Tag Archives: general election 2015

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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Tweets and snapshots from the Campaign Trail

Our Liberal Democrat campaigners have been out and about knocking on doors. The selection of tweets that follow represents a tiny snapshot of the work going on across the country. The Liberal Democrats are bright, bold and determined in the run up to May 7th.

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We need to be careful about the SNP and coalitions

Labour appear to be saying they would entertain the idea of putting the SNP in charge of Britain in a government and that’s in my book just not going to happen. In the same way I’d never put UKIP in charge of Europe, I’d certainly never put the SNP in charge of a country that they would basically want to rip apart.

This is what Nick Clegg said about the SNP in today’s Call Clegg. It builds on an article written by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie on here last week. Willie said:

We’ll always be asked by the media about various scenarios and outcomes. But the reality is that all of us are campaigning hard for  Liberal Democrat votes. We want to win here.

And just as you would not put UKIP in charge of Europe, it’s right that we make clear you would not put the SNP in charge of Britain.

This doesn’t mean we won’t take a reasonable approach to politics as a party. We have formed coalitions with the SNP on councils and, in the Scottish Parliament, we have worked with them on their budget and on a range of other issues. So have other parties.

But just imagine for only one second what would happen if Alex Salmond became Deputy Prime Minister. The minute you turned your back he’d take the screwdriver out and try to break up the UK.

This is in no way comparing the SNP and UKIP as some have suggested on earlier discussions. There is no direct comparison. Aside from the constitutional issues, there are many policy issues on which we could find agreement with the SNP and we could work with them. We could also temper their lack of respect for civil liberties. I can’t think of anyone in UKIP I’d want to even give the time of day to and our policy divergence is huge.  While I totally get the analogy Nick and Willie are making  I would urge caution about explicitly ruling out dealing with the Nationalists. It would be counter-productive to do so.

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Tories try to take credit for Lib Dem Steve Webb’s Pensions Triple Lock

As the election campaign hots up, all the parties are emailing those who have signed up to their email lists on all sorts of issues.

In the past few days, we’ve seen one from Harriet Harman admonishing the recipient for not responding to Labour’s opinion survey. It had one question, basically “Are you voting Labour?” There wasn’t even a “maybe” option.

We’ve seen a missive David Cameron (or his digital equivalent) has emailed to his distribution list to take credit for the pensions triple lock. The wording looks like it’s been copied and pasted from a Liberal Democrat equivalent.

Now, everyone knows that that was Liberal Democrat pensions guru Steve Webb’s idea. If you look in the 2010 Tory manifesto, you see a commitment to restoring the link to earnings, but that’s about it.

In contrast, this is what the Lib Dem manifesto had to say:

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Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…Optimism and determination of Welsh campaign teams is impressive

When I am travelling around Wales I take every opportunity as to go out campaigning with our Welsh MPs. Last week I was out knocking doors with Mark Williams and his team in Lampeter. I am a seasoned Ceredigion campaigner- I don’t think I have missed an election there in the last 15 years. So I know what to expect, and the atmosphere hasn’t changed. Mark is known by almost everyone and regarded with huge respect for his constant hard work in a constituency where local issues are particularly important.

In Brecon and Radnor the “Williams Team” are equally well known and Roger is particularly well established in the farming community. Campaigning in such a sparsely populated area is never easy and elections in B and R are not for the faint hearted. But once again we have the benefit of a well-liked and respected candidate and a strong local party able to support him.

Cardiff Central is about as big a contrast as you can imagine: it is geographically the smallest Welsh constituency but, as an inner city seat it has a big turnover of population. I live in the area so it is no surprise that I campaign there regularly. As a Labour facing seat it will obviously be very closely fought and Jenny Willott’s Labour opponent is particularly well funded as she is a Trade Union lawyer. Jenny and our team are working as hard as it is possible to do and, once again, her name is well known and her reputation for hard work is frequently mentioned. Labour infighting on the Council and their plans to close libraries and reduce bin collections have persuaded a lot of local people that they cannot be trusted. The core Lib Dem team in Central are experienced, tough campaigners, but there are also a lot of new members, many of them young, for whom this is their first general election as activists.

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The Times: “Lib Dems are great survivors”

Writing in the Times (£), Philip Collins makes some predictions about the Liberal Democrats’ fortunes. He reckons we’ll be part of a coalition with the Conservatives after the general election. I suspect party members will have a different feeling until we see what’s on offer. Collins also has some fairly unpalatable recommendations for the party, such as ditching climate change.

He reckons we won’t face the wipeout many predict:

The party’s own polling is the clue to the relentless optimism of its senior personnel. Where they have a presence on the local council and the sitting MP, the Lib Dems are competitive. Ukip will help them against the Tories and the electoral system that Lib Dems have always hated is coming to their rescue. There has been a lot of speculation about where Nick Clegg will go after the election. My own bet is Sheffield Hallam, about once a fortnight.

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Layla Moran shows the benefits of the Liberal Democrats drive to deliver 2 million apprenticeships

Liberal Democrat candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran was on Channel 4’s political slot tonight talking about apprenticeships. She interviewed apprentices, including Paige McConville, the 2 millionth apprentice. She also interviewed business owners who told her of the high value training apprentices receive and how having apprentices benefits us all as they provide the skills the economy needs to grow.

You can watch it here:

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Opinion: High impact campaigning – volunteering with Team 2015

Team 2015 posterI’m looking forward to the election with a fair amount of optimism. My response to disappointing election results in May 2014 was to join Team 2015, which in August had just begun to mobilise Lib Dem volunteers in preparation for the General Election. At this point the Team membership’s infectious enthusiasm far outweighed its numbers. It has since grown to include volunteers from across the country, and this has shaped my belief that we have a chance to do better in the election than critics and pollsters are anticipating.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: A defence of our role in Coalition, whatever Jeremy Browne thinks

Danny Alexander takes to the pages of the Independent to challenge the points made by Jeremy Browne in his critical interview in that paper yesterday.

He looks back at the recessions of the 80s with their mass unemployment and misery and highlights the differences in approach brought into government by the Liberal Democrats. This, he says, has brought about a quicker, fairer end to the economic downturn:

Liberalism is about individual freedom, fairness and opportunity. And freedom, fairness and opportunity cannot flourish without a strong economy.

Today, Britain has the strongest growth and fastest job creation of any advanced economy. Inflation is benign, business investment is rising and we have record numbers in work. By any measure, Britain is making strong progress and opportunity is increasing.

This recovery has not come about by accident. It has been hard earned by millions of people and businesses. But we needed the right economic climate for the recovery. That climate is the direct result of liberal values in the recovery plan – fairness and opportunity. Delivered in the Coalition by Liberal Democrat policies – a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit; raising the income tax personal allowance to make work more attractive; creating apprenticeships to give people the skills they need; and the priority we have given to boosting investment in regional and local businesses, innovation and infrastructure. This is not “splitting the difference” between the other parties. It’s doing things in a distinctly different way, the liberal way.

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Lord Tim Clement-Jones writes…Out on the campaign trail in Maidstone and St Albans

I have made a promise of spending every Friday out on the doorstep, I thought I would update you all on some of my recent experiences out campaigning.

The other week I had another inspiring day on the campaign trail, this time with Jasper Gerrard and his team. The age of the team ranged from 22 to 78! Who says we can’t generate commitment! Jasper is clearly neck and neck here with the unpopular Tory incumbent. The perfect antidote to those who are paying too much attention to the national polls.

TCJ Maidstone

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Opinion: Pubs matter so why not protect them in planning law?

Today has seen the third House of Commons debate on pubs in less than three months: rather like the proverbial London Bus. But with the rate of pub closures in the UK still running at 29 a week, a marginal decline from 31 a year ago, communities’ cries for help have been coming along rather faster.  There is a growing issue with pubs being converted to supermarkets in particular.  With long-awaited reform of the industry grinding its way through the House of Lords (where the resistance of Tory peer and former pubco director Lord Hodgson, sometimes rather distasteful, is thankfully proving futile), the focus is now on planning.

The Coalition has for the first time recognised pubs as community assets in national planning law, albeit weakly, and has introduced the Assets of Community Value process which is starting to let a few communities buy their pubs.  A fortnight ago, Lib Dem Minister Stephen Williams announced some additional protection for communities who get pubs listed as an ACV by removing permitted development rights.  But an amendment by Conservative Charlotte Leslie MP, backed by Lib Dem Pub Champion Greg Mulholland, narrowly failed to remove the much-exploited loophole that allows pubcos to sell or lease pubs to Tesco (formerly) and the Co-Op (principally at present) for supermarket conversion that sees often successful pubs close forever.  That amendment reflected Lib Dem policy.

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Manifesto front page: Welsh and Scottish versions

As we said in our post about the front page of the manifesto, the Welsh and the Scots would have slightly different versions. Here they are:

The Welsh version says we’ll deliver a stronger Wales, with more powers, home rule and fair funding. Devolution means that our priorities on health and education need to be tailored. We’ve already ensured that the Pupil Premium, which delivers extra money to help disadvantaged kids in school, has been implemented in Wales and say we’ll deliver continued investment. On health the priority is more resources and safe staffing levels, consistent with Kirsty Williams’ bill to put staffing levels on a statutory footing.

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Why the front page of our manifesto reminds me of 50 Shades of Grey

Manifesto_Covers_2015So, it’s out. The front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto gives five key policy priorities. These things are a negotiation in themselves and the version released is substantially zingier than the version initially presented to the Federal Policy Committee on Monday night. By way of example, I understand that the Five Green Laws point was initially described as a “Nature Law.” Why that makes me think of the Glee Club song “English Country Garden”, I can’t imagine.

Now, every single Liberal Democrat, being the
unique bunch that we are, will think that we could have worded these priorities much better, or we would have chosen something else. I certainly could. I’d have had housing in there and I sure as hell would not have put balancing the books as the first thing on the list. I’m not convinced of the need to do so in the next Parliament, even if I recognise that we can’t go back to the Days of Deficit Central while the economy is growing. The reason it is there, though, is because the economy, jobs and continued recovery feature highly in every survey of voters’ priorities.

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Jo Swinson to take part in Marie-Claire election debate at 10am tomorrow

jo_swinsonAt 10am tomorrow, 11 February, our Jo Swinson will be one of five panellists taking part in an hour long Twitter election debate run by Marie Claire magazine. Here’s an extract from their blog about it:

A third of us still have no idea who to vote for in the general election in May, so many of us won’t vote at all. To help us work out who should get our valuable, individual votes, Marie Claire has invited five of the most powerful women in politics to take part in a live Twitter Election Debate. Gloria de PieroJustine GreeningJo SwinsonCaroline Lucas and Suzanne Evans will explain what their parties can do for us. In turn, we want you to fire your toughest questions at them, via a live Twitter Election Debate. If it matters to you, it matters to them.

Their profile of Jo says:

The Minister for Women and Equalities and Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs has been the MP for East Dunbartonshire since 2005. Last year, she garnered publicity for criticising a rule banning women from breastfeeding in the House of Commons. As part of her role, she oversees women and growth, women on boards and LGBT strategy. Jo was instrumental in delivering the upcoming introduction of shared paternity leave.

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Campaigners flock to Gordon to help Christine Jardine

Christine Jardine canvassing selfieI wasn’t surprised to see Alex Salmond ahead in the Ashcroft poll on Gordon. After all, he’s been everywhere at the moment. He has even, entirely coincidentally, of course, started a regular column in one of the local papers.

The thing is, Christine Jardine and her campaign team have always known that they faced a challenge. She doesn’t have the benefit of incumbency, apart from anything else. That’s why they have been working so hard in the year since she was selected to fight the seat. What the Ashcroft poll put beyond doubt was that she has firmly established herself as the clear challenger to Salmond and the SNP. If you are an undecided voter in Gordon who doesn’t want Salmond or the SNP to win, the poll makes it clear that you need to vote for Christine.

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Opinion: An MP who takes me for granted has left me feeling disenfranchised

Confession time. I’m a political activist and I’m not currently registered to vote. I have dropped off thanks to individual voter registration and I haven’t sought to redress it.

This is something which I find reprehensible, yet I am lacking the motivation to correct it.

I live in Esher and Walton which since 1906 has only ever returned a conservative MP. The lowest majority was in the 1930s, it was 16%. Dominic Raab got 58% of the vote in 2010, a majority of around 18,000.

I’ve written to Raab on a number of occasions and always got a reply. Often quite half hearted but it’s always come.

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Dear Tories, repetition doesn’t make something true. Cutting income tax for lowest paid was a Lib Dem idea and you know it.

lib dem manifesto tax cutFor some time now, the Conservative Party have been taking every opportunity to take credit for raising the tax threshold to £10,500 despite this being one great big fat distortion of the truth.

Most recently, Surrey Liberal Democrat councillor was distinctly unamused to find an email from Tory Treasury Minister Priti Patel in her inbox. It said:

Fiona,

See how much our income tax cuts will save you – try our quick calculator today.

The Conservatives believe in cutting taxes.

If you’re working hard to provide for your family, you should keep more of the money you earn.

That’s why we’ve cut income tax every year we’ve been in office – and why we’re committed to keep on cutting income tax after the next election.

Over 24 million people have had their income tax cut. To find out how much you’ll save, use our simple tax cut calculator today:

Find out how much you'll save

Yours,

Priti Patel

Nick Clegg told last year how he had to “drag the Tories kicking and screaming” to deliver the tax cut.

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Nick Harvey: ‘If you think we are going to spend another five years being shafted (this time) by Labour, you’ve got another think coming’

The Liberal Democrat coalition negotiation team leave Cowley Street HQ for the fourth day of discussions with the Conservatives May 10th 2010.

Earlier this week we highlighted Nick Harvey MP’s report “Beyond the Rose Garden”. In it, he recommends a range of changes in arrangements for any future coalition governments.

In the wake of his report’s publication, Nick has now given an extensive interview with Huffington Post

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Clegg’s #asktheleader session

Sky News have put all their Stand up and be Counted #AsktheLeaders sessions on their website. Nick Clegg’s is here.

I felt he was best at making it more like a conversation with the young people, listening to what she had to say. He was also much more confident on the facts and details on all the issues, particularly housing and the NHS.

As for the others, Natalie Bennett’s heart is in the right place but her party’s policies are not well thought through and I didn’t need to listen to her for half an hour to find out that she’d push for action on the environment and climate change in a hung parliament. I suspect every woman in the country was briefly on her side when she described how being denied a bike at the age of 5 because she was a girl made her a feminist.

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So, the Labour Party pledge a positive campaign

Oh look, the Labour Party is pledging not to get personal during the election campaign.

From the BBC:

Labour has vowed not to feature Prime Minister David Cameron on billboards ahead of the general election.

The party said it would focus on issues rather than personalities. and not use negative personal campaigning.

Its election strategist Douglas Alexander said the Conservatives were preparing to spread “fear and smear”.

This is in response to poorly photo-shopped Conservative posters of Ed Miliband costing up to Alex Salmond.

It’s always nice to see a pledge of positive campaigning, even if it does come from masters of the dark arts of the real, nasty, personal stuff. I mean, could this possibly be the same Labour Party who, just 9 months ago, devoted an entire Party Election Broadcast to doing a hatchet job on Nick Clegg? “The un-credible shrinking man” they called it. Stephen Tall gave a run down of the plot at the time:

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Lib Dems raise £50k for General Election in just one day

Good news from Lib Dem Chief Exec Tim Gordon in our inbox this morning. Yesterday, the party raised £50,000 in just one day from members and supporters. That’s half as much as it raised during the whole of January. Nick Clegg’s appearance on The Last Leg may well have stimulated a good old shot in the bank balance for the party.

What’s particularly good is that the £150,000 raised from members and supporters will be matched by major donors, giving the campaign a £300,000 boost.

This news, combined with the recent news that Liberal Democrat membership rose for the sixth quarter in a row shows steady progress.

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Lib Dem campaigners in the snow #2

Following on from our post on Thursday night, here are some more pictures of Liberal Democrats campaigning in the snow. Keep sending them in.

Danny Alexander went for a walk (remember #dannyswalks) in the streets of Aviemore:

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Edgbaston PPC Lee Dargue takes part in debate with Birmingham University students

Lee Dargue, Lib Dem PPC for Edgbaston, recently met students from the University of Birmingham to discuss the party’s policies and their concerns. The student website Redbrick described him as an MP. We can but wish. It would not be a bad thing to have the chair of the Lib Dem Mental Health Association in Parliament.

It was inevitable that tuition fees would come up:

Dargue stated, ‘It has caused us a lot of damage.’ He did highlight the fact that ‘not all Lib Dem MPs voted in favour of the tuition fee rise.’ However, he stressed the positive realities of the new system, comparing it to a ‘Graduate Tax’ and reminded students that these loans are ‘no longer tied to your credit rating.’

To continue the discussion, a student asked what the Lib Dems believe is the greatest student problem. In response, Dargue stated that ‘Tuition fees are a red herring.’ He added that his party were more concerned about ‘the cost of student accommodation and transport’ since these are more immediate factors that affect students.

Redbrick also has a report of the event as it happened. Lee said he wanted to see  16 year olds and prisoners have the right to vote, he questioned the need for LGBT only schools, saying:

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Open Doors: All 3 versions of the first Lib Dem broadcast of the year

The Liberal Democrats’ first crack at the General Election broadcasts is being shown as you read this.

With the theme of Open Doors, it’s about listening to voters and majors on how the Liberal Democrats would make a difference compared to Labour and the Conservatives.You may not be surprised to find that the phrases “stronger economy”, “fairer society” and “opportunity for everyone” feature.

Here is the English version. The Scottish and Welsh will follow below when they are available.

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Is there any chance you might have noticed that there’s 100 days till the General Election?

So far today, the election themed correspondence and social media from the Liberal Democrats has involved 3 separate emails, a poster on social media, a silly but scarily compelling and satisfying game and a fabulous video.

One thing in all of that that the party has missed is that this whole 100 days to go thing is a bit novel. We’ve known the date of this election since late 2010 when fixed term parliaments were introduced. Before then it was up to the Prime Minister to pick the date, usually at the time of maximum political benefit to their party unless, like Gordon Brown, they simply ran out of time – although, to be fair, he could have nabbed another month or so in No 10. It was the one piece of useful political reform that we managed to get through.

We’ve already brought you the lovely poster that was released this morning. I’ve had emails from the Scottish Party, Malcolm Bruce on behalf of Christine Jardine and LDHQ. My favourite was the last simply because of the fantastic video tour of our Party’s Central London HQ, chatting away to the staff. They seriously only filmed it yesterday. It was great seeing people like the excellent Wassim from Member and Supporter Development, Robert the fantastic guy on reception who never fails to make me smile (ask him about the litter of puppies on Eastleigh polling day) and digital whizz Bess Mayhew. If you haven’t watched it, do so now.

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Julian Huppert’s Green opponent in trouble for Twitter transphobia

One of the best moments for me of the debate on the Same Sex Marriage Bill was when Cambridge’s Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert spoke out against elements of the Bill which would cause real heartache and injustice for transgender people and their partners. His understanding, sensitivity and eloquence on these matters was second to none. Of course he was well briefed by Sarah Brown and Zoe O’Connell among others but he put his head above the parapet to try and secure fairness for people who are all too often marginalised.

His expertise on this matter (and many others) is a …

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Debates plan disadvantages the Liberal Democrats

Well, the new debates plan is even worse than the old one for the Liberal Democrats.

The original plan was that there would be a series of three debates involving Cameron and Miliband, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband and Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Farage.

This led to David Cameron showing more empathy to anything Green than he has had since he hugged that husky and refusing to take part if the Greens were excluded.

The new proposals create  the worst of all possible worlds for the Liberal Democrats:

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Edinburgh South PPC Pramod Subbaraman explains why he is a Liberal Democrat

We want to tell you as much as we can about the wonderful Liberal Democrats who will be putting themselves before the electorate in May. Our Edinburgh South candidate is Pramod Subbaraman who is a dentist.

Pramod is a dentist and recently, on GDPUK, a site for dental opinion and information, he explained his decision to join the Liberal Democrats, which was rooted in Nick’s sensible stance on immigration. He explains what liberalism means to him:

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The Greens: the Lib Dem fightback begins

Yesterday’s news that the Greens had overtaken the Liberal Democrats in terms of membership – their 44713, compared to our 44680 – has, from what I’ve seen on my social media, galvanised our activists rather than demoralised them. And so we should be proud of ourselves. For a party in government in the most trying economic circumstances since the 30s to have grown for 6 quarters in a row is nothing short of miraculous. The Labour party couldn’t manage that and they had the most benign economic circumstances in years.

The Green’s figures include Northern Ireland which ours don’t so like for like it’s more neck and neck.  (Update: Adam Ramsay on Twitter assures me that the Greens figures do not include Northern Ireland).  I’ve also seen some people say that it’s not fair because the Scottish Greens and the Green Party of England and Wales are two separate organisations. There’s no point in splitting hairs, though.

The Party has been making a bit of a concerted effort to make sure that the Greens don’t have the stage for themselves. Tim Farron has written an article of the New Statesman in which he emphasises what the Liberal Democrats have done in government to protect the environment:

The Conservatives’ approach to the environment in Europe shows what sort of approach they would take if they are allowed to govern alone. In coalition, Liberal Democrats have fought to make sure that the environment has stayed at the top of the agenda. We’ve doubled the amount of energy generated from offshore wind and stopped the Tories from slashing support for renewable energy. And while senior Conservative politicians voice their doubts about man-made climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been busy paving the way for a global deal to cut carbon emissions. Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories from lurching to the right on the environment. The truth is, the only way to make blue go green is by adding yellow.

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Should the SNP and Greens be included in leaders’ debates?

Welcome to another of our occasional series of posts where two writers offer an alternative view to one of the issues of the day. Today, it’s whether the SNP, Plaid and Greens should be invited to take part in leaders’  debates. 

Jonathan Waddell says there is a case for the Greens to be included on a UK basis but not the SNP and Plaid:

Earlier this week, Wings Over Scotland claimed that to exclude the SNP from UK-wide election debates would be to subjugate Scots to second-class citizens. Website owner and frequent contributor, Stuart Campbell, argued:

the only reason to bar them is that they’re Scottish. In other words, Scotland’s MPs are worth less than MPs from other parts of the UK, and therefore by extension Scottish votes are worth less than other people’s votes.

Speaking as a Scot who believes in giving a platform to a plurality of parties at any given election to encourage a representative debate of the issues and views affecting the country, surely the more obvious reason is that over 90% of the electorate can’t vote for them; or at least a question of electoral logistics rather than anti-Scottish sentiment?

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  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 4th Mar - 5:16pm
    Simon, your post is clearly dripping with sarcasm. Tell me, why do you waste so much time posting on a Liberal Democrat site? And John,...
  • User AvatarColin Rosenstiel 4th Mar - 5:15pm
    I first went canvassing 49 years ago this month. Adrian Slade got me to do it in a Wandsworth council byelection in Fairfield Ward, the...
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    As an Anglican I wish the UK was a secular state and believe that were they afforded the chance to vote on this the majority...
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    Yes, I leapt in joy at the rhetoric, and then deflated as I read the substance of the proposal. I agree with Eddie Sammon (whilst...
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    Immigration IS well out of control we cannot take 200K + each year Simple