Tag Archives: general election 2015

What’s happening on P-35, Thursday 2nd April?

Five weeks to go! And one week (with two bank holidays) to get nomination papers in.

Today is Debate Day, of course. And it’s also the first anniversary of Nick Clegg’s second debate with Nigel Farage last year.

Nick will be preparing ahead of the debate which takes place in Salford. His visit for the day is in nearby Cheadle, visiting a charity set up by parents after their 9 month old baby, Millie, died after choking at nursery. Cheadle Lib Dem Mark Hunter, as MP for the area, helped Millie’s parents campaign for a change in the law to ensure that every nursery has someone available who is trained in paediatric first aid. Millie’s Trust  aims to provide first aid training to everyone who needs it and Nick and Mark will be attending a paediatric first aid lesson.

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New Party Election Broadcast: Look left, look right then cross

The new election broadcast being broadcast right now on BBC1 moves from the open doors theme of the last two to emphasising the moderating influence of the Liberal Democrats. It’s that centre ground theme again that we’ve seen in the posters launched last week. Remember that few of us reading this will be the broadcast’s target audience. There is a Scottish version with a different soundtrack to incorporate the SNP.

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What’s happening on P-36, Wednesday 1st April?

Shared Parental Leave is the theme of the day as the big yellow battle bus heads for East Dunbartonshire and a nursery visit.Parents of babies due on or after this Saturday will be able to choose how they share 50 of the 52 weeks of parental leave. The only stipulation is that mothers have to take the first two weeks after the birth.

This is a policy that ticks all the stronger economy, fairer society and opportunity for everyone boxes. Nick will be visiting the nursery with the minister who introduced the measure, Jo Swinson, in her constituency.

Also in Scotland, Willie Rennie gives a speech to the Scottish Police Federation. Police officers in Scotland have suffered from the actions of their senior managers in recent years. Their Chief Constable and his colleagues have been caught out telling untruths to Parliament over armed police and stop and search on several occasions. Officers are also reeling from a target driven culture that places the emphasis on form filling and targets rather than just doing the job.

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P-37: What are the Liberal Democrats talking about today? Mental Health and the manifesto for the mind

We’ll be having daily deeper and more detailed look at the party’s main theme. Today it’s mental health. Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb this morning said that Liberal Democrats (or should that be Democats?) would invest £3.5 billion in mental health over the next Parliament.

Part of our record in Government includes securing £150 million to help young people with eating disorders. A new video shows Kat sharing her experience of living with an eating disorder:

The Party’s Manifesto for the mind outlines a wide-ranging suite of measures to improve mental health services:

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Joey Essex on the Liberal Democats and “nice” and “honest” Nick Clegg

Liberal DemocatsIt’s fair to say that one of the last people we expected to turn up at a Liberal Democrat press conference was Joey Essex from TOWIE.

He was there this morning, though, as he’s doing some briefings for young people.

He managed to grab a selfie with Nick Clegg:

The Mirror has details of the conversation between them when Joey revealed that he thought we were called the Liberal Democats:

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What’s happening on P-37, Tuesday 31st March?

Today was the first of the traditional morning election press conferences. Liberal Democrats hold ours in the National Liberal Club, just off Whitehall. It’s a lovely building with super views over the Thames. This morning Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb launched the party’s Manifesto for the Mind. This sets out how the party would invest £3.5 billion over the next Parliament to improve mental health service, reduce waiting times. Nick Clegg said:

Liberal Democrats believe that no matter who you are, where you come from and what your circumstances, you should not be denied the opportunity to fulfil your potential.

Yet, in Britain today, millions of people are denied the opportunity to get on and live happy, fulfilling lives because they live with mental health issues.

One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives. And yet, for decades, mental health services have been neglected by successive governments, the poor relation of physical health problems.

That’s why in Government, the Liberal Democrats have slowly started to undo that damage.

In the coalition government’s final Budget we secured more than a billion pounds to revolutionise services for children and young people, alongside the first ever waiting times standards and a plan to roll out talking therapies across England.

But we cannot and must not rest there. Equality for people with mental health issues is a liberal mission.

As this document sets out, in Government again, we will continue to put mental health front and centre of the political debate.

That’s why I am so immensely proud that we are the first party to put equality for people with mental health problems on the front page of our full General Election manifesto.

Only the Liberal Democrats can keep Britain on track and provide both a stronger economy and a fairer society with strong public services.

Only the Liberal Democrats can and will make sure mental health is treated with the same urgency as physical health, with money to back that up, and challenge the stigma every day.

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Former LGBT+ chair Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett becomes Britain’s first openly HIV positive candidate

Adrian Hyyrylainen-TrettI am feeling incredibly emotional this evening. What I’m feeling ranges from intense pride in a friend whose courage in telling his story will help others, to equally intense, ice-cold rage at what he has had to endure over the years. Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Vauxhall. He is a former chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems. Tonight, he has spoken to Buzzfeed about the bullying he suffered at school, how this led him to contemplate suicide at the age of just 14 and how his mental health deteriorated during his early adult life. He tells how he contracted HIV 11 years ago.

The fact that Adrian’s health has improved, he has found happiness in his personal life and professional success will be an inspiration to other young people who are suffering in the same way. I understand a little bit of what it’s like to be that teenager everyone hates who thinks the world would be so much better without her. Except when I was a teenager, nobody talked about this kind of stuff and I thought I was alone and the feelings I had were because I was a bad person.

You need to read the whole interview. It’s powerful, eloquent and very, very frank.

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg speaking in Oxford West and Abingdon today

Thanks to Daisy Benson for putting this on You Tube. If this was the West Wing, it would be Nick’s stump speech and every time he speaks in the next few weeks, it’ll be the “modified stump” that he delivers.

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The first photos of the campaign bus…

It’s yellow, it might just ever so subtly mention the Liberal Democrat Stronger Economy, Fairer Society, Opportunity for Everyone slogan, and those designs from the graphic designers representing our five key manifesto priorities are actually very pretty. And inside there are yellow seats (on reflection probably more orange than yellow), and, I’m told, yellow ambient lighting.

Here is Chipping Barnet candidate Marisha Ray and friends about to board (reproduced from Facebook with her permission).

Lib Dem battle bus maiden voyage

Update: Here’s a picture of the inside, too, with Alex Feakes and his daughter Matilda, who was the youngest person on the bus. 

Alex Feakes and Matilda on battlebus

The bus’s maiden voyage took it from London to Oxford West and Abingdon where Layla Moran hopes to gain the seat from the Conservatives. Here she is introducing Nick:

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Call Clegg goes on the road as Nick Clegg launches the Liberal Democrat election campaign

A big day today as Nick Clegg heads to Oxford West and Abingdon to officially launch the Liberal Democrat campaign. As ever there will be a bus to ferry the leader and his team around the country but it will have two particularly interesting features. First of all, it’ll have the tech to enable Nick to do Call Clegg style shows and radio interviews while he travels. Nick has always been the most accessible party leader, doing regular town hall meetings, but this will take it to a new level.

The other feature of the bus is that its livery has been designed by two graphic design students with panels to represent our main priorities.

It’s significant that the launch is taking place in a seat that we hope to gain, sending out the clear message that advancement is on the agenda, even when so many have written us off even more than they usually do.

Ahead of the launch, Nick said some things which should by now be quite tedious to Liberal Democrats but we need to remember that we are not the target audience.

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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.

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“Charm machine” Paddy Ashdown in Bristol to mark million door landmark

By the end of this weekend, the Liberal Democrats will have knocked on one million doors this year. That’s pretty incredible. Paddy Ashdown has been in Bath today to campaign for Steve Bradley and mark that important milestone.

Liberal Youth members have been out in force too. Bristol students called our election chief a “charm machine” which is a whole load more respectful than he got in Scotland last weekend when Willie Rennie dubbed him Father Jack after his sweary outbursts in press briefings.

Paddy has written to all Liberal Democrat candidates as the short campaign kicks off. This is the Scottish version of his letter:

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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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Cute seals for Earth Hour Day – and some serious points about Liberal Democrat policy

On the day Earth Hour takes place, the Liberal Democrats have released a video with Nick Clegg and Julia Goldsworthy at a Cornish seal sanctuary. They highlight the nature bill that’s part of our 5 green laws in the manifesto. I know this is childish but every time I see that headline, I think of a cartoon David Laws, greened up like Elphaba in Wicked. The party’s video communications are really good at the moment. Enjoy this one.

Our plans for a Nature Bill include removing exemptions from all plastic bag charges to safeguard our environment and protect wildlife.

Posted by Liberal Democrats on Saturday, 28 March 2015

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The Independent View: Half of the public are likely to change their vote after examining the parties’ policies

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 14.15.40Last night, I found myself in the strange position of introducing a panel of speakers at Birkbeck, including John Curtice and Dr Rosie Campbell, to discuss whether the internet can have an impact on our voting habits. I say strange because just 5 years ago, I had no real interest in politics. I suppose I was like most people, engaged a little around election time but otherwise never really bothered by what went on in Westminster.

But yesterday, the organisation I set up during the 2010 election, Vote for Policies, organised this debate in partnership with The Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, as we released some really interesting data from our users: 50% of people polled on the Vote for Policies website say they are likely to vote for a different party as a result of using the site. A further 63% say they are surprised to discover which party’s policies they support. You can read a full report of the debate here.

Vote for Policies allows users to compare policies on topics like education or the economy, without knowing which party they belong to. 166,000 surveys have been completed since its soft launch on February 19th 2015. 1,111 users completed the poll on which our findings are based.

I set it up because before the last election I came to the frightening realisation that I simply didn’t understand the differences between the parties’ policies, which led me to read all of the manifestos in detail. For the first time, I felt informed and ready to vote – but most people don’t have time to trawl through manifestos, so I wanted to make this process easier for everyone else. You can take the survey here.

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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 Telegraph puts its own predictable spin on Liberal Democrat election strategy

It always amuses me how the newspapers report  what is going on inside the Liberal Democrat campaign machine. I would strongly recommend that you read anything published on the pages of newspapers who hate us with a very large pinch of salt.

A few weeks ago the Mirror painted this picture of “MPs being forced to undergo dragon’s den style grillings” to secure campaign resources. This is kind of right, except it’s a process which has been going on for most of this Parliament and in fact any seat was welcome to apply to be part of the strategic seats programme. I was part of the Dragon’s Den panel in Scotland and I was really heartened to see how the process worked and how campaigning activity in all our seats improved as a result.

Now the Telegraph, which hates us as much as the Mirror if not more, screams “Lib Dems throw weak MPs to the wolves”. There are undoubtedly some people who would far rather be thrown to an actual pack of wolves than face Paddy in full Father Jack mode but the sense I get is that seats which a year ago were thought to be lost are actually being seen as seriously in play. This is down to the massive effort that has been put in on the ground by our highly motivated campaign teams. The party has always targeted its relatively scant resources carefully to put most effort in where the evidence tells us we can win. The only difference between this campaign and previous is that there are fewer seats we are seriously targeting to gain. Oxford West and Abingdon and Watford, where Layla Moran and Dorothy Thornhill respectively are standing, are two prominent examples of that sort of seat.

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Holyrood magazine interview with Willie Rennie: “the Scottish Lib Dem leader, in stark contrast to his counterpart in London, seems near universally liked”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie gave an interview to Holyrood magazine ahead of the party’s conference in Aberdeen. The first few paragraphs told us that he was talkative, he smiled a lot and that he was “near universally liked.” We just wish that translated into poll ratings.

Alistair Carmichael described him as a “force of nature” on Friday and anyone who has seen the energy with which he campaigns from Shetland to Galloway will agree.

He doesn’t get everything right as his baffling response to the question about the difference Nicola Sturgeon brings to the role of First Minister shows, but he made  a solid defence of the party’s record in government and showcased the party’s USP – a strong commitment to civil liberties. There’s stuff in here that people across the UK will find useful.

The interview took place in the wake of the vote on the SNP’s plans for a super ID database. Willie had called for this measure to be done by primary legislation, not snuck in by committee, a clever move which secured the backing of Labour, Tories and Greens.

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Is David Steel right about the Liberal Democrat attitude to a future coalition?

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In Full: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference: “Liberalism is needed more than ever”

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Conference in which he says the party will confound the doom-mongers and sets out why we can be proud in our records in Government. He paints a grim picture of life with the Tories governing alone and, after praising Willie Rennie, tells us  “Let’s go win.”

Good afternoon, Conference.

It is good to be back in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is where I attended party conference of the Scottish Liberal Party for the first time here in 1983.

The party was very different then.   In fact it was a different party – liberals and social democrats were still in different parties.

The Scottish Liberal leader then was Russell Johnston.

The party Chair was Ross Finnie and the vice-chairs included a couple of young turks called Jim Wallace and Malcolm Bruce.

What ever became of them?

 

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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.

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The Independent View: Let’s make 2015 the last ever lottery election

Who could have predicted it? Who would have thought that four years after the Alternative Vote was firmly rejected by voters in a national referendum, we would be approaching the 2015 general election with First Past the Post at Westminster under serious scrutiny? Or that local electoral reform could be a realistic outcome of power-sharing talks between Liberal Democrats and one or other of the major parties (provided Lib Dems make it a ‘red-line’ issue)?

What are the game-changers? Firstly, FPTP’s supposed ability to deliver clear majority government was justification enough for many to put up with the obvious lack of proportionality.  That no longer applies. As The Economist says: “Unaccustomed and ill-adapted to multi-party politics, Britain is more likely to get weak, unstable governments. That will only fuel the dissatisfaction with career politicians in the main parties. And if the parliamentary system comes to be seen as both unfair and ineffectual, then it is in for a crisis of legitimacy.”

With FPTP stripped of its main justification, other arguments are also coming to the fore. In The Lottery Election, published last month by the Electoral Reform Society, Professor John Curtice argues that relatively small shifts in opinion could have massive effects at the Westminster level. Meanwhile, UKIP could come 6th in seats but 3rd in votes, and SNP could come 6th in votes but 3rd in seats. So far, so unfair.

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Mike Beckett’s type of politics

Mike Beckett is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Scarborough and Whitby. He has found a novel way to tell voters about the sort of person he is – a cartoon drawn by his friend Nigel Roberts based on an original concept by Paula Dolphin. Some fascinating insights into the nature of modern politics, I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

Michael Beckett, My Style of Politics

 

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Paddy to broadcasters: Let Nick into third debate. He’ll debate Miliband if Cameron refuses

Paddy Ashdown has followed up his no-nonsense appearance on the Today programme, in which he said that if Cameron wouldn’t debate Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg would, with a letter to the Chair of the committee of the broadcasters who are organising the events.

He said that the debates were here to stay, that anyone with a record in government to defend should be present in all debates and that Nick should be in the third debate anyway, but should debate Miliband if Cameron doesn’t turn up.

If Cameron now takes part, he looks like he’s been dragged there. If he doesn’t he looks scared, but he doesn’t take the risk. Will it actually change people’s votes, though? Do people actually care? 

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What’s the scariest outcome of the General Election?

While the national polls aren’t looking great for the Liberal Democrats, to say the least, in key seats there’s more of an air of, if not confidence, at least hope. Campaign teams are busily getting on with what needs to be done for them to win their seats, buoyed by increasing membership and a never-ending list of jobs to do. Ben Lazarus, who write the Telegraph’s Morning Briefing tried to fathom the other day what he called the “Lib Dems’ curious optimism”:

For a party that, since 2010 has now lost three quarters of their support, the Liberal Democrats seem remarkably calm. There are reasons for this. They know that a hung parliament could give them real power again after May . And, according to YouGov’s Peter Kellner,  despite the abysmal polling, there are two factors that may help them save more of their seats than those headline figures suggest. First, the party usually gains support nationally during election campaigns. The party benefits from TV exposure – although they no longer have the advantage of being a protest party unaffected by the rigours of government, it is likely their exposure by the main broadcasters will still be an aid. Second, Liberal Democrat MPs often have a strong personal following. Where Lib Dems are seeking re-election, their chances are often better than the national polls suggest; the party is deliberately playing to this strength, fighting lots of local campaigns instead of a national one.

With all the talk about Ukip and the Greens, the Lib Dems are sometimes forgotten.  But don’t rule them out.  They may prove more resilient than many expect, and thus play a pivotal role in the messy events that follow the election.

And it’s about what goes on following the election that I want to think about. I wrote last week that we need to keep our options open and not throw any babies out before the bath has even been run. While I understand the logic that letting the SNP be in charge of the UK would be a bit like letting Farage take charge in Europe, we don’t know what orders the people are going to give us, what hand we are going to be dealt. And, frankly, we will have to find the best future for liberal democrat ideas within that. It might be in government, it might not be.

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Farron seeks £20k for Lib Dem campaigns to match Tony Blair’s donation to Labour

Tony Blair“Rich Labour Member gives £100k to Labour” is not the biggest surprise in the whole world. When it’s Tony Blair, though, and he’s giving £20k to campaigns against Liberal Democrat MPs who stood up against his catastrophic intervention in Iraq, that will set Liberal Democrat blood boiling.

At least that’s what Tim Farron hopes.

He’s sending an email to members and supporters asking them to donate enough to match Blair’s £20k against our MPs. Labour candidates fighting fabulous Lib Dem MPs like Lynne Featherstone, Jo Swinson, Jenny Willott and Julian Huppert will be getting Blair money.

Anything you donate will be spent directly trying to win those seats and others like them and is money well spent to keep these stellar Liberal Democrats in Parliament.

Farron said:

We reckon that about £20,000 of his donation is going directly to fighting the Liberal Democrats in seats where we’re up against Labour. Those Liberal Democrat candidates opposed Blair’s illegal war in Iraq and are fighting to get the Chilcot report published so he can be held to account.

He is trying to silence them, and we don’t want to let him.

Please will you make a donation today, so we can match the £20,000 Blair has put into fighting Lib Dem candidates?

Every pound you give will go into our election campaign and will be used on the front line. Every Lib Dem candidate is committed to getting the Chilcot report published, so that Tony Blair can be held to account.

A donation from you today will help make that happen.

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LDVideo: Kelly Marie Blundell on what she’d do as MP for Guildford

kmb-nickbelfitt2Kelly Marie Blundell is one of the Liberal Democrats’ brightest young stars. At every conference, she’s been involved in making policy aimed at protecting the most vulnerable people in our society whether it’s about food banks, the work capability assessment, a fair benefits system or mental health. She’s such a persuasive, compelling, passionate speaker and would be a force to be reckoned with within both a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary group and in Parliament itself. She also has freakishly neat bookshelves.

She’s our candidate for Guildford, a seat that we held between 2001-5 with Sue Doughty. Now the town has the chance to elect another fantastic Liberal Democrat woman.

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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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Open Doors: The Sequel – All four versions of the second Lib Dem PPB of 2015

We brought you the first in the Open Doors series of broadcasts at the end of January. Here is the second in which Willie Rennie’s scarf tying doesn’t improve, Kirsty Williams speaks Welsh and there are lots of good reasons to vote Liberal Democrat with much more policy detail.

Feedback about lack of appropriate accents has clearly been listened to and they have slotted in different comments from each person to each version so you really do have to watch them all.

England

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Independent on Sunday praises Nick Clegg and Ed Davey for “keeping the low carbon show on the road”

Davey Windmills - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAn Independent on Sunday editorial today acknowledges the contribution made by the Liberal Democrats to furthering the green agenda while in government. They give Nick Clegg and Ed Davey the credit for driving it forward in the face of opposition from our coalition partners, who come in for some criticism:

The IoS has been disappointed with the Conservatives’ record on the environment. We were prepared to give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt when he put a windmill on his roof and when he proclaimed his intention that the coalition would be the greenest government ever, but if Mr Davey is now able to make that qualified claim, it is despite Mr Cameron, not because of him.

The turning point was George Osborne’s “slowest ship in the convoy” speech to the Tory party conference in 2011, when he said Britain would go along with EU plans for green energy but would not be a leader.

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  • User AvatarDavid-1 2nd Apr - 6:41am
    I am not sure what the definition of "stable government" in this context is. If it means in real terms, as I think, "David Cameron...
  • User AvatarAlex Sabine 2nd Apr - 3:38am
    Moreover, the deeper problem for the Tories was that 'modernisation' as conceived by the Notting Hill set (and initiated by Michael Portillo in the late...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 2nd Apr - 3:37am
    @jbt: "I’m curious as to how that mug is in [any] way racist?" In a discussion in which one person continually talks about "white Britons,"...
  • User AvatarAlex Sabine 2nd Apr - 3:31am
    matt (Bristol) and David Allen: I agree with a lot of your analysis above. I am not saying there will be a late crossover to...
  • User AvatarAndy Hinton 2nd Apr - 12:59am
    What Jennie said.
  • User AvatarAlex Sabine 2nd Apr - 12:45am
    Matthew: I must have missed the part of Paul's article where he argued that the coalition has been a "wonderful super-duper government doing just what...
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