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Ben Nicholls selected to re-gain Romsey and Southampton North for the Lib Dems

ben-nichollsWe’re a bit behind the times with this one, but better late than never… Ben Nicholls was selected as the Lib Dem candidate for Romsey & Southampton North – the seat which Sandra Gidley won in a famous 2000 by-election – at the next general election. Here’s how the local party reported the news:

At a packed meeting in Romsey’s Crosfield Hall , Romsey and Southampton North Liberal Democrats selected Ben Nicholls to be their prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC). The General Election will take place in May 2015.

Ben, 26, is a

Posted in Selection news | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Manifesto 2015: The debate is on

logo_lg new Liberal Democrat logoLast week saw the final, rearranged, Manifesto Roadshow in Leeds chaired by Sal Brinton. Those of us present had some good opportunities to suggest and debate policy ideas for the 2015 General Election manifesto.

There was lots of discussion of transport issues – around the quality and reliability of buses and trains and the capacity of the rail network. I raised the point that transport links between and within the northern cities has been identified as a vital ingredient in the agglomeration recipe that supports economic growth. While there has been some progress on this, such as with the Northern Rail Hub, we need much stronger and clearer ambition still.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Paul Burstow writes: Standardised tobacco packaging – a step in the right direction

cigaretteAs Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on smoking and health, I welcome the publication of Sir Cyril Chantler’s review of the public health case for introducing standardised packaging for tobacco products.

The Review is a thorough assessment of the public health evidence, particularly as it relates to marketing smoking to young people. One of the key objectives of the all party group is to help prevent the next generation of children and young people from taking up the habit.

photo by: SuperFantastic
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 22 Comments

Martin Horwood writes … an important day for disability and international development

A Remarkable Young ManSelect committee reports are often considered to be rather dry, even to the most politically active among us, which is why I feel particularly compelled to highlight the 11th report of the International Development CommitteeDisability and development.

The select committee decided to hold this inquiry because they had been told repeatedly by organisations like Sightsavers that our country’s aid system was not delivering for disabled people overseas. Lynne Featherstone also paid attention to these organisations and started championing the rights of disabled people in her first year as a minister, describing disability as the great neglected subject in international development.

photo by: khym54
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So where exactly were the UKIP peers during the Immigration Bill?

house of lordsNoticeable by their absence during the Lords debates on the Immigration Bill were the three Peers who are members of UKIP. A cross-party group of peers, including our Shirley Williams, Roger Roberts, Bob Maclennan, Jonathan Marks, Alex Carlile, Nigel Jones, David Chidgey and Mike Storey thought this was worth mentioning in a letter to the Standard.  This is what they said:

The report stage of the Immigration Bill concluded in the House of Lords on Monday April 7.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

Alistair Carmichael as many of you will never have seen him before

Do you know what, this independence referendum is actually starting to have some nice moments.  I would never have thought it. Sadly, few of them are to do with the actual substance of the campaign, but there’s always hope.

One of the best things about it for me is that for what I imagine will be the only time in our lifetimes, my Dad and I are on the same side in a political debate. I was absolutely thrilled when he took up volunteering for Better Together one day a week and he’s become a bit of an expert on the …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

I don’t care where Alex Salmond lays his head – but does he have to be so evasive about it?

The Benjamin HotelBuckwheat or memory foam, or water. Those are some of the pillows Alex Salmond could have had, according to the Telegraph when he stayed in New York’s Benjamin Hotel in 2007 when he was there on official business. But, do you know what? I’m not really that bothered. Yes, luxury hotel suites are expensive but in the world of international diplomacy and business, it’s pretty much par for the course. Sure, some people would be happier to see our politicians stay in a Bed and Breakfast with squeaky, staticky, purple nylon sheets and those duvets with flowers on that were so popular in the 70s, and a bit of thrift never goes amiss, but I’m not going to get in a lather about it.

photo by: Reading Tom
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The Independent View: The case for ‘bedroom tax’ reform is clear – the test is for Lib Dems to take it up

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 15.25.47In physics the conservation principle dictates that in closed systems, energy can neither be created or destroyed, but only turned from one form to another. New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examining recent welfare reforms suggest that a similar law applies to housing support costs.

Applying size limits to social tenants – better known as the spare room subsidy or ‘bedroom tax’ – aimed to do three things. Reduce costs; ease overcrowding and introduce greater fairness into the system. Specifically, if you were a social tenant with extra space that you didn’t strictly need you should pay for the advantage like all other people with housing costs.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged and | 44 Comments

LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Let’s cut out referendum tension and concentrate on historical significance of referendum vote

Carmichael looking mean croppedLiberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has written for the Daily Record about the need to conduct the independence referendum in a more respectful tone, citing examples of attacks from independence supporters on those who want to stay in the UK:

Cybernats – or internet trolls, to give them their proper name – wish Eddie Izzard serious harm simply because he has the cheek to disagree with them.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Jeremy Browne and his plan for the privileged

Eton college sign. Photo by Paul WalterOver the last couple of days, discussion of Jeremy Browne’s new book has caused, it’s fair to say, a bit of controversy on this site. Race Plan, contains ideas which make some liberals dance with joy and others wince. We previewed it yesterday and Nick Thornsby has produced an extremely well written review. You might well disagree with it, but he presents his arguments knowledgeably and respectfully.

I have not read this book. I probably will, but it’ll take a wee while before it gets anywhere near the top of my “must read” list. I do, however, feel that I know enough of its contents from Jeremy’s Daily Politics video, various press articles and, of course,  Nick’s review.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 106 Comments

The Immigration Bill: 23 Liberal Democrat Lords rebel on “stateless” power, 12 on child trafficking guardian

immigrationThe Immigration Bill was back in the Lords this Monday where the Government suffered two defeats. The first was to overturn the power of the Home Secretary to deprive terror suspects who had acquired British citizenship  (note, suspects, not anybody who has been convicted of anything) of that citizenship even if so doing would render them stateless.

Of the 242 peers supporting Lord Pannick’s amendment, 23 of them were Liberal Democrats. And their ranks included more than the usual Awkward Squad.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: More action needed on reproductive rights for all

Lynne FeatherstoneThis week, International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone is attending the UN Commission on Population and Development. She has written for the Huffington Post about how crucial it is to make sure that women have the choice about when to have children by having access to contraception, potentially saving 800 lives every day:

Globally there are 222million women who wish to space or delay the timing of births, but do not have access to modern forms of contraception. This has real and devastating consequences on their lives. In 2010, 800 women a day died from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth and in 2008 an estimated 8.7million young women aged 15 to 24 in developing countries resorted to unsafe abortions. All of this was preventable.

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Danny Alexander tells Bloomberg of Liberal Democrat contribution to fair recovery and plans for Mansion Tax

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander gave a big speech at Bloomberg this morning. Interestingly, he mentioned several times that he was from the Highlands and credited his upbringing in a small community with forming his commitment to fairness and managing resources wisely.

It was a wide-ranging speech, which looked back at the almost four years since he entered the Treasury. He said that some of the detail of getting to grips with the economic crisis would have to wait for his memoirs which he hoped would be “some way off”.  His main theme was that the Liberal Democrats were, uniquely, capable of managing the economy fairly. It was another variation of the “stronger economy, fairer society” melody.

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Book review: Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’

Jeremy Browne - Some rights reserved by Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeJeremy Browne spent just over three years as a government minister following the formation of the coalition in 2010, first in the Foreign Office, where his responsibilities included Britain’s relations with countries in Pacific Asia and Latin America, and latterly in the Home Office. However, reading his new book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for ‘The Global Race’, it does not take long to discover which of these offices had the biggest influence on his political outlook.

Because while the detail of the book focusses primarily on domestic policy, the theme that pulls it together, which provides its context, is Britain’s role in a rapidly-changing, globalising world.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 87 Comments

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP writes…Brussels Conference on Food and Climate Change

VärtaverketTHERE is justified concern over the growing reliance on food banks in the UK and across the European Union. We should consider it as a symptom of a broken food system which requires a complete overhaul. We need a sustainable food policy across the EU, where often prosperous farmers will get €350bn over the next seven years, while the most deprived get a meagre €3.5bn.

On March 30, a further report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”.

photo by: arvidr
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A trio of damning reports on impact of Government’s welfare reforms

Joseph Rowntree FoundationThree reports published today on the impacts of the Coalition Government’s welfare reforms should concern anyone who is interested in creating a fairer society.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes two reports on wider welfare reform in general and the Bedroom Tax in particular which should inform those who are responsible for the Liberal Democrat manifesto as well as our ministers.

photo by: HowardLake
Posted in News | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Maria Miller resigns – but is that all that needs to happen?

Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and SportThe writing was on the wall for Maria Miller in the 33rd second after she began her grudging apology last Thursday. Even if she had shown the required amount of contrition, the very fact that a system which allowed a committee of MPs to water down the Standards Commissioner’s judgement looks, even if it isn’t, motivated by self interest, by the privileged protecting their own.

At no point did she, or David Cameron, show any signs of “getting it”, of showing any understanding why the original issue was a serious matter.

By allowing it to become a battle between the Conservative leadership and the Tory right, one in which the latter has triumphed, Cameron has weakened his own position.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged and | 21 Comments

LibLink: Ming Campbell: I will vote no to independence because I love Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWillie Rennie’s “sunshine strategy”, talking up the positive side of Scotland staying in the UK even got a mention on the Andrew Marr Show during our Scottish Conference. The independence referendum is sorely needing a lift, and on the rare occasion it gets it, it is usually down to a Liberal Democrat, it has to be said. Charles Kennedy, Mike Moore, Willie Rennie and Alistair Carmichael have all added some much-needed appreciation of the UK and thoughtful consideration of the arguments. …

Posted in LibLink | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Pauline Pearce on the Daily Politics Show

Pauline Pearce was the studio guest in Monday’s Daily Politics. She deals with questions on Iain Duncan Smith’s latest reforms of the welfare system, and on Nigel Farage and the EU.

Half way through the show there is a profile of Pauline, which explains why she became known as the Hackney Heroine. It is followed by a discussion between her and David Lammy about the Hackney riots – I leave you to decide who won!

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Imprints on online political ads?

Do you remember Bingo graphic that Grant Shapps tweeted last month, which not only went viral but attracted a lot of parodies?

At the time nobody commented on the fact that the ad did not have an imprint. Party activists all know that any printed political literature must have a ‘Published, promoted and printed …’ imprint on it, and not having one can be a criminal offence during election time. And yet there is no such requirement for online ads.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: The first of the big four commitments for the front page of the manifesto

Lib Dem manifesto WordleTime and again we have been asked what four key commitments we should make in our manifesto for the next General Election.

I am of the opinion that, whilst until recently the idea that Liberal Democrats could go into a General Election campaign with the simplification of the tax regime as a cornerstone of our manifesto would have been laughable, as we near the end of our first term of Government in over 70 years that should be where we find ourselves and what’s more it should be a key commitment in our manifesto.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 27 Comments

Opinion: End this taxi madness

TAXI SPOTI climb into the driving seat of a taxi to respond to a call.

I pick up my passengers; it’s a school run. Halfway to school the phone rings again. I have an earpiece so I answer it. It’s another job, so I grab the radio and send another driver.

We’re nearly at the school now. The roads are busy. I’m concentrating, but the phone rings again. This time it’s a booking for later today, and I can’t write it down at the moment so I try to keep it in my head.

While I’m trying to make a mental note of those details, I can see another call waiting in the background. I hang up and that call comes through. Someone wants a quote for an airport run, and since I can’t write their number down and get back to them, I try to recall the price from memory as best I can.

photo by: ErrorTribune
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Jeremy Browne’s liberal regime to get Britain fit for the global race

Jeremy Browne bookAs we reported last month, Jeremy Browne has been using his time since he left government last October productively, writing a book on what he sees as the challenges facing Britain over the decades ahead, and the liberal approach that her believes is necessary in response to them. The book, Race Plan: An authentic liberal plan to get Britain fit for The Global Race, is published today by the think tank Reform.

The conundrum facing Britain is outlined neatly in the book’s first few chapters and can be summarised thus: world power and economic strength is shifting, from the Western powers that dominated the last century, primarily east, to Asia, but also south, to South America and Africa. On a whole range of indicators — productivity, educational attainment, global influence — Britain is losing out or is danger of doing so to these ambitious, focussed countries.

How do we respond? Do we accept relative decline as an inevitable consequence of globalisation? Or do we rethink our approach and seek to maintain the competitive advantage and influence on the world stage that we have grown used to? Browne’s answer is emphatically the latter, and he is clear on what form that response should take: it should be distinctly, “authentically” liberal.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 87 Comments

In full: Nick Clegg’s speech to Welsh Conference

Nick Clegg speaking York Some rights reserved by Liberal Democrats“We meet on the eve of a new tax year” is no conventional beginning to a political speech. However, Nick Clegg spoke to Welsh Liberal Democrats as taxpayers were about to get a Liberal Democrat tax cut which they’ll notice in their pay packets in 3 weeks’ time. He went on about it for quite some time, as you would expect, given that it was a major pledge on the front of OUR manifesto. He said that Cameron and Osborne, who are …

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Opinion: The Generation Gap

Day 46: Generation GapThe generation gap used to refer to the differing attitudes of young people and their elders to sex, drugs and rock and roll. For young people today, it has come to mean what the American author of the article linked below describes as “the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.”

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone magazine published an article under the title Five economic reforms millennials should be fighting for.

photo by: quinn.anya
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 52 Comments

Opinion: Smog and why we need the European Union

Smog from Primrose Hill LondonWe have suffered poor air quality across south east England for days. The authorities warned older people and people with cardiovascular problems to stay indoors. Ambulance call-outs in London rose by 14%, and David Cameron abandoned his usual morning jog, describing conditions as, “Unpleasant, but it’s a naturally occurring weather phenomenon.”

Although worse in urban centres, poor air quality has been a concern for years in some villages on major roads in West Sussex; air pollution is widespread.

photo by: Luton Anderson
Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

The three things Nick Clegg would change about the EU

Nick Clegg York Q&A Some rights reserved by Liberal Democrats13 hours after leaving the debate stage last Wednesday night, Nick Clegg was back on his regular Call Clegg radio show. The show had been nominated twice in the Radio Academy Awards to be presented next month.

The first caller, Caron from West Lothian, (who might she be, I wonder?) made the point that she was highly amused by David Cameron trying to pretend that he was the voice of reason on Europe when his plan was to sell all our employment rights down the river and then give us a referendum.  Her question to him was that although he’s a powerful advocate of the EU, he acknowledges that it’s not perfect,

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Baroness Sal Brinton writes…Disabled rail travel: We’re not just treated like second class citizens, we’re treated like packages

Link is Very Friendly to WheelchairsWhen people in wheelchairs meet one another, disabled travel experiences are a frequent topic of conversation. Rail, buses or taxi we have often encountered brilliant helpful staff, but frankly, sometimes appalling service.

My train commuter run to Parliament from Watford Junction to Euston is usually very smooth, with unfailingly helpful London Midland and National Rail assistance staff, but both stations are staffed for as long as trains are running. Unstaffed stations can be really patchy.

photo by: Oran Viriyincy
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Ros Scott speaks out against food waste

Food waste 215 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year.

122 million tonnes wasted in the industrialised world (which makes the British contribution of an eye-wateringly high proportion).

The latter figure is equal to the entire food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s a far cry from the days when we were growing up. Any waste at all horrified my Granny. She went to the shops every day and bought what she needed for that day and no more. Most of what she bought was relatively locally produced, unprocessed and fresh.

photo by: Nick Saltmarsh
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 24 Comments



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