Tag Archives: andrew rawnsley

Andrew Rawnsley: “The real reasons why Nick threw down the gauntlet to Nigel”

Andrew Rawnsley has made some interesting comments in today’s Observer on Nick Clegg’s debate challenge to Nigel Farage.

He makes the obligatory point that the party’s poor position in the polls and concern over the consequences of a bad result for Clegg’s leadership  but makes the point that it only takes a relatively small shift to protect the position of Liberal Democrat MEPs.

Senior Lib Dems privately confide that their goal is quite modest: to lift their vote share by three to four points above their current poll ratings. When you are bumping along at low levels of support, just a

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Andrew Rawnsley on the Lib-Lab flirtation that could yet get serious

Well worth reading Andrew Rawnsley’s column in today’s Observer – Labour is blowing kisses at the Lib Dems. But don’t buy a hat yet – taking a look at Lib-Lab relations in the light of Ed Balls’ much commented on chumminess with Nick Clegg.

He rehearses two points familiar to readers here. First, that almost all Labour’s policy announcements in the past year (it’s not a long list) are in tune with existing Lib Dem policy: reducing taxes for the low-paid, a mansion tax and ending wealthy pensioners’ benefits are just three of the ideas that started with …

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Miliband vs McCluskey: 2 points that strike me about the Labour/Unite row over alleged candidate selection rigging

Looking in from the outside, albeit as a former Labour member myself, two points strike me about the Labour/Unite row over the alleged attempt by the union to rig the selection of the party’s general election candidate in Falkirk.

The first is this:

How lucky is Ed Miliband in his opponent, Len McCluskey?

Yes, you read that right. Ed is lucky in Len. The reason why is simple: Len McCluskey has gone about his attempted putsch of Labour in an extraordinarily cack-handed manner.

If you wanted to set up a comedy caricature trade union boss, you’d make sure he had a salary of £122,000, had called for a general strike, have him make threats against prominent Labour ‘Blairites’, and then protest against the lefty New Statesman when it reports accurately what you’ve said.

If you wanted to be a smart trade union leader, however, you’d operate below-the-radar. You’d do things just the same: ensure your chosen candidate was elected Labour leader (however dubiously), line up your mate to head up the party’s election campaigns, and guarantee loyal union members are installed in as many key seats as possible.

But you’d do so sotto voce.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 8 Comments

Your essential weekend reader — my personal pick of the week’s must-reads

It’s Saturday evening, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices culled from all those I’ve linked to this last week. You can follow me on Delicious here.

Political predictions: as the year ends, what does 2013 hold for the main party leaders? – Andrew Rawnsley sanely assesses the 12 months to come: ‘Nick Clegg and David Cameron face more of the same. Ed Miliband’s future is more complicated. He has choices.’

No longer the dunce – Anne McElvoy whispers the …

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David Cameron’s a hostage to his party and the right-wing press. Thank goodness for Nick Clegg

The shockwaves from David Cameron’s decision to reject the proposed ‘Merkozy’ EU treaty is still shaking politics. The UK stands isolated from the other 26 member states. Tory Eurosceptics and, early polls suggest, a majority of the British public think the Prime Minister has played a blinder, ‘sticking up for Britain’.

This is difficult territory for the Lib Dems. Our October survey of party members suggested a more Eurosceptical attitude than traditionally associated with the party, with 51% rejecting a move towards ever closer union.

However, there is nothing more guaranteed to put up liberals’ backs than the full-throated, …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 42 Comments

Who are the Lib Dems ‘unconventional men (or women) whose mad ideas make us think’?

Andrew Rawnsley, writing in today’s Observer under the surprisingly un-PC title In praise of unconventional men who make us think, sticks up for those iconoclastic thinkers who challenge their parties’ conventional thinking, citing as paragons the Tories’ Steve ‘Big Society’ Hilton and Maurice ‘Blue Labour’ Glasman:

Conventional is not a description you could apply to either of these eclectic thinkers. … There are many big differences between these two men and their philosophies, but something interestingly common to them is anti-statism, a deep antagonism to bureaucracy and managerialism. … It would be a shame if either were to be silenced.

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What can the Lib Dems do about the Coalition’s ‘Northern problem’?

Andrew Rawnsley in today’s Observer highlights a key issue for both Coalition partners, in particular — the Tories’ failure to make any kind of advance in the north, and the Lib Dems’ difficulties in retaining our popularity there.

With the exception of William Hague, Eric Pickles and two Lib Dem Scots, the cabinet is a very southern English affair. This may not have been much noticed by the south, but it is very evident if you look through the other end of the telescope. Viewed from Leeds or Manchester or Newcastle, Westminster is more remote than ever. It also seems

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 56 Comments

Interview: Nick Clegg’s year in the eye of the storm

Sunday’s Observer featured a lengthy interview with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg from its chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley. Rawnsley takes a look at what has been a tumultuous year for the deputy PM, covering a whole variety of topics along the way.

Here’s a short extract from the interview:

His very existence as deputy prime minister is a daily reminder to the Conservatives and their tribalist mouthpieces in the media that the Tories failed to achieve a clear election win, even against an opponent as unpopular as Gordon Brown. For many on the left, Clegg is the great betrayer who sold

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Meet the Lib Dem bloggers: Jonathan Fryer

Welcome to the latest in our series giving the human face behind some of the blogs you can find on the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator.

Today it is Jonathan Fryer, who blogs at www.jonathanfryer.wordpress.com.

1. What’s your formative political memory?
Jo Grimond came to my school during the 1964 general election, kept 400 normally fidgety boys rapt, and I thought, ‘Yes, I believe that!’

2. When did you start blogging?
March 2007.

3. Why did you start blogging?
Blogging replaced many years of keeping a diary. Why only write for myself and whoever clears my house when I snuff it?

Jonathan Fryer screenshot4. What five words would you use to describe your blog?
Local and global in content.

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

Backing for electoral reform in the Scotsman and The Observer

A leader in The Scotsman / Scotland on Sunday backs a Yes vote in May’s referendum:

The fact that it is AV on offer and not one of the other systems is the product of three specific factors: the offer on PR made by the last Labour government to woo the Lib Dems; the arithmetic of the general election result; and the mechanics of the deal between David Cameron and Nick Clegg that delivered the coalition administration. It is the product of specific circumstances. It is also the only game in town. In the world of realpolitik an academic debate

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3 to see: Lib Dem #GE2010 campaign coverage (11/4/10)

Pushed for time, but want to keep up-to-date with how the campaign’s going? Here are today’s must-reads ….

As the Tories launched their tax-war on widows, working couples and jilted wives, Nick Clegg was spelling out his priority: “We will cut taxes for all working families on low and middle incomes, not just a select few.” Launching the party’s policies for families – focusing on fair taxes, high-quality child-care, flexible working, care for older people, and affordable homes – Nick commented:

Modern families come in all shapes and sizes. One-size fits all policies

Posted in General Election | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Word of mouth election? That’s so 1997

Douglas Alexander’s soundbite about wanting to make 2010 the “word of mouth” election has got a fair amount of coverage in the last few days, such as in this mostly thoughtful piece by Andrew Rawnsley.

Why do I only say “mostly thoughtful”?

That’s because it’s a good piece, but also displays a weakness so common in contemporary British political commentary. It’s the feeling that it’s more important to talk about what an American did a couple of years ago than how the British political system has worked over the last few elections.

Because if you want “word of mouth”, and you know …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Clegg and Cable resign from PoliticsHome panel in protest at Ashcroft takeover

A minor media spat broke out this week, following the announcement that Lord (Michael) Ashcroft, the Tory deputy chairman who bankrolls the party’s target seats while refusing to say if he pays tax in this country, has bought a majority stake in the political news and commentary aggregator site, PoliticsHome.

This triggered the resignation of the site’s editor-in-chief, Andrew Rawnsley, who issued a public statement arguing that:

It was essential for users of the site that they could feel absolute confidence in the political independence of PoliticsHome. I do not believe that can be compatible with being under the ownership

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Bagehot praises Nick’s Afghan policy

Bagehot, the pseudonym of The Economist’s British politics columnist/blogger, has written a post sticking up for Nick Clegg following criticism aimed at him from both left (in the shape of The Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley) and right (James Forsyth in The Spectator):

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has been unfairly treated for saying in public what a large number of other people are confiding in private. … the doubts Mr Clegg has expressed about the strategy, resources and prospects of the Afghan campaign are shared by many others.

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LDV Awards 2008: Political Journalist/Broadcaster and Political Programme of the Year

Many thanks to the 200+ LDV readers who took part in our end-of-year awards, which ran between 23rd and 28th December. Voting was conducted via Liberty Research using the alternative vote method of ranking the nominees for each of the eight categories. In the last two days, we have revealed the winners of Lib Dem Politician of the Year, and By-election Performance of the Year; and Lib Dem Campaigner of the Year, and Most Desperate Press Release of the Year. Today, we turn our attention to two non-Lib Dem categories:

Political Broadcaster / Journalist of the Year

17% – Andrew Rawnsley (The Guardian);
29% – Evan Davis (The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4);
27% – Keith Olbermann (MSNBC);
5% – Nicky Campbell & Shelagh Fogarty (BBC Radio 5 Live);
14% – Robert Peston (BBC);
8% – Simon Mayo (BBC Radio 5 Live).

Eventually, after excluding Nicky & Shelagh, Simon, Robert and Andrew, it came to a run-off between…

62.5% – Evan Davis (The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4);
37.5% – Keith Olbermann (MSNBC).

Congratulations to Evan – I suspect this story may have given him a helping hand among LDV readers.

Political Radio / TV Programme of the Year

12% – Any Questions? (BBC Radio 4);
14% – Newsnight (BBC2);
17% – Saturday Night Live,for Tina Fey’s impressions of Sarah Palin (NBC);
6% – The Daily Politics (BBC2);
47% – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central);
4% – This Week (BBC1).

After the elimination of This Week and The Daily Politics (LDV readers are not fans of Andrew Neill, it seems), and redistribution of their votes, the final result was:

13% – Any Questions? (BBC Radio 4);
18% – Newsnight (BBC2);
20% – Saturday Night Live,for Tina Fey’s impressions of Sarah Palin (NBC);
51% – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central).

A pretty definitive win, then, for Jon Stewart’s acerbic, irony-laden Daily Show. In honour of which, can I take this opportunity to replay the most famous Stewart clip, when he takes on the horrendously smug Crossfire (CNN) and totally destroys its co-hosts, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. Really quite scinitillating stuff.

Posted in LDV Awards | 1 Comment

The LDV 2008 Awards: start voting NOW

As trailed – here, here and here – Lib Dem Voice’s end-of-the-year awards are back this year, bigger and better than last year ever before.

In total, there are eight categories for which we’re seeking votes in the LDV 2008 Awards. Nominations were submitted by LDV’s readers; the short-list was agreed by the LDV Collective; and the winners will be decided by a ‘fair votes’ ballot using the alternative vote. How much more impeccably liberal can you get?

Any LDV reader may take part; it should only take a minute or so to complete the survey.

To

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Who do you think’s the best political journalist in Britain?

That’s the question Total Politics put to journalists, MPs and the magazine’s Facebook fans – and below, courtesy of The Guardian’s Politics Blog, are the top 20.

As ever with such lists, there are some curiosities – for example, that neither Andrew Neill nor Matthew D’Ancona make it into the premiership. And, personally, I’m a fan of Philip Stephens in the FT. Who do you think’s missing, or been over-promoted?

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Lib Dem tax policy: the media’s starting to listen, so now will the public get to hear about it?

Earlier today, Lib Dem Voice published this extract from Nick Clegg’s speech to the Royal Commonwealth Society summarising the Lib Dems’ policy of tax cuts for low- and middle-income households:

Real tax cuts – big, permanent and fair – for the people who need them. Funded by making the wealthy pay their fair share, ending the special exemptions and loopholes they’ve profited from for so long. Liberal Democrats would reduce basic rate income tax by 4p in the pound. That would give nearly £1000 back to a worker on £30,000 a year. Funded by four changes.

One: ending upper rate pensions

Posted in Op-eds and Polls | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Andrew Rawnsley on Gordon Brown

From The Observer:

A Prime Minister cannot be on perpetual probation. That is a recipe for the government to carry on fragmenting, for his reputation to continue to disintegrate and for the Conservatives to cement their huge poll lead. It is evident what the Labour party should do for the good of its own political health. It ought to make a collective decision either to get rid of Gordon Brown or to rally around him. But Labour can’t do either and why that is so has become evident from the events of the past few days.

The Prime Minister does not

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Why blogging matters to Lib Dems more than most

This is the fortnight of lists and awards in the political blogosphere. Not only has Iain Dale produced his annual little list, but the Lib Dem Blog of the Year awards are once again upon us. All of which may seem a little self-indulgent. And it probably is. But there’s a serious point to blogging, and one which is of unique relevance to the Lib Dems.

All the main national newspapers employ commentators who write regularly on politics. But cast your eyes down the lists of columnists in the serious press and you will see something missing: a …

Posted in Online politics and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Not quite “making it happen”

The siren voices told us that the way to find fame and fortune was to announce a dramatic policy shift.  Either to the left or to the right, according to taste.  Well, we’ve tried that now.  The broadsheets gave us inside pages.  TV News gave us a mention.  The commentators politely pointed out that big tax cuts might not be terribly practical in hard times.  And that, more or less, was that.

We can compare and contrast “Making It Happen” with a much more effective piece of instant publicity, our plan to target 50 Labour seats.  That was a story which …

Posted in News | 63 Comments

Labour and Conservatives set to abandon green policies

Politics Home has an interesting survey of political opinion formers today. They were asked their views on how seriously Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will take environmental policies in the future.

Andrew Rawnsley’s write-up says:

The PHI100 reckon that most of the politicians will follow the voters and downplay the environment.   Saving the planet will come second to saving their skins and seats.

‘The greed of the electorate and the fear of the parties will drive it off the agenda,’ one panellist remarks.

Another says: ‘Everybody will be running away from it, at least in terms of green taxes.’

Only a tiny proportion

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Okay, so here’s some personality politics for you

Let’s not be too po-faced… of course there’s some discussion at conference about who will succeed Ming come the time.

As Chris Huhne told Lib Dem Voice today, “the cat’s out of the bag” that he’d like to be the party’s leader one day – after all, he did come from nowhere to finish as a strongly-placed runner-up last time.

Nick Clegg played a straight bat at last night’s Observer fringe – interviewed by Andrew Rawnsley, he said he would “probably” stand next time there was a vacancy.

There is also growing speculation that Steve Webb, currently …

Posted in Conference and News | 3 Comments

OPINION: An Elephant’s Voice

Millennium Elephant, a 2006 finalist in Lib Dem Blogger of the Year, has written exclusively for Lib Dem Voice on the state of politics today.

Hello! That nice Mr Lord Deputy Lord Mayor Lord Stephen has asked me to write a special diary for his august organ. This is a PUN… because it is AUGUST!

I think that I should begin by explaining, for any readers who have not already read my famous Fluffy Diary. My name is Millennium Dome and I live in the East End of London. Obviously, I am a white elephant. I am seven years old because I am the same age as the Millennium !

Mr Lord Deputy Stephen has asked me to explain to him about POLITICS, and I can understand why he is confused! It is VERY complicated!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Mandelson’s ‘homoerotic admiration’ for Tony Blair

The promotional vehicle for Andrew Rawnsley’s Channel 4 documentary on Tony Blair’s premiereship trundles on, today with a quote on the Guardian arts blog:

“Of course Peter Mandelson had an almost homoerotic admiration for Tony – it was embarrassing,” opined Bazza in one of his gloriously unguarded off-piste moments.”

Greater love hath no man than one who didn’t know he’d be sacked twice in the next ten years.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Countdown to conference

“What are you doing in here? are you bored?” – the words of a friend of mine as he slumped in to the adjacent chair at the back of the conference hall in the Blackpool Winter Gardens in September last year.

My friend had been on one of his annual conference rituals – the exhibition freebie run. The star prize of an Electoral Commission anorak had eluded him, but he was content enough with his Local Government Association biro and mints, and his BBC keyring.

He’d done better than me – my trawl of the exhibition had turned up only a copy of the latest DELGA newsletter and a cold stare from someone I’d chatted up the night before, tempted back to my hotel room (for a stimulating discussion of the General Election manifesto, obviously), and promptly fallen asleep on.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 9 Comments
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