Tag Archives: david howarth

Former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth re-appointed as an Electoral Commissioner

David HowarthFormer Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Spokesperson David Howarth has been re-appointed as an electoral commissioner by the Queen.

From the Cambridge News:

The appointment was announced this morning in the House of Commons before the start of the day’s business, with Mr Howarth joined by Lord Horam.

The chair of the Electoral Commission and other electoral commissioners are appointed by the Queen at the request of parliament and are charged with ensuring fair and proper running of elections.

Liberal Democrat Mr Howarth previously served as a commissioner from October 2010 to September 2013.

 The Electoral Commission website has more on the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioners..
During his last stint as a Commissioner he co-wrote the foreword to a report which started to look at a new structure for electoral law across the UK. The report outlined the 25 pieces of legislation which govern elections and looked at how those could be streamlined.
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Time to throw an anvil at secret courts

Next Tuesday, which is both my nephew’s 14th birthday and the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the SDP, the Justice and Security Bill comes back to the House of Lords for consideration. Now, my esteemed colleague Mr Valladares has given a very helpful account of what the Lords can and can’t do. He goes on to suggest that the Upper House will often back down in the face of pressure from the elected Chamber.

If ever, though, there was a time for the peers to kick off, it is now, when the right to a fair trial remedy for …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

David Howarth: liberals should increase indirect taxes

David HowarthMartin Tod recently drew my attention to a short publication from David Howarth published over the summer about levels of public spending: Spending and Growth – a response to David Laws.

As the title suggests, it is primarily a response to someone else’s views on appropriate levels of public spending:

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Opinion: The importance of social liberalism

The debate regarding the importance and roles of ‘social’ and ‘economic’ liberalism can, on occasion, be misrepresented. Whether deliberate or incidental the relationship between the two philosophies can sometimes be presented as discrete, zero-sum options. I believe they should be considered as dialectic.

In The Orange Book, a publication that is almost Frankensteinian in how it’s perceived and what it actually contains, David Laws offers definitions for social and economic liberalism, that broadly serve well in discussion, they are:

    economic liberalism: ‘the belief in the value of free trade, open competition, market mechanisms, and the effectiveness of the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 38 Comments

Coalition drops plans to allow Ministers to scrap quangos without consulting Parliament

The Government has abandoned plans to give ministers sweeping powers to scrap quangos without consulting MPs.

From the Telegraph:

The Public Bodies Bill has been proposed by the Coalition to allow ministers to abolish almost 200 public bodies including the Audit Commission and the Film Council.

It would also give ministers extensive new legal powers to order changes to another 150 public bodies using secondary legislation, meaning they could be abolished without further parliamentary approval.

Such powers are often called “Henry VIII” powers in reference to the Tudor monarch’s autocratic rule.

After a report by the Lords Constitution Committee, which said they would …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

The political thought of the Liberals and Liberal Democrats since 1945: book review

Kevin Hickson’s volume, The political thought of the Liberals and Liberal Democrats since 1945, may be a short volume from an academic publisher with an academic book price tag to boot (look out for cheaper second-hand copies) but its contributors include many political practitioners. With Vince Cable, Steve Webb, David Howarth , Richard Grayson and Duncan Brack amongst them, this book has a very strong representation of people at the coalface of policy making rather than simply those who know of it only in theory.

As Hickson points out in the book’s introduction, the policies of the Liberal Democrats – even more so than other aspects of the history of the party and its predecessors since 1945 – have had very little coverage in books, an omission which this volume sets out to remedy and which political fortunes in the year after the book’s publication has made all the more useful a task to tackle.

Posted in Books, Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Farron triggers PCC probe into Telegraph’s Lib Dem MPs undercover sting

The BBC reports:

The press watchdog is investigating the Daily Telegraph’s use of undercover reporters to record Lib Dem ministers’ thoughts on the coalition government. It reported comments made by Business Secretary Vince Cable in a meeting with people he thought were constituents.

Lib Dem President Tim Farron asked the Press Complaints Commission to investigate. The PCC said 200 people contacted them over the story. The Telegraph said it was satisfied it acted within the PCC’s rules. …

A PCC spokesman said: “We have now received a letter from the Liberal Democrats asking us formally to investigate. We will do so under

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Lords signals its intent to change controversial section of Public Bodies Bill

Last week I wrote about the Public Bodies Bill and the power grab it makes to let the government change the law in future without proper Parliamentary control, similar though on a smaller scale to what Labour proposed previously with the so-called Abolition of Parliament Bill. David Howarth echoed these concerns at the weekend:

The Public Bodies Bill might not presage the end of parliamentary democracy in the way the 2006 Bill did, but it is a sloppy, lazily drafted bill that assumes, just as the 2006 Bill did, that those in power are all good chaps who would

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Abolition of Parliament: it was wrong then and it’s wrong now

Back when Tony Blair was Prime Minister Labour tried to get through Parliament sweeping powers to change the law without requiring full Parliamentary scrutiny. Then Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth was one of those who led the charge against this, writing in The Times:

The Government proposed an extraordinary Bill that will drastically reduce parliamentary discussion of future laws, a Bill some constitutional experts are already calling “the Abolition of Parliament Bill”.

A couple of journalists noticed, including Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, and a couple more pricked up their ears last week when I highlighted some biting academic criticism of the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 7 Comments

First four ‘political’ Electoral Commissioners appointed

Former Conservative MP Angela Browning, former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, former SNP MP and MSP George Reid and ex-Labour HQ staffer Roy Kennedy have been appointed as Electoral Commissioners by Parliament (see news release here).

These are the first ‘political’ appointments since the laws governing the Electoral Commission were changed to permit people with recent political activity to become commissioners.

Roy Kennedy’s appointment may cause some comment as he was the Labour Party’s Director of Compliance since 2005, a period during which there were many controversies over the Labour Party’s approach to finances. For example, there were no prosecutions over …

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

David Howarth writes … Now is the time to reform our penal policy

Last month the Howard League for Penal Reform launched its Take Action 2010 campaign, with the general election in its sights. The campaign reflects a growing consensus among experts and campaign groups that penal policy has reached a crisis point.

The Howard League’s campaign covers four policy areas – investment in the community not prison, ending short prison terms, justice for children, and creating a scheme of real work inside existing prisons. All four of these themes echo Liberal Democrat thinking and I very much welcome the campaign.

Billions of pounds are spent on maintaining our prisons and …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

David Howarth on Parliamentary Reform

In case you missed it, David Howarth MP gave a speech last week, as part of the Hansard Society’s Parliamentary Reform Lecture Series.

The speech includes a discussion of the various systems that need reform: the government, the judiciary, political parties and the media.

David Howarth also covers Lords reform, electoral reform and the loss of trust in our political institutions. He emphasises the need to restore power to local government. He cautions that the General Election will not be enough to end this crisis, which has partly been brought about by MPs’ misuse of expenses.

He ends by saying:

These reforms would not

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The 7 retiring Lib Dem MPs (and the 7 candidates hoping to replace them)

Seven Lib Dem MPs have announced they’re retiring at this year’s general election. All seven are men: of their replacements, four are women. Here’s the list in full:

John Barrett (LD) – Edinburgh West

Majority: 13,600 (30%) – second safest Lib Dem seat in the UK.
Reason for leaving: to spend more time with his grand-daughters.
Hoping to succeed him: Mike Crockart.

Colin Breed (LD) – South East Cornwall

Majority: 6,507 (13%).
Reason for leaving: not stated.
Hoping to succeed him: Karen Gillard.

David Howarth (LD) – Cambridge

Majority: 5,058 (11%).
Reason for leaving: “to concentrate on my other life, as an academic.”
Hoping to succeed him: Julian Huppert.

Paul

Posted in General Election | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 6 Comments

Why vote Liberal Democrat? Book review

If you go to Amazon searching for “Why vote Liberal Democrat?”, edited by Danny Alexander and just published  by Biteback, you may be surprised to find yourself being presented instead with a book of the same title from 1997, written by William Wallace. The new book is misfiled by Amazon under the title “Why vote Lib Dem?” but actually the 1997 volume provides an interesting contrast with the 2010 version.

The 2010 book is one of a series, covering also Labour, Conservatives, SNP, Plaid and the Greens. All the others are single person authored books (with the exception of …

Posted in Books, General Election and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 19 Comments

Hear David Howarth give lecture on Parliamentary reform

As party of the Parliamentary Reform Lecture Series organised by the Hansard Society, David Howarth MP (Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Solicitor General) will give a talk examining the Liberal Democrat’s priorities for reform of Parliament.

It’s at 6pm on March 15th. It’s being held at the Houses of Parliament and is open to the public. Please email [email protected] to register.

The talk is one of a series the Hansard Society is running (one each from each of the main parties) to draw attention to the fact that there is still much progress to be made in the area …

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Electoral Reform Bill must give voters real choice – Howarth

A news release from the party reports:

The Liberal Democrats have tabled amendments to the Government’s proposals for a referendum on electoral reform that would:

  • Offer voters a real choice between first-past-the-post and a truly proportional system (Single Transferable Vote), rather than AV
  • Bring forward the date of the referendum to next May
  • Close a loophole allowing the next Government to kill the proposals without an Act of Parliament

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Secretary, David Howarth said:

“Voters deserve a real choice – between the discredited status quo and a system where every vote matters and there are no safe seats.

“The Alternative Vote system is …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Julian Huppert selected for Lib Dems in Cambridge

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem PPC for CambridgeCongratulations to Julian Huppert, newly-selected Liberal Democrat PPC for Cambridge.

From a press release by Cambridge Liberal Democrats:

“Julian was selected from a shortlist of six candidates who fought for the position at Hustings at The Michaelhouse Centre in Trinity Street, Cambridge last night (Friday).

The ballot was called after MP David Howarth decided to stand down at the general election to return to his academic career at Clare College.

Posted in Selection news | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Britain’s best MP competition: the results

Our ‘Britain’s Best MP’ competition has come to a close with Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich, a clear winner. The final results are:

Douglas Carswell 47%
Gisela Stuart 16%
Tom Harris 12%
Lynne Featherstone 9%
Bob Russell 6%
Jo Swinson 6%
David Howarth 2%
Chris Mullin 2%

I appreciate that the results do not make happy reading for visitors to this site and the results of online polls cannot be taken too seriously, but please don’t dismiss this competition just yet.

Whilst acknowledging that our hope of getting people to listen to the MPs answers and then vote for their ‘best MP’ based on what they heard probably …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 10 Comments

Voting started in Britain’s best MP campaign

You may remember that back at the beginning of December we launched our ‘Best MP’ campaign to highlight the fact that not all MPs should be tarred with the same brush as the ‘expenses cheats.’

We asked users of our website – Yoosk –  to send in their nominations for Best MP and to send us the questions they would like to put to the nominees. All eight nominated MPs agreed to answer and you can compare what they said on our website now and cast your vote in our Poll, which will be ‘live’ until the 31st December.

Here is a sample of how we edited the answers together to make them easier to compare.  This question came from ‘artichelper’ and received most votes from our users:

‘What do you believe is the best change in policy that you, yourself played a significant role in making that change happen?’ And you can view a compilation of the answers below.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

Chamali Fernando shortlisted by Cambridge Conservatives

Former Lib Dem London Mayoral selection candidate Chamali Fernando, who defected to the Conservatives in July, will take part in an Open Primary selection in Cambridge this Saturday, 12 December.

At the General Election the winning candidate will face whoever succeeds the Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, who is standing down to concentrate on his career as an academic. The Liberal Democrats’ selection is also currently underway.

Billed as “more than just a Cameron cutie!” you can read Chamali’s pitch on Cambridge Conservatives’ website, as well as the biographies of the other five shortlistees.

12 December UPDATE: Nick …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 14 Comments

What makes a ‘good’ MP?

Well, there has been plenty in the news recently about what makes a ‘bad’ MP so we at Yoosk thought that it might be a good idea to focus for a while on the qualities of a ‘good’ MP. End the year on a positive note.

And that is why we started our ‘Britain’s Best MP’ campaign two weeks ago. We want to find out who the good MPs are and what differentiates them from the rest. We asked our users at Yoosk to nominate their candidates and these are the people they put forward:

Gisela Stuart (Lab)
Lynne …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 9 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 23 November 2009

It’s the 23rd November – which means great celebrations in (parts of) the Lib Dem blogosphere at the 46th anniversary since the first broadcast of Doctor Who. And it’s happy birthday, too, to Zoë Ball and Kirsty Young.

2 Must-Read Blog-Posts

Why we should not be afraid of a hung parliament (Mark Thompson)

A hung parliament is the sort of scenario that the Lib Dems been waiting for for years. It would finally give us a chance to wield some real power and exert our influence on policy and politics in a way that had been denied to us previously.


Cagoules, Coat Hangers and Cake – A taster of the Bloggers’ Unconference (Caron Lindsay)

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Cambridge MP David Howarth to stand down

The party has just issued the following press release …

Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth today announced that he would be standing down from Parliament at the next election to concentrate on his career as an academic.

David Howarth said:

“After nearly 22 years of elected public office, the time has come for me to concentrate on my other life, as an academic. It has been a privilege to serve the people of Cambridge over that time, both in local government and in Parliament.

“I would like to thank the very large number of people who have helped me in politics over the past

Posted in Selection news | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Commentislinked@LDV – bumper edition


I am agog to hear the podcast of last night’s LDV fringe event (hint), but in the meantime, some snippets of news from the jumping-up-and-down-on-the-sidelines school of conference reporting.

First, David Howarth is plugging away the civil liberties message in the Guardian:

…I am still profoundly unconvinced by the Tories’ conversion to the cause of freedom.

First, Tory proposals have a tendency to smack of too little, too late. For instance, its surveillance proposals looked oddly similar to those to be found in the freedom bill. Scrapping ID cards? Getting rid of the ContactPoint database? Reining in councils’ investigatory powers? It’s

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Howarth: Labour should stop “playing politics” with voting reform

Today’s Observer reports that Labour’s election planners are once again seriously considering proposing a referendum on voting reform, reckoning that if it’s combined with a general election they’ll be able to paint Tory leader David Cameron as a ‘roadblock to reform':

Plans to hold a referendum on changes to the voting system on the day of the next general election are being considered in Downing Street as part of a ploy to expose David Cameron as a roadblock to sweeping constitutional reform. The idea, backed by senior ministers, has come to light amid growing recriminations within the Labour party over

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Daily View 2×2: 23 July 2009

Good morning. You join us here on LDV as we wish happy birthday to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michael Foot, and as the nation of Egypt and the Rastafarians commemorate the birth of Haile Selassie.

It’s also polling day in Norwich North. Will April Pond become the 64th Lib Dem MP? Will we make our second by-election gain in the 2005 Parliament? Find out first on twitter – as the blogosphere’s reporter on the spot Nich Starling will report, live from the Norfolk Showground.

Two big news stories

Kingsnorth tactics criticised
The Guardian reports the report into police behaviour at

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 6 Comments

Ashcroft told: pay your taxes or don’t donate to the Tories

As the Telegraph reports:

Lord Ashcroft, the major Conservative donor, will be forced to reveal whether he pays tax or stop funding the party, under new election rules. The move is seen as a direct attack on the peer, a Tory deputy party chairman who has bankrolled Conservative candidates in marginal constituencies to the outrage of opposition politicians.

On being made a Conservative peer in 2000, Lord Ashcroft gave an assurance that he would pay UK taxes, but has since refused to discuss his affairs saying that they are private. … The amendment, which was nodded through without a vote on Monday night, would effectively ban anyone who did not pay taxes donating more than £7,500 in a single year.

It was an interesting debate if the Hansard transcript is any guide. You can read Lib Dem shadow justice secretary David Howarth’s contribution HERE, excerpt below:

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Reinventing the State reprinted

I’m very pleased to say that Reinventing the State: Social Liberalism for the 21st Century has been reprinted with the first print run having sold out. The editors (myself, Duncan Brack and David Howarth) have taken the opportunity to relate the book to recent events by including a new foreword which explains why we think the ideas contained in the book are more relevant than ever. Among other points, we have said:

The collapse of the banking system worldwide has revealed the ultimate dependence of what had previously appeared to be free-standing market relationships on straightforwardly state institutions, such

Posted in Books | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

Three “saintly” Liberal Democrat MPs #MPexpenses

The Telegraph has canonised three Liberal Democrat MPs (for what that’s worth) because they have not made claims for second homes:

Sarah Teather’s balance sheet has a column of zeroes, as does fellow London MP Lynne Featherstone’s, here.

David Howarth, whose Cambridge constituency is a significant commuting distance from London, is also listed.

It’s worth noting that none of the Liberal Democrat MPs from London constituencies claim an allowance for a second home, but it’s still good to see the Telegraph including Lib Dems in their praise.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

NEW POLL: what’s your view on nuclear power?

Yesterday the Government released a list of 11 sites in England and Wales where new nuclear power stations could be built, with the aim of having the first reactors operational within a decade.

The Lib Dems’ shadow energy and climate change secretary Simon Hughes was unequivocal in stating his anti-nuclear position on behalf of the party, branding this new generation of nuclear power stations a “colossal mistake”:

They are hugely expensive, dangerous and will take too long to build. There is a real danger that the Government is becoming too close to and the big energy companies.

Posted in Voice polls | Also tagged , , , and | 27 Comments



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