Nick Clegg live Q & A at 7pm tonight

Nick Clegg answers live questions on the interweb thingy tonight at 7pm. That’s in just 45 minutes’ time. A group of young people will be asking him about the issues that they care about.

Watch here:

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Our worst nightmare? Peter Kellner’s scenario 3: “Lib Dems choose who’s the PM”

cameron clegg miliband 2Just over a year ago I wrote a piece titled Nightmare scenarios: what are the 2015 election results the Lib Dems, Tories and Labour most dread?

In it, I argued that the trickiest prospect for the Lib Dems would be an evenly poised general election outcome in which the Lib Dems held the balance of power:

In the nightmare scenario would have a genuine choice open to us: a second coalition with the Tories or a Lib-Lab pact.

Do a deal with the Tories – if that’s even

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Two Liberal Democrats win European awards

Its awards season at the moment and last week the focus shifted to Europe where the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe held its annual LeaDeR (Liberal Democrat Regional and Local Politicians) Awards. Two British Liberal Democrats were successful.

David TuttThe first was Cllr David Tutt, Lib Dem group leader of East Sussex County Council and leader of Eastbourne Borough Council who had been nominated for the Achievements in Government prize by MEP Catherine Bearder. He won for:

…his visible leadership in having put core liberal values of innovation, forward-thinking and opportunity into action in transforming what was officially the worst Council in the south-east of England into one widely recognised as among the very best in the country.

Catherine explained why she nominated David:

David has worked tirelessly in Eastbourne to ensure the town continues to go from strength to strength and when I heard about the awards I was delighted to put David’s name forward as I know the huge impact his work is having on the Eastbourne community.

 David is now a winner, just as he’s made Eastbourne a winner.

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Opinion: Shhh! Keep this secret

Everyone knows that the Federal Party committees do important business and that this business has to be kept absolutely secret. So I can’t really say anything about Monday’s Federal Executive meeting.

But if we are to move to OMOV (one member one vote – essentially the abolition of conference representatives) there need to be reports capable of being seen in the public domain and hopefully – unlike some reports I have seen within the Party about Federal Committees – uncoloured by the standpoint of the observer.

So let’s have a go.

We talked about OMOV itself. There is now a working party including both enthusiasts and sceptics and this has gone through the necessary amendments again and is hoping that this time it’s watertight. There are some very important loose ends, like how to ensure that people can afford to attend conference, and how the members of committees are to be held properly to account. There will be some consultation work on these at the spring conference.

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Judicial Review: Parliamentary Ping Pong delayed until New Year

It had been originally thought that the House of Commons would debate the Lords amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill yesterday.

This has now been delayed, probably until the New Year, indicating that there may be some chance of a Government compromise on the points of dispute.

The Lords have now voted twice to give judges some discretion about letting cases proceed even if they fail the “highly likely” test. The Government hasn’t yet given way on this one but you would hope that they would accept Lord Pannick’s amendment passed last week which would allow cases to proceed if it was in the public interest for them to do so.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Decades of not understanding Mental Health has left too many Unhelped – but we are getting there

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Minister, has written for the Huffington Post about the changes he’s been trying to implement in mental health care and treatment.

First he talked about services for young people:

Recent provisional data shows that hospital admissions for self-harm for young people aged 11-19 are at their highest for five years. Maybe it is better reporting, maybe it is a result of the added stresses young people face. But these figures represent real young people and their families and the serious emotional distress they face.

Some find it difficult to talk about their mental health, which is why it is so important for those who can to be open about the problems they have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is to encourage others to feel they can talk about it. In a way, it’s the most important thing.

I want young people to get good and compassionate personalised care. I want them to be given both physical and mental health care which helps them in their time of need but also gives them techniques and support to help prevent or manage further problems.

That’s why, earlier this year, I convened a Taskforce to advise us on improvements to mental health services for children and young people. This is the first time a group of experts from across, health, education and social care have come together to focus on making sure every young person gets the care they need. Crucially, we are also involving young people in this work so they can give their views on what they want from services. And it’s my aim that services don’t just stop at the youngsters themselves – services need to support entire families to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – Pandering to Ukip risks handing over British-grown ideas to overseas competitors

Tim Farron launches the Lib Dem YES! campaignLib Dem party president Tim Farron argues that “a simplistic debate over immigration will force potential wealth creators overseas” over at the Huffington Post website today. Here’s an excerpt:

Pollsters will say that migration is one of the main concerns of this election. An ill-fated and simplistic response by politicians to this issue will not address their concerns. A cap will do nothing to address the problems that Britain faces. Low pay will not be solved by a migrant cap. The housing crisis will not

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Clegg: senior Labour ex-ministers should give evidence to UK torture inquiry

Nick Clegg Q&A 12Last week came the revelations from the US Senate Intelligence Committee about the extent of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

It immediately promoted questions about what the then Labour Government knew about what was happening on the watch of its closest ally. Nick Clegg has called for senior ex-ministers to give evidence to Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) on what they knew about torture conducted by UK or US intelligence agencies in Iraq or Afghanistan, as The Guardian reports:

The deputy prime minister said

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The Independent View: Where Next for Royal Mail?

Royal Mail delivery trolleyWith privatisation done and dusted it was inevitable that the debate about Britain’s postal service would move beyond the public vs private argument.

Royal Mail is now a private company and is likely to remain so. It, of course, faced many challenges regardless of ownership which were certain to surface once it moved into the private sector. One of these is now coming across loud and clear. Namely the requirement of Royal Mail to deliver a universal delivery service to every UK address six days a week.

In response to falling profits, management and union within the company  launched a call to the regulator to require the competition to be bound by the same Universal Service Obligation as Royal Mail. This call has fallen on deaf ears.

Posted in The Independent View | Tagged | 14 Comments

Vince Cable on the Tories’ “extreme ideology”

As we reported yesterday,, on the Andrew Marr show Vince Cable said:

We are committed to financial discipline but we’re not veering off to the kind of extreme ideology that the Tories seem to want.

Here is a video clip:

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The Independent View: UK Foreign Policy and Western Sahara

Westernsaharamap2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco. With the UK’s concern about the rising threat of insecurity from the region, and a renewed focus on British values and human rights promotion within foreign policy, the UK can lead progress towards concluding the Western Sahara issue.

Western Sahara lies on the northwest African coast and is south of Morocco, north and west of Mauritania, and south west of Algeria. It is worth noting that Sahrawi society is one in which men and women play equally important roles. From 1884 to 1974 the territory was a Spanish colony but in line with the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960, the Sahrawi people were to vote on self-determination and independence upon decolonization.

Posted in The Independent View | Tagged | 8 Comments

Lib Dem Lawyers on Judicial Review

House of Commons at NightThe Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is returning to the Commons today after being ‘batted’ back in ping-pong proceedings between Lords and Commons.

Lib Dem peers working with the crossbenchers are refusing to approve two measures:

1) The Government’s Secure College plans for under 15s.
The Lib Dem Lawyers Association are not the experts in this field, but are concerned that MPs should consider all the risks and issues raised by leading experts. The Lords amendment would exclude under 15s from the Secure College until such time as Parliament agrees that it is safe to send them there.

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Africa Liberal Network General Assembly concludes with spectacular success

International officeThis year saw the 11th Africa Liberal Network (ALN) General Assembly, which took place in Marrakech, Morocco, between 26 – 29 November 2014. President of the ALN Olivier Kamitatu said: “This year, the ALN accomplished a number of historic firsts including the election of a gender representative executive committee, the adoption of a robust new constitution and the acceptance of 9 new observer member parties, taking the total number of members to the largest in the Network’s history, with 44 parties.”

It was also the first conference to bring the ALN and the Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy together making this the biggest in the history of the network with over 90 delegates from 22 African countries.

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Opinion: All for one and one for all

flag-russiaRussia has been busy in the Baltic recently – they have been harassing their neighbours and it seems to me they are acting as if the Baltic is their ‘mare nostrum’ as it were. The Polish Defence minister noted that Sweden seems to be the main object of Russian attention.

How do we help Sweden, and Finland for that matter? Finland and Sweden are in a slightly odd position – they are members of the EU but not members of NATO. In the Cold War they were ‘neutral’ but whatever that meant then it means even less now. What does Britain and other EU/NATO countries do if Finland and Sweden are threatened or even attacked by Russia? Finland and Sweden not being in NATO, Britain is not bound by Article 5 of the NATO Treaty (an attack on one is an attack on all) but it seems inconceivable that we would stand idly by if these two countries were in danger.

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Opinion: Is this the end of conviction politics?

Are we witnessing the end of ‘conviction politics’ in the UK: that is the willingness of politicians to lead, rather than follow, public opinion, taking it in a direction that they believe to be right, rather than one that will get them re-elected. Of course, politicians want to be returned to power; even the very best can only achieve anything good in society provided they are in a position to influence events.

The danger is, however, that in the rush to get elected politicians sometimes allow the media to set the agenda, and then pander to the ‘lowest common denominator’ of public opinion.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 31 Comments

Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #402

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 402nd 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 (7 – 13 December, 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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LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 15600  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

 Reasons to be careful about new analysis suggesting Lib Dems “set to lose several more seats than national polls with uniform swing would predict” (77 comments) by Stephen Tall

Game on in Gordon! Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine has to defend seat against former First Minister Salmond (25 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Clegg’s letter to Burnham: “you may have inadvertently misled” Commons on Labour’s NHS privatisation record (31 comments) by The Voice

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Vince speaks out against “devastating and ideologically driven” Tory spending cuts plan

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterThe Tories have been “well behaved” over the past few years because the Liberal Democrats have kept them on a tight leash, apparently. So said Vince Cable on the Andrew Marr Show this morning. He said that we were now getting a glimpse of what they would be like without that leash, adding that the consequences of their spending decisions would be that there would be around half as much money to spend on Police, defence, local government and social care.

He highlighted the differences between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat approaches to the economy and what a vote for each would mean:

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Dear Liberal Democrat MPs: Judicial Review restrictions are a messy compromise too far.

Dear Liberal Democrat MPs,

Tomorrow you will be asked for the second time amendments which the House of Lords has made to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. The Government wants you to severely restrict the right of citizens and organisations to use Judicial Review to examine its decisions and those of local authorities. This interferes with a key check on government power.

I don’t think any of you would have come up with this idea on your own. The Liberal Democrats are there to challenge entrenched power and vested interests, after all. This measure is one of those “messy compromises” of coalition.

Anyone who has ever been in any sort of relationship, business or personal, will know you don’t get things your own way the whole time. You have to do things you would rather not do. However, there have been a number of times when we have accepted Conservative measures and had to revise our support for them after they became law because the evidence showed that they were the wrong thing to do.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 39 Comments

Clegg: No country can prosper without basic freedoms

From earlier this week, here’s Nick Clegg’s message for Human Rights Day:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Can Murphy and Dugdale resurrect Labour’s fortunes in Scotland?

Labour Party logoSo, we know that Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale will be the new leadership team for Scottish Labour. Murphy won the leadership with 55% of the vote and Dugdale won the deputy post with 63%.

The result was announced at the Emirates – the one in Glasgow, not, as I initially thought when I was told yesterday, the one in London. But Labour wouldn’t be so stupid as to announce in London when their last leader quit after complaining that Scotland was treated as a branch office.

Murphy is a Big Beast, having been part of the last Labour government for 9 years. He was a staunch Blairite and, of course, voted for the Iraq war and all of Labour’s authoritarian policies from ID cards to 90 days detention.  A pro-war blairite seems hardly in keeping with the zeitgeist, it has to be said.

He’s a deeply polarising figure. It’s hard to see how he can unite the Labour Party, let alone the country. His rhetoric way back when he was Secretary of State for Scotland was divisive and he’s continued in that vein. In 2010, he described the divide between Labour and the SNP as Patriots vs Nationalists, language which I find at best unhelpful, at worst irresponsible. I wrote back then about how wrong I felt it was to use patriotism as a political weapon. Particularly when our country is recovering from an emotionally bruising referendum, it’s even more nasty, brutal and irrelevant than ever. Even combining it with the word “optimistic”, as he did this morning, makes me feel queasy.

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ALDC by-election report, 11 December 2014 – a trio of Liberal Democrat wins

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Eleven principal council by-elections were held across Britain yesterday. The two contests in Aylesbury Vale resulted in two Liberal Democrat wins. Peter Agoro was victorious in Southcourt ward, polling 42.3% to secure a comfortable majority of 317 votes as UKIP finished second. Labour, who were defending the seat, saw their vote share drop by 12.2% in finishing third. There was more good news as Anders Christensen held for the Liberal Democrats in Gatehouse, winning with a slender majority of 28 ahead of the UKIP candidate.  These two victories see the party’s representation on Aylesbury Vale DC increase to 17 councillors.

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New edition of Liberator – December 2014

liberatorThe latest issue of Liberator, the independent radical liberal magazine, is now with subscribers.

Live sample contents from Liberator 369 online are:

Commentary, on the Lib Dem general election messages.

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 15

Congratulations to George Murray, who has re-gained the lead from Jon Featonby in the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 15. But it’s tight at the top: just four points separate them… almost a two-horse race, you might say.

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Julian Huppert: Commons should debate ban on fisting and watersports porn

Julian Huppert MPPinkNews reports:

A ban on the production of certain types of porn in the UK will be the subject of a debate in the House of Commons, if a Lib Dem MP who opposes it gets his way.

Brought in by the Audiovisual Media Services regulation 2014 last week, the ban states that any online paid-for porn such as Video on Demand (VoD) must adhere to the same rules set out for those producing DVDs. Those rules are set out by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC), and ban

photo by: Policy Exchange
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A bit of advice to the English Liberal Democrats – sort your gender balance out and soon

I realise I could get myself into trouble here, as a Scot, offering advice to a fellow State party, but please be assured  that it is meant in a sisterly way. You  may think of it as annoying-little-sisterly but I have an annoying little sister I adore and couldn’t be without.

Anyway, tomorrow the English Council Executive has its first meeting the English Party elections. At this meeting its office bearers and committee representatives for 2015 will be chosen. For more details of what is on the agenda, Anders Hanson, outgoing Regional Chair of Yorkshire and the Humber and a directly elected member for 2015 has provided a very good summary here.

The big problem with ECE is with gender balance. Next year’s 23-3 male/female split is, believe it or not an improvement on this year’s. Anders has this analysis of the situation:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 37 Comments

Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…DFID’s approach to LGBT rights

It’s been just over a month since I became our International Development Minister, and I’ve enjoyed every moment since. When she held the role, Lynne Featherstone used to say it was the best job in government and I wholeheartedly agree. Shaping and seeing first-hand how UK aid transforms the lives of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalised people is a Lib Dem dream job.

Yesterday I met with Stonewall and the Kaleidoscope Trust to discuss what DFID is doing to address the problems faced by one of the most marginalised groups – LGBT communities in developing countries. Of course I have long drawn on the fantastic Stonewall and Kaleidoscope Trust expertise both for our domestic and international work on equalities, but I was keen to meet them in my new capacity at DFID and learn how we can best work together. Their international work is truly impressive, from educating international development NGOs on LGBT rights and concerns, to engaging global businesses to use their leverage in the fight for equality, to helping to train local campaigners across the world in campaigning and legal techniques.

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Stephen Lloyd resigns as PPS over underinvestment in A27

The Eastbourne Herald is reporting that Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has resigned as PPS to Ed Davey over the £75m proposed for investment in the A27 in the Autumn statement.

Stephen is quoted

After all the work and cross-community effort by so many local residents and businesses in Eastbourne and Willingdon, I am profoundly disappointed by the proposal put forward by the Department of Transport. Instead, there is a vague promise for some time in the future. This isn’t jam tomorrow, but more like the possibility of jam sometime, if we’re lucky, in a few years.

He said, “Ever since I

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Devo Sheffield announced: transport, skills, business support, housing, no mayor

Nick Clegg is in Sheffield today to confirm a city devolution deal which will shift power from Whitehall to the Sheffield City Region combined authority, giving the city region greater control over transport, skills, housing and business support. This historic deal for Sheffield will allow the city to introduce “oyster-style” travel cards, and local councils and businesses will have control over the majority of the skills budget for the area for the first time.

This comes a month after the Northern Futures Summit, which brought together local people and businesses to share their vision for strengthening the economy in the region. The deal does not impose any specific form of governance over the city, such as a metro mayor.

Posted in News | 29 Comments

Opinion: The two party system is dead

And then there were lots

The two party system is dead. I’ll come back to that.

I am currently off work following an operation and, with time on my hands and limited physical options, I have been passing the time analysing Ladbroke’s constituency odds for the general election to work out the national picture from the ground up. Clearly this isn’t what the odds are designed for, and they reflect the betting market as well as the bookies predictions, but they are a much better reflection of reality on the ground than say the old BBC swingometer based on the convenient fiction of a uniform swing between two parties. Moreover, even if the concept of spending hours analysing bookies odds on constituency results appals you, the results are fascinating.

Posted in Op-eds | 39 Comments
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    Good universities have always been international. Non-EU students contribute at least £7bn to our balance of payments. Unemployment is coming down rapidly and skills shortages...
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    A very strange article. Firstly the Lib Dems bottled their chance to advance their alleged commitment to Home Rule in the Smith Commission so we...
  • User AvatarJimbob 21st Dec - 5:16pm
    There is an absolutely huge space for standing up for a strong economy, fairness, human rights and civil liberties. Unfortunately the party has stood for...
  • User AvatarMartin 21st Dec - 5:14pm
    It was always clear that the threat of a referendum on the EU has the potential to initiate a further Scottish independence vote. If the...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 21st Dec - 5:07pm
    I'm glad Caron has written this. The SNP said "oil will pay for it all", then its value has crashed and Salmond has the cheek...
  • User AvatarPaul Pettinger 21st Dec - 5:06pm
    Try reading the coalition agreement theakes - the Govt's key goal was deficit reduction, and by now the structural deficit was supposed to have been...