LDVideo: Vikki Slade on Free School Meals in action

In Channel 4’s Political Slot this week, Lib Dem candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole Vikki Slade finds out how the party’s policy of free school meals for 4-7 year olds is having a huge impact locally. You can watch it here.

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ALDC’s by-election report: 16 October 2014

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Last week saw ten principal by-elections contested across the country with the Liberal Democrats recording two victories. In York, former city council leader Andrew Waller was re-elected following a resounding Lib Dem victory in Westfield Ward, defeating the Labour Party candidate by 1,216 votes in second place. Andrew who had lost his seat in the 2011 local elections, polled 60.2% and was able to capitalize on a fall of 28.3% for Labour’s vote share from 2011 to give the party their ninth councilor in York.

The Liberal Democrats were also victorious in Rutland with Sam Asplin narrowly winning in Whissendine by 13 votes (51.8%) ahead of the Conservatives. Sam now joins Gale Waller as the party’s second representative on Rutland Council. Turnout was at 34.7% which is the highest of the known turnouts for this week’s by-elections. Prior to the by-election, the ward had an Independent councillor which led to Sam’s team attempting to market itself as a source of opposition to the Conservative run council. Whissendine is a compact village with an electorate of around 1,100 voters which allowed the local Liberal Democrats to run a strong, largely leaflet based campaign. Sam’s Agent John Hughes said, ‘We saw it as being better to give all voters several leaflets than to see maybe half of them once on the doorstep’. The Lib Dem team also stated that they managed to take advantage of apparent complacency on the part of their Conservative opponents, who had expected an unopposed victory.

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Opinion: Nick Clegg, want to win the women’s vote? Try working with one.

Lib Dems celebrate 100 years of women councillors - Photo by Martin TodThis week, Lib Dem Women went public with our campaign to lobby Nick Clegg to promote more of our brilliant women, and especially to ask one of them to join the Cabinet. This weekend, it was announced that he has no intention of another reshuffle before the General Election.

Here’s why that’s a really bad idea. It’s not just because the Liberal Democrats have plenty of exceptional and capable women who deserve more senior positions. We do, of course, but if we were talking about experience and ability alone we should have done this in 2010. Annette Brook taught economics for nearly two decades before she became a councillor, mayor and then MP; Susan Kramer had a long and successful career in infrastructure and transport finance; Lorely Burt ran her own award-winning training and development business; I could go on. Nothing about these women suggests they are less capable than, say, Jeremy Browne or Danny Alexander.

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Is this the front page of the next Lib Dem manifesto?

Ryan Coetzee, recently appointed the Lib Dems’ General Election Director of Strategy, was snapped today clutching papers which look like they might reveal the party’s top four priorities for the 2015 manifesto.

The four priorities read:

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Opinion: Gough Whitlam: Farewell to a reformer

Gough_Whitlam_bust by WikiTownsvillian

I’m an avid consumer of the politics of other countries, including that of Australia which borrows so much from our Westminster system yet, viewing its Parliamentary proceedings on-line, some might say its politics are even more robust than our own.
I first became interested in Australian politics at around the time of the original coup when Julia Gillard became Prime Minister after ousting her own Party colleague Kevin Rudd.
Three years and three days later, of course, Mr Rudd got his own back when he took back the crown, albeit to shortly thereafter lose it again when his Labor Party lost the 2013 election.
Since then I’ve read up on a number of other former Prime Minister’s down under, from Bob Hawke to Paul Keating, from Robert Menzies to John Howard. Each, of course, led in their own style and according to their own philosophies and beliefs. But none were as mythologised as the Grand Old Man who has passed away today: E Gough Whitlam, Australia’s 21st Prime Minister.
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LibLink: Sarah Teather: Tackling revenge eviction – a step closer

Sarah Teather was one of the five Liberal Democrat MPs who won a spot in the annual ballot (actually a big raffle) for Private Members’ Bills. John Hemming is tackling secrecy in the family courts, Andrew George the Bedroom Tax, Martin Horwood is trying to stop parking on pavements while Mike Moore wants to enshrine the 0.7% aid target into law.

Sarah’s bill is to stop your landlord chucking you out in the street if you complain about poor conditions. So called revenge evictions cause huge problems. She’s written a blog for Shelter explaining what her bill would do and why it is necessary:

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Opinion: The other side of the immigration debate coin

There are some things in life that go hand in hand

In the UK it is a General Election and talk of Immigration Controls

In every general election since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech Labour and the Conservatives have sought to out-do each other on the toughness of their respective policies on immigration Usually the war of words starts at about the same time as the political parties start their election campaign. This time round the battle has already started even though the General Election is some six months away And the reason? The Tories are running scared of UKIP as Nigel Farage sets himself up as the only  gatekeeper who can be trusted to keep immigrants at bay and land election defeat on Conservatives the back of it.

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A sneak preview of the Scottish Autumn Conference Agenda

This year’s Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference takes place much later than usual. It’s been delayed by the Referendum and will take place in Dunfermline on Saturday 22nd November. There’s just about enough time for Presidential candidates to come and chase some last minute votes.

The preliminary agenda has just been published and it’s busy. Six policy debates, two keynote speeches, a  devolution discussion, a thank you reception for our former MEP George Lyon and two lunchtime fringe meetings crammed into one day.

The policy motions include:

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Reducing the negative impact of violence on international development

Every five minutes a child dies from violence.

This appalling statistic, released in a new report from Unicef UK today, shows that violence is not confined to an unlucky few or even to war zones. Across the world, millions of children bear the brunt of an epidemic of violence that is often hidden or ignored and that threatens their rights to a healthy, safe and fulfilling life.

Violence manifests itself in many forms. Unicef UK’s research reveals that more than 125 million women, most in early childhood or adolescence, have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). In some regions, the child murder rate is shockingly high, especially for teenagers.  For example, an adolescent boy in Latin America is 70 times more likely to be murdered than in the UK.

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Opinion: Should all-member ballots replace conference on policy votes?

Laptop and mobileThe Liberal Democrat conference’s decision to support the use of One Member, One Vote (OMOV) in federal conference decisions is to be welcomed. It means any member who attends conference can vote on conference decisions, not just leading figures and those elected by their local parties to be conference representatives. While this is all very good news, we can go a lot further.

Instead of conference making policy decisions, it is a logical next step to give all members the power to make policy regardless of whether they attend conference. We can do this by conducting all-member online ballots.

The most obvious benefit of this is it would enormously increase participation in decision-making in what is already, by miles, the most democratic of the four biggest UK parties. It seems fairly obvious ordinary members should have a say on the policies their party proposes, without having to fork out hundreds of pounds to attend conference. Older and wealthier members are more likely to attend conference because they have more time and money, meaning policy-making is less representative. Letting all members have their say would eliminate these problems.

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Opinion: Tackling tax avoidance should be a top manifesto issue 

pre manifesto documentIn the flurry of press coverage over recent UKIP success, the steady rise of the Greens is usually ignored (including by the broadcast media who are excluding them from the pre-election debates).

The Greens have taken the left-wing protest vote which of course we used to get.  On the doorsteps in Hornsey and Wood Green, disillusionment with politics is clear to see – not because of immigration or Europe, but because the burdens of austerity are not seen to be shared equally.  One of the main sources of outrage is tax avoidance.  Major corporations are still paying minimal amounts of tax, and this means that the Exchequer is getting many billions less than it should be.  Local government spending continues to be cut, public sector pay continues to be almost flat, and the pressure on benefits for those of working age remains.

The Conservatives have made considerable noise on the subject of tax avoidance.  But as of 2013, the UK’s top 100 companies still had over 8000 subsidiaries in onshore or offshore tax havens, and the ‘tax efficiency’ industry continues to flourish.  The lobbying by large corporate donors to the Conservative party means that although some of the more outrageous tax avoidance schemes have been shut down there remains a huge discrepancy between the profits made and the tax paid by many companies. There is some good news on a proposed ‘Google tax’ which aims to clamp down on companies shifting profits between different countries; however the danger is that it will be significantly watered down after the big corporates have had their say, in the way that the new General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR) has been.

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Linda Jack drops out of race for party president

linda-jack-6The election for the new president of the party is underway. Ballot papers will be sent out on Friday  to all members of at least one year’s standing to everyone who was a member on the qualifying date at the end of September.  

Candidates had to collect 200 nominations from conference representatives across at least 20 different local parties, with no-one allowed to nominate more than one. Traditionally the candidates try to get the requisite signatures at Autumn Conference, but this proved to be a particular challenge this year.

Linda Jack has issued this statement:

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Obituary: Susan Taylor – Another great Liberal light goes out

susan taylorIn the early hours of Thursday 2nd October 2014, long term Liberal activist Susan Annemarie Taylor (née Annemarie Susanne Goldschmidt) quietly passed away at the grand old age of 95 in Newcastle.

Susan was known in South London as one half of a fearsome Liberal duo with husband Brian who passed away in August 2013. Along with Brian she joined the Liberal Party in 1955 (having previously voted Conservative if rumours are true).

They set about persuading the good voters of Bromley that Liberal was the way to go, played a role in several famous London by-elections including Orpington in 1962 and Bermondsey in 1983, and toured the country in their trusty caravan helping Liberals all over the place include son Michael in Yorkshire and daughter Wendy in Newcastle.

Susan ran a fearsome committee room on election day. Woe betide any activist who thought they could have more than a quick sit down and a cup of tea; Susan would soon send them out again with leaflets to deliver or doors to knock until the polls shut. Although she did once famously confess that “I can’t get excited if Brian isn’t the candidate”.

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Opinion: And you thought EVEL was difficult…

Manchester Town Hall ClockOur party has saddled itself with a totally unworkable policy on devolution, but the formulators and protagonists of devolution on demand simply don’t understand why it’s a passport to total confusion.

Let’s consider a future House of Commons where legislation is being considered for schools. A vote is needed. Ah, but not everyone can vote because there’s been some devolution.  Let’s see now. This legislation won’t cover Scotland and Wales or Northern Ireland, but neither will it cover Yorkshire (except for Selby which opted out), Cornwall, the city regions of Manchester and Birmingham (minus Solihull which didn’t join) and of course education is now the responsibility of the Mayor in London and a quango in the North East. So who exactly will be able to vote? And if an English Committee for English laws is OK in the Commons what will happen in the still unreformed House of Lords?  Will it be necessary to stop peers who come from the devolved regions from voting?

photo by:
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Opinion: Confused Britain

Map of the European UnionEU citizens should have the right to live and work in the UK:
36% Yes, 46% No.

British citizens should have the right to live and work in the EU:
52% Yes, 26% No.

These results from ComRes were presented by the Guardian Data Editor Alberto Nardelli, alongside the title “Confused Britain“. However, in many ways it summarises an increasingly predominate view on the European Union. It seems vast swathes of the public are happy to have their cake and eat it when it comes to the EU.

It is a choice that has been presented to people by many Eurosceptics. Conservatives are increasingly discussing the notion of quota systems on EU migration, even though Angela Merkel has stated that such an impingement on free movement would be non-negotiable. Ukip have often stated that trade between the UK and the EU would be made easier, not harder, through removal from the free market area. Presented with such options, it has become popular thinking to believe that the UK can have a pick ‘n’ mix agreement with the European Union.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #394

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 394th 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 (12-18 October, 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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Conference Speeches: Vince Cable: Liberal Democrats have brought compassion, common sense and competence to Government

Continuing our series of Conference speeches, today it’s the turn of Vince Cable. He announced an increase in pay for apprentices, talked about the benefits of migration and spelled out the difference between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. He talked about what the Liberal Democrats have brought to the Government and exhorted us to be proud about it.

You can watch here, and the text is below:

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“Durántezmania – that has legs” and other compliments for Miriam

Miriam González Durántez by Cabinet OfficeIt seems that Miriam González Durántez’s interview the other day has impressed a couple of Fleet Street columnists.

In the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff says Miriam is “electrifying.”:

I’ve seen Miriam talking to girls at an Essex comp about raising their sights. She was electrifying. In a world where successful women are regularly portrayed as ball-breakers, lonely, or just underdressed, she makes working motherhood look thrillingly fun and achievable, if not easy. (She’s big on graft). And for teenage girls, she explodes the myth that men won’t want you if you’re clever. She doesn’t rush, surrendered wife-style, to kiss Clegg for the cameras after a party conference speech: she waits for him to come to her – and he does.

In person she’s funny, frank, mischievous, and enviably fearless. She doesn’t care how people judge her: she simply can’t see why she can’t have what men have, professionally and personally (which is of course why a certain kind of man hates her).

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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…

 ++Jeremy Browne to stand down as Lib Dem MP in 2015 (110 comments) by The Voice

Opinion: Generation Y: Why don’t they vote Lib Dem? (114 comments) by Simon McGrath

Opinion: Jeremy Browne deserves our thanks (46 comments) by Ed Fordham

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How you can take part in LibDemVoice’s exclusive party member surveys

libdemvoiceLibDemVoice’s surveys of party members signed-up to our discussion forum have been running for over six years now. (I posted yesterday the final set of figures from our most recent poll.)

Our surveys are a way of testing members’ views on a variety of hot topics. And as they’ve been running throughout the four-and-a-half years of the Coalition they’re also an interesting record of changing views on how the Coalition is regarded within the party.

If you would like to take part in the LibDemVoice surveys, there are simply two steps you …

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

sundaypapsHere’s my selection of articles to inform, infuriate and inspire from this week’s Sunday papers.

First up this week is a piece from the Observer by Barbara Ellen. Its headline “Like all rapists, Ched Evans will never be really free” got my hackles up, but the article itself is a bit more balanced than its headline suggests. It’s worth remembering, though, that most rapists go unpunished because the conviction rate is scarily low. Ellen says that Evans will never be able to leave this crime behind him, much more so than if he’d been convicted of a different sort of offence. Well, given that the man has shown not one tiny bit of remorse for what he did, or accepted that his victim, being as drunk as she was, was incapable of consenting to what he put her through, or apologised to her, I’m not sure that we can say with any confidence that he has been rehabilitated.  The speed with which he has been given a new high profile football job concerns me as does the way that the media often tries to make excuses for men who are violent to women. It’s not just Evans. Oscar Pistorius comes in for way more sympathy than he actually deserves. In September, a Texas man murdered his 3 young children and his wife before turning the gun on himself. Much of the media coverage around this mentioned the strain he must have been under, rather than the horros he put his family through. This article sums up why that approach is just wrong. 

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10 Years on from The Orange Book: What should authentic liberalism look like?

Orange_Book“10 Years on from The Orange Book: what should authentic liberalism look like?” That was the title of a Lib Dem conference fringe meeting in Glasgow, organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), at which I was speaking alongside MPs Tim Farron and Jeremy Browne, Orange Book co-editor Paul Marshall, the IEA’s Ryan Bourne and ComRes pollster Tom Mludzinski. Here’s what I said…

I often describe myself as an Orange Booker. Like most labels it’s a short-hand. To me it simply means I’m a Lib Dem at ease with the role of a competitive market and who believes also in social justice. To many others in our party, though, Orange Booker is a term of abuse – Orange Bookers are thrusting, smart-suited, neoliberal Thatcherities, never happier than when mixing with red-blooded free-marketeers like the IEA.

What I want to do briefly is make a pitch for something that’s become quite unpopular among the party ranks: I’m going to make a pitch that the Lib Dems should be a party that’s unabashedly of the liberal centre.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #393

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 393rd 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 (5-11 October, 2014), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed. This is very late. It’s been languishing in drafts since Monday evening but the not so small matter of a bit of a health scare in m house (he’s fine now he’s full of rat poison) has delayed it.

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:

Posted in Best of the blogs | 5 Comments

Conference Speeches: Lynne Featherstone: I have been able to do über-Liberal things in Government

Lynne FEatherstone 2007 Brighton conference by Liberal DemocratsConference may have been a week or so ago but we still have some keynote speeches to post. Lynne Featherstone spoke about the work she had done to help the most vulnerable people across the world with great humility. She said she had been able to introduce über-liberal policies but was also keen to pay  tribute to Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg for getting the economy on track.

She spoke powerfully about what she’s dong to protect women and girls around the globe and talked with great humility, saying that whenever she meets people in desperate circumstances she’s very aware that that could have been her. “I didn’t choose where I was born” she said. Here is the video and the text is below:

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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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Voters give Liberal Democrats credit for tax threshold rise according to IPSOS-MORI poll

We all heard David Cameron and George Osborne take credit as often as they can for the raising of the tax threshold during this Parliament but a poll from IPSOS-MORI with fieldwork done after our Conference shows that the public just aren’t buying the Tory claims. 41% give the Liberal Democrats the credit for the policy compared to just 26% for the Conservatives as this graphic shows.

ISPOS-MORI tax threshold poll

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Economic liberals or social liberals? Pragmatists or ideologues? How Lib Dem members describe their own political identity

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.

How do Lib Dem members think of their own political identity? I asked this question in April 2011, when the Coalition was less than a year old. With less than a year of the Coalition left, I thought it was time to revisit it.

60% social liberals,

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Liberal Democrat Lucy Care answers questions from NUS students

The National Union of Students is questioning candidates across the country via the medium of Twitter as part of its build up to next year’s General Election.

The idea is that they will take one marginal seat at a time and ask each of its candidates a series of ten questions. The  candidates will then tweet their replies. The first such event took place last Wednesday involving the candidates from Derby North, including our own Lucy Care. Tackling the subject of tuition fees in 140 characters and doing it justice was quite a challenge but Lucy managed it.

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LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 7

Congratulations to George Murray and Jon Featonby, who lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 7, with 421 and 419 points respectively. They’ve opened a bit of a gap at the top — but just 18 points separate the next 8 places.

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALL_7

There are 149 players in total and you can still join the league by clicking here.

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Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAndrew Colman 25th Oct - 4:06pm
    Agree with the suggestion. The In/Out issue should be resolved ASAP to remove economic uncertainty. The tory promise of a 2017 is blatant electioneering to...
  • User AvatarAndrew Colman 25th Oct - 3:43pm
    £120 billion figure comes from http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2010/06/28/if-the-hmrc-tax-gap-data-was-right-why-did-george-osborne-so-obviously-contradict-it-in-his-budget-speech/ and http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/sep/27/tax-evasion-how-much-does-it-cost-a-country says $100 is lost to the black economy. I accept its an estimate with a large error...
  • User Avatarsimon 25th Oct - 3:33pm
    Very nice. People criticise Nick for saying whatever he thinks it might take to garner votes, and for being not always being the most principled...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 25th Oct - 3:12pm
    The big problem is not how we do when we stand but that we dont stand at all in so many places. We have plenty...
  • User AvatarHelen Tedcastle 25th Oct - 2:52pm
    Matthew Huntbach, ‘ What have all these protestors actually achieved in terms of building a political alternative that wins votes? Nothing.’ I don't know whether...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 25th Oct - 2:16pm
    Andrew, so your answer to economic prosperity is to introduce a farmers tax? The LVT. £120 billion of tax avoidance? Well, this figure isn't true....