Carswell: Free Liberal. How it might have been

The more time I spend with him (Carswell), the more bewildered I am. Why on earth did he join Ukip? Well, he says, he could hardly have moved over to Clegg’s lot. “If the Liberal Democrats hadn’t made 20 years of errors, yes. But they have made it very clear that they’re not liberal and that they’re on the side of the elites, not the people.” If Gladstone was such a hero, why didn’t he stand as an independent one-man Liberal party candidate? He laughs. “Well I toyed with the idea…

Interview with Douglas Carswell, The Guardian, 19th October 2014

28th August 2014

Before a packed room of journalists, all looking around eagerly for suspected impresario Nigel Farage to emerge, Douglas Carswell finally stepped out onto the stage, alone, having called a press conference only hours beforehand. He announced that, after a long struggle with his conscience, he had come to a decision:

“The main parties are not serious about real change. It’s above all the failure to deliver on the promise of political reform that has driven me to be here today. Europe’s the one continent on the globe that is not growing … yet who in Westminster, who among our so-called leaders, is prepared to envisage real change? The call for an independent, reformist, libertarian voice is a demand I feel I can no longer ignore.”

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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 7 days:

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Sal Brinton on how Liberal Democrats helped change law on revenge porn

Sal BrintonIf you have half an hour today, make sure you listen to the Week in Westminster, available here on iPlayer.

In it, Tom Brake debates the merits of fixed term Parliaments. The Tory argument against them seems to be more based in self interest and “we are sick fed up of the coalition and these pesky Liberal Democrats” than anything that actually matters.

Sal Brinton is also on talking about revenge porn which was made illegal in moves driven by Liberal Democrats including Sal, Olly Grender, Jonathan Marks and Liz Barker. Presenter Helen Lewis had initially said that the move was part of Chris Grayling’s move to combat internet abuse. Sal put her right, explaining that the impetus actually came from Liberal Democrats on the back of Hannah Thompson’s campaign. She was very diplomatic about the process of getting Government support for the move. You’ll have to listen to see how, in the last few minutes of the programme.

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

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 15,700  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Confused Britain (60 comments) by Scott Stables

Linda Jack drops out of race for party president (58 comments) by Mary Reid

Is this the front page of the next Lib Dem manifesto? (88 comments) by Stephen Tall

10 years on from the Orange Book, what should authentic liberalism look like? (78 comments) by Stephen Tall

“Duraàntezmania: that has legs” and other compliments for Miriam (74 comments) by The Voice

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It’s the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere Wedding of the Year – congratulations to Richard and Alex

I had planned to be in Stockport this afternoon. A bit of a health scare for my poor husband means that I can’t make it but my heart is there with my friends Alex Wilcock and Richard Flowers. It’s twenty years today since they first got together and they are celebrating by getting married. It’s the Wedding of the Year for the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere

Both have been star Liberal Democrat bloggers for some time. Richard won our Blog of the Year in 2010 for his Very Fluffy Diary of Millennium Dome, Elephant. Alex is constantly challenging us to be better at articulating our liberal values on Love and Liberty. Both of these blogs are proper food for the Liberal Democrat soul.

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Caron’s Sunday Selection: Must-read articles from the Sunday papers

sundaypapsHere’s my pick of today’s Sunday papers. Please add your favourite stories in the comments.

First up, an article in the Independent reports criticism of Nick Clegg’s failure to put a woman in the Cabinet from Alice Thomas (citing her article on here) and from Presidential candidate Daisy Cooper.

Hannah Summers reports in the Sunday Times (£) on the casting for a new drama about the formation of the Coalition. Doctor Who and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, who also plays the shadowy Mycoft Holmes in the latter, has been cast as Peter Mandelson. Writer James Graham is interviewed

The pivotal part of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg has gone to Bertie Carvel, who won an Olivier award in 2012 for his performance as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical.

“It’s the texting, the calls, the clandestine meetings between the three leaders, but primarily it focuses on Clegg,” Graham said of the drama.

“He went from being this harmless outsider and figure of fun to facing this incredible rollercoaster and essentially becoming a kingmaker . . . Nobody had experience of building a coalition. They were bluffing their way through, which brings an endearing, farcical feel to it.”

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Liberal Democrats the sexiest party, apparently…

Well, you thought we were all about constitutions and Focus leaflets, didn’t you? Well, the Mirror reports that, apparently, Liberal Democrat supporters have the most adventurous sex lives of all political supporters. This all comes from a book to be published next week called Sex, lies and the ballot box: 50 things you need to know about British elections by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford. That’ll be winging its way to my Kindle on Tuesday. I’ll let you know what I think of it in due course.

I’m sorry if this is too delicate a subject for this time in the morning and if you have choked on your Corn Flakes, I hope you got your breath back quickly.

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The Independent View: Time for the Lib Dems to capitalise on their cities’ opportunity

ldv centre for cities fringe - oct 2014There has been a flurry of interest in cities and the economic regeneration of the North from all sides of the political spectrum over the past few months, so it was not surprising to see them feature strongly during party conference season.

Over the three weeks, we created a platform for each of the parties to debate and explore how their parties could turn the rhetoric into reality, and win the hearts and minds of Britain’s cities at the 2015 Election. It was fascinating to see representatives of Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems argue that their party alone possessed an unrivalled philosophical affinity with urban voters.

(Pictured is the Centre for Cities fringe meeting, co-hosted with LibDemVoice – “Urban battlegrounds: how can the Liberal Democrats win in cities in 2015?” – with Stephen Williams MP, Cllr Wendy Taylor (Newcastle) and Lord (Ben) Stoneham.)

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Why I’m spitting furious about Johann Lamont’s resignation.

The Scottish Labour Party has been thrown into turmoil by the sudden resignation of its leader, Johann Lamont. Her decision effectively sets Labour’s Holyrood and Westminster camps in open warfare against each other.

Lamont threw in the towel after discovering that Scottish Labour’s General Secretary Ian Price had been removed from office without her even being consulted. I have to say that I am beyond furious about the way Ian has been treated. He is a friend of mine and an opponent who is worthy of respect. The problems faced by the Labour Party are primarily to do with their sense of entitlement to power and their predilection towards factionalism, personality cults and in-fighting, not a pragmatic, sensible general secretary who could actually have been part of the solution if he’d been allowed. I do not like seeing my friends being treated badly.

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In the next month 22 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. They include Taunton Deane, Jeremy Browne’s seat since 2005, and which he held at the last election with a majority of 3,993 (6.9%) over the Conservatves.

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

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Paddy Ashdown on Bosnia and Herzegovina: “These are dangerous times; they are very dangerous times indeed”

Paddy Ashdown talks on "The global power shift" in Brussels March 1st 2012 -  Some rights reserved by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, former international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006, led this week’s House of Lords debate on the situation in the country following its recent election. Here’s what he had to say…

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): My Lords, a few months before the last election in the last months of 2009, my right honourable friend William Hague and I—well, at least he was not my right honourable friend then, but he is today; he was then the shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—wrote a joint article for the British and foreign press on Bosnia and Herzegovina. We complained bitterly that Bosnia was stuck, that the progress that we had made during the previous 10 years had gone backwards, that the tone of nationalistic rhetoric had risen, that this was dangerous and that Bosnia remained stuck in a mire of dysfunctionality and corruption.

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Nick Clegg’s message for Diwali 2014

Here is Nick Clegg’s message for Diwali. The full transcript is below for those who have difficulty with hearing.

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Botswana elections: Liberal Democrats help sister party and its “calm revolutionary of our time”

Three chiefs and justice gaborone botswana by BoHeMIoYesterday was polling day in the General Election in Botswana. 57 parliamentary seats are up for grabs along with council seats across the country. The Botswana Democratic Party has been in power since the country gained independence in 1966. The Liberal Democrats have been helping our sister party, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, which has been fighting the election as part of a coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for Democratic Change. In early August, their campaign suffered a huge blow when BMD leader and Vice Presidential candidate Gomolemo Matswaledi was killed in a car accident on the way back from a visit to Johannesberg.

Top Liberal Democrat campaigns guru Victoria Marsom, who has the by-election victories in both Brent and Eastleigh under her belt, has been working closely with the BMD for the past year as part of a project funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. She’s travelled to Botswana twice, once in June and she’s there now for this last week of the campaign. I had a bit of a surprise the other night when I found this from her on my Facebook timeline:

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What Lib Dem members think about devolution – and what their local priorities would be

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members responded to this set of questions – thank you – in a supplementary poll ran just before the party conference.

Majorities say Education and NHS should be governed at local/regional level

Which of the following should be decided mainly at a local/regional level?

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By-election update: 8 seats up for grabs – no losses, no gains

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Thursday saw eight principal by-elections take place in England and Scotland. The Conservatives secured a gain on Gloucestershire County Council in the Mitcheldean by-election, a ward which previously had an Independent councillor.

In Durham, Labour gained a seat in Burnopfield and Dipton, defeating the Derwentside Independents by just a single vote.

In Shepway, the Conservatives successfully retained their seat in Folkstone North West. However UKIP made considerable inroads into the Conservative majority in the ward, with the party registering 27.7% of the vote having not fielded a …

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 8

Congratulations to Jon Featonby, who leads the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 8, with a whopping 484 points. However, not far behind are George Murray (472) and 2013 Liberal Voice of the Year, Sam Bowman (470). However, as just 39 points separate the top 10, it’s fair to say it’s still very much anyone’s season.

For the record, I’m only 82 points off the lead, biding my time, ready for my Premiership-winning push. Like Arsenal. And I suspect I have about as much chance of winning as the Gunners do.

And not that it matters in the least, but the …

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Ed Davey MP writes…Signed, sealed and delivered, an ambitious climate change deal for Europe

Wind turbine - Some rights reserved by thomas vlWe’ve done it!  For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far.  While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.

What have we achieved?  An ambitious Europe-wide climate change deal that will see greenhouse gases cut by at least 40% by 2030.  Other countries wanted a lower target, but I argued that the science demanded higher. And I was determined that if in next year’s UN climate talks other countries like the US and China show similar ambition, Europe should be ready to increase its efforts still further – so the words “at least” in the deal are more important than normal.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes… EU climate targets thanks to Ed Davey and Lib Dems

Green wind farmThis week, European leaders including David Cameron thrashed out an agreement on the EU’s climate change targets up until 2030.

The EU has been a world leader in the fight against climate change, becoming the first region to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the face of the financial crisis, leaders have become more nervous and the momentum behind the drive towards a greener economy has started to wane.

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A powerful message from Canada’s Liberal leader in response to Wednesday’s shootings

Canada flag License Some rights reserved by archer10 (Dennis)What would you want a liberal to say in the wake of shocking and violent events in your country? It must be something pretty close to Justin Trudeau’s words, full of dignity, wisdom and empathy.

Watch the video and see the excerpt below:

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Roundtable talks on new mental health waiting time standards

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleToday Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb held roundtable talks on mental health services in Sheffield.

Representatives from the local NHS discussed the impact of mental health conditions being brought into line with other NHS services, with the introduction of the first ever waiting time standards.

For the first time, from April 2015, most patients needing talking therapies – for conditions like depression – will be guaranteed the treatment they need in as little as six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks.

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Opinion: The utter and total failure of the political left

Che Guevara - Some rights reserved by StreetFly JZThis is a response to some of the discussion under Shouldn’t Parliament Square be for protesters?

I am afraid that my experience of various protest movements very much DOES suggest they are mainly composed of people from a social elite background, and many of those engaged in them do seem to me to be motivated at least in part by a sort of poseur mentality.

Posted in Op-eds | 120 Comments

Alex Salmond to make Westminster comeback – threat to Lib Dem seat of Gordon?

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshFormer Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted he might make a comeback at Westminster, as the BBC reports:

Alex Salmond has said he has not made up his mind whether or not to stand for a Westminster seat at the next general election. The outgoing Scottish first minister was asked on the BBC’s Question Time programme if he would consider becoming an MP again. Mr Salmond said he had “absolutely decisively” not made up his mind, but agreed that the door was not closed.

Alex Salmond made his name at Westminster, as MP for Banff and Buchan for 23 years (1987-2010). However, two factors will be in his mind.

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Clare Campion-Smith Selected as Lib Dem PPC for Bristol North West

At a well-attended meeting in St Edyth’s Hall, Sea Mills, Liberal Democrats selected Cllr Clare Campion-Smith to be their prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for the Bristol North West parliamentary seat.

Clare Campion Smith Bristol North West Lib Dem PPC

Cllr Campion-Smith was first elected to represent the Henleaze ward in May 2006. She was re-elected earlier this year, beating her nearest rival by over 500 votes. From February 2009 to November 2012, Clare was the lead member for Children’s Services and she is now the Vice-Chair of the Business Change & Resources Scrutiny Committee. She has previously worked as a mathematics teacher and currently lives with her husband in Redland. They have two children, one daughter-in-law and one grandson.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Farce in the Lords

Any interested fellow citizen who was told how the latest recruit to their Parliament was chosen would be first baffled, then outraged.  Is it any wonder that there are more electors who favour the complete abolition of the House of Lords than support retention of the existing arrangements?

The provisions for the replacement of one of our hereditary Peers, when deceased, are confusing, complicated and downright contradictory.

The latest election result, announced by the Lord Speaker on Wednesday afternoon, may seem to be relatively simple:  our new Liberal Democrat colleague will be Raymond Asquith, otherwise known as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith and descendant of the distinguished Liberal Prime Minister.  He was chosen in an AV election, but gained 50%+ on the first count, so no reallocation of the votes of lower scoring candidates was required.

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Liberal Democrats will fight relentlessly for NHS to have funding it needs

Today Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England published his 5-year Forward Look, setting out the challenges facing our health and care system in the coming years.

It makes sobering reading.  Simon Stevens sets out the huge scale of the financial challenge facing us in the years ahead as we continue to adapt to an ageing population, and increasing numbers of people living longer with multiple chronic conditions.  We also need more investment to ensure that people with mental health problems can get the same standard of care and support as with physical health.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Democrats set out their priorities for the NHS.  We committed to investing at least £1bn extra in our health and care system in each year in the next parliament.  £500m of that will go to mental health to ensure mental health patients get fair treatment, and can access the support they need.  And by the end of the next parliament we will give each carer £250 a year to recognise the immense contribution they make to society.

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Teacher workload – a concern north and south of the border

Yesterday, Nick Clegg gave a speech to public sector workers. His specific focus was on teacher workload. Everyone thinks that teachers work short hours and have long holidays. Yet everyone who has a child actually at school will know how much effort goes in to preparing lessons. And everyone who knows a teacher knows that they spend a lot of their supposed “off-duty” time thinking of interesting lessons or, more likely these days, filling in interminable paperwork. We know that children need to be kept safe and their progress checked, but I get the feeling that the bureaucracy is overbearing and unnecessary. Let’s just give you a small example from my own experience. Every time my child sets foot outside the school we have to fill in a consent form. It’s A4. It has all sorts of medical info on it. It even asks how far they can swim unaided, a skill which is unlikely to be needed when representing the school in a maths competition or reading stories to 6 year olds in the local primary school. We can be filling in one of these forms twice a month. If it’s a mild inconvenience for us as parents, what’s it like for teachers who have maybe 30 of them to collect for each class? Why can parents not fill in a standing consent with all the info which covers the whole year?

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats in conversation, an Indiegogo campaign

In April of this year, I organised a fundraising dinner for Simon Hughes in central London. Between courses we interviewed Nick Clegg, Lynne Featherstone and Simon about their early political interests and experiences. The answers were inspiring, the anecdotes hilarious and the audience were treated to a fascinating glimpse into the reasons why MPs get involved with politics in the first place.

The performances of Nick, Lynne and Simon challenged the all-too-common misperception that MPs are simply career politicians and members of a remote political class, far removed from the lives of the ordinary British public. Instead, the interviews highlighted a real diversity of backgrounds, professions and motivations in those who enter politics. After dinner, I experienced a eureka moment when a guest came to me and said, “If only the public could see the side of Nick we witnessed tonight”.  It was immediately evident that the interview format we trialled that evening could translate well into film, providing the party with a new and persuasive campaign medium.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron: Don’t despair, we can help those whose lives are threatened by climate change

Tim farron photo by liberal democrats dave radcliffeTim Farron has been writing for the Guardian about the extent of the practical problems faced by communities around the world as a direct result of climate change. Last week he met with someone from the Philippines who knows only too well what climate change means to their islands:

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Early years pupil premium – local allocations announced

school childrenThe government has announced the regional allocations for the Early Years pupil premium.

Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers throughout the country are set for a cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Children from low income families have often fallen behind more well off classmates before they even start school.​

But from April 2015, the Early Years Pupil Premium – which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – ​will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a …

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Opinion: In for a cent, in for a Euro?

Euro by Alf MelinThis is probably a stupid idea.

I thought I’d get that in before you do, because it probably is, and even it’s not you’re probably still going to think that it is. Nevertheless I’m going to say it anyway because frankly right now British politics is somewhere up a creek and Nigel Farage is running off with the paddle.

How about we hold an in-out referendum on European Union membership on the first Thursday in February?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 50 Comments
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