Tag Archives: andrew sparrow

“Steve Webb has now become one of the most important people in government”

steve webbAccording to The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow, at any rate, who noted the Lib Dem pensions minister’s fingerprints all over this week’s budget:

The Lib Dem pensions minister, Steve Webb, has now become one of the most important people in government. A rare example of a minister who is an expert in his area, he has been pushing the pension pot liberalisation plan (which is firmly rooted in longstanding Lib Dem party policy) and the legislation on this – which he will almost certainly have to take through the Commons –

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Clegg on the Daily Mail: “Overflowing with bile about modern Britain”

call cleggI noted earlier this week that the Daily Mail’s attacks on Ed Miliband’s father have echoes of the smears the paper has peddled about Nick Clegg and his family over the years.

And on his ‘Call Clegg’ radio phone-in today the Lib Dem leader didn’t shy away from mounting a full-frontal assault on the Mail pointing out that what it represents is utterly opposed to the British values of decency, tolerance and fair play. Here’s how the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow reports it:

Wow. That was striking. Nick Clegg has got

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++ Lib Dem conference overwhelmingly votes to oppose ‘secret courts’. Again.

You may be forgiven a sense of déjà vu: the Liberal Democrats have voted overwhelmingly to oppose secret courts legislation. Just as we did last September.

Here’s the text of the motion which was just passed:

Conference believes:

1. That the measures in Part II of the Justice and Security Bill will mean the courts system of the United Kingdom will provide neither justice nor security in cases involving

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Eastleigh by-election: your essential round-up of the week’s campaign news

Mike_ThorntonIt’s only just over a week since the Eastleigh by-election was called. But this first Lib Dem / Tory by-election battle of the parliament has attracted a lot of interest. One aspect that hasn’t been noted much in the media is the level of enthusiasm within the Lib Dems to fight this by-election, and fight it to win.

As the party’s weekly briefing itself noted, Mike Thornton’s campaign has broken the party’s by-election records, with “more volunteers, more money raised and more campaign literature delivered in the opening days of the Eastleigh by-election campaign than any other”.

Here a few of the stats:

  • Well over 1,000 Lib Dem volunteers have visited the by-election HQ since it was officially opened on Saturday morning.
  • On Thursday alone, 2,200 phone calls were made to prospective voters and activists knocked on 1,700 doors.
  • More than 650 individual donations have been received through the party’s website and through email appeals in the last six days.
  • 21 of the party’s 57 MPs have already visited: Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Ed Davey, Vince Cable, Sir Malcolm Bruce, Sir Nick Harvey, Tim Farron, Jo Swinson, David Laws, Duncan Hames, Andrew Stunell, Simon Wright, Sir Robert Smith, Stephen Gilbert, Tom Brake, Roger Williams, Don Foster, John Leech, Tessa Munt, Mark Williams, John Pugh and Adrian Sanders.

Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 11 Comments

Equal marriage: who voted which way

For those wanting to know the voting breakdown of last night’s historic decision in the Commons to approve equal marriage, here it is courtesy of Andrew Sparrow’s essential Guardian live-blog…

Conservatives

FOR – 127 MPs (42%)
AGAINST – 136 MPs (45%)
ABSTENTIONS – 5 MPs (2%)
ABSENT – 35 MPs (12%)

Labour

FOR – 217 MPs (84%)
AGAINST – 22 MPs (9%)
ABSTENTION – 16 MPs (6%)

Lib Dems

FOR – 45 MPs (80%)
Danny Alexander (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey), Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington), Annette Brooke (Dorset Mid & Poole North), Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), Malcolm Bruce (Gordon), Paul Burstow (Sutton & Cheam), Lorely Burt (Solihull), Vincent …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 49 Comments

Lib Dems to move writ for Oldham East and Saddleworth by election tomorrow

From Andrew Sparrow’s PoliticsLive blog:

The Lib Dems are going to move the writ for the Oldham East and Saddleworth byelection tomorrow, a party spokesman has just told me. They want the contest to be held on Thursday 13 January. Normally the party that used to hold the seat moves the writ, but this is a convention, not a rule, and the Lib Dems say the constituency has waited long enough for an MP. If Labour opposes the move, there will be a debate and a vote.

I’m sure there is a precedent for holding a byelection campaign over Christmas, but

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 41 Comments

Conference: the full-time score

Having blogged ten questions for Liberal Democrat conference, along with a conference half-time update, how do things look now the dust has settled from Liverpool for those ten points?

Party strategy

Love your coalition partner all the time in public: that was the clear line taken by Nick Clegg, reinforced by other senior party figures and not challenged directly in any high profile way during conference (save for one question during the Nick Clegg Q&A). And yet… whether or not the party should let its strong debates with the Conservatives within the coalition show a little more in public was …

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Lib Dem conference 2010: open thread #ldconf

The thousands of Lib Dem members who made it to Liverpool this week for the party conference will be arriving home now, probably tired, in need of a healthy square meal, and perhaps a tad hungover. Here’s your opportunity to tell Voice readers what you made of it all: the highlights (and any lowpoints), the surprises (and disappointments)… in fact, anything you like.

The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow, who’s been live-blogging the conference all week, has set out his ’10 things I’ve learned from the Lib Dem conference’ here (you’ll need to scroll a bit down the page). They’re well worth …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Brown’s five Iraq inquiry U-turns explained

The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow has been a busy boy – he’s been trying to keep pace with the Government’s U-turns since Gordon Brown made his statement announcing the Iraq inquiry last week. He reckons there have been a possible nine, and a definite five:

  • Holding the inquiry in public
  • Allowing the inquiry to attribute blame
  • Forcing witnesses to give evidence on oath
  • Publishing an interim report
  • Membership of the inquiry committee
  • Indeed, it’s interesting to compare this list with Nick Clegg’s consistent pressure on the Government over the past few days, and the clarification he’s sought from inquiry chair Sir John Chilcot.

    Economist columnist-blogger Bagehot has today analysed this litany of reverses in an attempt to explain Mr Brown’s reverse Midas touch:

    I prefer to see the whole, shambolic episode as a parable of the dialectical weakness that has undone Mr Brown’s premiership.

    The prime minister made his announcement without proper consultation, either of other political leaders or other interested parties, such as current and former generals. His proposal came in for criticisms—on the openness question, the composition of the panel, the time-frame and so on—that ought to have been glaringly predictable, and would certainly have been made plain by any meaningful canvassing of views. As a result, an initiative that was doubtless expected to be a vote-winner threatened to become a political disaster. The government has responded with an ongoing frenzy of back-tracking and buck-passing, leaving it to Sir John to resolve many of the controversial issues himself. (There is a useful catalogue of the various U-turns here.) What ought to have been a cross-party endeavour instead became, in the votes in the Commons yesterday evening, a futile test of the government’s strength.

    There you have it: an encapsulation of the whole Brown tragicomedy. The motive may (or may not) have been noble. But the execution was a catalogue of shoddy judgments and mistakes, combining lack of consultation with a political tin ear, failings that perfectly illustrate why Mr Brown’s overall position is so vulnerable. That vulnerability in turn explains why he was obliged so swiftly to climb down. He is in large measure the author of his own predicament; and the predicament is in turn emasculating him.

    And Labour’s U-turns aren’t restricted solely to Iraq. Just today, Harriet Harman scrapped the Government’s plans to limit the scope of the committee set up to oversee the reform of Parliament. Ministers had been planning to prevent the Wright Committee from examining any Government business. However, Ms Harman today contacted Lib Dem shadow Leader of the House, David Heath, to inform him that she would be accepting his amendment allowing the committee to look at Government business.

    David Heath commented:

    Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments



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