Tag Archives: gordon brown

Gordon Brown shows Lib Dems must go further on federalism

I went to see a speech by Gordon Brown on the future of Scotland on Thursday evening. Given the current state of Scottish politics I might well have expected an impassioned attack on the SNP and a confident denunciation of independence.

Instead he was remarkably conciliatory on nationalism, given the past positions of the Labour party. He came out as a third-questioner – the never-offered option that has consistently found majority support. He called for a constitutional convention to address what he sees as the big issue in British politics – the ability of England to dominate politics due to its sheer size. He set out the case for special protections for the smaller nations, like in almost every other devolved country. He believed that Scots want something “as close as possible to federalism”.

He made no attacks on the SNP and even gave them some backhanded praise – surely their support for keeping the pound means they realise that the UK is a natural economic grouping? Instead he attacked the Tories – for cutting welfare and playing politics with EVEL – what other country gives special protection to the majority over the minority? The ìVowî was at risk of being broken he warned; Westminster may yet maintain a veto over key welfare powers.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Did Charlie Whelan really put his cigarette into Ed Balls’ coke can?

The Telegraph has unearthed an STV documentary on the early days of Labour in the Treasury in 1997. It makes fascinating watching for all sorts of reasons. It feels not unlike an episode of The Thick of It, with Ed Balls a bit like Ollie Reeder to Whelan’s Malcolm Tucker. Everyone looks so young, Gordon Brown particularly.  Ed Miliband has become significantly less geeky over time, too.

The Telegraph article is full of derision for Labour’s removal of regulatory powers from the Bank of England.  That principle seems fine to me, and fairly logical. If you give the bank the power to set interest rates independently, then you need to get someone else to do the regulation. Labour’s failure to build an effectively regulatory framework for the banks can’t be pinned on that.

There is an arrogance about the way they went about it. The Permanent Secretary of the time was clearly worried about all this change. If you are going to reform, you need to just get on and do it, but they did seem to be enjoying smashing the established order a little bit too much.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Abusive site Wings over Scotland is embedded into the Scottish Government and Yes movement – Willie Rennie proves what we knew already

I’ve written before about the appallingly abusive Wings over Scotland site. It’s a pro-independnece blog written, ironically, by the self-styled “Rev” Stu Campbell who lives in Bath.

His shameful content and comments he allows on his site and on social media  have included:

  • Using a picture of hearses going through Royal Wootton Bassett in a mocked up “Better Together poster;
  • Showering abuse on Clare Lally after she spoke at the Better Together “100 days to go” event. Funnily enough, he then said he couldn’t find any abuse of her on his site. I helped him out. 
  • Doing me over when I said that being part in the UK meant we could do more in terms of international development
  • Disgusting transphobia towards Chelsea Manning
  • Referring to a Conservative MSP as an a******* and “sewer dwelling vermin”
Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 64 Comments

Strong language from Nick Clegg on more powers for Scotland: This opportunity cannot be hijacked

I had a sneak preview of an article Nick Clegg wrote for today’s Sunday Post. I was a bit disappointed in its blandness. We needed more robust language, I felt. Why? Well, when Cameron had just had almost half of Scots who voted tell him they wanted out of the Union, his main message in response was to pick a fight with Labour on the so-called “West Lothian Question.” Really, Dave, is that what you take from all of this? By making more powers for Scotland seem contingent on resolving the English votes for English laws issues, he exacerbated tensions up here.

Yes supporters were already, entirely understandably, devastated. I only need to think of the anxiety I’ve felt over the last couple of weeks to understand entirely how it feels for them. The last thing these people needed to do was to find themselves in the middle of a scrap between the Tories and Labour over something that was irrelevant to them. There needed to be a very clear message that the powers would be delivered on time. If they aren’t, then, frankly, the three pro-UK parties are completely stuffed. As Ming Campbell memorably put it on the BBC News Channel on Friday night, you might as well hand out free membership of the SNP.

Rather than use his resignation statement to bring people together and soothe people’s emotions, Alex Salmond sought to raise tensions by suggesting that David Cameron had reneged on a commitment to have the Second Reading of the new Scotland Bill by 27th March. That was never part of the deal. As an MP of 20 years’ standing, Salmond should know that even if it had had its second reading by then, it would have fallen as Parliament is due to be dissolved days later. The commitment was to have a Bill ready to be debated by the next Parliament immediately after the election. That’s what the Better Together election poster explicitly said:

Better Together election poster

 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 39 Comments

Good on Damian McBride – making the case for coalition government

damian+mcbrideI’ve met Damian McBride only once, in February this year. Two things struck me.

First, how much healthier (and happier) he looked than he did in 2008 when his role in a dirty tricks campaign against the Tories was exposed. He was only 34 when that furore flared, yet in pictures from the time he looked at least a decade older.

Secondly, he is seriously smart. A career civil servant promoted to Head of Communications at the Treasury he retains a deeply impressive knowledge of the knottiest tax policies. It makes …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

How Labour saw Clegg before the 2010 election TV debates

clegg debateThere have been a couple of fascinating posts this week by election expert Philip Cowley, a politics professor at Nottingham University. They reveal for the first time the internal briefing prepared for Labour dissecting the debating skills of each of the three party leaders — Clegg, Brown and Cameron — ahead of the 2010 leaders’ debate.

Yesterday’s focused on David Cameron. Today the spotlight of hindsight is shone on Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown. Below is the assessment of the Lib Dem leader — and what’s perhaps most interesting …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 14 Comments

John Leech MP writes… Remembering the reasons for Leveson

The Manchester Evening News has a regular slot in the paper where they get a number of MPs to write an opinion column on topical issues of their choice. This week just happened to be my turn, so I thought that I would comment on the eagerly awaited Leveson report, due out on Thursday.

For those of you who don’t know, the MEN is owned by Trinity Mirror, and along with other major newspaper groups, are totally opposed to independent regulation of the press. They claim that regulation will be the end of freedom of expression. How ironic then, that the …

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

Most Read

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPhil Wainewright 27th May - 12:12am
    Thank you Katherine for a bit of honest passion. It's a welcome antidote to the evidence-based pragmatism that LibDems feel obliged to practise. For goodness...
  • User AvatarMatt (Bristol) 27th May - 12:11am
    TCO, I agree that there is incoherent anger and rage. There is also focused, rational, well-articulated anger. And that should go hand-in-hand with clear policy-making....
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 27th May - 12:10am
    @ Glen, I find them refreshing.
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 27th May - 12:08am
    @ Stuart, I watch iplayer rather than the television. Whereas, my husband and I used to check the Sunday Times TV guide and decide on...
  • User AvatarGlenn 27th May - 12:08am
    Jane, Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 27th May - 12:00am
    ... grandfather.