Jim Wallace: Team Scotland within the UK – the best solution

Back in the day when we had a Scottish Government that was more bothered about doing everything it could rather than complaining about what it couldn’t do. When it found it didn’t have the power it needed, it found a way round. That Government, which  implemented transformative social and political change from fair votes for local government to free personal care to leading the way on freedom of information, land reform and the smoking ban, would not have achieved all it did without the leadership of our Jim Wallace. This is a guy who knows how to make things happen. …

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Welfare reform: enough of the stick, time for the carrot

This coalition has bravely attempted to tackle welfare reform. It’s been controversial, unpopular, but essential – the fact that unemployment has remained surprisingly low throughout this parliament is partly due to the welfare and labour market reforms this government has introduced.

However, there have been far too many losers in the last round of austerity. With the next parliament approaching we must change tact on welfare reform. As Liberal Democrats we believe that politics doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, where one group benefits at the expense of others. That’s why with any future reforms, like a surgeon we …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments

The Liberal Democrats, the first 25 years

liberalhistoryOn 3 March 2013, the Liberal Democrats marked their twenty-fifth birthday. The story of the party since 1988 has been a dramatic one, from near-extinction, through a failed realignment of the left, a period of rapidly changing leaders, and then into government, for the first time for a third party for sixty years. The latest issue of the Journal of Liberal History (issue 83, summer 2014) is a special edition looking at the key factors contributing to the party’s survival and success, up until entry into coalition.

The party’s campaigning ability is obviously key. From 1997 onwards the Liberal Democrats have managed to win significantly greater numbers of seats than their predecessor parties, often on smaller proportions of the national vote – the outcome of a combination of intensive local campaigning and an increasing targeting of resources on winnable seats, together with a steadily more professional party organisation. In the first article in the issue, Mark Pack examines the evolution of the party’s campaigning techniques and structures.

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Pro-UK rally in Trafalgar Square at 6pm TONIGHT

If you’re in London and you want Scotland to stay in the UK, head for Trafalgar Square at 6pm. A rally is taking place to show solidarity across the UK. Fraser Nelson wrote about it in the Spectator:

What’s the point of holding a rally in London? It’s true that no one there will have a vote, but this is for those who still love this county and can’t bear to sit back and watch it fall apart. Those who want to do something, no matter how small. The rally should enforce a point : that the UK is an extraordinary union of

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Update on Network of Experience

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKEarlier this year I floated up the idea of setting up Network of Experience for Lib Dems who had either lost their seats or decided to stand down and asked if anyone would be interested. I am pleased to say the reaction to the idea was good and it was felt that there was a need there for something like this. We have now set up a steering committee of myself, Mary Reid, Fiona White and Kay Barnard.

We have decided to launch the Network in January as there is so much else happening over the next few months. In particular I thought it was much better to wait until the Presidential election is over with.

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Opinion: Devolution and federalism – the missing ingredient

union flag 1606The missing ingredient in Maria Pretzler’s thought-provoking piece (“We urgently need a new policy on devolution and federalism“) is nationalism.

The first politician in whose interest it was to bring the kingdoms of Scotland and England together was the King of Scots James VI. His solution was to reconcile the two nations by proclaiming himself King of Great Britain in 1604, and then in 1606 creating a Union flag, combining St George’s Cross with the saltire. The Scottish king saw Britishness as a supranational idea, and this is well understood in Scotland.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 32 Comments

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the  16200 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

That Wings over  Scotland post from June is still the most read. Although given that Yes stalls were openly handing out Wings’ Wee Blue Book yesterday, they are clearly working together.

Blast from the past: Wisdom from the old Liberal Party (95 comments) by Seth Thevoz

How do those of us who want Scotland to stay in the UK turn things around after Yes poll lead? (61 comments) by me

David Rendel selected as Lib Dem PPC for Someton and Frome (10 comments) by Stephen Tall

Posted in Site news | 1 Comment

What the academics say: 7-in-10 voters know the name of their MP – and 82% of Lib Dem MPs are local

Ballot boxWhat do MPs want from voters? Well, knowing the name of their man in Westminster would be a start. What do voters want from their MPs? To come from the area they represent is the single most important requirement – 80% want that, far more than wanting more female (50%) or more working class MPs (58%).

So both MPs and the public might be encouraged by the findings of two recent surveys.

Britain’s MPs are more local than you think (Demos)

photo by: FutUndBeidl
Posted in What do the academics say? | 5 Comments

Nick Clegg’s statement on David Haines’ murder: Islamic State an affront to every peace loving Muslim in the world

Nick Clegg has made the following statement about David Haines’ murder:

The barbaric murder of David Haines is a crime of the most horrendous kind.

My thoughts at this time are with the family of David Haines who have experienced something no family should ever have to go through.

This murderous organisation calls itself Islamic State.

But it is not a state, it is a brutal terrorist outfit whose actions are an affront to every peace loving Muslim around the world.

No religion could possibly justify such grotesque acts.

The British Government will not rest until these killers face justice.

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Shirley Williams wows Dunfermline – in pictures

Shirley Williams has been an absolute star these last few days. She came to Scotland on Thursday and will be here until Tuesday night. She’s already travelled the length of the country. She spoke at the Liberal Democrat rally on Thursday night, went to Orkney for a hugely well attended debate on Friday night and was back in Fife yesterday afternoon.

She spoke to voters on the High Street where both campaigns were out in force. I’m sure the Yes campaigner with the megaphone who yelled out “Bow down to your Imperial Overlords” as we all assembled for a photo.

Shirley group photo Dunfermline

 

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Liberal Democrat Voice Awards: Nominations close tomorrow

Just a reminder that nominations for the LDV Awards close tomorrow so if you haven’t sent them in, please do so as soon as possible. The event takes place between 10 and 11 pm on Saturday 4th October in  Castle 3, in the Crowne Plaza, Here’s a reminder of the details:

This year’s awards are as follows:

  • Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year
  • Liberal Democrat Blog-post of the year
  • Liberal Democrat Tweeter/Facebooker of the Year
  • Best use of social media by an elected representative (Tim Garden award)
  • Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat
  • Lib Dem Councillor of the Year
  • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Tory MP award
  • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Labour MP award
  • Best online campaign of the year (non Lib Dem)
  • Best photograph of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian or senior Councillor or party figure (real life)
  • Best photo-shopped photo of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian

We are asking for nominations by email to me at [email protected] for the shortlists for these awards. They will then be judged by our esteemed panel of judges. Liberal Democrat Voice and any official blogs run by the party aren’t eligible either. We are extending the deadline to midnight on 15th September, so you have an two weeks.

Send us your nominations plus a very brief – and I’m talking no more than a sentence – reason why. We will then compile the shortlists from those and poll to our members’ forum.

Send in your nominations by email to [email protected] and remember to state which award category you’re nominating for, in each case.

The shortlists will then be put to a vote of our forum of party members. That’s right. This year, we are giving our readers who are members of the party the chance to choose the majority of our winners.

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Charles Kennedy: No with a purpose and a future

I’ve been saying for months that someone should sit Charles Kennedy down on a sofa and film him talking about the referendum. And last week, somebody finally did. This is the first excerpt and it’s very good. Enjoy – and share widely. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in the referendum, everyone loves Charles…

Posted in News | Tagged | 20 Comments

In the next month 19 seats will short-list their wannabe Lib Dem MPs

Lib Dems winning hereHere’s the full list of selection contests in the coming month available for Lib Dems on the approved parliamentary candidates’ list, together with the closing date for applications.

The following seats have selections in progress and are currently advertising for candidates:

Posted in Selection news | Tagged | 5 Comments

LibLink: Kirsty Williams – Scottish independence result will have ‘colossal impact’ on Wales and UK

rally kirsty williams 1Kirsty Wiliams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has added her voice to those calling for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. Here’s an excerpt of what she had to say at BBC Online:

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states.

However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future. To simply do nothing in the event of a No vote cannot be an option. It’s clear that the constitutional make-up of the entire UK will have to change even if the No side wins.

Posted in Scotland and Wales | Tagged | 23 Comments

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 7 days:

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Catch-up LDVideo: Nick Clegg hails “a manifesto for the next generation”

It ended up being buried by this week’s news from Scotland and the Royal Baby – but the Lib Dem pre-manifesto was launched this week. You can read Stephen Tall’s initial take on it here and watch Nick Clegg hail it as “a manifesto for the next generation” in this video:

Posted in YouTube | Tagged and | 4 Comments

The day Alistair Carmichael made me cry

Carmichael at Lib Dem No RallyOn Thursday night an all-star cast of Liberal Democrat giants addressed a rally of party members and supporters in Edinburgh. We had 2 Cabinet Ministers, 2 former and a current Scottish leader, 3nformer federal leaders and one of my political heroes, Shirley Williams.

I had had a quick read of Alistair Carmichael’s speech before the event, so I really have no excuse for the fact that it made me cry when he delivered it. The way he talked about taking his 5 week old baby to the polling station to vote for change in 1997 and how the family is going together to vote for a liberal vision of the future on Thursday made me fill up.

There was also a powerful “I’m not a nationalist but…” segment where he says that if you think our problems can be solved by maps or only in Scotland then, actually, you are.

Please excuse the photo. I arrived in plenty of time but spent so long blethering to folk, which isn’t like me at all, that the only seat left was right up at the back.

I was a bit sceptical about holding the rally in the first place and to be honest, I still am. I reckon that several hundred people out on the streets talking to voters would have been a much better use of our time. However, it has given us a rich variety of good quality speeches, including videos from Mike Moore and Charles Kennedy, who was filmed from the top of Aonach Mor on a wonderful sunny day. It was a fantastic sight.

Posted in News | Tagged | 10 Comments

New LDV members’ survey now live: your views on Scotland, the Coalition, ISIS and Israel/Palestine, and the Party Presidency

imageThe new LDV members’ survey is now live. So if you are one of the 1,500+ registered members of the Liberal Democrat Voice forum — and any paid-up party member is welcome to join — then you now have the opportunity to make your views known.

Questions we’re asking this month include:

  • do you support or oppose Scotland becoming independent?
Posted in LDV Members poll | 1 Comment

Opinion: The economics of independence have been lost in the smoke of battle

As economic issues have come to the fore in the referendum campaign, I find myself, oddly, sympathising with both sides in the debate, not for what they are saying, but for what they can’t say. You can imagine the story lines:

In an astonishing admission that has left the Yes campaign in tatters, Alex Salmond has accepted that the markets will be adversely affected in the short-term by a vote for independence.

or;

The Better Together campaign was in free fall yesterday when Alistair Darling agreed that an independent Scotland would be economically viable and could be more prosperous in the longer term.

Intuitively, …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 23 Comments

No football last week, so why not pick your Fantasy Politics team instead?

fantasy politicsThis week’s internationals mean no English Premiership action so no further update: positions are as they were at the end of Week 3.

Which gives me the opportunity to preview Demos Fantasy Politics which operates throughout the party conference season. All you have to do is select a dream-team of up to nine MPs, three from each party: you have until the start of Labour’s on 20th September, a week today, to enter your team. I’m part of the judging team for the Lib Dem conference. Further details as below…

As conference season approaches Demos Fantasy Politics is back, letting politicos battle it out to prove their insider know-how and political nous.

Demos Fantasy Politics lets you select a dream-team of up to nine MPs, three from each party, and score points in a series of conference-based categories. Media coverage and social media mentions will be rewarded, while embarrassing gaffes and tiresome clichés will be suitably punished.

Posted in News | Tagged | 12 Comments

Michael Moore’s International Development Bill passes its first Commons hurdle

michael-moore-mp-secretary-of-state-for-scotlandMichael Moore’s Private Members’ Bill, which enshrines the 0,7% of GDP target for international aid into law, passed its Second Reading in the Commons today by 164 votes in favour to just 6 against. It will now go forward to be studied in more detail by a Committee. In July he wrote for this site about why he’d chosen this issue.

Speaking during the debate, Moore, who was International Development Spokesman for the Party in the run up to the last General Election, said:

Right now we are in the midst of an almighty debate about our future.

Development is a small but important part of the debate in Scotland. Reaching the UN target is an achievement of the UK as a whole, including Scotland.

As part of the UK, Scotland belongs to a family of nations which are the world’s second largest donors of international aid.

And we are not passive in this process either with 40% of the staff at DFID based in Abercrombie House in East Kilbride.

Together, with the rest of the UK, our money goes further and our impact is stronger.

Scots who want their country to be a force for compassion and relief should reflect on what we have achieved today.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Opinion: How to tell the SNP?

No yes scotland photo by kyoshi masamuneHow do we point out to SNP supporters that they should vote No next Thursday to save their party, without alarming No voters?

The survival of the SNP depends on a No vote.  The party exists to campaign, lobby and bully for independence achieved through a Yes vote in the referendum.  It has no other purpose.  If it wins the referendum, even by a single vote, it will have achieved its purpose and have no further reason to exist.

The SNP is not a liberation movement like the ANC or SWAPO, whose victory founded democracy in states where the previous oppression and authoritarianism meant there were no alternative democratic political parties and the liberation movements have continued while politics develops.

Scotland is a vibrant democracy.  Scottish Parliament elections change Scottish governments.  The Liberal Democrats – and Labour and the Conservatives and the Greens – have purposes related to improving people’s lives and pursue policies related to doing that in changing circumstances.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 14 Comments

By-election update: All holds

This week saw six council by-elections in Carlisle, Cumbria, two in Newark and Sherwood, Newham and Vale of White Horse. All the incumbent parties held their seats.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 11 Comments

LibLink: Tim Gordon: When I think about the UK splitting up, something inside me breaks

Liberal Democrat Chief Executive Tim Gordon has written an emotional piece on the party website’s Ad Lib blog (which you can access if you are a member) in which he says how much he values the UK and how upset he would be if it were to break up.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged | 10 Comments

Nick Clegg calls for Police and Crime Commissioners to be scrapped

Speaking on Radio Sheffield this morning (here, from 1h36m) Nick Clegg has said that he always had misgivings about Police and Crime Commissioners, and has said it is “now time to scrap this experiment”.

The Conservatives have to explain “why their promise that PCCs would attract independent members of the public have actually become a way for ex or failed politicians to have another lease of life, which is what we have seen in Shaun Wright and others like him.”

Posted in News | 14 Comments

Opinion: We urgently need a new policy on devolution and federalism

While Scotland is engaged in a vigorous discussion about its own future, it is becoming increasingly clear that the referendum, whatever its outcome, is likely to trigger major soul-searching about constitutional arrangements in the rest of the UK as well, and particularly about the devolution of power within England (e.g. see this letter to the Times, 11th September 2014).

Posted in Op-eds | 59 Comments

Well, that rather blows a hole in the Yes campaign’s NHS claims, doesn’t it?

I don’t often use the word “lies” in politics. I save it for the most egregious examples of political dishonesty. One which has made me incredibly angry recently has been the Yes campaign’s utterly dishonest campaign on the NHS. They argued that a Yes vote was the only way to protect the NHS, saying that privatisation in England meant that there would be less in funding through the Barnett Formula. Preying on the fears of some of the most vulnerable people in our society is completely unacceptable.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has just, to put it mildly, proved the Yes campaign wrong. This is what they have to say:

Independence would give the Scottish government more freedom to set spending and tax policies. It would also, in principle, have more freedom to borrow. That freedom would be constrained by the size of the debt it would likely inherit and the willingness of markets to lend. On most plausible scenarios it is hard to see how an independent Scotland could “end austerity” in the short run. In work published this summer we showed how, on the basis of the independent OBR’s oil forecasts, an independent Scotland would likely still have a deficit of 2.9% of GDP (borrowing of about £800 per person in today’s terms) by 2018-19 even if it followed current UK government tax and spending plans – plans that are forecast to lead to the UK as a whole actually having a small budget surplus by the same year. In this case an independent Scotland would need to implement bigger spending cuts (or more tax rises) than the UK as a whole or try to borrow more. This means it would likely be harder rather than easier to protect the NHS.

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Opinion: Devo-Instant – a recipe for disaster

Union FlagWe are now into headless chicken mode. With a week to “save the Union”, we are contemplating fundamental constitutional reform at breakneck speed, driven by a timetable drafted on the back of a fag packet by Gordon Brown. Decades of unresolved debate about conflicting options will now be sorted out in months.

We all know about the Dangerous Dogs Act, “emergency” legislation which turned out unworkable. This time we’re not just talking about dangerous dogs. We are talking about the dangers of a botched constitutional settlement and national disintegration.

For politicians who don’t understand, this is not just about abstract ideas like regional government or an English Parliament. It is about organisation. It is about making sure there is one authority for each necessary task, not three or zero. It is about the jobs of those who skivvy for you politicians and do these tasks. It cannot be set up in a fortnight.

photo by: mrs.timpers
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth re-appointed as an Electoral Commissioner

David HowarthFormer Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Spokesperson David Howarth has been re-appointed as an electoral commissioner by the Queen.

From the Cambridge News:

The appointment was announced this morning in the House of Commons before the start of the day’s business, with Mr Howarth joined by Lord Horam.

The chair of the Electoral Commission and other electoral commissioners are appointed by the Queen at the request of parliament and are charged with ensuring fair and proper running of elections.

Liberal Democrat Mr Howarth previously served as a commissioner from October 2010 to September 2013.

 The Electoral Commission website has more on the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioners..
During his last stint as a Commissioner he co-wrote the foreword to a report which started to look at a new structure for electoral law across the UK. The report outlined the 25 pieces of legislation which govern elections and looked at how those could be streamlined.
Posted in News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Michael Moore MP writes…Scotland’s Future – my personal view

The EildonsA week today we will take the most important political decision of our lives.

Across the Borders, in the privacy of the voting booth we will each face the question: should Scotland be an independent country?

It’s the moment of truth as we weigh up what’s best for our families, our communities and our country.

I am proud to be a Borderer; I am proud to be Scottish; and I am proud to be British. For me the answer is straightforward – I want to continue to be a part of this family of nations which we call the United Kingdom, so I will be voting ‘No’.

Looking around me I see families whose stories tell the tale of these great British Isles –  parents and children from all corners of the country; life stories of careers down south, up north and all parts in between; shared experiences with others across the UK in our armed forces, on the sports field or in the culture of Coronation Street and the Olympics.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments



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