Tag Archives: featured

Opinion: Lib Dems believe in local policing; should they also support a return to local courts?

Birmingham Magistrates' Courts / Victoria Law CourtsOver the past two decades summary justice has been transformed in England and Wales. Part of the change has been a loss of local visibility for the justice system. The police and Crown Prosecution Service has acquired new authority to sentence those admitting to crimes through use of Conditional Cautions and the expansion of fixed penalty and exclusion notices. In this they have been aided by new powers gained by local authorities.

On the other hand, local magistrates’ courts have disappeared from many towns and the suburbs of …

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Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Race equality survey of presidential candidates

Forms Diversity / SML.20121107.IPH5 / @lifecelebrates #diversityWhat do the candidates to be president of the Lib Dems think should be done to make the party more racially-diverse? I sent them a short six-question survey to find out.

The full survey results can be found on my blog here. Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne all agreed on many issues, with Sal and Linda proving the boldest in embracing new solutions to increase BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) diversity, Liz being the most cautious and Daisy somewhere in between. But there wasn’t a whole lot to pick between them.

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Paul Scriven writes … From a council estate to the House of Lords

House of LordsPaul Scriven was made a peer just a month ago, and here he reflects on the path he has taken through life.

As the son of a dustbin man from a council estate in Huddersfield it was never in my wildest imagine that I would ever be in the House of Lords. Now that I have it is with a sense of both pride but just as important with a clear duty not to forget my journey in life and to fight for a more Liberal and fairer UK.

I know very well that the Liberal Democrats core aim to make sure all have opportunity to reach their full potential is a touch stone that makes us different from other parties. I wish to use my new role to fight to open opportunities and make sure that ladders for people to climb to reach their full potential are firmly planted for more people. I will make sure I shout up to ensure this happens. Also to fight with all my northern spirit those who seek to deny opportunities.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Lib Dem pre-manifesto launched: includes policies to reform drugs laws and bus pass discount for under-21s

pre manifesto documentLast week’s pre-manifesto launch by the Lib Dems was postponed owing to the international situation. Thankfully no important news has broken over the past couple of days which might over-shadow today’s launch. Unless, that is, you think the potential break-up of the UK or a new Royal Baby are headline-grabbing events.

You can read the Pre-Manifesto in full below.

The party trailed its publication today with a couple of announcements intended to highlight key policies:

  • ‘Exclusive: Liberal Democrats to announce decriminalisation of all drugs’ headlined Politics.co.uk:
  • Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 32 Comments

    ‘Bedroom Tax': Lib Dem Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill wins key Commons vote backed by Lib Dem / Labour MPs

    andrew georgeA year ago Lib Dem members voted at the party’s conference for an urgent review of the impact of what’s termed by critics the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Two months ago Danny Alexander announced he’d be recommending a major U-turn on the policy. And this afternoon, as the BBC reports, Lib Dem MPs teamed up with Labour to vote through reforms which mean that tenants who cannot be found a smaller home will be exempt from the cuts, as well as disabled people who need a spare bedroom or who have adapted homes:

    Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs have joined forces to defeat Conservatives in a Commons vote to partly overturn housing benefit changes. MPs backed the Affordable Homes Bill at second reading by 306 votes to 231.

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 28 Comments

    The Independent View: What are the most ‘Ukip-friendly’ Liberal Democrat seats?

    revolt on the right ukipIn our recent book, Revolt on the Right, we compiled a list of the most demographically receptive seats in the country for Ukip. This allowed us to rank all seats in the country according to how favourable their populations are for Ukip, using the most recent census data.

    The ideal seats for Ukip share key characteristics: they have lots of ‘left behind’ voters who we also know from our research are the most receptive to Ukip and its policies. These ideal seats also have very low numbers of voters who have, instead, tended to remain resistant to Ukip, including university graduates, ethnic minorities and people in professional and economically secure occupations. This is a useful first exercise in filtering through all seats to find those where -if Ukip stood a strong candidate and knocked on plenty of doors – they would probably find the most voters receptive to their message.

    Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 42 Comments

    Clacton and the Lib Dems’ post-2015 wastelands problem

    Clacton Pier.The Clacton by-election triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip will take place on 9th October – David Cameron’s birthday, but also the day after the Lib Dems’ autumn conference concludes.

    That’s not great news for the Lib Dems on two counts. First, it means the media will likely be obsessing more about Clacton than what’s happening in Glasgow (unless, that is, Yes Scotland has won the referendum).

    And secondly, the party’s not expecting a great result. There have been two constituency polls conducted to date (

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 49 Comments

    Liberal Democrat Voice Awards 2014 – get your nominations in NOW, and never let it be said that we don’t listen to feedback, Mr Calder

    The Liberal Democrat Voice Awards will take place with its usual glamour and fun on the Saturday evening of the Glasgow Conference.

    Here’s all the details:

    There will be a fantastic selection of Liberal Democrats presenting the awards. You can read about last year’s ceremony, where Nick Clegg called us infuriating and inspiring here.

    We revamped the Awards last year and people seemed to like what we have done, so we’ve kept the format the same with one wee tweak. We think that we should give your imaginations free rein with the photoshopping and the parliamentarians so there’s a separate category for them.

    This year’s awards are as follows:

    • Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year
    • Liberal Democrat Blog-post of the year
    • Liberal Democrat Tweeter/Facebooker of the Year
    • Best use of social media by an elected representative (Tim Garden award)
    • Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat
    • Lib Dem Councillor of the Year
    • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Tory MP award
    • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Labour MP award
    • Best online campaign of the year (non Lib Dem)
    • Best photograph of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian or senior Councillor or party figure (real life)
    • Best photo-shopped photo of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian

    We are asking for nominations by email to me at [email protected] for the shortlists for these awards. They will then be judged by our esteemed panel of judges. Liberal Democrat Voice and any official blogs run by the party aren’t eligible either. We are extending the deadline to midnight on 15th September, so you have an two weeks.

    Send us your nominations plus a very brief – and I’m talking no more than a sentence – reason why. We will then compile the shortlists from those and poll to our members’ forum.

    Send in your nominations by email to [email protected] and remember to state which award category you’re nominating for, in each case.

    The shortlists will then be put to a vote of our forum of party members. That’s right. This year, we are giving our readers who are members of the party the chance to choose the majority of our winners.

    There are other awards that you will have the chance to vote for:

    • Lib Dem Minister of the Year
    • Lib Dem MP of the Year
    • Lib Dem parliamentarian (non-minister) of the Year (open to MSPs, MEPs, Peers, AMs GLAMs

    All will be eligible for these categories.

    And there’s even more than that…

    • Best Political Commentator (print/online) of the Year
    • Best Political Broadcaster (TV/radio) of the Year

    These last two awards are being decided slightly differently. They will be chosen form a shortlist based on the answers in our pre-Conference survey. Again, all members in our members’ forum will have the chance to vote.

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 1 Comment

    What if… David Davis had won the Tory leadership contest in 2005?

    Cameron and DavisWhat-ifs are, as Peter Snow would say, just a bit of fun: a counter-factual parlour game for historians. It is impossible to know exactly how one event ricocheting off in a different direction would have altered the subsequent reality.

    This one does genuinely intrigue me, though: What if David Davis had won the Tory leadership contest in 2005, rather than David Cameron? Davis did, after all, begin as favourite. His disastrous 2005 party conference – a dud photo-op and a lacklustre speech – coupled with David “let sunshine win the day” Cameron’s triumph meant his second leadership attempt sank without trace. He was trounced 68%-32% in the all-member ballot that followed.

    But what if he’d won? Would David Davis have been a more effective leader of the Tories than David Cameron has turned out to be?

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

    Opinion: Compulsory political education?

    Ballot boxAs a 17 year old Lib Dem, who has campaigned with two local parties and experienced my first election campaign last May, lowering the voting age is obviously of real importance to me. The party’s long term support of this policy (as well as its unique opportunities for young people) were key factors in my choosing to join the party, aged just 16, last year.

    The issue is about to see a bump in publicity via the Scottish Referendum next month, and with the general election approaching there’s the real potential that any government involving Labour or the Lib Dems (or both) will legislate for the change post-May. Labour have recently adopted the policy, and supporters of the campaign “Votes at 16″ include Liberty, The Co-Op, Barnardo’s and the Electoral Reform Society.

    photo by: FutUndBeidl
    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 27 Comments

    Opinion: an open letter to Tim Farron – “And who made you King, anyway?”

    imageIn his recent article in Liberal Democrat Voice, the Liberal Democrat Party President, Tim Farron, refers to a review of the Party’s disciplinary procedures, carried out by a senior barrister, Diya Sen Gupta, and goes on to say;

    She has now made recommendations to us and I am determined that we will implement these as quickly as possible.

    Now call me a stickler for process if you will, but where does Tim get off making such a statement?

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 36 Comments

    Opinion: The Liberal Democrats must support biomedical research

    Lab_animal_testingNorman Baker has stated he wants to ban animal research in the UK.

    Recently, the first successful Ebola treatment to be used on humans was developed thanks to research in monkeys by combining three monoclonal antibodies which had been harvested from mice. With 1,000 people dead, 2,000 sick, four countries affected, and tens of thousands at risk, this treatment could become a game changer.

    But Norman Baker wants to ban animal research in the UK.

    Thanks to animal research conducted in the UK, we …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 24 Comments

    Opinion: What we leave behind

    Robin Williams by Eva RinaldiThe death of Robin Williams is another tragic loss that at first assumptions has its roots in depression. He joins other illustrious public figures who took their own lives due in no small part to the Black Dog: Tony Hancock; Kurt Cobain; Stuart Adamson; Lord Sutch and Alexander McQueen. If it were not for a last minute change of mind, Stephen Fry in 1995: though it was again a narrow escape in 2012, when he downed pills and vodka, to be saved by the producer of the production he was filming. The Black Dog has little or no regard of fame, status, gender, or race: it is an equal opportunities illness that can strike anyone down, at anytime.

    The statistics on suicide and mental health are worrying. Some key facts from Mental Health Foundation state that suicide is the most common cause of death in men under 35. The Samaritans Suicide Statistics for 2014 state that there were 5981 (UK) suicides in 2012 an increase of 291 on 2010 figures. Suicide is also more prevalent in men than women.

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    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

    Why Lib Dems shouldn’t keep schtum about tuition fees

    tuition fees vote“University tuition fee rise has not deterred poorer students from applying”. That was the headline in The Guardian this week reporting new analysis by the Independent Commission on Fees chaired by Will Hutton:

    The raising of tuition fees to £9,000 has not put off students from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university – although the gap in applications between those from wealthy and poor backgrounds remains wide, according to new analysis. …

    The commission found that university application rates for 18-year-olds in England have continued to recover from their post-rise lows, with application rates for 2014 entry – including students who will receive their A-level results on Thursday – almost two percentage points higher than in 2010.

    While students who are not eligible for free school meals – available for pupils from households earning less than £16,000 – remain more than twice as likely to go to university, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students has narrowed from 30.5% in 2010 to 29.8% in 2013.

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 206 Comments

    Lib Dems pledge more tax cuts: after personal allowance raised to £12.5k will also increase National Insurance threshold

    Danny Alexander by Paul WalterToday’s big announcement from the Lib Dems has been the “plan to cut your tax bill further”. Here’s how The Guardian reports it:

    The Liberal Democrats are to burnish their credentials as the tax-cutting party for the low paid by floating the possibility of cutting national insurance contributions for anyone earning below £12,500 a year.

    In a challenge to David Cameron, who is facing pressure from Tory MPs to pledge bold tax cuts as the economy grows, the Lib Dems will promise in their general election manifesto to raise the level at which workers start to pay national insurance contributions.

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 36 Comments

    David Steel writes… Time to talk to Hamas

    Gaza Burns - photo by Al Jazeera EnglishI suspect that there is growing dismay, not to say anger, among our population as they watch on television the daily slaughter and destruction in Gaza, at the mealy-mouthed statements from both our Government and the American’s in response.

    Spokesmen for the Israelis regularly recount the huge number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory, but fail to tell us that the vast majority of these have been successfully intercepted without casualties. In fact, over the entire last decade they have killed …

    photo by:
    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 44 Comments

    Nick Clegg’s speech on immigration: baby steps in a liberal direction

    Nick Clegg Q&A 12When I read Nick Clegg’s immigration speech yesterday I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s sensible and mostly liberal.

    Which means it’s a stark contrast to his March 2013 attempt: that was probably the most dire speech I’ve ever heard from a Lib Dem leader. Back then, Nick took credit for net migration having fallen by a third, even though net migration is, as Vince Cable has repeatedly pointed out, an absurd measure of success. He also came up with the unworkable proposal for security bonds (ie, upfront cash payments) for immigrants from ‘high-risk’ countries entering the UK.

    Fast forward 18 months and both have been ditched.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 14 Comments

    Opinion: Why a ban on animal testing is short-sighted and bad for our knowledge-based economy

    University of the West of England, laboratory, science. Some rights reserved by JiscLast week the BBC reported on a piece of potential Lib Dem policy that was picked up by Lib Dem Voice yesterday; Norman Baker’s desire to ban all animal testing. Now the spurious use of animals with scant regard for animal welfare is of course wrong but an outright ban on this practise shows a lack of understanding of the use of animals in the first place.

    Medical research needs animal testing. Norman Baker MP is absolutely correct in that we should be using alternative techniques where they exist and develop them so they can be used in the future. However when testing new drugs there is no way round testing the toxicity and efficacy in animals. Cell-based techniques cannot be used as a complete substitute because we need to see the effects of medicine against a whole organism; the success and dangers of drugs depends on a whole suite of systems and complex biological relationships that can only be seen using whole-organism models. I certainly wouldn’t want to give an experimental drug to human volunteers before it has been tested in animals.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

    Paul Burstow writes… Time to prepare for life in an ageing society

    Grey_Pride_logo_headerLast week Anchor launched their grey pride manifesto, calling on political parties to do more for older people. Not only to end the discrimination that we know many older people suffer, but to face up to the many challenges that living in an ageing society presents, challenges for which we are “woefully unprepared”, as last year’s House of Lords Committee on Demographic Change warned.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

    Announcing the Liberal Democrat Voice Awards 2014

    (C) Manny Begum Yasadein PhotographyIt’s less than 9 weeks until Federal Conference in Glasgow. And late on the Saturday night of Conference, for the 9th year, Liberal Democrat Voice will be holding  annual awards.  As usual, they’ll be awarded in a budget lavish and deliciously random ceremony in Castle 3 at the Crowne Plaza between 10 and midnight. The dress code is “imaginative.”

    There will be a fantastic selection of Liberal Democrats presenting the awards. You can read about last year’s ceremony, where Nick Clegg called us infuriating and inspiring here.

    We revamped the Awards last year and people seemed to like what we have done, so we’ve kept the format the same with one wee tweak. We think that we should give your imaginations free rein with the photoshopping and the parliamentarians so there’s a separate category for them.

    This year’s awards are as follows:

    • Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year
    • Liberal Democrat Blog-post of the year
    • Liberal Democrat Tweeter/Facebooker of the Year
    • Best use of social media by an elected representative (Tim Garden award)
    • Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat
    • Lib Dem Councillor of the Year
    • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Tory MP award
    • The Lib Dems’ Favourite Labour MP award
    • Best online campaign of the year (non Lib Dem)
    • Best photograph of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian (real life)
    • Best photo-shopped photo of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian
    Posted in News | Also tagged | 9 Comments

    Lib Dem party membership: the occasional ups and mostly downs since 1988

    The Lib Dems published the party’s 2013 accounts this week. The report included the latest membership figures, which showed for the first time since 2010 an increase on the previous year’s: up 2% to 43,451. Here are the Lib Dem membership figures since the modern party’s formation as the successor to the Liberal Party and SDP in 1988:

    lib dem membership figs since 1988 - as at july 2014

    For interest’s sake, here’s the increase/decrease in party membership under each leader:

    Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , , and | 16 Comments

    Football fan? Lib Dem? Then why not join LDV’s Fantasy Football League?

    ST_evertonMy co-editor Caron Lindsay isn’t, it turns out, a big fan of football. But I am — that’s me there, aged about 8 — and there are a few other Lib Dems who are too.

    The new season properly kicks off in a fortnight’s time, 16th August. So if you fancy pitting your skills selecting the most successful team of players from the English Premier League against the skills of fellow party supporters here’s what you need to do:

    Posted in LDV Awards | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

    Cleaning up politics is about more than money

    When we talk about cleaning up politics, we generally mean party funding and lobbying. There is so much more that needs to be done, though with regards to the environment in which politics is conducted.

    Every week when Parliament is sitting we see the childish scenes at PMQs. We’ve had our own Julian Huppert talk about how it feels to be on the receiving end of bullying and intimidating behaviour.

    The tone of debate on social media often leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you happen to be a woman in possession of an opinion. The cumulative effect of constantly being told you are evil/stupid/treacherous or being threatened  is not insignificant. I recently had a bit of a wobble after months of bombardment from cybernats, UKIP types and, even more distressingly, a small number of fellow Liberal Democrats. However much you try to ignore it, it can get overwhelming at times. I don’t have a problem with actual calm and rational debate but every single day, people cross the line into abuse and that’s just not on. I was livid with myself for getting so upset. After all, in large parts of the world, simply finding somewhere private to go to the toilet entails taking your life in your hands if you happen to be female, so it felt very trivial to almost reduced to tears by a jibe from some stranger whose good opinion mattered to me not one jot. It was utterly ridiculous, but it happened nonetheless. Of course, this is the sort of reaction these bullies want and, given that I intend to continue inflicting my views on the world, I just needed to find a way of dealing with it which mostly involved the support of good people who know who they are.  It shouldn’t be like that, though.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

    Labour kicked out in Calderdale: The inside story

    Calderdale CouncilThis week the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council came to the decision to vote out the minority Labour administration, and vote in a minority coalition of the Conservatives and Independent Councillor. Allow me to explain why.

    From 2010 we had worked in a fairly successful Coalition with the Labour party. We didn’t shut a single sure start centre or library, we opened up cabinet meetings with a public question time, and we had the highest recycling rate in West Yorkshire.

    As that coalition went on it became increasingly apparent Labour wanted to control the Council alone, and to ignore the wishes of the other parties. It was harder and harder to work with them as continued to propose political motions that did little for local people, but did a lot of party point scoring. Finally last year they managed to secure the support of the Conservatives who abstained at the right votes in return for some scrutiny chairs, and Labour got their wish of a minority administration.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

    The Lib Dem retreat to seat-by-seat campaigns. The right tactic, but not a long-term strategy

    Stephen LloydThe Guardian’s Rafael Behr has written of his experiences in Eastbourne, a seat won from the Tories by the Lib Dems’ Stephen Lloyd in 2010. His majority, 3,435, would need a swing of just 3.9% to be wiped out. The recent Lord Ashcroft poll of Tory / Lib Dem marginals indicated an average swing away from the Lib Dems to the Tories of 3.5%. This, then, is the kind of seat within the Tories’ reach and which they need to win if they are to gain an overall majority. …

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 35 Comments

    Actually, this having the World Cup in England might be a good idea

    I am not a huge football fan. Unless it involves Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I really don’t care and even then it’s more of a spiritual thing. I don’t actually need to watch 22 men kick the bag of wind around the field. But my antipathy to the game wasn’t the only reason my heart sank when I saw the new Liberal Democrat campaign, “Bring the 2018 World Cup to England” this morning.

    Certainly, having just had a month of nothing but football anywhere, I was screaming for respite. It’s bad enough on the other side of the world but if …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 205 Comments

    Don Foster MP writes… Justifiable NIMBYism?

    I  suspect I’m not the only one to be delighted and relieved about the announcement this week about new protections to be put in place that will restrict “Fracking” in sensitive areas.

    Geological evidence shows that fracking could lead to a significant disruption to the hot water spring waters on which the tourism of the World Heritage City of Bath depends and could damage the water pressure without which we could see buildings in the city collapse.

    Even though the latest British Geological Survey Maps show that the three main areas where large amounts of shale oil and gas exists lie nowhere …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

    The 21 areas where the Lib Dems and Labour agree

    Miliband-CleggIt’s a few months since I first published my list of 17 policies on which the Lib Dems and Labour now agree. These ranged from including tax-cuts for low-earners, the introduction of a mansion tax, a major council house-building programme, cuts to universal benefits for wealthy pensioners, and an elected House of Lords.

    One I highlighted was the likely scrapping of the Bedroom Tax, noting then: “Officially the Lib Dems are committed to an immediate review of the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ (or ‘spare room subsidy’ as no-one calls it), …

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 31 Comments

    Ed Miliband’s speech: tricky message, poor timing

    Ed MilibandI’ve quite a lot of time for Ed Miliband. Politics needs intelligent, thoughtful folk with their hearts in the right place.

    I respect, for example, that he held out last year against the superficially attractive urge to call for an in/out EU referendum advocated by more opportunistic Labour colleagues who relished the idea of stirring Tory discontent with Cameron. Miliband, rightly, decided to put national interest ahead of narrow party interest.

    But there are evident troubles with his leadership, crystallised by his speech yesterday in which he acknowledged his own image problems: “I am not trying to win a photo-op contest in the next 10 months. And I wouldn’t win it if I tried.”

    Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 19 Comments

    Ed Davey writes… Delivering on climate change & delivering on fuel poverty

    Ed Davey - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsI write this while on a visit to India. A few weeks ago I was in the US, and I’ve just left China. Why? These three countries are the world’s biggest emitters and the series of meetings I’m having all focus on paving the way for a global climate change deal next year. In the UK, and with our partners across the EU we are gaining momentum for an ambitious deal, which I hope will result in a domestic …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 13 Comments
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