Tag Archives: damian green

Stephen Lloyd MP writes… This government is working

The last six months as the new Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne have been more of a rollercoaster than I could ever have imagined they would be! I’ve been pretty much just as flat out, albeit in a different way, as an MP as I was during the 6 months frenetic run up to the General Election.

Much has gone on as you’ll all be aware but the two things I’d like to write about today show the upside of being in Government and the upside of having the privilege of influence all MPs enjoy.

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The Independent View: Please make sure they really do end child detention

Liberal Democrats are understandably confused about whether child detention is ending or not.

Nick Clegg got the commitment to end child detention into the Coalition Agreement. Only last Thursday Sarah Teather promised: ‘Rest assured. It will be done.’ She also said: ‘We have to be careful not to rush into this as we are dealing with the safety and well-being of often vulnerable children and it is essential it is done properly.’

Quite how children’s safety might be served by not rushing to end a practice proven to wreck their lives is a mystery that suggests leading Liberal Democrats have been

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Opinion: Syria’s ban proves nothing to British niqab critics

As the Syrian Government introduces a ban on the niqab in universities, the debate on Islamic veils has moved beyond Europe and into a wider discussion about personal freedom and national identity.

A niqab ban in a Middle Eastern country will give weight to those British critics who claim that their objections are grounded in values, not race, and the UK’s Muslim community will face scrutiny once more. The opinion formed by armchair pundits is that the niqab is not acceptable to our British values, but is it a threat to them?

The government of Syria saw veils as a destabilising force, …

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Daily View 2×2: 8 December 2009

A year ago today, Kirsty Williams was elected Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats – the first female leader of a political party in Wales.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • Our fishy democracy
  • Duncan Stott’s worked out that in roughly 87% of seats, more people didn’t vote than voted for their MP. He proposes a visual way to remind “politicians to engage more with their constituents, and also the public to engage with politics.”

  • No trifling matter
  • Haringey Councillor Richard Wilson on patronising name-calling in the council chamber.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

A long walk to victory
The Guardian’s Dave Hill on an issue which affects not only London pedestrians, but those living in any urban area:

Here are some useful facts. There are 2,244 signalled junctions in Greater London that include pedestrian crossing facilities, and 2,477 “stand alone” pedestrian crossings that have lights. Eleven percent of all signalled crossings lack either bleeping noises or tactile aids, which make them less safe for blind or partially sighted people. At the last count around 400 did not comply with the Department for Transport’s most recent design standards, which TfL adopts, though work on correcting this seems to have accelerated in recent months.

These stats have been unearthed thanks largely to the persistence of London Assembly Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, who also chairs the assembly’s transport committee. She has remorselessly pursued the issue of road-crossing safety with TfL and Boris Johnson, and I’m grateful to one of her press office colleagues for bringing the fruits of her labours to my attention so comprehensively.

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Damian’s DNA

As the Guardian reports:

Damian Green, the Conservative frontbench immigration spokesman whose arrest during a Home Office leaks inquiry sparked a parliamentary storm, has won a four-month battle to have his DNA, fingerprint and police records destroyed.

The Metropolitan police told Green’s lawyers he is to be treated as “an exceptional case”. His DNA sample and fingerprints, taken when he was arrested, will be deleted within “a number of weeks”.

Meanwhile, for everyone else in Britain, different rules apply, despite a clear ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

To Green’s credit, he does not want to be a special case: …

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Ming to head police inquiry into Damian Green police raid

Here’s how the BBC reported this under the slightly unappetising headline, Sir Menzies to head Green probe:

Sir Menzies Campbell is to chair an inquiry into the police raid on the Commons office of Tory MP Damian Green.

The former Lib Dem leader will review how the Commons authorities deal with search requests from the police. The cross-party panel also includes former home secretaries David Blunkett and Michael Howard and ex-foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Commons leader Harriet Harman, who has set up the pane, will ask MPs to approve its terms of reference. She has asked it to report by

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Fixed elections and political policing

Two damning pieces of news this morning.

The first comes from Erith and Thamesmead, where the already controversial Labour selection process has just taken a turn for the sinister. The BBC reports:

A London Labour spokesman said: “It was discovered that the seal on a ballot box containing previously received ballot papers for the selection of Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead was broken.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the process, hustings meeting has been immediately postponed and a new date will be fixed.”

The candidates include Georgia Gould,

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PR in an online world: Boris Johnson’s team at work

There was an interesting little example last week of how the Conservatives are trying to use blogs to set the tone of news reporting, courtesy of Boris Johnson and a report into his behaviour.

The report, into Boris Johnson’s behaviour over the Damian Green affair, makes major criticisms of his behaviour but falls short of saying that he broke any rules. So the battle for good publicity came down to whether the report would be seen as ‘Boris cleared because he didn’t breach the rules’ or ‘Boris criticised for bad judgement and poor choices’. The Conservatives tried to make use of bloggers to pitch for the first, but in the end failed because the mainstream media coverage was far more balanced.

As Tory Troll points out, Boris Johnson got his retaliation in first with a statement welcoming the outcome of the inquiry, emphasising the part about him being cleared of any breach of the rules and glossing over the criticisms of his behaviour in the report, such as the conclusions that his acts:

  • Were “extraordinary and unwise” (paragraph 8.20)
  • Might “inhibit full and free discussion” of high profile cases “between the chief officer of police and a police authority chairman” (6.33)
  • “Placed him at risk of being called as a witness by either the CPS or defence in any criminal prosecution of Mr Green, to the potential detriment of his office as Chairman of the MPA” (8.21)
  • Risked being “perceived as furthering private interests” (8.21)

The Boris Johnson version of events was echoed across a range of friendly-blogs, all of whom ran similar stories: Iain Dale (“Boris is in the clear“), ConservativeHome (“Boris Johnson cleared of wrongdoing over Greengate“) and Conservative GLA member James Cleverly (“Boris in the clear“).

Iain’s piece quotes paragraph 11.1 of the report, but has no reference to the critical parts (his reasoning being, “I quoted that because it was the main conclusion of the report. Surely in these matters, that’s what counts. I don’t deny there were critical comments, and Boris addressed those in his own response”), Jonathan Isaby on ConservativeHome has a smiling picture of Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up, but no mention of the other aspects of the report, and James Cleverly’s piece is similarly glowing.

However, the efforts of Boris Johnson’s team seem to have been largely in vain, because the mainstream media coverage was far better, and in another warning to Boris Johnson about how he may find the Evening Standard a far more hostile paper now that its owner and editor have changed, the Evening Standard headlined its report:

Boris rebuked for his ‘unwise’ contact with Green during inquiry

Similarly, the BBC reported:

Boris Johnson’s role in the Damian Green affair was “extraordinary and unwise” but did not amount to an abuse of office, a new report has found.

Background

This extract summarises the nuances of the report’s findings:

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Opinion: With every week that passes, Brown’s regime becomes more and more Nixonian

As the Green-gate affair rumbles along in the background, it is hard for those of us who remember early 1970s America to ignore the parallel: an increasingly controlling Executive, fears for personal liberty – and a man at the top with serious personality dysfunction.

Richard Nixon and Gordon Brown do share striking similarities of circumstance and character.

They had puritanical backgrounds with domineering fathers, were intellectual prodigies, intensely private – and awkward in company and public. Both gave the impression of being somehow ‘not quite right’. The 1960 anti-Nixon slogan ‘Would you buy a used car from this Man?’ seemed to fit immediately; and I’ve also now lost count of the number of women who find Brown ‘odd’.

Both were manipulative in their cultivation of ‘poor me’: Nixon the small-town farmboy who ‘never had it easy like the Kennedys’, and Brown the young man agonising about potentially lost sight (a fact the politician kept to himself until he needed a sympathetic leadership image). Dicky wrote about ‘Five Crises’, and Gordon continues to insist he is the best man in crises. Nixon had his Kennedy to envy, and Brown has his Blair to hate: ‘it came naturally to them, but I’ve had to work at it’ is also a shared view – displaying an obvious desire to be seen as noble and heroic.

Fellow sufferers from indecisive depression, they instinctively disappeared from the stage when blame was being assigned. They expected people to accept ridiculous explanations of dubious behaviour, and had associates who insisted they were very nice really – but swore obscenely at aides (or screamed at secretaries) in private.

The observations may perhaps be harsh, but there is something abnormally untrustworthy in the dissembling, shifty nature of these men – an ethical doubt borne out in both cases by shadows and clouds after every episode – and strangely locked cupboards where nobody may go.

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Open letter from Unlock Democracy

This open letter dropped into our inbox earlier this week with a request to forward to Lib Dem members. Consider it done!

Dear friend,

David Heath MP (LD – Somerton and Frome) has just come 2nd in the Private Members’ Ballot in Parliament.

We are writing to you as fellow LDs to ask you to lobby him to adopt the Leaked Information (Accountability of Government) Bill – it is vitally important as it concerns the rights of members of parliament to hold the executive to account

BACKGROUND

You don’t have to be a Tory to find Damian Green’s arrest a couple of …

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Lib Dems to boycott Commons police raid enquiry

Continue reading »

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Speaker Martin is safe, says Ming. (But should he be?)

Ming Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader and a possible candidate to be the next Speaker, is in no doubt that Michael Martin will survive in post, despite the controversy surrounding Damian Green’s arrest. Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme this morning, Ming observed:

If the Speaker steps down, by convention he or she leaves the House of Commons and goes to the House of Lords. I can’t imagine Gordon Brown looks forward with any enthusiasm to fighting another difficult byelection in Glasgow. I think Mr Martin will remain in the Speaker’s chair until the end of this parliament.”

There is …

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Lib Dems to boycott Speaker’s committee

The PA reports:

Plans by Speaker Michael Martin to set up a committee to look into last week’s police raid at the House of Commons are hanging in the balance after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg announced his party will boycott it.

Both Lib Dems and Conservatives are angry over Government plans to ensure Labour dominates the seven-member committee, as well as Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman’s insistence that it must not start its deliberations until the police investigation and any criminal proceedings are concluded.

Mr Clegg said that a “neutered” committee of this kind would not serve the public interest,

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Leaked Harriet Harman email: are Labour playing party politics over Damian Green?

Iain Dale has the leaked email and the story here.

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Nick Clegg on Damian Green’s arrest

Writing in the Daily Telegraph today, Nick Clegg said:

When opposition politicians heard about Damian Green’s arrest, many of us asked ourselves the same question: “When did it become a crime to hold the Government to account?”

We already operate in a system where Parliament is effectively neutered, little more than a rubber stamp for legislation that ministers have already decided…

One of the weapons MPs do still have in their armoury is to play the Government at its own game. By releasing information of our own we can highlight matters of public interest that ministers would rather people didn’t know about.

With parliamentary

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Damian Green arrest: Gordon Brown “knew nothing”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told Sky News that he had no prior knowledge of the arrest of Conservative MP Damian Green.

For a Government not noted for minding its own business, it is odd that the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and other ministers were all unaware of the arrest until after it had taken place.

Especially so, since we learn that Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Conservative Leader David Cameron and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin all knew that the arrest was about to happen.

Here’s the video from Sky:

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CommentIsLinked@LDV: Bridget Fox – ‘Damian Green case shows we are taking freedom of information for granted’

The latest blog of Bridget Fox, Lib Dem PPC for Islington South and Finsbury, is now live over at The Guardian’s website, with thoughts on the Damian Green case, VAT changes, and our success on the Angel crossing campaign. Read it in full here, but here’s a sneak preview of Bridget’s alternative fiscal stimulations suggestions:

If the government wanted to change VAT, why not make a permanent cut on measures such as energy conservation methods for existing homes. Converting existing buildings to provide affordable homes is the right kind of investment to attract a VAT cut. A further discount on

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Damian Green’s arrest: Nick Clegg’s reaction

From PoliticsHome report of BBC news:

Mr. Clegg called the arrest of Damian Green “a mayday warning for British democracy.”  He said “We have one of the most unaccountable, secretive forms of government anywhere in the modern world.  Now we have an opposition frontbench spokesman raided by anti-terror police.  It’s the kind of thing you’d expect in a tinpot dictatorship.

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Chris Huhne “shocked and astonished” by Damian Green’s arrest

Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne said of Damian Green’s arrest:

I was frankly shocked and astonished by this. It will have a chilling effect on what MPs are able to do. Getting information into the public domain … clearly of the public interest is absolutely a key part. I find this a very worrying development. (Source: PoliticsHome)

In a longer statement, he elaborated:

Receiving information from Government departments in the public interest and publicising it is a key part of any MP’s role. This is the most worrying development for many years, with the potential

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Damian Green arrested by police

Damian Green, the Conservative MP for Ashford and Shadow Immigration Minister, has been arrested by the police, apparently over leaks from the Home Office about immigration matters, according to Sky and other news sources. Damian Green’s London and constituency homes, along with his Westminster and constituency offices have been searched, although he has not been charged.

The investigation is into an allegation of “conspiring to cause misconduct in public office”.

UPDATE:

Here’s the Sky report on Damian Green:

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