Tag Archives: featured

LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Why our destiny must lie with the F word

Charles KennedyThe Independence Referendum campaign continues to be depressing. The only really good things associated with it tend to come from Liberal Democrats and most especially Charles Kennedy. He’s written a thoughtful and persuasive article in the Herald about the dilemma facing Scotland beyond 18th September as, whoever wins, we’ve all lost out from increasing centralism to Edinburgh in recent years.

He outlines the problem:

In the pre-devolution days of one- party Tory domination there was much legitimate railing against the excessive concentration of power within Whitehall. The centre accrued and amassed while

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Good news: Voters places themselves and the Lib Dems in the centre. Bad news: that doesn’t mean they’re liberals

“There’s no future for the Lib Dems as a party of the centre,” goes the cry from radicals on both wings of our party. So I was interested to see this polling data from YouGov (hat-tip Adam Corlett) looking at where voters place themselves on the left-right axis and where they place the parties and their leaders. And yes, I know we don’t buy into the idea of a binary left-right axis, but it can’t be entirely dismissed.

As YouGov explains, “tracking data compiled over as many as 12 years gives a clear sense of how the main parties and their leaders have been perceived as shifting on a left-right scale. The two charts below shows mean scores based on 100 being “very right-wing” and -100 being “very left-wing”.” I’ve super-imposed onto YouGov’s graphics where, on average, voters currently place themselves:

voters left right spectrum you gov 2014

Three quick points:

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The Gender Agenda #3: Is there such a thing as “Women’s Policy”?

LDW stallI was long-winded last time so let’s try brevity: yes, and no.

When people talk about ‘women’s policy’ they usually mean one of three things:

1. Policies which only affect women directly: men (apart from trans men) do not, for example, suffer FGM or need access to abortion, so they will only ever be indirectly affected by policy on those issues.

2. Policies were your gender directly determines your rights and treatment in society: that includes gender separation in schools or prisons, or access to parental leave.

3.  Policies aimed at everyone, but that …

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Julian Huppert writes … The first Girl Summit

girlsummitlogoToday London hosts the first Girl Summit. Liberal Democrats in Government across every department have made the issue of gender inequality a priority. We understand that none of us can move forward if half of us are held back and this means tackling inequality and violence against women and girls wherever we find it.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage are two of the oldest and most extreme ways girls are stunted and harmed for life and we have made a commitment to work with Governments across the world, NGOs, faith leaders and communities to end these abhorrent practices.

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TTIP — the US-EU trade deal. What is it, and where is it up to?

Container Ship tradeAt last year’s autumn conference, the Lib Dems pledged to support a new trade agreement between the European Union and the United States — known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The motion, ‘Strengthening the UK Economy’ (pdf), called on the coalition to:

Increase trading opportunities by working in the EU to ensure that the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, doing everything possible to revive the World Trade Organisation led Doha Development Round and further integrating the EU services market.

Since then there has been significant …

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My pick of 15 top books to read this summer

reading summer - photo by hans van der bergThe newspapers are awash with summer best-reads at the moment, as well-known writers pick the books to relax with by the pool. You know the kind of thing: “It’s at this time of year I typically embark on re-reading Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, translating it into Russian (which I’m learning to relax as I prepare for my Grade 8 piano exam) from our rustic cottage in Tuscany.” Or, alternatively: “Here’s a book written by my mate.”

Always eager to copy a …

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Posted in Books | 4 Comments

Tim Farron’s Beveridge Lecture in full: “Let’s say a huge yes to active, ambitious, liberal government and build a new consensus”

Tim Farron MP speaks at the rallyLib Dem party president Tim Farron delivered the Beveridge Lecture at this weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference. Here’s what he said…

William Beveridge never led our country or our party. But he changed both in a spectacular way.

He was a humble man, a good man and so I am going to make an assumption that he’d want to know what social Liberals plan to do next, rather than hear us eulogise about him.

It’s a massive honour to be asked to give this …

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Ed Davey MP writes…Investing in green energy

offshore wind farmToday I published the Government’s first ever ‘Energy Investment Report’.  It shows how Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered on jobs and investment in energy – particularly green energy – and shows the plan we now have for this to continue for decades to come.

Let me be clear – investment in the energy sector has not been a ‘nice to have’.  We inherited a legacy of energy underinvestment from Labour and we’ve spent the last four years turning this around.   The sheer scale of the investment has already …

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The Independent View: Assisted Dying Bill – Open Letter to Liberal Democrat Peers

House of LordsTomorrow will see the Second Reading of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords and many Peers including Liberal Democrats have registered to speak on this issue of compassion and respect for choice at the end of life.

This Bill and its passage through your House will serve as one of the most important chapters of society’s story of compassion, we want you to know that your Party overwhelmingly supports you on legalising the choice of an assisted death for terminally ill dying people.

It has been reassuring …

photo by: ~suchitra~
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LibLink: Danny Alexander: We want a fair housing benefit system for every tenant

speech danny alexander 6People wonder why Liberal Democrats supported the Bedroom Tax in the first place. Well, I spent 4 yesrs sitting beside a Liberal Democrat MP when maybe 5 families a week would  come to us and say that they were stuck in a house that was way too small. Their kids had nowhere to study or play. That was what was foremost in their minds when they agreed the Bedroom Tax. They wanted to make it easier for those families. That was their motivation even though I think the …

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++Breaking…Clegg: “We must axe Bedroom Tax”

I got wind of this about an hour ago.

Here is tomorrow’s Daily Mirror front page.

Clegg axe bedroom tax

More to follow. In the meantime, have a read of my post from earlier.

That’ll be number 22 on Stephen Tall’s list of policies that we share with Labour…

Update: 22:47.

This email has just been sent from Danny Alexander explaining the party’s thinking. We’re not going for abolition, but for a great reform which means that nobody would have to pay unless they had turned down an offer of a smaller property which ticks a lot more of …

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Michael Gove: The Case for the Defence. And also the Case for the Prosecution.

Michael GoveUnlike most Lib Dems, I am not a Gove-hater. But nor do I share the adulation those one on the Right bestow upon him. The man we must now call the former Education secretary was more complex than his critics allowed and more flawed than his fans admitted.

No-one should doubt Michael Gove’s passion for schools reform, nor his sincerity. For him it is much more than political: it is also personal. Two men have shaped much of the education agenda in the last 15 years: Gove and Labour’s Andrew Adonis, …

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It’s Party awards time!

key_awards1It’s that time of year again when members decide who should be in line for an award at Conference.

It could be someone who has worked tirelessly in their local area to elect Liberal Democrats or implement our policies or someone who has given years to our cause by working hard as councillors or candidates.

Maybe a political assistant to a councillor or someone who has supported a local MP in the hard work that they do.

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Reshuffle: One Nation Toryism has gone to meet its maker

David Cameron - Some rights reserved by The Prime Minister's OfficeDavid Cameron’s extensive reshuffle of the Tory ministerial ranks will continue today. Last night we learned of the casualties; today will be dedicated to the winners. But there’s no doubt at all about the biggest casualty: moderate, One Nation Toryism.

Ken Clarke, famously dubbed the sixth Lib Dem cabinet member, has gone. Too sensible to be left in charge of the Justice ministry he was exiled to the Cabinet’s fringes in 2012; now he has been retired completely. William Hague – transformed …

Posted in News | 30 Comments

Opinion: DRIP under the microscope – should Liberal Democrats support this Bill?

Samsung Galaxy Note 3Unusually for me, I’m starting writing this piece without knowing what conclusion I’ll come to by the end of it. Normally it’s straight forward enough to marshal evidence, decide on view and then write it up (unless the curse of writers’ block strikes of course).

But the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) takes the usual perils of journalism turning most stories into a simple good versus bad dynamic, throws in the paucity of expert mainstream coverage of many technical issues and adds a dash of juggling different uncertainties.

Certainly if …

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Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 28 Comments

A longer read for the weekend… Edward Lucas on the threat posed to peace by Russia and what the West should do about it

edward lucasEdward Lucas worked for Paddy Ashdown, has helped at by-elections, and was active in the National League of Young Liberals (NLYL) and the Union of Liberal Students (ULS). He’s better known, though, for being a senior editor at The Economist and an expert on energy, cyber-security, espionage, Russian foreign and security policy and the politics and economics of Eastern Europe. In 2008 he wrote The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In 2011 he wrote Deception, an investigative account of east-west espionage. And earlier …

Posted in Europe / International, News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 64 Comments

Baroness Sarah Ludford writes…How not to use Brussels for policy laundering

Racks line photo by Tristan SchmurrThe new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Bill responds to the European Court of Justice annulment of the 2006 EU Data Retention Directive.

The government asserts that the DRIP Bill only confirms existing law as it is broadly the same content as the 2009 regulations implementing the EU Directive. But as that Directive has been swept away, DRIP provides a new legal basis, and this will in fact be the first time that legislation to regulate retention of phone, email and internet records has been generated …

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Julian Huppert: This is not Snoopers’ Charter. It’s what we had already plus additional safeguards

Data CenterWe’ve been asked to reproduce Julian Huppert’s email with the details of the new legislation in a separate post so that people don’t have to go through the mammoth post to find it, so here it is. Now, because people are clearly wanting the debate to stay in one place, we’ve closed off comments. If you have a point to make, please do it on this post here.  We’re not doing it to be evil and awkward but because people have criticised us for having too many threads going

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Posted in Op-eds | Comments Off

UPDATED: (Not) The Snoopers’ Charter: Where we are, how we got here, what we should look for and what should happen next

The Houses Of ParliamentI’m feeling slightly nervous this morning. As I was going to bed last night, news came through that apparently a deal had been struck to introduce emergency legislation on communications data. The Guardian has the details.

The government will announce that it is rushing through emergency legislation underpinning the state’s right to keep personal data held by internet and phone companies.

Labour is expected to accept the bill on the basis that it will simply restore what the government believed to be the law before the European Court of Justice ruled in April that an EU directive on privacy retention had over-reached its powers and amounted to an invasion of privacy.

But, as part of the deal, the opposition has won agreement that ministers will launch a review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act passed in 2000. The act is seen as the source of excessive surveillance by the security services.

Hang on, what was that last sentence again? “The opposition has won agreement that Ministers will launch a review of RIPA.” Let’s just remind ourselves who was in Government when RIPA was passed? Ah yes, that authoritarian, illiberal Labour government that thought it was ok to lock people up for 90 days without charge.  Our MPs have been going on about reviewing RIPA since it was passed. It’s really important that Labour don’t get to claim that ground.

photo by: garryknight
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Baroness Joan Walmsley writes…The NSPCC does not go far enough

Children Walking on TrailThis morning the BBC had an exclusive story from the NSPCC. They have at long last shifted their position on making it a crime to cover up child abuse and have come out with a very half-hearted and confusing policy. I call it “safeguarding light.” Instead of making it the duty of everybody with the care of children in a regulated institution (like a school) to report to the Local Authority any child abuse or serious suspicion of child abuse, as I am advocating, they are saying that …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Making the pursuit of happiness as important as GDP

cf reportOver the past 12 months I have been working with mental health experts and the think-tank CentreForum, grappling with the challenge of how we can improve mental health care.

Today sees the publication of our final report, The pursuit of happiness: a new ambition for our mental health. It reflects the expertise of many, makes a number of recommendations to transform not just health services, but the mental health of the nation, and it has one overarching call – that the pursuit of happiness should be a priority …

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Inequality “narrows” due to Liberal Democrat policies

imageAn interesting report (£)  in the Sunday Times yesterday tells how official figures show that the gap between the richest and poorest is narrowing.

While most people have suffered a squeeze on incomes since Britain was plunged into recession six years ago — and only now is the economy getting back to pre-crisis levels — those on lower incomes have done relatively better than those at the top. Households Below Average Income, an official report published last week, showed income inequality, measured after taking into account housing costs, had fallen to

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Why 40% is the magic number in the Scottish referendum

Brazil v Scotland 22For some reason, 40% is a figure which has long exerted political significance.

That devolution for Scotland wasn’t introduced in 1979 wasn’t because a majority of those who voted didn’t want it: by 52% to 48% the Scottish voted in favour of establishing a Scottish parliament. However, a Labour MP, George Cunningham, introduced an amendment to the Scotland Act (1978) specifying a minimum turnout threshold of 40% of the electorate. The actual turnout of 33% meant Scottish devolution had to wait a further two decades.

I was reminded of …

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Jenny Willott MP writes… Historic milestone for women on company boards

Canary Wharf photo by Jim NixOn Thursday, 26th June, 2014, I was delighted to hear the news that the mining and commodities trader Glencore Xstrata had appointed Patrice Merrin, a Canadian former mining executive, as an independent non-executive director.

This decision means there are no longer any all-male boards amongst the UK’s top companies. In 2011, 21 of the FTSE100 companies had no women on their boards, and now there are none. This is an important step forward and one which Liberal Democrats can be proud of helping to make happen. …

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5 things Nick Clegg could do next

Nick Clegg Q&A 8My last piece of advice to Nick Clegg was to stand down as Lib Dem leader. He didn’t, and it’s pretty clear now that Nick will lead us into the next general election.

Two problems remain, though, and we need to find ways of addressing them. First, morale in the party has dipped since the May elections. Secondly, support for the party has also dipped in the polls. Yes, Lib Dem MPs benefit from the incumbency effect but that only stretches so far – we also need to start winning the air war, or at the very least avoid being ignored. As it stands, what Nick says just isn’t getting a listening. However unfair, it’s a reality we need to deal with.

Here are five suggestions from me for ways in which Nick Clegg could help restore party morale and maybe get himself a hearing from the media and public…

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Paul Burstow MP writes..Carer’s Bonus is only the first new policy to help carers

CarerJust as public services, communities and workplaces have seen a shift in how families are supported to balance childcare responsibilities with busy working lives, we now need a similar shift to meet the care needs of a rapidly growing older population too.

Thanks to the Liberal Democrats the Care Act and Children and Families Act have both extended the rights of Carers of all ages, but there is still much more to be done to recognise the hidden treasure that are Carers.

Caring responsibilities can come at any time in a person’s life …

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…A fairer way of redrawing constituency boundaries

Boundary - Some rights reserved by ank0kuIn those heady 5 Days in May back in 2010, our negotiators agreed with the Conservative Party that there should be “fewer, more equal” constituencies returning MPs to the House of Commons.  It formed part of a package, coupled with the referendum on Alternative Vote, and placed alongside fixed-term Parliaments (delivered), greater localism (partially delivered), and House of Lords reform (not delivered).

Whatever your views on whether there should be fewer MPs, more, or just the same as now, the principle that parliamentary constituencies should contain …

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Opinion: Why it is wrong to enshrine the “triple lock” in law

pensionsOne of the now regular flow of “policy announcements” from the leadership calls for the 2010 ‘triple lock’ to be enshrined in law.  Passing for a moment over the fact that these “announcements” are of course nothing of the sort and discourteous to Conference which passes policy, (though, to be fair, as Mark Pack and others have pointed out, Steve Webb has been careful to avoid language some others have used that suggests these policies have been agreed without the party having a say), I think it’s the wrong idea.

Why? …

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Michael Moore MP writes…Securing the UK’s commitment to international development

Lynne Featherstone in UgandaI am pretty sure I have taken every chance available to enter the ballot for a Private Member’s Bill since being elected to the House of Commons in 1997.

What is certain is that I have never succeeded in securing one of the highly coveted slots that give backbench MPs a chance to pilot legislation through Parliament – until now, that is.

In the old days I am sure that those lucky enough to emerge in the “top 20” of the ballot would have learned of their good fortune by letter or maybe even messenger. By contrast, I became aware of securing the second slot by text messages and a sudden spate of social media ‘notifications’. The letter duly followed.

In the weeks since, I have had many enquiries asking which issue I would choose and have had just as many (mostly) helpful suggestions – my thanks to all who took the trouble.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Britain is the mother of parliamentary democracy, yet on Friday its Prime Minister voted against it

cameron-europeFor political historians, the 27 June 2014 may go down in history as the day a British Prime Minister voted against parliamentary democracy. For that is what the Juncker nomination was really all about, and which many commentators in the UK fail to understand. Comments such as “two-faced EU leaders”, “Europeans fed up with the UK”, etc, as read in several articles this weekend, reveal a lack of understanding of the process that has been building up in the EU in the past two years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 139 Comments



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    For more context as to why the West should learn the lessons of Iraq/Afghanistan and much, much more watch Paddy Ashdown in a 15 minute...
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    JUF Apologies just one of my many typos. That line should have read --- "...I am in line with very many Liberal Democrats in Scotland...
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    Sara Scarlet You claim that --"There is a strong undeniable correlation between freer markets, increased wealth and more personal freedom." But throughout this thread have...
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    Psi, my opinion is that the worst credible outcome of a Yes vote isn't as bad as letting the status quo continue unabated. The Yes...