Here’s a round-up of stories we haven’t had time to cover on the site this past few days…
COALITION splits over Britain’s nuclear deterrent are set to be reopened after an internal Ministry of Defence review suggested a slimmed-down version of the £25 billion Trident replacement could be an option. … The report, led by Lib Dem armed forces minister Nick Harvey, looks set to reopen coalition divisions with many Tory back-benchers concerned that Britain’s replacement for Trident could end up being sacrificed for political reasons. However, with final decisions not due until 2016, the report could form the basis of one of the major issues in the next general election in 2015. A Lib Dem source said: “We have to ask whether we can afford a Cold War weapons system in the age of austerity. Being a threshold nuclear power would save billions.”
The head of the Secret Intelligence Service has been accused by a Liberal Democrat frontbencher of demonstrating a “lack of judgement” for “bragging” about MI6’s role in slowing Iran’s nuclear programme. Baroness Falkner of Margravine, also suggested that Sir John Sawers had behaved like he was in an episode of “the TV programme Spooks” and said it would be best if a “veneer of silence” descended on MI6. Pakistan-born Lady Falkner spoke out after Sir John appeared to take personal credit for helping to frustrate Iran’s attempt to develop a nuclear weapons capability in remarks to civil servants last week.
One of the most senior civil servants in Whitehall resigned suddenly on Thursday night, the Guardian has learned, amid allegations of serious problems at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), headed by the Liberal Democrat Ed Davey. … Davey [said]: “Moira has decided to leave after four years at the Decc and a record of considerable achievement. I have enjoyed working with her and am sorry to see her go. I wish her well for her future career. … Her departure is entirely of her own choosing – four years is generally considered the norm for a permanent secretary and now is a suitable time for both the department and Moira’s own career for her to move on.”
Councillor quits party over cuts (ThisIsStaffordshire)
A LONG-SERVING councillor has quit the Liberal Democrat party in protest at local and national budget cuts. Chris Baron, who has served the Forebridge ward on Stafford Borough Council since 1987, will continue to represent residents as an independent councillor.
Southend councillor Ric quits ‘failed’ Lib Dems (Southend Echo)
A MAVERICK Lib Dem Southend councillor is quitting the party, claiming his local colleagues are “lacking in vision”. Ric Morgan, a Lib Dem member for Prittlewell for the past five years, has resigned, firing a damning broadside at its leadership.
Real lives: ‘Bubbly’ Nikki devoted her life to helping tenants (Edinburgh Evening News)
Nikki Thomson, development worker with Edinburgh Tenants Federation and Liberal Democrat activist, has died, aged 44. … UK Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron is among those who have paid tribute. He wrote: “Very, very sad news. In the days when young Lib Dems and Lib Dems students were separate entities she was an enthusiastic and effective link. I was very fond of her. A proper radical. The party is poorer without her.”
Swansea councillors cleared by watchdog over ‘trading votes’ claim (BBC South-west Wales)
An investigation has found no evidence against three senior Swansea councillors accused of trading votes for environmental improvements. The public services ombudsman discovered no evidence against former leader Chris Holley and no persuasive evidence against his deputy John Hague, and Paxton Hood-Williams. … Mr Holley was Liberal Democrat leader of the council until the last election, while Mr Hague, an Independent, was his deputy. Mr Holley and Mr Hood-Williams, a Conservative, are still councillors.
Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has finally answered the question everyone has wanted to know… Who is his favourite Muppet? Tweeter Phil Lucas revealed on Thursday afternoon that he had written to the then Lib Dem leader in 2004 to find out, and had just found the MP’s reply. “In response to your question I would like to say that my favourite Muppet is Gonzo. Even though he is blue he is a nice guy.” He adds: “Thanks once again for you letter and best wishes.”
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.