All hail the Casked Crusader and his cross party supporters!

The Casked Crusader

Greg Mulholland and MPs from all parties should be toasted (in the drinks sense not the fork over the fire sense) in every pub in England tonight. Greg’s amendment to the Small Business Bill, giving pub landlords in tied houses the right to a fair rent, squeaked through the House of Commons by a margin of just 15 votes.

28 Liberal Democrats and 15 Tories defied the Government whips to pass the measure, overturning the Government’s usual majority of about 60. It’s a good, transformative liberal measure which takes power from large companies and gives it to struggling landlords. Gareth Epps deserves a whole heap of praise as well for his pretty tireless campaigning on the issue.

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The tale of Danny Alexander and the Big Raspberry*

So, Danny Alexander has been having lunch with some journalists today. The conversation, according to Kevin Maguire, was mature and relevant, discussing the important issues of the day.

You would have to be really sad to type “Danny Alexander fart” into Google, wouldn’t you?

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Vince would have put Myleene Klass in her place on the Mansion Tax

It’s not every day that you wake up and find that you’ve been quoted in the Daily Fail. The story starts late last night when Ed Miliband got into an argument with Myleene Klass over the Mansion Tax. You can see here on ITV Player how he got his backside handed to him on a plate as Myleene took him to task over his policy. Well, actually, it’s our policy. He nicked it. Maybe if he’d had his own policies, he might have been better at defending them.

Myleene was absolutely and utterly in the wrong as far as I’m concerned. If people are privileged enough to be able to afford a £2 million property, then they should be able to afford a relatively modest tax on that significant wealth.  Forgive me for not having much in the way of sympathy for those rich folk who complain about having to find an extra couple of grand a year. The poor have already been squeezed more than they should have been, by successive governments, including the one of which Ed was a member. If we’re going to be a fairer society, then the rich have to pay their share. It’s a total no brainer. It should absolutely be a no-brainer for the leader of a party which claims to represent the workers of the country.

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Simon Hughes MP writes… We need to take Bill Gates’ advice on aid and fight against Malaria

Last Monday evening I was privileged to attend a Bill Gates lecture in the House of Lords.

Bill Gates made a compelling case for the use of aid to make a real and tangible difference to the world’s poorest people. Rightly, the UK has a long and proud tradition of doing this, but we can do so much more.

There is no better case study for this than Malaria – one of the world’s oldest and deadliest diseases and which kills a child every minute of every day. That’s despite the fact that the cause is preventable and costs less than the price of a cup of tea to treat.

My family take a particular interest in this issue after losing our oldest brother Richard to Malaria contracted in Kenya during his honeymoon some years ago.

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Lib Dem “senior strategists”, what are you thinking?

I know that in the run-up to an election, not every story that newspapers print, especially those newspapers which are hostile to us which is, let’s face it, all of them, is grounded in accuracy.

You would think that we would help ourselves, though. Who on earth has said in the hearing of the Telegraph that the party fears that Danny Alexander will lose his Inverness seat?

Danny Alexander will lose his seat at the next general election unless there is a radical turnaround in fortunes, a senior Liberal Democrat strategist has privately warned.

The source believes the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s closeness to the austerity cuts and George Osborne will create an “anti-Danny” backlash among constituents that could topple him.

It raises the prospect of one of the four most influential figures in the Coalition being kicked out of politics in less than six months.

Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about the proud, liberal tradition in the Highlands which is deeply offended by the SNP Government’s indiscriminate use of unregulated stop and search and armed police patrolling their peaceful communities. Danny has been vociferous in standing up to them, and on their concentration of resources in the central belt rather than on providing a fit for purpose trunk road to the north.

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What the YouGov profiler says about Lib Dems

YouGov-Profiles-launchMarket research firm YouGov poll a lot of people about a lot of things. As a result they have a data trove which they’ve turned into a visualisation tool which can profile a typical customer for any given brand… including if that ‘brand’ is the Lib Dems.

Before I get to the fascinating screenshots, and you all shout back “But that’s just not true”, here’s what YouGov says about what the data show:

This app does not show the *typical* fan or customer. If it did, most groups would look very similar, and you wouldn’t learn a lot about the specifics of particular thing.

It shows what is *particularly true* about a group. We compare the group to their natural ‘comparison set’ (for example, fans of Downton Abbey compared to anyone who has rated any TV shows) and see which of the thousands of datapoints most overscore in our target group.

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Opinion: The UK is not working

WalesFor 45% of Scots and for many in the NW, the SW and in Wales (which I refer to as the devolving regions), the UK doesn’t work, and this should matter to a Unionist Party. As a Welshman who was forced, as were my parents, to spend decades working in England the reasons are only too clear.

In England we are quite often subject to xenophobia. And while our local colleagues go for exotic weekend breaks, we have to struggle back home to tend to ailing relatives via a crazy London-centred transport network that means that the quickest route from Penzance or Aberystwyth to Dover or Great Yarmouth is via the M25 or Paddington. The quickest route from Liverpool to Southampton is via the M25. And to get to Paris on the HS2 the whole country will have to stop off in London.

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Opinion: There is a reason banks aren’t lending enough to small businesses – the regulator is to blame

Lloyds Bank, Leighton Buzzard - Some rights reserved by dlanor smadaSince the banks were ‘bailed out’ with taxpayers money, a regular refrain from across the political divide has been that the banks are doing decisive harm to the country by refusing to lend to small businesses.

If this refrain were accurate, banks would be denying capital to the businesses that create the jobs to engender a sustainable recovery, instead choosing to deploy the capital in complicated financial instruments that create little value, or pumping up housing markets, or in paying enormous bonuses to bank employees.

This latter is an argument that Vince Cable in particular was vocal in espousing, and as soon as the real state of the bonus culture, now much more shares based than cash based, becomes apparent, he will doubtless claim the credit for that.

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Dee Doocey writes … Protecting children should be at the centre of the fight against slavery

DisappointmentAccording to the US State Department at a global level people trafficking ranks as the third largest source of income for organised crime, coming after only drugs and the arms trade.

So as someone who has campaigned over many years to highlight the significance of human trafficking, especially of children, it is obviously welcome that we finally have a Bill recognising the shocking reality of modern day slavery going through Parliament.

photo by:
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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Major adds new ingredient to Europe debate

edward mcmillan-scottFormer Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber has written about John Major’s intervention on Europe last week.

But Sir John’s intervention shows how desperate David Cameron is to shore up his dwindling store of continental goodwill, to appease the 100-or-so Tory MPs who want out of Europe and are holding their tongues until after the Rochester and Strood By-election this coming Thursday.

Although the headlines have focused on Ed Miliband’s leadership crisis, both he and Mr Cameron are now on notice. And bang on cue Nigel Farage – on target to win the by-election handsomely – positions himself between them with a demand to be included in TV debates.

How often have foreign leaders heard a British Conservative say “I really need your help: my backbenchers want to see real change?” and usually they have delivered. It is not weakness on their part but a strategic calculation that Britain must be part of the process, whether it is the EU or, say, Nato.

John Major’s speech was often equivocal about Mr Cameron’s tactics towards the EU, but he introduced a new note, massively upping the ante, by saying “for the first time, there is a serious possibility that our electorate could vote to leave the EU. I put the chance of exit at just under 50 per cent”.

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: The legalisation of drugs – let’s not take the line of least resistance

drugsIt’s 1977…. a hot summer evening in Chicago (no – this is not the start of a Raymond Chandler novel). I’m getting a lift back from an outer suburb to the city which takes around an hour on the freeway. It’s late. The driver is going illegally fast. He’s desperate to get home he tells me – so he can smoke some dope. I am desperate to get back in one piece.  I suppose the only thing that might have made his driving worse is if he had actually already smoked the stuff. But that’s what addiction does – it makes people a bit desperate. And make no mistake, cannabis can be addictive.

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Party presidential hustings in London this evening

Lib Dem Voice has been asked to share this invitation with our readers:

Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats invite all Lib Dem members, activists and supporters to a hustings for candidates for party president on Monday 17th November in London.

Doors open 7pm, hustings starts at 7.30pm at Draper Hall, 1 Howell Walk, Elephant and Castle, Newington Butts, London SE1 6TL. The hall is close to the junction of Newington Butts (the A3) and Hampton Street. The location is well connected by tube (Elephant and Castle), bus (numerous bus routes) and other public transport.

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REPRISE: Federal Committee elections – all you need to know with 3 days left to vote

So, here’s all you need to know.

How do I vote?

Voting papers were distributed by email to all those federal voting representatives for whom the party had an email address on the morning of Monday 3 November. It came from Electoral Reform Services and has a two part security code and a link to enable you to vote.

Those for whom the party did not have an email address were sent a letter advising them how to vote online and if they weren’t able to do that, to contact LDHQ for advice.

If you haven’t had either of these and you are a Federal Conference voting representative, contact [email protected] as soon as possible.

When do I have to vote by?

Thursday, 20th November at noon. So, just over three days from now. NB this is not the same as for the Presidential election which closes on 26th November.

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Opinion: UKIP fails to win in London because it fails to understand its communities

nigel farageIn this week’s New Statesman, when confronted with the fact that most in London do not share his “uneasy” feelings towards immigrants speaking in their mother tongue, Nigel Farage launches another attack on the capital’s so-called “commentariat” who are “caught in the whirlpool of London thinking”. It’s his typical accusatory anti-liberal, anti-elitist, anti-London rhetoric, and so you’d think it would register just as a minor tremor on the UKIP-irritation seismometer. But it wasn’t. This was a good 7, at least, on the personal Richter Scale.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #398

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 398th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (9-15 November, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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What’s being debated in our members’ forum this week?

members forum wordleLibDemVoice has two parallel sites. The first is our public blog, the thing you’re reading now. The second is our private members’ forum, which only current Lib Dem members can access.

If you’re a member and want to chat with fellow party members about any issue that’s on your mind, then why not sign up? In addition, you’ll be included in our regular surveys’ of party members’ views.

Here’s some of the most active discussions this past 10 days:

Remembrance;

Fundraising on websites;

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From Liberal Democrat Voice to Mastermind

Will Howells on MastermindWill Howells was one of the earliest contributors to Liberal Democrat Voice, helping to set up the site in 2006  The first post under his name, on an Unlock Democracy report about political membership and activism, came on 19th October 2006. He stayed with the team till 2008.

He’s taking part in this year’s Mastermind and was on the show broadcast on Friday.

You can watch him taking questions from John Humphrys on his specialist subject, the band Suede, here. The photo shows him in the famous black …

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Why the ideal candidate is a local GP (who preferably left school at 18)

There’s an interesting article in Political Studies journal by Rosie Campbell and Philip Cowley which attempts to find out ‘What Voters Want’. Published last year, it looks specifically what they want in terms of the characteristics of their candidates.

The core of the study consisted of six split-sample internet surveys. Each survey involved respondents reading two short profiles about hypothetical candidates, and then answering four questions about those candidates. Following Kira Sanbonmatsu, our research design included profiles of two candidates (Sanbonmatsu, 2002), whom we (initially) called John and George:


John Burns is 48 years old, and was born and brought up in your area, before going to university to study for a degree in physics. After university John trained as an accountant, and set up a company ten years ago; it now employs seven people. John has interests in the health service, the environment, and pensions, and is married with three children.

George Mountford is 45 years old; he lives in the constituency and studied business at university.He is a solicitor and runs a busy local practice. George is passionate about education, with two children in local schools and a wife who is a primary school teacher.

Posted in What do the academics say? | Tagged and | 3 Comments

LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

 One of my favourite broadcasting moments of the year (52 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Labour’s Mili-Madness is over. Now what? (47 comments) by Stephen Tall

Breaking..Judy Murray’s Strictly Success is due to a Scots Nat plot (3 comments) by Paul Walter

Clegg talks to Cosmopolitan (74 comments) by Newshound

Opinion: Jewish and Muslim voting intentions (24 comments) by John Kelly

Two pieces of good Lib Dem news from Cambridge (11 …

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Is this the most bizarre election leaflet of all time?

There’s a by-election in the Aberdeenshire ward of Troup at the moment. Ann Bell is the Liberal Democrat candidate.

One of her six opponents, an Independent, put out this leaflet yesterday.

Troup Ward

You can read the rather, shall we say, strange content in full here on electionleaflets.org, that invaluable Unlock Democracy resource. It’s certainly a fascinating collection of conspiracy theories.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: Remembering the journey to equal marriage

Lynne Featherstone has been writing for Left Foot Forward about her part in the equal marriage legislation. And she had a tantalising hint that there was more of the story to tell.

One day, when I am no longer a minister, I will be able to tell the whole story of how the law came to be. But for now I can publically thank the activists, the LGBT+ community, the cross-party group of MPs, the Home Secretary, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and others for the support they gave.

What has equal marriage meant for LGBT people?

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A couple of thoughts about the proposed counter-terrorism legislation

I’ve got to be honest, I can’t share Malcolm Bruce’s cautious optimism about the Government’s proposed counter-terrorism measures. Denying our own citizens the right to come back to our country without much mention of testing the evidence against them seems pretty drastic to me. When you consider that it’s likely that some of that evidence is likely to be held in secret and therefore not challengeable by the accused person. We could have situations where young muslim men are denied the right to travel or to return to this country unfairly.

Malcolm says that nobody will be made stateless – but what are they supposed to do with themselves for a couple of years. I suspect there may well be young people who go over there and are so sickened by what they see that they have seen that they want to get back to their family. Being with their family may well be the best place for them.

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Lynne Featherstone urges May to deny Julien Blanc, abuser of women, entry to the UK

I’d never heard of Julien Blanc till a few days ago. I see him referred to in the press as a “pick up artist.” In itself the term is sexist and pretty disgraceful, but it fails to articulate the horrid reality of what this man does. Jenn Li wrote about his so-called act in the Independent recently:

In Blanc’s videos his treatment of women is – to put it lightly – horrifying. There are videos of him going up to women, clasping their throats, while putting his finger on his lips, saying “shhh”.He has decided to document this abuse by labelling the videos of him doing this with his own hashtag: #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld.

Blanc also brags about his effectiveness in subduing women and controlling them to satisfy male sexual desire. The troubling language he uses is typical of many Pickup Artists (PUAs), but what makes Blanc’s behaviour even more disturbing is just how much his misogyny is motivated by his complete bigotry.

When talking about how to “seduce” a Japanese woman, he is quoted as saying: “Just grab her… To take the pressure off, yell Pikachu or Pokemon or Tamagotchi or something”. He is obsessed with degrading Japanese women, and abusing his white male privilege.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 37 Comments

It’s been a really good week for Kirsty Williams

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams gives her keynote speech to the Welsh Conference today. She’s had a barnstormer of a week.

First of all, on Monday, she gave a speech to the Electoral Reform Society in Wales in which she called for more Assembly Members and for Assembly Members to be subject to recall, resulting in this very on message headline:

More AMs for stronger economy

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Are you a Federal Conference representative? You have just five days left to vote in the Federal Committee Elections

So, here’s all you need to know.

How do I vote?

Voting papers were distributed by email to all those federal voting representatives for whom the party had an email address on the morning of Monday 3 November. It came from Electoral Reform Services and has a two part security code and a link to enable you to vote.

Those for whom the party did not have an email address were sent a letter advising them how to vote online and if they weren’t able to do that, to contact LDHQ for advice.

If you haven’t had either of these and you are a Federal Conference voting representative, contact [email protected] as soon as possible.

When do I have to vote by?

Thursday, 20th November at noon. So, less than 5 days from now. NB this is not the same as for the Presidential election which closes on 26th November.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Inspiring women in fashion: Out and about with Miriam Gonzalez Durantez

We’ve occasionally covered Miriam Gonzalez Durantez’s Inspiring Women campaign. This week the Guardian covered an event which was dedicated to talking to girls about careers in the fashion industry.

Groups of eight students grill each of the women in turn. Leila, 14, who wants to be a journalist, dives straight in and asks Gonzalez Durantez: “Is your job more challenging fun or a fun challenge?”, “Where would you be now if you weren’t here?” and “What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?” On Daisy Lowe’s table, the atmosphere is giddy. “How tall are you?” asks one girl. “Are you a feminist?” poses another. And then, crucially, “Do you know Cara Delevingne?”

Many of the students are deadly serious and focused, pumping the women for information about their big breaks in the industry, asking whether a university degree is necessary in fashion and wondering how one can have a high-flying career and a family – a subject Gonzalez Durantez knows well. “I always get a lot of questions when I tell them that, when we came to the UK, I decided to give up my job to ensure that my family was in the same country,” says Gonzalez Durantez. “I think it’s important for them to see that a ‘hard professional woman’ or a ‘family woman’, it’s a combination of things.”

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ALDC by-election report, 13th November: Two wins, but too many failures to stand

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Seven principal by-elections were held yesterday. In Cambridge, Liberal Democrat candidate Viki Sanders gained a seat from Labour in Queen Edith’s to add to the party’s victory in the ward in May’s local elections. Viki polled 36.5% of the vote to finish 143 votes clear of the Labour candidate. When summarising the win, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Amanda Taylor, who had been assisting with Viki’s campaign said, “Helpfully assisted by a vacuous Labour campaign, the victory was essentially based upon a routine of all-year-round ALDC-style activity and the delivery of regular leaflets and surveys, …

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Malcolm Bruce MP writes…Dealing with British citizens who fight for Islamic State

According to Benjamin Franklin’s over-used phrase, those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.

However compelling this pithy quote is, it masks the fact that you can increase both liberty and safety at the same time. This isn’t an easy task. I don’t think that anyone doubts the extraordinary pressure that Nick Clegg and other Lib Dems in government have come under when they deal with the Tories. But I certainly think that we have managed to do both.

Thanks to the Lib Dems, this is the first government for generations to increase our civil liberties – introducing a Freedoms Bill, scrapping ID cards, reducing detention without trial, ending fingerprinting in schools and improving oversight of the intelligence agencies.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 20 Comments

Should we have a day off to vote?

your vote matters lib dem leafletEarlier this year, I was planning a call with a colleague in South Africa when he said: “I can’t do it on that day. It’s Voting Day.” I didn’t realize that South Africans have a public holiday to vote. Perhaps that would be a good idea in the UK – some MPs are thinking that way.

PoliticsHome reports:

A report by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee is inviting responses from the public to further suggestions including introducing compulsory voting, online voting and lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.

The MPs point out that almost 16 million eligible voters chose not to cast a vote at the last general election, warning this is “not an acceptable state of affairs for a modern democracy”.

And they call for elections to be held on a specially designated public holiday or at weekends to try and stem the tide of voter apathy.

Posted in News | Tagged | 53 Comments

Opinion: Let’s get out with Pride in 2015

2013-08-dave-mancprideThe General Election next year may not be a happy occasion for the Liberal Democrats. If we find ourselves bruised and battered, depressed, demoralised, it will be hard to hold our heads up high and proclaim a strong liberal message. One thing that will keep us going is some old-fashioned, fun and inspiring community politics.

The Liberal Democrats have the longest and proudest record of supporting and empowering LGBT+ people of any political party. We were the first to call for gay rights in a manifesto, the first major party to support …

Posted in News | 9 Comments
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