Tag Archives: alan johnson

Labour reshuffle: Ed Miliband unveils Continuity Gordon Brown Party

The Lib Dem response to Ed Balls’ appointment as Labour’s shadow chancellor, replacing Alan Johnson, has been swift. Stephen Williams, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Treasury Committee, commented:

“I wish Alan Johnson good luck for the future.

“The decision to appoint Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor shows that the Labour Party is now determined to carry on with the Gordon Brown economic plan that caused so much trouble for this country.

“Ed Balls isn’t just a deficit denier, he’s a deficit enthusiast.”

Alan Johnson resigned earlier today, citing “personal reasons to do with my family”. He had been under pressure in …

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Why does Alan Johnson want the government to have a plan for something Ed Miliband says isn’t going to happen?

At the weekend, there was a flurry of activity online (such as here) following Ed Miliband’s interview on the Andrew Marr show where he denied having said that the government’s policies would cause a double-dip recession and various people pointed out how this was contradicted by his own website (and also, though less noticed, by the Labour Party website too).

If you look at the dates of who said what, there seems to be a fairly straight-forward explanation: Ed Miliband and others in Labour were expecting (or at least willing to talk in public as if they were expecting) …

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Clegg points to “clear liberal direction” of government, as Lib Dems highlight Labour’s economic woes

Nick Clegg used a prime-time slot on this morning’s Today Programme to make clear his view that the public will take a “more rounded view” of the Lib Dems’ achievements in government by the next election. As BBC News reports:

said the effect of the spending cuts would be “difficult”, adding: “But I think at the same time there are signs that the repair job we are doing on the government finances and the general creation of greater confidence in the economy might also start showing itself as well.

“I think it will be a crucial year – a crucial year, yes, of some very challenging circumstances for millions of people in this country, but I hope the beginning of a real turnaround as we move forward and as we successfully implement the repair job on the economy.” …

Asked whether the Lib Dems had been unsuccessful in implementing their manifesto commitments since forming the coalition, he replied that they had gone into the arrangement with the Conservatives “with our eyes wide open”. He said policies such as electoral reform, raising the point at which people pay basic-rate income tax and introducing a “pupil premium” to help children from the worst-off families had been largely due to his party’s efforts. Mr Clegg added: “I think this shows a clear liberal direction to this government, on the whole.”

He said: “These are the big benefits in British life which I acknowledge in a sense don’t present themselves immediately to people. Over the course of this parliament I believe people will take a more rounded view of what this government is doing.”

You can listen to a brief excerpt from Nick’s interview here:

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PMQS: Cameron promised faster wheels amidst squeaky bums

What a relief! For a change, Prime Minister’s Questions gave more cause for Tories to be uneasy than it did for LibDems. Don’t get me wrong, LibDems care passionately about frontline policing. Of course they do. But the Tories tend to see it as more of a cojones (or should I invent the adjective “cojonal” here?) measurement issue – it’s closer to the nerve with them. So I think there must have been a lot of uncomfortable shifting around on the benches behind David Cameron today. “Squeaky bum time”, as Sir Alex might put it.

For once there was a good …

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Alan Johnson – “an instinctive cutter”

Given how I’ve previously pointed out that Yes, ministers can disagree and the world doesn’t end, it would be wrong to shout “splits! splits!” at what is going on in the Labour Party over economic policy. The latest disagreements between leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson do however highlight just how much work Labour has to do to work out its economic policy.

As John Rentoul has pointed out:

Johnson made clear to Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson that he did not share his leader’s enthusiasm for making the 50p-in-the-pound top income-tax rate permanent: “I am only

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How the media loves mixed messages (when they suit their own message)

‘Conservative spending cuts are worse than Thatcher’s, says Alan Johnson’ shouts today’s Observer, reporting the paper’s interview with Labour’s incoming shadow chancellor.

If the election had turned out differently — if Labour had won, rather than suffering one of the worst defeats in its history — the headline could have read a little different… Imagine this headline:

    Alistair Darling: we will cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher

But wait, we don’t have to imagine that headline: it already exists, and was used by the Observer’s stablemate The Guardian back in March when reporting the then Labour chancellor’s realistic appraisal of the …

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Clegg on torture allegations: this goes “to the very top of Government”

As The Guardian reports:

The political storm over allegations of MI5 complicity in torture escalated tonight after Alan Johnson, the home secretary, accused the media of publishing “groundless accusations” and commentators of spreading “ludicrous lies” about the Security Service.

As defence lawyers prepared to challenge the government’s success in suppressing severe criticism of MI5 officers made by one of Britain’s most senior judges, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, pointed the finger at the “very top of government” saying senior ministers had probably known about claims of Britain’s involvement in torture but failed to take action to stop it.

Here’s Nick’s statement …

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Chris Huhne tackles Alan Johnson on Gary McKinnon’s extradition

Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne today tackled Alan Johnson on his decision not to block the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger’s, to the USA. (LDV has previously covered the story here). Their exchange in the Commons today is recorded below, and you can read the whole Hansard debate here:

Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD): The Home Secretary is, in my view, a very brave man to hold out his judgment of the medical condition—and of the worsening of the medical condition—of Gary McKinnon against such overwhelming evidence as we have heard from the hon.

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Huhne slams “shameful” Johnson over McKinnon extradition: “stop being an American poodle and start being a British bulldog”

Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne has slammed the decision of Labour’s Alan Johnson to refuse to block the extradition of Gary McKinnon – the self-confessed computer hacker with Asperger’s – to the US on medical grounds.

It is appalling that this Government places a higher value on a deeply unfair extradition agreement than it does on the welfare of a British citizen. Alan Johnson has shamefully turned down the opportunity to demonstrate his faith in British justice and save a vulnerable man from a lifetime in prison or worse.

“The Home Secretary must now step in and ensure that

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Evan Harris’s blog on #nuttsacking

On Monday, Helen brought you news from the Guardian of the dispute between Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris and Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

Over the last two days, Dr Harris’s blog has been unmissable as he has been posting details of the correspondence on his blog, along with the consequences.

A fisking of Alan Johnson’s speech in Parliament

I was amazed to hear what the Home Secretary said, under privilege, in parliament about a distinguished scientist and sent Alan Johnson the letter below demanding a retraction and apology.

A fisking of Alan Johnson’s reply

The Home Secretary has now responded

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Alan Johnson rejects Evan Harris’ claim that he misled MPs over Nutt

Alan Johnson has rejected Evan Harris’s claim that he misled MPs in his statement over the sacking of government drugs adviser Professor David Nutt.

From the Guardian:

Johnson conceded that the Home Office and secretariat for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had been warned in advance about a paper published by Nutt in an academic journal in January and a presentation he later gave at King’s College London. Johnson cited the paper and the speech when explaining his decision to sack Nutt as chairman of the advisory council. Harris said Johnson was wrong to suggest Nutt

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Opinion: The Nutt affair – or, the thin line between evidence and policy

Firstly, a disclaimer: I am a scientist, who is also interested in governance and politics, so the following post may come across as somewhat heated. Apologies, but I do feel that the recent furore over Prof. David Nutt’s sacking as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) goes right to the heart of why I took up both science and politics as profession and interest respectively.

We begin with Prof. Nutt’s most recent criticism of the government’s drugs policy, which attracted headlines for claiming that alcohol, despite being legal and freely available, was more harmful than the Class A narcotic ecstasy (MDMA). At first sight this may seem like an outlandish statement to make, but the evidence, collated by Prof. Nutt, suggests otherwise; granted, the recent publication from Nutt’s The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London wasn’t peer-reviewed, but the methodologies used to calculate his ‘harm index’ were so, and published in one of the most respected medical journals, The Lancet in 2007 (the full article is behind a paywall, contact me if you want the pdf…). Just to repeat this – using what seems to me to be a robust method, taking into account everything from physical harm to the user to social harms at large, ecstasy does indeed seem to be less dangerous than alcohol, and it’s using this tried and tested method of enquiry that Nutt used to conclude that cannabis should remain a class C drug.

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Daily View 2×2: 4 November 2009

2 Big Stories

Tory trouble as Lisbon Treaty passes
As the Czech President Vaclav Klaus ratified the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – now set to become law within a few weeks – the Conservative Party once again finds itself risking deep divisions over Europe rising to the surface.

As the Daily Express reports:

denied that the party had broken any promises by dropping the referendum pledge.

“A British referendum until this very day would have meant that the Lisbon Treaty wouldn’t enter into force if people voted no. The position of president of the European Council, the foreign minister of Europe, would never have been implemented,” he said.

“We were very clear that our promise applied to those circumstances. After today, those things will come into force and a referendum can’t change them, it can’t unwind them, it can’t prevent those things being created.

However for Tory Eurosceptics it has become an article of faith after Mr Cameron gave a “cast iron guarantee” two years ago that he would give the British people a chance to vote on the treaty.

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Bill Cash said he had written to Mr Cameron urging him to “reconsider” his decision not to hold a referendum, saying the Tory leader had been “badly advised”.

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Daily View 2×2: 2 November 2009

With just 59 days til the end of the third millennium’s first decade, we can celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the birth of BBC1, and that it’s 49 years to the day since Penguin Books was found not guilty of obscenity in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover case.

2 Big Stories

Johnson faces backlash over decision to sack drugs advisor

The fall-out continues from Home Secretary Alan Johnson’s decision to sack Professor David Nutt as chair of his scientific advisory body on drugs policy – The Times reports:

The Government is facing mass resignations from the official advisory body on drugs after the sacking

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Daily View 2×2: 1 November 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. And we’ve got the definitive musical proof that Australian Premier Kevin Rudd is not US President Barack Obama. But first, the news.

2 Big Stories

Government to set up bank chains
Done well, this could be rather good news. A bit more competition in the banking sector could improve service, reduce costs and – by undermining some of the basis for massive bank profits – indirectly help deal with massive bonus payments:

Three new High Street banking chains are to be created by the government by 2015 as part of a major overhaul.

They will be set up by breaking up Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Northern Rock, the banks it partially or wholly controls after bail-outs…

The aim of the new banks is to increase competition and recoup taxpayers’ cash.

The government, which holds a 70% stake in RBS and a 43% stake in Lloyds after last October’s bailouts, hopes to announce the sell-off plans on Tuesday.

The new banks will be standard retail banks concentrating on deposits and mortgages.

They will be sold to new entrants to the banking market and not to existing financial institutions. (BBC)

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David Nutt: why was he sacked?

Earlier today Home Secretary asked the Government’s chief drugs advisor, Professor David Nutt, to resign. The government line is that he was “asked” to resign but, outside the world of pedantic spin doctors who watch too much of The Thick of It, being “asked” to resign is the same as being sacked.

But what’s more concerning is the reason for him being removed. The Home Secretary has said the reason for sacking him  is that, “I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy”.

But David Nutt isn’t being accused of getting evidence wrong (even though some of it gets into …

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Better late than never

Some positive news today in the fight for justice for Gary McKinnon, the Asperger’s sufferer and alleged computer hacker who is facing extradition to the USA, a fate which it is believed could jeopardise his health:

The Home Secretary confirmed today that he had “stopped the clock” on proceedings to extradite the British alleged hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States. Alan Johnson told MPs that he was examining new medical evidence in the case, and would allow Mr McKinnon’s lawyers more time to consider medical reports and make legal representations.

Mr McKinnon, from North London, is wanted by US prosecutors

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Daily View 2×2: 15 July 2009

2 Big Stories

BNP shunned at European Parliament opening
The Times reports on the British National Party MEPs taking their seats yesterday at the opening of the European Parliament:

The new members, Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, avoided the European anthem and were allocated places 780 and 781, towards the back of the Strasbourg chamber with kindred MEPs from the neo-fascist parties of Belgium, Bulgaria, France and Hungary.

They were immediately shunned by their fellow non-aligned MEP, Diane Dodds, the Democratic Unionist, who refused to take up seat 782 next to Mr Brons. It remained empty throughout the opening session of the

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Simon Hughes challenges Home Secretary over McKinnon extradition

Yesterday’s LDV highlighted an article by Lib Dem peer Lord (Alex) Carlile, urging that alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon not be extradited to the USA to face charges – it is feared Mr McKinnon’s health could significantly deteriorate as a result of his Asperger’s condition. Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes used the opportunity of topical questions to the Home Secretary yesterday to ask Alan Johnson direct if he would intervene to prevent Mr McKinnon’s extradition.

Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): Will the Home Secretary act now to deal with growing anger in my constituency and around

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Daily View 2×2: 14 June 2009

Welcome to the Sunday outing for The Voice’s Daily View series. As it’s a Sunday, today it comes with a bonus complaint and the easiest quiz question of the week.

2 Big Stories

Could Alan Johnson scrap ID cards?

Gordon Brown’s weakness means there is a set of senior Cabinet members who are now unsackable. If any of them were to take it upon themselves to indulge in a very un-Brownian desire to do something dramatic and decisive, it would be extremely hard for Gordon Brown to stop them.

Step forward then possibly, perhaps, just maybe Alan Johnson. (He is, after all, one of those who hasn’t acted dramatically or decisively to get Gordon Brown ousted.) The Sunday Times reports:

ALAN JOHNSON, the home secretary, has launched an urgent review of the £6 billion identity card (ID) scheme, paving the way for a possible U-turn on one of Labour’s flagship policies.

Johnson, who was promoted in Gordon Brown’s latest cabinet reshuffle, is understood to be “sympathetic” to critics who claim identity cards will undermine civil liberties.

The home secretary told officials that he wanted a “first principles” rethink of the plan, which was launched by Tony Blair following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and has since been championed by Brown as a way of fighting terrorism.

“Alan is more sympathetic to the civil liberties arguments than previous home secretaries,” said an insider.

The Iranian elections

Although Lebanon’s recent elections saw a decisive victory for moderates, the official results from Iran show a landslide for the hardliners. These results have been disputed, but as so often the mainstream media coverage amounts to little more than “X says the elections were rigged, Y says they weren’t”, with little evidence presented to let you make a decision about who you think is telling the truth.

Step forward the online world, where there is much detailed argument available, including this blog post which – combined with the comments posted to it – gives a good flavour of the cases for and against the election results having been rigged.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

If David Cameron believes in first past the post, he should quit his job
From Mark Reckons:

David Cameron has spent a lot of time in the last few weeks talking about how great the First Past the Post electoral system is. He will not countenance any change from this even though MPs can end up elected with often much less than 50% of the vote in their own constituency.

What I find fascinating about this is that if you follow his line of reasoning to its logical conclusion then David Cameron should not be leader of the Conservative party at all. Instead it should be David Davis … if this had been a First Past the Post election then David Davis would have been elected leader.

Twitter and politics
Euro-candidate and journalist Jonathan Fryer muses over the impact of Twitter:

Though a comparatively late convert to the practice (despite the proselytising of my friend, Stephen Fry), I’ve been finding it hugely useful in recent weeks and have noted how one can enter into dialogue with politicians of other parties as well as with journalists and bloggers of all persuasions, who are quite happy to ‘follow’ one on Twitter, but who might not wish to ask or accept to be one’s Facebook ‘friend’, in case that were seen to be some kind of endorsement.

Sunday Bonus

Don’t these US movie moguls have any respect for our heritage?

The latest Star Trek movie just isn’t right:

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Daily View 2×2: 25 May 09

Say what you like about the banks: they give great holiday.

A day for making plans, maybe catching up on a few of those odd jobs – like electoral reform, for example…

2 Big Stories

Alan Johnson writes in the Times, recommending the adoption of the Alternative Vote Plus system: this came out of the Jenkins Report (Independent Commission on the Voting System) over a decade ago.

“The adoption of AV+ would shift the political focus currently concentrated almost exclusively on a few swing voters in a handful of marginal seats. It would end the perversity of the party with the most

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Daily View 2×2: 24 May 09

Welcome to the Sunday outing for The Voice’s new daily post series highlighting two big stories from the media and two “must read” blog posts from Liberal Democrats. As it’s a Sunday, there’s also a bonus extra supplement. If you spot anything for future posts, do let us know on [email protected]

2 Big Stories

MPs’ expenses
Heading into its third week, the MPs’ expense story shows no sign of abating. The latest scalp is that of Andrew MacKay, again. The story has been running for so long that not only was he one of its first victims (losing his Conservative Party job) but …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarBill le Breton 25th Jul - 2:38pm
    This is indeed good news. But some honesty is required. The original forecast at the time of the Coalition’s first budget http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/budget-2010/ (which saw an...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 25th Jul - 2:28pm
    Richard Dean - Good point. There is loads of advice now from things like professional societies freely available. Schools are not the only, and probably...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 25th Jul - 2:22pm
    Gareth Wilson - the more interesting one would be a comparison of the ratio of wages needed to pay a mortgage over time. I'm not...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 25th Jul - 2:19pm
    Dav - 'You might have been better off climbing the ladder to where the wealth is, rather than just waiting for it to come to...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 25th Jul - 2:19pm
    Is career guidance really best done by schools? Could it be done by a different organization? Are the skills and knowledge the same for teaching...
  • User AvatarDav 25th Jul - 2:09pm
    we’ve got more graduates than ever Though a greater proportion than ever are from joke 'universities' with 'degrees' that aren't worth the paper they are...