Tag Archives: evan harris

Two-thirds of married couples EXCLUDED from Tories’ marriage tax allowance

Fresh from capitulating to his backbenchers over Europe, David Cameron is having to give in again on the issue of the marriage tax allowance. Evan Harris has already spoken out against the Tories’ plans here on LDV this week, highlighting how the policy harks back to the 1950s’ concept of nuclear households with (male) ‘breadwinners’ and (female) ‘stay-at-home’ spouses.

In the lead-up to the 2010 election, the IFS also looked hard at the policy, producing a devastating indictment of the policy’s flaws.

First, it sets out how it works: ‘up to £750 of the income tax personal allowance …

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Small-scale blogs to be excluded from post-Leveson media regulation

A week ago I posed (and answered) the question, After Leveson: which blogs are to be regulated? Answer: no-one yet knows. Well, we do now know.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) yesterday announced a ‘refinement’ of the Leveson legislation included within the Crime and Courts Bill. And it confirms that small-blogs are no longer to be expected to join the proposed self-regulator (though they can do if they wish):

The amendments, which have cross-party agreement, make clear that small blogs will not be classed as ‘relevant publishers’, and be considered by the House of Commons on

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Julian Huppert writes…Update on the Defamation Bill

libel-reform-campaign-logoThe Defamation Bill has had a troubled passage through Parliament. Hijacked by Labour over Leveson, attacked by Tory backbenchers concerned about companies and undermined by vested interests, I was glad to see it finally reach one of its last Parliamentary stages in the Commons today.

I was on the Joint Committee that considered this bill when it was a draft – those discussions are already beginning to feel like a distant memory! But we will deliver a huge reform of the UK libel laws.

All the while, Lib Dems have been vociferous in …

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As Leveson reports… Why I’m sticking up for ‘Press freedom with no buts’

Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal will report this week. His recommendations on the future of press regulation are the subject of intense speculation, with essentially three positions being staked-out:

What’s being proposed

‘Independent regulation backed up by statute’
Advocates, who include Evan Harris and the Hacked Off campaign group, argue that the only way to ensure the press does not abuse its position in the future is for it to be regulated. But, they insist, this should be independent both of government and the press, the two main …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Developing a future: Policies for science and research

Back in 2010, a survey by the Programme for International Student Assessment found that UK schoolchildren ranked 16th in Science and 28th in Maths among 65 OECD countries. Since then, little has changed.

For a country which has led the world in scientific discovery, and profited from those developments, this is deeply worrying.

We in the Lib Dems have a proud record of arguing in favour of science and research, and promoting it from the classroom to the lab. People such as Dr Evan Harris and now-Lord Phil Willis have made sure that we are seen as a pro-science party;

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Who Lib Dem members think are the most effective non-MPs at promoting the party

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 500 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Oakeshott, Ashdown and Pack top your list

LDV asked: Which prominent Lib Dems who are NOT MPs (eg, peers, campaigners) are doing an effective job of promoting the party to the public? Please write-in.

    Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott
    Lord (Paddy) Ashdown
    Mark Pack
    Evan Harris
    Baroness (Shirley) Williams
    Lord (Chris) Rennard
    Caroline Pidgeon AM
    Willie Rennie MSP
    Baroness (Susan) Kramer
    Stephen Tall
    Kirsty Williams AM
    Lord (Tom) McNally
    Baroness (Ros) Scott
    Brian

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Opinion: Dear Progress, come in and have a nose around

In the run up to the 1997 election, Tony Blair led Paddy Ashdown up the garden path with a promise of a progressive alliance between a modern reforming Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.

Well, ‘fool us once’ and all that.

15 years later the Liberal Democrats remain a broad church. Orange Bookers, social democrats, Coalition supporters, Coalition sceptics, whatever Evan Harris is – there’s room for all of us.

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Conference heroes and heroines

Shirley Williams – for rejecting the title of living deity with characteristic common sense in her Sabbath day speech to conference.

Evan Harris – for cutting through the cynicism of christening motions after national treasures by teasing conference with his “William Beveridge” amendment speech on the Shirley Williams motion. What next – the Conrad Russell memorial welfare reforms or the John Stuart Mill cuts in Sure Start? That’s enough naming stuff after deities living or dead thanks very much.

Pamphleteers Prateek Buch (Plan C – social liberal approaches to a fair, sustainable economy published by Social Liberal Forum) and Jo Ingold (Challenges …

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LDVideo: Harris & Pugh on Murdoch’s new Sun on Sunday paper

The News of the World is dead, long live the Sun on Sunday… starting from this Sunday. Here’s how two Lib Dems have responded to the announcement by News International…

Evan Harris: I’ll buy SoS ‘to see what it’s like’

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Julian Huppert MP writes… A new Lib Dem science and research policy

Britain has an excellent track record in science and research, with many great figures in natural sciences, humanities, computing, computing, engineering and mathematics over the years. We continue to outperform other countries in our achievements in these fields, in terms of outputs per person and per pound. We publish 13.8% of the world’s most cited papers, and massively outperform other countries on papers and citations per pound spent or per researcher.

However, we should not just assume that this will just continue automatically, and the UK needs both a thorough vision and policies that support science and research. It is in …

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Baroness Liz Barker writes… The Health and Social Care Bill in the Lords

I have spent my entire working life in the field of health and social care. For many years I worked for Age Concern and for all my time in the Lords I have been a member of the Health and Social Care team. I am, and always will be, a passionate supporter of an NHS which is free at the point of need and open to all regardless of their ability to pay.

Although the Health and Social Care Bill only came to the Lords this week I have been working on it for several months along with Liberal Democrat colleagues, including …

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Join the Liberal Youth invasion

After a very successful Federal Conference earlier this month, Liberal Youth will hold its Autumn Conference on 22nd & 23rd October. It’s in the Roman town of Colchester* (home to the UK’s oldest market on record).

Conference, as all Liberal Democrats know, is a fantastic opportunity for party members to shape policies and hold elected officers to account – and Liberal Youth is no different.

Along with all the usual reports from officers (and the odd constitutional amendment), there will be policy debates on the Arab Spring, MMR jabs, Women’s Rights & Bank Shares. As we have seen from this year’s conference with the Employment and Support Allowance motion, Liberal Youth policy can become federal policy – and might now even become Government policy. This is a brilliant opportunity for young Liberal Democrats to get involved with policy making and gain experience in public speaking!

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‘Renegades with a mission’ – the Sindy’s verdict on the Social Liberal Forum

The Social Liberal Forum — a group of Liberal Democrat members who advocate ‘that a democratic and open state has a positive role to play in guaranteeing individual freedom’ — met yesterday for their first conference on a high note: their mobilising role at the party’s spring conference is widely credited with having strongly influenced the Coalition’s changes to the controversial NHS reforms.

Here’s how the Independent on Sunday, with an inevitable nod towards stereotypes, reports the gathering:

Welcome to the first annual conference of the Social Liberal Forum – the home of “proper” Liberal Democrats. Not the quasi-Tory,

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The Independent View: The public does support the Big Society

David Cameron’s “re-launch” of the Big Society last week didn’t generate the revival of enthusiasm for the scheme that some had hoped for. Many people still claim not to understand the term “Big Society”, with critics continuing to suggest it’s little more than PR spin for budget cuts.

With the rise of faith-based organisations taking ownership of community services, and in light of Evan Harris’ warning about “proselytising on the public purse”, it’s clear that non-discriminatory, non-partisan, non-denominational and fair services are needed, both to support the more vulnerable members of the community, and to compensate for local council spending …

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NHS reforms will be altered significantly and in a Lib Dem direction – Paul Burstow

The NHS Bill will be substantially changed – that was the message from Liberal Democrat MP and Health Minister Paul Burstow at Lewisham Liberal Democrats on Friday night. It won’t just be changed, he said, it will be changed in a distinctively Liberal Democrat direction.

At the heart of the likely changes is the role of Monitor, the proposals for which Paul bluntly said were got wrong first time round. Though he was careful not to directly criticise Andrew Lansley, he did say that the original proposals for Monitor were to adopt the model of regulator used with privatised utilities and …

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Overwhelming public support to end sexism in Royal succession

Last month Nick Clegg took up the issue which Lynne Featherstone and Evan Harris had previously been pushing, namely changing the rules of Royal succession so that men and women are treated equally, rather than men being given preference over women.

One of YouGov’s post-Royal Wedding questions was about Royal primogeniture and found overwhelming backing for the change:

Currently male children of the monarch take precedence over female children in terms of the succession. Do you think men and women should be treated equally in the line of succession to the throne?

Should 76%
Should not 14%
Don’t know 10%

A slightly different

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The Yes2AV campaign has persuaded me to change my mind

I’ve long been sceptical about the scope for online fundraising in British politics. That’s partly because I’ve seen a sequence of American political consultants come to the UK, say they know much better than Brits, promise lots and then raise not very much – across the political spectrum. I’ve also seen a sequence of people from Britain go, “Oooh! American! Shiny! Must be better!”, promise lots and then raise not very much – again, across the political spectrum.

Having been responsible for (along with Ashley Lumsden and Martin Tod) the first candidate website in the UK to take credit card donations, …

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In other news… Croatian justice, the monarchy, death penalty impeded and elections news

More good news on the increasing reach of international justice: “Two Croatian military leaders have been convicted of atrocities against Serbs during the break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s” (BBC)

Both Lynne Featherstone and Evan Harris have previously pushed for the rules of royal succession to be changed to remove the precedence given to males over females. As Lynne has put it previously, the monarchy is about symbolism – so it should have the right symbolism. Now Nick Clegg is also on the case: “Mr Clegg, who is responsible for constitutional reform, told the BBC the issue …

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Grassroots pressure stepped up over NHS plans

With yesterday’s holding announcement from Andrew Lansley – yes, the health plans might be changed but no, there are no details as yet – the future of the health White Paper is very much up for grabs. It’s not quite as simple as Liberal Democrats versus Conservatives, as although there are not many Conservatives who share the principled objections to parts of the plans from the Liberal Democrats, there are many who share concerns over the practical workings of the detail and fear the political impact.

In a smart move, which reinforces how the Social Liberal Forum is becoming one

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Libel Reform Bill published

Earlier today, the government published its draft Libel Reform Bill. It’s an issue that Liberal Democrats, along with many others, have been campaigning on for a few years now and one on which Lib Dem minister at the Ministry of Justice Tom McNally has said his reputation should be judged on.

So it is good news for both our freedoms and Tom’s reputation that the Bill published today proposes major reforms and has met with a warm response, including:

Major changes to Britain’s antiquated defamation laws will be outlined by ministers today with the publication of a bill to provide greater

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PODCAST: Who controls the internet?

Here is a full podcast of our fringe last night, “Who controls the internet?”

Libel law reform campaigner and former MP Evan Harris, website pioneer Mary Reid, James Blessing of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) and Jim Killock of the digital rights champions Open Rights Group debate recent issues about free speech and the internet with chair Mark Pack.

Play
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The party strategy debate: rolling highlights

Note: If you’re catching up with this post after it was published, read it from the bottom up.

Final result – both amendment and motion passed overwhelmingly. The overall tenor of the debate was more good natured than might have been expected – people did not take the opportunity to express any unhappiness in strident tones, and the party being in coalition with the Tories until 2015 was accepted and expected, explicitly or implicitly, by all speakers. Tuition fees and NHS got mentions, but brief ones. Norman Lamb’s comments about the health debate (see below), however, were unexpected and welcome.

James Gurling, …

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Ten comments on Saturday at party conference

1. Being introduced at a meeting or in a debate as a “Minister” is still a plus point, often triggering a round of applause. People at conference like the fact that the party is in government.

2. The Social Liberal Forum (SLF) is growing quickly in influence in the party, partly thanks to a smartly organised set of fringe meetings, amendments and motions. However, the SLF is very keen to repeatedly stress that it is not anti-coalition.

3. The NHS debate was a decision delayed. All sides are happy with the idea that a conference debate is used to set out or …

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PODCAST: (almost) the full NHS debate

Earlier today we brought you Mark Pack’s live coverage of the two key debates happening this morning in Sheffield, followed by his view of the aftermath.

To amplify that, we can now bring you an almost full recording of the debate. Thrill at procedural niceties! Coo at the applause for Baroness Williams! And bask in the self-righteous glow from delegates that no other party still has debates like this.

Apologies that the recording starts halfway through Paul Burstow’s introductory speech. It took longer than expected for me to wake up and eat breakfast clear security at City Hall.

The …

Play
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Rolling news from conference: Saturday morning

Richard Kemp summates on motion, asking people also to back both amendments; i.e. cooperation rather confrontation to improve bill. Some MPs vote for amendment 1, some abstain. Amendment overwhelmingly carried. As is amendment 2. Lines 6-15 deleted from motion, amended motion carried. All MPs can spot voted for.

Evan Harris summates on amendment 1. “It is unusual for me to summate on a debate where there have been no speeches against my amendment”. Says government ministers must work hard to change the bill radically. Amendment 1 lays out how it should be improved – and Liberal Democrats in government “should follow …

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Conference preview: the four best fringe meetings

With the Liberal Democrat (federal party) spring conference coming up in Sheffield  on 11-13th March, I am going to be doing a series of posts previewing some of the main items up for debate, expanding on my previous whistlestop tour of the conference agenda.

First, however, is a look at the fringe meetings being held over the weekend. These meetings may not have the power to decide in the way that conference debates can, but they do often give a great chance to hear issues discussed in greater and more expert detail than the rather staccato main hall style of 3-5 minute speeches back to to back.

The highlights I’d pick out are:

Lords Reform 1911-2011: A century after the veto power of the Lords was broken in 1911, democracy has still been kept out of the Lords. The History Group’s fringe meeting will look at both past and present attempts to reform the Lords. Friday, 8pm, Jury Inn Suite 3. Event on Facebook here.

Vince Cable speakingVince Cable and Evan Harris in discussion over further and higher education: It is a smart move by the Social Liberal Forum to get two prominent people with very contrasting views together – and in a format that should shed more light than heat if Evan’s previous ‘in discussion’ with Nick Clegg is anything to go by. Saturday, 1pm, Mercure St Paul’s Hotel, City Suite A.

Breakthrough or breakdown? CentreForum looks at the electoral prospects for the party with Tim Farron (briefly, as the new Party President is continuing the Simon Hughes tradition of doing two fringes at the same time), Chris Huhne and academic polling expert Paul Whiteley. Saturday, 6:15pm, Mercure St Paul’s Hotel, City Suite A.

Who runs the internet? The Voice’s own fringe meeting with James Blessing, Evan Harris, Jim Killock and Mary Reid as trailed here. Saturday, 8pm, Mercure St Paul’s Hotel, Meeting 6.  Event on Facebook here.

These are of course only the four best fringe meetings in my own view – your own view, especially if you have different interests, may be different. So do check the full list of fringe meetings including in the Spring Conference agenda and directory embedded below.

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference Agenda and Directory 2011

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Who runs the internet? Wikileaks, piracy and censorship

With attempts to control the internet ranging from drastic actions of dictators in the Middle East to democratic debates in the US Congress over an internet ‘kill switch’, and not forgetting the continuing debate over the Digital Economy Act in Britain, The Voice’s fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat spring conference is looking at who has control over what on the internet:

Who runs the internet? Wikileaks, piracy and censorship

WikileaksLibel law reform campaigner and former MP Evan Harris, website pioneer Mary Reid, James Blessing of the Internet Service …

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Who runs the internet? Wikileaks, piracy and censorship

We’re once again running a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat spring conference. This time we’re looking at the internet and who is allowed to control whom:

Who runs the internet? Wikileaks, piracy and censorship

WikileaksLibel law reform campaigner and former MP Evan Harris, website pioneer Mary Reid, James Blessing of the Internet Service Providers’ Assoication (ISPA) and Jim Killock of the digital rights champions Open Rights Group debate recent issues about free speech and the internet with chair Mark Pack.

Meeting Room 6, Mercure St Paul’s Hotel, 119

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The email the party could have sent to members and supporters

When doing my series of posts at Christmas about the party’s challenges for 2011 one issue I picked up on was using members and supporters as a campaigning resource:

The party is not exactly short of opponents to overcome when it comes to implementing Liberal Democrat beliefs in government, yet we are not using the party’s grassroots strengths to help win those struggles.

The Conservative Party is, to take one example, split on civil liberties. Many key figures take a similar view to the Liberal Democrats, yet there are also many opponents of what a Liberal Democrat majority government would

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Which Way’s Up? The long-term future of the coalition

The rapid appearance since the formation of the Coalition of Conservative MP Nick Boles’s book Which Way’s Up? is a tribute to the speed with which Biteback turns round books – recognising that the previous slothful pace of much political publishing meant books were no longer able to capture the political weather. Boles’s book, by contrast, certainly does that and attracted immediate headlines about his support for a two-term coalition and for an electoral pact.

The heart of the book, however, is about policy rather than political tactics. Boles himself has long been a Conservative moderniser – “a Cameroon before …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 23rd Apr - 10:52pm
    This is good stuff, I saw it whilst browsing some other sites. I think there needs to be a sea change in opinion on the...
  • User AvatarMartinB 23rd Apr - 10:17pm
    Paul Barker “The article & most of the comments strike me as a bit naive, the survey will be open to our enemies & any...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 23rd Apr - 9:42pm
    @John Dunn "For Ukip MEP think (St George), and for the Brussels EU establishment think (Dragon)." For UKIP supporter, think fairy tales.
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 23rd Apr - 9:29pm
    @John Dunn What is your point?
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 23rd Apr - 9:29pm
    Thanks Jenny. Some radical liberals think people should be "free to copy" because apparently electronic data isn't "scarce", but it's completely not true because websites...
  • User AvatarSuzanne Fletcher 23rd Apr - 9:25pm
    for John Dunn who says " To aid your thinking, remember that today is St Georges Day. For Ukip MEP think (St George), and for...