Tag Archives: featured

Wow, Labour really are pandering to UKIP, aren’t they?

Didn’t they once used to be the party that talked about international solidarity amongst workers? Didn’t they once used to at least say they stood for decent, liberal, progressive values?

Those days are gone. Look what you can buy in their shop for £5. 

Labour immigration mug

It’s one of their key pledges in this election. The way to deal with UKIP’s rise is to challenge them with evidence, not pander to them.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 78 Comments

Alex Salmond postpones US book tour as Christine Jardine’s campaign goes from strength to strength

Salmond New YorkThe Herald reports that Alex Salmond has postponed a trip to the US to promote his book which had, incredibly, been due to take place in just 10 days’ time, after the start of the general election campaign.

His publishers pencilled in signings in New York and Toronto for the week after next, during the annual Scotland Week festivities.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford was also lined up to appear at a hustings in Gordon, where Mr Salmond is the SNP candidate, during his absence.

Jean Marie Kelly of HarperCollins in New York said yesterday: “Unfortunately, we only have him in Toronto for one day and in New York for one day so a very whirlwind trip.

“We are just firming the exact dates and times, but all indications are the week of April 6.”

However after press enquiries to the SNP, Mr Salmond’s plans melted away.

His rival candidates in Gordon said a transatlantic tour mid-election would have demonstrated an ego “spiralling out of control”.

What’s interesting is that there seems to be some new law of the universe that requires every mention of Salmond’s book to be accompanied by Paddy Ashdown’s memorable review of it. The Liberal Democrat election chair said that the book was:

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We’re heading for a minority Labour government backed by the SNP

whitehall
The Guardian have a very useful web page called Election 2015: The Guardian poll projection. On it, each day, they update their state-of-the-parties graph with the latest polling data, which then flows into an infographic showing the parliamentary arithmetic and possible government options after May 7th.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , , , , and | 108 Comments

Clegg launches Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation

I think it’s fair to say that Nick Clegg may not exactly rock the tracksuit look, but he did do something very valuable today. In one of his last engagements as Deputy Prime Minister before the election campaign, he launched the Charter for Mental Health in Sport and Recreation aimed at kicking the mental health stigma out of sport. The video explains why:

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What Danny Alexander would say to his successor: “Jobs up, growth up, economy up, don’t screw it up”

We all remember the rather pathetic note that Labour’s last Chief Secretary to the Treasury left for his successor.

no money left

“I’m afraid there is no money left” he said. And he wasn’t a million miles from the truth.

Danny Alexander was asked yesterday at an event what he would put in a note to his successor. His reply was a little more, shall we say, motivating and inspiring, as the Vote Clegg, Get Clegg Facebook page reports:

At a meeting yesterday with Danny Alexander on the panel, he was asked what he would say in a note to his successor. Brilliant reply: “Jobs up, Growth up, Economy up, don’t screw it up”!

Posted by Vote Clegg, Get Clegg on Tuesday, 24 March 2015

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The attacks on Tim Farron need to stop – Vince Cable should know better

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterNot even a charming account of his Friday dance class as reported by Buzzfeed’s Emily Ashton can assuage my annoyance with Vince Cable this morning. I have to say that he is an unusual candidate for my ire. His work rate of good, decent, liberal stuff in this parliament from stopping the Tories allowing employers to hire and fire people at will to strengthening consumer rights, tackling payday lenders and bringing in shared parental leave has been excellent. His economic wisdom and willingness to call out the Tories on their silly immigration targets has been much appreciated, as has his honesty about the realities of being in coalition with the Tories.

But he’s been the target of enough critical press briefings over the past five years to be aware of how destructive they can be. The fact that he’s prepared to put his name to trashing Tim Farron’s reputation and prospects doesn’t make it that much better. Speaking about the interview in which Farron was reported as saying that he’d give 2/10 for our handling of some aspects of the coalition (which is so totally out of character for Tim that I doubt its accuracy), Vince said:

“It wasn’t at all helpful,” Cable says bluntly. “I mean, he’s a very good campaigning MP, but he’s never been in government and has never had to make difficult decisions and I think his credibility isn’t great. You know, he’s an entertaining speaker and has a bit of a fan club. But I suspect he would not be seen as a very credible leader, at least now. Maybe in five, 10 years’ time, things are different.”

Credible politicians must be more consensual than extreme if they want to get things done, Cable suggests. He says pointedly: “The closer we get to an election and the more uncertain it seems, the more people will want people who are seen to be competent and reliable.”

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Landmark report makes powerful case for Lords and party funding reform

The Oxford University Department of Economics have just published a discussion paper entitled “Is there a market for peerages? Can donations buy you a British peerage? A study in the link between party political funding and peerage nominations 2005-14“. The authors are Andrew Mell, Simon Radford and Seth Thévoz

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Tim Farron MP writes…The British people deserve more than Cameron’s weak leadership on EU

European FlagThis week marks David Cameron’s last European Council as Prime Minister before the General Election and let’s hope he avoids one last blunder. It is easy to forget, given the endless Tory arguments on Europe over the past five years, that in opposition David Cameron’s ambition was for the Conservative Party to “stop banging on about Europe”. This summarises Cameron’s position well – he is simply not interested and sees the EU purely as a party management issue. If the issue of Europe is quiet then it’s a good bet that Tory backbenchers will be too.

But this abdication of leadership has caused repeated humiliations for the Prime Minister and allowed the ranks of Tory backbenchers to drive the agenda, leaving their leader looking weak, lacking in ideas and clueless.

Constantly bullied from the back benches, Cameron has time and again stirred from his self-imposed slumber, woken up too late and then mistakenly “taken a stand” before being humiliated. Famously he “vetoed” a new EU treaty in December 2011 but the result was not the triumph he portrayed – the rest of the EU went ahead anyway and concluded the treaty without the UK, leaving a legacy of bitterness in its wake and representing a low point in British diplomacy.

photos by: rockcohen & rockcohen
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The Liberal Democrats could well be on course to improve our vote share to seats “bangs for the buck”

In the 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats were 14%, or a seventh, less effective at harnessing our vote share to win seats than we were in 2001. If you look at my table below you’ll see that, since 1983, 2001 was our best year for converting vote share into seats.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 43 Comments

Budget open thread

 

We will not be live blogging the Budget as there are plenty of other sources of live information. But readers are very welcome to add their own reflections in the comments section below.

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‘Almost certain that Tim Farron will be leader later this year’ – Stephen Tall

Tim Farron Nick Clegg 2010 Photo by Liberal Democrats Alex Folkes Fishnik photography

With his usual uncanny knack and impeccable insight Stephen Tall is bang on the money over on PoliticsHome:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 93 Comments

Thanks Liverpool!

image

My photo of the stage at the replica Cavern Club, The Beatles Story, Liverpool.

When we visit a city for a conference, it has a significant positive impact on the local economy of that area. Our arrival is very well flagged up in advance with posters and publicity. Then when we arrive everyone knows we’re there due to the extra security presence and hordes of…..well let’s just say unusual looking people with yellow badges and bundles of papers wandering around.

Much of the time during the conferencee, the representatives are charging around like blue-bottomed flies chasing to the next debate or meeting.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

In full: Nick Clegg’s Liverpool speech

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather when I read this tweet:

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 28 Comments

Jo Swinson saddles up her feminist high horse…

Two pictures you might like. First, Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Jo Swinson:

Jo Swinson

And now, a feminist high horse.

See what I did there?

Jo Swinson has been going for the Daily Mail readers’ vote. She can certainly speak the paper’s language, as you can see from this parody press release from her office. Will editors get the joke?

Mother of one, Jo Swinson gave a speech today wearing a shocking pink dress and a new pair of heels.

While looking desperately in need of a ‘calming down dear’, Swinson railed against the established privilege of men in power and their unconscious inability to experience what discrimination was really like.

She did not say that government should determine what editors can publish. But it could have been what she meant really.

Swinson suggested that the Tories were too afraid to back a ‘feminazi’ clampdown on Fleet Street’s dinosaurs.

Swinson who last year abandoned her Ministerial post for six months on maternity leave, has persistently shown herself to be the possessor of radically liberal ideas as well as a feminist high horse.

If you want to see what she actually said in her speech, it’s all here.

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Anti-TTIP protestors reach #ldconf. A reminder of why they are wrong

At a previous party conference back in the autumn of 2013, Lib Dem party members voted overwhelmingly for a motion committing the party to wholeheartedly supporting the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

As we all (particularly parliamentary candidates, thanks to 38 Degrees) know, a massive campaign has appeared since then opposing the agreement, ostensibly over concerns that the NHS will somehow be threatened. Protestors were out in force outside the conference centre here in Liverpool, and given the number of members I saw signing the petition they were handing around, I thought it might be useful to set out again why those protestors are so wrong, not just in their opinion but on the facts.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 147 Comments

In pictures – the conference so far #ldconf

Scroll down to view. Firstly, Paddy declares that the parrot is not dead:

Posted in News and Photo feature | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

#ldconf gets under way: Rally live blog

Rally entertainment Spring Conference Liverpool March 2015 Photo by Liberal Democrats
I’m sitting in the auditorium between Paul Walter who is taking photos which by the magic of technology will illustrate this post later, and Deborah from Derbyshire, who’s at her first Conference. She’s been saying what a wonderful atmosphere it is here. In front of us Nick Clegg, Jo Swinson and Paddy Ashdown are watching the singers who are entertaining us with bright and uplifting songs. It’s a little bit of West End musical magic to make us smile.

We’ve already had a video where some of the fantastic Team 2015 volunteers who staff the LDHQ phone banks tell us about themselves. Including some guy called Nick who said he was the Deputy something or other.

Mustang Sal

And now we have Sal Brinton making her first platform speech in her new role. She enters the hall on her wheelchair to the strains of Ride, Sally, Ride. She managed to get from Mustang Sally to Ian Fleming to modern politics in her opening paragraph.

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Opinion: Fiscal consolidation and the Liberal Democrats

Newly minted coins by James Cridland james.cridland.net
Over the past few days, questions have emerged about the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for fiscal consolidation. Liberal Reform felt it would therefore be helpful to clarify what the challenges are, to explain how some of the figures are derived and to help people understand what the scale of the problem is.

Which deficit are we cutting and how much does it cost?

All three political parties have committed to eliminating the budget deficit over the next parliament. There are two things that divide the parties, however:

  • The speed of the consolidation – in what year will the budget be balanced
  • The definition of the “budget deficit.”

The Liberal Democrats have committed to eliminate the budget deficit by 2018-19. The Labour Party have postponed consolidation to 2020 and the Conservatives are being vague about when in the next parliament the budget will balance. The Lib Dems position reflects current government plans.

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A double boost for Julian Huppert’s re-election campaign

Julian Huppert MPTwo bits of good news for anyone who wants to see Julian Huppert re-elected as MP for Cambridge.

Firstly, he had to quickly increase his fundraising target after a steady flow of donations took him within easy grasp of his original aim very quickly after his Back Julian site was launched.  He now hopes to raise £15,000 and is well on target to meet that.  The positive video, showing a busy team waving placards with all the reasons to vote for Julian, from civil liberties, to equalities, to science, drug policy reform. Every one of us actually has an interest in him being there because of his massive contribution on the national stage. In fact, the plea on his site is almost under-stated.

photo by: Policy Exchange
Posted in News | 12 Comments

Stephen Gilbert MP writes…It’s time to let Britain fly

Often the debate on airports expansion in London and the South East focuses on Britain’s connectedness with the wider world and our increasing need to be able to easily reach far flung emerging market destinations such as Brazil and China. That need is no doubt critical if we are to build a stronger economy in the future, but there’s one important aspect of the debate that often gets neglected – Britain’s internal domestic connectivity and the need to link places like Newquay, Inverness and Liverpool to our thriving capital city.

Indeed I believe this important aspect of the debate goes to the very heart of how the regions and nations of the UK could benefit hugely from airports expansion in London and the South East if done in the right way.

As the MP for Newquay and St Austell I know all too well how important our air links are with London. This is equally the case for regions all across the UK. Domestic routes between London and the regions are a vital economic driver. In my constituency Newquay Airport brings over £50M to the local economy every year and my local airport’s links with London airports are a fundamental driver of its commercial success. If ever we lost our links with London, then the very viability of the airport itself could potentially be put at risk.

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Tony Greaves writes: What happens if …?

House of Commons. Crown Copyright applies to this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/4642915654/There’s growing talk in Conservative and Labour circles about a minority government. Let’s make an assumption about numbers – not a prediction, just approximate numbers based on current polls: Con 275, Lab 275, LD 35, SNP 40, UKIP 5, Green 2, Speaker 1, all the Northern Irish 17 (of which the present numbers are DUP 8, SF 5, SDLP 3, All 1).

Take out the Speaker and assume that Sinn Fein get five again, and the target for an overall majority is 323. On these numbers a majority Coalition looks hard to achieve – though don’t underestimate the ability of politicians to moderate or even overturn pre-election statements when it comes to getting into government. But add the heightened level of distaste in both Conservatives and Labour for both the concept of coalition and recent practice (at least in Westminster) and the idea of a minority government is not a fantasy.

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The Herald: “All power to the Lib Dems for standing up for our liberties”

Willie Rennie - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsHerald columnist Ian Macwhirter is not known for writing nice things about Liberal Democrats. In fact, I think it actually causes him pain to do so. It is always welcome when someone who is not your biggest fan says nice things about you. He was very complimentary about Willie Rennie the other day. As someone pointed out on my Facebook when I posted this originally, “All Power to…. is not the most civil-liberties friendly headline, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.

As James Baker wrote a few weeks ago, the Scottish Government were trying to sneak in plans for what is effectively a massive ID database capable of even more surveillance than that set up by Labour. Once Willie got to hear about it, he set about questioning it and used a rare Liberal Democrat opposition day debate in Parliament to highlight the issue. He called for the creation of such a database to be the subject of primary legislation. He was never going to win, because, you know, SNP overall majority and all that – and they don’t take kindly to rebellion or even criticism from their parliamentarians – but he inflicted a bloody nose on the Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Macwhirter wrote:

I think now we have an answer to what the LibDems are for: they’re the only major party, Greens aside, that really takes issues of civil liberties seriously, as we saw yesterday with their debate on the Scottish Government’s plans effectively to create a national identity database.Leader Willie Rennie’s motion to stop the measure being rushed through without proper parliamentary scrutiny succeeded by 65 votes to 60 in the Scottish Parliament after an intelligent and thoughtful debate; a rare occasion on which Deputy First Minister John Swinney was sent back to think again

We need parties that keep a vigilant eye on government. Labour has never quite got this privacy thing having been, for most of its existence, a party very much of and for the big state. The Tories are supposed to be the party of the individual but their law’n’order populism, hostility to immigration and preoccupation with state security have made them suckers for any agency – police, spooks, tax authorities and so on – that wants to snoop into our affairs.

The Tories seem to recognise threats to civil liberties when in opposition. Their spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP is opposing the latest plans from the Scottish Government as “identity cards by the back door”.

The SNP are similarly schizophrenic. They opposed the introduction of a national identity database in 2005 when it was proposed by Tony Blair’s Labour government. But once the Nationalists got into government they started succumbing to the same pressures to tighten up all round and, of course, to praise our wonderful police, as Nicola Sturgeon did last week.

That would be the same wonderful police, by the way, whose senior management are, for the second time, being hauled back before a parliamentary committee for failing to deliver what they said they would. On both stop and search and armed police they have not kept their word and their chief constable has not shown an acceptable attitude towards scrutiny.

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Nick Clegg’s message for International Women’s Day

Here is Nick Clegg’s message for International Women’s Day. The text is underneath.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Norman Baker gets musical to highlight dangers of animal extinction

Norman Baker's Animal CountdownLewes MP Norman Baker has taken to music to warn us all of the dangers facing some animals we take for granted. Lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos are under threat. I spent 99p on it and it’s actually very good. You can find out how to download Norman Baker’s Animal Countdown here and the video, which I can’t embed, can be watched on You Tube here.

Norman wrote an article for Politics Home ahead of his Adjournment Debate last night in which he outlined what needed to be done:

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Clegg: I’ll take Cameron’s place and defend government’s record if he’s too important to take part in the debates

Nick in suit on call cleggDavid Cameron has moved the goalposts on the leaders’ debates so many times that they are now not even on the pitch any more. They’re nestled somewhere in between the burger stand and the toilets. His final ultimatum is so obviously his get-out clause and it’s unsurprising that he’s done it because he wasn’t very good at it last time, frankly.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg and Richard Branson: We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades. End it now.

Nick Clegg Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsIn a major keynote speech today, Nick Clegg will call for responsibility for drugs to be moved from the criminal justice system to the health care system. In that, he has the support of Richard Branson and the two men have written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section. First of all, they show how the current system is both wasting money and failing:

 Since the “war” was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime. We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.

In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. As Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006. Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless. Here in the UK, a third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn’t going away.

While other countries around the world are rethinking their approach, Britain remains stubbornly, truculently wedded to the old way, with tragic human consequences:

And yet we desperately need better solutions in this country. One in six children aged 11 to 15 is still taking drugs; 2,000 people die each year in drug-related incidents; the use of unregulated “legal highs” is rampant.

At the same time, the police are stopping and searching half a million people a year for possession of drugs, prosecutions of users are close to record levels, and prison cells are still used for people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted. This costs a lot of money, which could be better spent on treatment and on redoubling our efforts to disrupt supply. And it wrecks the lives of 70,000 people a year who receive a criminal record for possession and then find themselves unable to get a job.

As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.

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

What’s your funniest canvassing story?

The Divine Ms Duffett, editor of Ad Lib magazine, and one of our team,  is looking for help from Liberal Democrat Voice readers. She wants some light-hearted stories of canvassing camaraderie. What is your funniest or weirdest canvassing experience?

Let us know in the comments. Your experience may be published in some yet to be defined communication to members so keep it reasonably clean.

One of the weirdest things that happened to me on the doorstep was during the Dunfermline by-election in 2006. I had been kept on a tight leash doing casework by Ed Maxfield, co-author of 101 ways to win an election (worth buying for campaigning tips whether  you are a first time candidate or experienced activist). I always say that that election featured him emptying his in-tray into my desk every day but in reality we all worked our backsides off and had lots of fun. A couple of days before the election, they actually let me out for a while to do some canvassing. At the very first door I knocked on, out of approximately 40,000 in the entire constituency, I ended up chatting to someone to whom I’d already spoken that afternoon when he phoned the office to ask a policy question. I didn’t know where he lived, although I’d taken his phone number and email address.

He was a lot friendlier than the first door I ever knocked on. I was 15 years old and it was the 1983 election. I had wandered into the SDP/Liberal Alliance office in Wick to ask for a manifesto. I was already pretty sure I supported the party, but I wanted to make sure. I didn’t leave with a manifesto. I left with a pile of leaflets and a map. That was a really good bit of front of house work, I must say. Anyway, at the first house, the owner was out in the garden. I was a bit shy, but I put on my best smile and friendliest look and handed her the leaflet. She gave me the filthiest look and threw it on the bonfire. It was only later I discovered she was one of the local Tories.

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Julian Huppert writes … We must end indefinite detention for immigrants

Immigration detention
Looking back over the Coalition Government, one of our great successes is putting an end to the routine detention of children for immigration purposes. In 2009, 1,119 children were locked up in immigration centres, nearly 500 of them were under five years of age.

Not only have we ended this practice, but in the Immigration Act we made sure that if any future government wants to undo our reforms, they’ll have to do it the hard way by passing an Act of Parliament.

But the issue of immigration detention doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there.

The UK is an outlier in the EU as the only country that doesn’t have a time limit on how long someone can be detained under immigration powers. Ireland has a time limit of 21 days, France 45 days, Belgium two months and Spain 60 days. Even Russia has a time limit, albeit of two years.

photo by: Policy Exchange
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Lord Roger Roberts writes…A step towards abolishing the Azure Card

Azure cardLast November I wrote that we must abolish the Azure Card and secured a debate in the House of Lords to that effect.

For those who may be unaware, The Azure Card is a prepayment card provided destitute asylum seekers who require support because they are temporarily unable to leave the United Kingdom. It is a discriminatory and wholly inadequate system of support which the Red Cross – as well as many other refugee organisations have called to be abolished.

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Davey and Cable defend free speech at universities from Tory attack

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWe know that during the passage of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, Liberal Democrat peers Sal Brinton and Margaret Sharp tried to amend the bill to strengthen the duty on universities to preserve freedom of speech. Senior Tories couldn’t see why that was so important, sadly.

The Observer reports that Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers, especially Vince Cable, disagree about the planned guidance to be issued to universities about what they can and can’t allow on campus.

In the Sunday

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  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 29th Mar - 8:26pm
    Philip Thomas 29th Mar '15 - 7:50pm "Actually, if we’re *expecting* to “do so much better than anyone is expecting” aren’t we kind of guaranteed...
  • User AvatarSimon Foster 29th Mar - 8:13pm
    Correct - knife edge comment was ITV, I think Oxford Mail may have been "ultra-marginal" :)
  • User AvatarSimon Foster 29th Mar - 8:12pm
    This was inspiring to be at in person, and Layla did a brilliant introduction. We've got some great press out of it, particularly the Oxford...
  • User AvatarStephen Hesketh 29th Mar - 8:12pm
    Other videos are available for those seeking a more impassioned Liberal view: http://www.markpack.org.uk/130605/watch-tim-farrons-superb-video-on-why-people-should-vote-liberal-democrat/
  • User AvatarSimon Foster 29th Mar - 8:10pm
    Caron - I can confirm a vital piece of information from this article: It is indeed the back of Cllr Neil Fawcett's head ;) Best...
  • User Avatarmalc 29th Mar - 8:09pm
    Couldn't they have found someone to write a better speech. It's just plain boring and they need better than that.
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