Tag Archives: featured

What does Alex Salmond think he’s playing at?

 

When he saw the writing on the wall and was desperate to get people to vote Yes, Alex Salmond made a last ditch appeal on the Andrew Marr Show the Sunday before the independence referendum. He said that people had a once in a generation or even a lifetime chance to vote for independence and they should take it.

Now, it was fairly clear to me and I expect most other people that he absolutely didn’t mean what he was saying. There was no way that the entire nationalist movement was just going to give up and take up crochet if they lost. Of course they were not. They sincerely believe that independence is the best option for Scotland in the same way that I believe that a liberal approach to our problems is the best way to run a society. I’ll never give up my quest to see a truly liberal world.

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Tribute to Jeremy Thorpe

NPG x167152; Jeremy Thorpe by Walter Bird, Copyright National POrtrait Gallery, London some rights reservedJeremy Thorpe’s funeral was held yesterday at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster. It was attended by around 400 people including all five leaders of the Liberal party and the Liberal Democrats who succeeded Jeremy Thorpe: David Steel, Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Ming Campbell and Nick Clegg. There was a gathering afterwards at the National Liberal Club. The following tribute was delivered at the funeral by Nick Harvey MP, and is reproduced here at his suggestion.

It is a great honour to be asked to say a few words today about the political life and times of Jeremy Thorpe, though I do so with considerable humility as many present here witnessed and lived the Thorpe era first hand, whereas I was still at school at the time.

To describe Jeremy’s footsteps as giant ones in which to follow in North Devon would be a huge understatement.

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Morrissey Progress Report – first thoughts

Morrissey Progress ReportAs promised earlier, here are my first thoughts on Helena Morrissey’s progress report which she published earlier today. There is so much in the report that I could go in to but these are the main points I’ve noticed.

The party needed to come out of this well, and show good progress in 18 months. To a certain extent it does, and the people who needed to come out of it most well were the leader, chief executive and president, the holders of most power in the party and who are perceived by the public as its face. They were praised for their commitment and for what has been achieved. It was the lack of progress at regional and local level that concerned Morrissey and she wants to see that changed. In many respects I agree with her. However, those of us who value the say that grassroots members have in this party should make sure that there is no “mission creep”. It may be a temptation to take more power than is strictly necessary to the centre and we need to be vigilant on this point.

Morrissey outlines the solid progress that has been made so far on each of her recommendations but is clear that there is still more to do. She suggests further action on two broad themes – structural reform and specific action to make sure that people are aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them.

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Helena Morrissey evaluates party’s progress on her recommendations

Last year, Helena Morrissey published her Report into the Processes and Culture of the Liberal Democrats and made 9 recommendations for change. Here are Stephen Tall’s and Caron Lindsay’s thoughts on it from then.

It was always intended that Helena would come back and evaluate the party’s progress on implementing her recommendations. Her progress report is published today and can be seen here.

This is what she has written in the foreword:

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Vince’s Royal Mail privatisation: independent report concludes “the right decisions were made”

An independent report by Lord Myners published today has concluded Vince Cable and the Government made “the right decisions” during the process of selling off Royal Mail.

royal mail sell off

The BBC explains the background:

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Fixed-term parliaments: 56% of voters support them, finds YouGov

I’ve written before about the fact I like fixed-term parliaments: In praise of 5-year fixed-term parliaments. You may remember that a few years ago, former Cambridge MP David Howarth tried to introduce them. Then in the Coalition Agreement, they became reality.

YouGov has asked the public what they think about them, and you can see the result below courtesy the New Statesman’s May2015 polling website:

yougov fixed term parliaments - 1

photo by: garryknight
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Opinion: London’s house clearing and what the Focus E15 campaign tells us

The introduction of the Benefit Cap and Housing Benefit changes is adding fuel to the gentrification of our urban centers, throwing out many small businesses that can just afford the London Living Wage, and pushing micro urban economies into a transition that will inevitably see the marginalized and low income workers evicted from London’s salubrious centre zones.

Local Authorities (LAs) are already reconfiguring their homeless departments which, if pursued to their natural conclusion, will see changes in their service delivery because officers will have to eventually move out with their service users – starting the same homeless process all over again in the outer areas.

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Lib Dem Lawyers on Judicial Review

House of Commons at NightThe Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is returning to the Commons today after being ‘batted’ back in ping-pong proceedings between Lords and Commons.

Lib Dem peers working with the crossbenchers are refusing to approve two measures:

1) The Government’s Secure College plans for under 15s.
The Lib Dem Lawyers Association are not the experts in this field, but are concerned that MPs should consider all the risks and issues raised by leading experts. The Lords amendment would exclude under 15s from the Secure College until such time as Parliament agrees that it is safe to send them there.

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Vince speaks out against “devastating and ideologically driven” Tory spending cuts plan

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterThe Tories have been “well behaved” over the past few years because the Liberal Democrats have kept them on a tight leash, apparently. So said Vince Cable on the Andrew Marr Show this morning. He said that we were now getting a glimpse of what they would be like without that leash, adding that the consequences of their spending decisions would be that there would be around half as much money to spend on Police, defence, local government and social care.

He highlighted the differences between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat approaches to the economy and what a vote for each would mean:

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Dear Liberal Democrat MPs: Judicial Review restrictions are a messy compromise too far.

Dear Liberal Democrat MPs,

Tomorrow you will be asked for the second time amendments which the House of Lords has made to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. The Government wants you to severely restrict the right of citizens and organisations to use Judicial Review to examine its decisions and those of local authorities. This interferes with a key check on government power.

I don’t think any of you would have come up with this idea on your own. The Liberal Democrats are there to challenge entrenched power and vested interests, after all. This measure is one of those “messy compromises” of coalition.

Anyone who has ever been in any sort of relationship, business or personal, will know you don’t get things your own way the whole time. You have to do things you would rather not do. However, there have been a number of times when we have accepted Conservative measures and had to revise our support for them after they became law because the evidence showed that they were the wrong thing to do.

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Can Murphy and Dugdale resurrect Labour’s fortunes in Scotland?

Labour Party logoSo, we know that Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale will be the new leadership team for Scottish Labour. Murphy won the leadership with 55% of the vote and Dugdale won the deputy post with 63%.

The result was announced at the Emirates – the one in Glasgow, not, as I initially thought when I was told yesterday, the one in London. But Labour wouldn’t be so stupid as to announce in London when their last leader quit after complaining that Scotland was treated as a branch office.

Murphy is a Big Beast, having been part of the last Labour government for 9 years. He was a staunch Blairite and, of course, voted for the Iraq war and all of Labour’s authoritarian policies from ID cards to 90 days detention.  A pro-war blairite seems hardly in keeping with the zeitgeist, it has to be said.

He’s a deeply polarising figure. It’s hard to see how he can unite the Labour Party, let alone the country. His rhetoric way back when he was Secretary of State for Scotland was divisive and he’s continued in that vein. In 2010, he described the divide between Labour and the SNP as Patriots vs Nationalists, language which I find at best unhelpful, at worst irresponsible. I wrote back then about how wrong I felt it was to use patriotism as a political weapon. Particularly when our country is recovering from an emotionally bruising referendum, it’s even more nasty, brutal and irrelevant than ever. Even combining it with the word “optimistic”, as he did this morning, makes me feel queasy.

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MPs to debate curtailing judicial review on Monday as rebel Lib Dem peers face wrath of senior party figures

house of lordsYesterday we told you about the Liberal Democrat rebels in the Lords who voted against the Government’s plans to restrict judicial review and to reject the plans for the new secure college to be open to girls and under 15s. It’s worth adding that the NSPCC are totally opposed to the secure college plans. Penelope Gibbs from the Standing Committee on Youth Justice wrote in an LDV article two weeks ago that young children and girls would be put at risk if this were to go ahead.

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Clegg’s letter to Burnham: “you may have inadvertently misled” Commons on Labour’s NHS privatisation record

clegg on leveson 2Nick Clegg fielded Prime Minister’s Questions today, during which he noted that Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is “the only man in England who has ever privatised an NHS hospital”. Mr Burham complained that Nick had misled the House of Commons over the issue of Hichingbrooke Hospital, accusing him of “sheer inaccuracy”. The Lib Dem leader lost no time in responding:

Dear Andy,

I see that you raised a Point of Order in the House of Commons and that you accused me of “sheer inaccuracy”. I am always happy to confirm the accuracy of what I have said.

Posted in News, Parliament and PMQs | Also tagged , , , and | 32 Comments

Paul Burstow MP writes…We need urgent action on home care

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossThe extra £2 billion for health care services announced in the Autumn Statement last week is fantastic news. It is testament to Norman Lamb’s effective and high profile campaigning for urgent funding for the NHS, as well as the hard work behind the scenes by many colleagues making the case.

But in reality these additional funds will not be enough to put the NHS on a sustainable footing. As many of us know only too well, social care is in crisis, and with an ageing population, the existing strain can only become greater. If we don’t address this issue urgently, we risk creating a wholly avoidable additional burden on the NHS which would put its stability entirely out of reach.

photo by:
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Opinion: Localism is dead – what hope for Local Government ?

Sheffield Town HallThe Localism Act was introduced in November 2011 on a promise of new freedoms and flexibilities for local government, new rights and powers for communities and individuals, and a guarantee to make the planning system more democratic so as to ensure decisions about housing reflect local community wishes. Even the most ardent supporters of this coalition government will be hard pushed to provide evidence that localism has done anything of the sort.

Instead, what we have witnessed in the past four years is a constant reduction of local government budgets …

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Game on in Gordon: Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine has to defend seat against former First Minister Salmond

imageIn the biggest surprise since the sun last rose in the east, Alex Salmond will announce today that he’s going to be standing for the Westminster Parliament in the Gordon Constituency which is currently held by Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Sir Malcolm Bruce.

It’s almost a year since Christine Jardine was selected to fight the seat. She has been leading a fun and spirited campaign since then which saw voters in Gordon reject independence by almost 2:1. Her campaign manager is the party legend who masterminded Nicol Stephen’s election campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Salmond should underestimate them at his peril.

Salmond represents part of the Gordon constituency at Holyrood. He no doubt thinks that he can do as he did in 2007, swan in to the seat and win. Certainly the SNP will resource his campaign to the max and there are plenty new members in that party to help out.

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Jeremy Thorpe – a life in pictures

There are a host of fantastic photographs of Jeremy Thorpe in the archives. He had a real sense of showmanship to which photographers responded. Here are a few images which reflect his life.

Posted in Obituaries | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

And it’s good-bye from me as LibDemVoice Co-Editor…

Today marks the countdown to my final day as Co-Editor of LibDemVoice. I guess I could say the past seven years and seven months have flown by, but actually it seems like a long, long time since I started here. Tony Blair was prime minister, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader, and I was still a councillor.

I think I officially took over as Editor (from the site’s co-founder Rob Fenwick) on 31st May, 2007, though I’d started the Golden Dozen round-up of the best of the Lib Dem blogs a few months earlier.

A couple of years later, …

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Former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe dies

jeremy thorpe_2The party website records the passing of former Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe, who died today aged 85:

Mr Thorpe died today (4 December) at his home in London. He had battled with Parkinson’s Disease for more than 35 years. He was elected as Liberal MP for North Devon in the 1959 General Election and held the seat for 20 years. Following the retirement of Jo Grimond, he was elected as leader of the Liberal Party in 1967. He was a fervent supporter of Britain’s membership of the the EU

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Baroness Floella Benjamin writes…Tax break for children’s programmes is great news

I am overjoyed with the wonderful news that the Chancellor has extended tax breaks to children’s television productions. This is something I have campaigned on for years as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts. I have asked questions and spoken on this issue in the House of Lords, supported by Pact (Producers Alliance for Cinema & Television) and the Children’s Media Foundation.

I always say, ‘Childhood lasts a lifetime’ and we can all remember our favourite children’s television programme, they hold fond memories, which are part of our formative years.

But even though children’s programmes are much loved, they are often undervalued and those who contribute to this sector of the creative industries are rarely credited.

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Lib Dems Telegraph splash: EU bashing “weak, opportunistic and fundamentally un-British” say Ashdown, Ludford, Brinton, Farron and 90 Lib Dems

Even Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have taken the isolationist path that David Cameron’s Conservative party is romping its way down, according to 90 Liberal Democrats in a letter to the Telegraph today. The letter states:

David Cameron’s recent speech on European immigration is the latest in a series of desperate moves from a Conservative Party in full-scale panic.

We’ve had: “Go home or face arrest” vans. We’ve had: if you are from the EU and want to move to Britain, go and register at a police station. We’ve had: if you’re out of work, even for a few months, go back to where you came from.

In her Bruges speech in 1988, Margaret Thatcher said: “Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

What happened to that Conservative destiny? The dual menace of the Tory headbangers and the rise of Ukip.

There is nothing patriotic about bashing immigration from Europe. It is opportunistic, weak and fundamentally un-British. Migrants from the EU claim less in benefits than people born in this country. They are a massive net positive to the British economy. The Tories are scared to admit this. They have lost all sense of political courage – and that is why people have lost confidence in them.

We, the undersigned Liberal Democrats, konw that the real patriotic case is for Britain to remain in Europe; our jobs and our economic future depend on it.

photo by: rockcohen
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Stephen Knight AM writes…Putting the car first in urban areas comes with a huge cost to human life and health

Stephen Knight die inLying on a cold and damp pavement in central London as part of a ‘“die in”protest to highlight the level of deaths facing pedestrians and cyclists might not be everyone’s idea of a fun Saturday afternoon, but a couple of weekends ago that is exactly what I was doing.

The reason why?

 

Because the current level of road deaths – let alone serious injuries – is something we can’t continue to accept as being “inevitable”.

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What is going on with the Liberal Democrat media strategy?

This morning we have George Osborne all over the media talking about how wonderful it is that he’s able to give £2 billion to the NHS. Let’s bear in mind that Norman Lamb has been pushing for a cash injection for some time. All he gets is billing on the Liberal Democrat website for the months of tenacious evidence building and making the case for further investment.

I was quite pained to see Simon Hughes put out round the news channels on Wednesday to promote the Counter Terrorism Bill. While he was in the BBC News Channel studio, David Anderson was criticising the very plans that Hughes was defending. It seemed like a bit of a stitch-up. Nick Clegg has always set great store by David Anderson’s judgement. Anderson’s opinion of the Government’s plans to exclude people they think have been fighting in Syria for up to two years was pretty scathing.

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A chance to say thank you to Tim Farron

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterThe Lib Dems now have a President-elect: yesterday it was announced that Sal Brinton had won the only post other than that of party leader subject to an all-member ballot. Congratulations to her; and a big thanks to runner-up Daisy Cooper as well as Liz Lynne for ensuring a healthy debate.

However, this post isn’t about them, it’s about the current President (until 31st December, when the second of his two-year terms expire), Tim Farron.

Tim might not have been party president. Initially he stood for election as the Deputy Leader in June 2010, following Vince Cable’s decision to quit that post when he entered the cabinet. He lost out to Simon Hughes, himself a former president. So when a few months later, Baroness (Ros) Scott unexpectedly decided not to stand for a second term as party president, Tim threw his hat into the ring, and beat off tough competition from Susan Kramer to win. He was elected unopposed for a second term in 2012.

Posted in News and Party Presidency | Also tagged | 21 Comments

++ And the new President of the Liberal Democrats is…

Sal BrintonSAL BRINTON!

Many congratulations to her and well done to all three candidates for competing in an excellent campaign. This post will be updated with fuller details and reaction in due course.

Special thanks also to the staff and volunteers who have been counting in Liberal Democrat HQ since early this morning. It’s been a bit of a marathon with initial problems in getting the votes verified but they’ve all done a great job.

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Lord (Dick) Taverne writes… Cameron heads for Brexit

David Cameron - head in handsIf Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister again after May, he is likely to be the Prime Minister who will lead the UK out of the European Union.

From time to time Mr Cameron has expressed enthusiasm for Britain being at the heart of the EU. In his Bloomberg speech in January last year, he declared:

“I believe something very deeply, that Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a Union is best with Britain in it….There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union. That matters for British jobs and British security.”

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Nigel, was there something you forgot to do?

Nigel farage photo by norbert1As the net migration figures come out today, Nigel Farage has never been far from a tv camera. He’s been on the BBC News Channel. on the Daily Politics, spreading his ill-informed nonsense that we have an open door to half a billion people as if the entirety of Europe was going to pack up and come here to live.

It must have slipped his mind that he was supposed to be in Strasbourg this morning, voting down the European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker. He must have also forgotten to take part in the debate on the motion on Monday. The funny thing is, he’s been in Strasbourg this week, lining up to meet the Pope.  UKIP MEPs don’t often trouble the Parliament with their presence, but you would think that Farage would have bothered to turn up to support his own motion! He and others including France’s Front National leader Marine Le Pen had wasted Parliament’s time with the motion which was roundly defeated this morning.

ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt spoke against it in the debate and he didn’t mince his words:

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Election for Lib Dem Party President: who will win, according to our exclusive survey

libby on the wall3Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. The survey closed at 10am today. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’ll be publishing the full results here.

Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President finishes at the end of this year. The contest to succeed him was a three-way election between three female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, and Liz Lynne.

We asked a series of questions about the party presidency in our survey…

91% in our survey say they will vote! (That won’t be the turnout.)

Three candidates are standing for the post of Party President, an election which is being decided by a ballot of all party members. Do you plan to vote in this election?

Posted in LDV Members poll and Party Presidency | Also tagged , , and | 12 Comments

The ‘nowcast’ for May 2015 which gives the Lib Dems 28 MPs

Over at the polling website May2015 (part of the New Statesman stable) Matt Singh has asked the straightforward question, ‘How are the Lib Dems polling and will they survive in May 2015?’ Except it isn’t all that straightforward…

First, there’s the issue that the different polling companies don’t agree on what the current Lib Dem rating actually is. In the last fortnight, the party’s been rated as low as 5% (Opinium) and as high as 11% (ICM): that’s a difference outside the margin of error you might expect.

Posted in Polls | Also tagged , , and | 79 Comments

Nick Clegg taking questions on mental health on Mind’s Facebook page today

nick clegg live tweet town hall 1st may 2014In a Facebook first, Nick Clegg will be taking questions on mental health over on Mind’s Facebook page this lunchtime, starting at 12:30 pm.

He put this brief video on his own page to explain why he thinks this is important and is quoted on Mind’s website:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Argent 22nd Dec - 2:51am
    If we do find ourselves in the position of being the king-makers, might the argument not be partly pragmatism (deciding which party would offer a...
  • User Avatarstuart moran 22nd Dec - 2:04am
    Sarah Noble So there is one based on your (not unbiased) view. Looking at the odds, the best I can see are 5/1 on for...
  • User Avatarmalc 22nd Dec - 1:57am
    Sesenco It really isn't that complicated. I was in Withington when the LibDems won the seat, it has a large student population and nearly all...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 22nd Dec - 1:36am
    Re-train to control the machines!
  • User AvatarSarah Noble 22nd Dec - 1:02am
    This is the thing: people are just looking at David's tiny majority, and the fact it's Bradford, and assuming we've lost already. We still hold...
  • User AvatarChris Manners 22nd Dec - 12:44am
    That was a by-election. A win over Labour by only 365 votes in Bradford East last time looks too small.