religion like all others, non perfect, that also counts for agnostics and atheist who believe in their thoughts. Islamists terrorists are still...
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    It s true we are entering a WW1 scenario, a war, followed by a carve up that has partly led to the present mess.. Yes...
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    SJ: If you cannot belong to a party because of the religious beliefs of the leader, you are not a Liberal. You cannot be sure...
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    Ddie, I understand your point, but I'd argue that pragmatism actually suggests not blundering deeper into a mess that has actively worsened the situation in...