Tag Archives: jonathan calder

Jeremy Browne to stand down as MP: what Lib Dem bloggers have made of his decision

Jeremy Browne with beard AD LIBJeremy Browne’s decision to stand down as MP for Taunton Deane at the next election surprised many in the party. Ed Fordham wrote a tribute to Jeremy’s long service for the party on LDV here today — and the Lib Dem blogosphere has also had plenty to say. Here’s a selection…

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Sarah Ludford MEP writes…Conference must debate Miranda detention

I was not initially planning to get particularly involved on the David Miranda Schedule 7 issue except as a concerned, nay horrified, spectator. After all, I’m an MEP not an MP nor (at present) able to be active as a peer, and I have plenty on my plate in Brussels.

But from early Monday morning, as I read the admirably vigorous response from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson QC – and the immediate if deeply hypocritical reaction from Yvette Cooper – I did start to wonder who from the party was going to be vocal. So I tweeted …

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Official: the snoopers’ charter is dead in this parliament

One element missing from the Queen’s Speech was the Communications Data Bill, aka the ‘snoopers’ charter’. No surprise to Lib Dems: Nick Clegg torpedoed it last month.

So I had a momentary spasm of concern to see on ConservativeHome this story from Mark Wallace: The Snoopers’ Charter comes sneaking back. Again.

I asked Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert (who’s played a crucial role in safeguarding civil liberties this parliament, including on this Bill) if there were any truth in it, and got an immediate reply…

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A response to Peter Kellner: yes the Lib Dems need a narrative, but they should reject the tired left/right division

Peter Kellner, the President of polling company YouGov, has written a typically thought-provoking piece analysing – using recent polling figures – what he believes to be the reasons behind the Lib Dems’ current difficulties, and suggesting some solutions to overcome them.

The piece is a good one, and worth reading in full, though I have some reservations, not primarily about his conclusions but about how he reaches them. One of the key polls he cites asks voters to place themselves, the main parties and the party leaders on a spectrum of right to left. And while voters overall place both …

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David Boyle’s appointment is excellent news

Under Charles Kennedy’s leadership, the party had a simple and generally popular approach to public services: Kennedy consistently supported higher spending on favourite public services and appointed as party spokespeople those with experience of that service. So in education, for example, it was ex-headteacher Phil Willis leading for the party, promoting costed policies to put more cash into the party’s priorities.

Overall, the party’s plans involved raising at least as much in extra taxes or savings as it wanted to spend, so the net effect was fiscally respectable but for each individual public service the party’s answer was pretty much, “we’ll …

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LDVideo: So you want to watch 6mins 23secs of Lembit Öpik in a wrestling ring? You got it…

This weekend Jonathan Calder brought us the news that Lembit Öpik had contrived an appearance in a wrestling ring at Welshpool Town Hall. Distressingly, video footage has now been unleashed:


(Available on YouTube here.)

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What Liberal Democrat Bloggers are saying about the Budget – Part 2

The Liberal Democrat blogosphere is continuing to talk about the Budget, so here are some of the latest offerings.

Sandy Walkington thinks that the Budget is a dish best observed cold.

I tend to aim off from all instant, hyperbolic reactions to the Budget.  When I worked as a press officer in the oil industry, Budget Day was a time for synthetic outrage at the latest iniquity heaped on the long suffering motorist or on the plucky explorers of the North Sea.  And then the sun continued to rise and set.

In the current global economic circumstances which only compound the reckless public

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Lib Dem Bloggers’ Christmas stocking fillers… Part IV

What presents are you looking forward to giving or receiving this year? That’s the question LDV posed to a group of Lib Dem bloggers. All this week we’re revealing what they told us, with link-throughs to Amazon for your shopping convenience (and ‘cos the referral fees help support LibDemVoice: so get clicking and ordering). Part I is available here; Part II here; and Part III here. In part three, our fourth trio of bloggers – Jonathan Calder, Caron Lindsay, and Mark Pack – give us the low-down on their Xmas faves…

Jonathan Calder

It is impossible to dislike

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“We need to up our game.” As a Liberal Democrat, I endorse this message.

The Independent this weekend carried a brief article reporting that Nick Clegg’s aides are urging the party’s ministers to be more ‘out and proud’ of the Lib Dems’ successes:

Nick Clegg’s ministers have been told to go on TV and declare proudly “I’m a Liberal Democrat” in an effort to improve the party’s poll ratings. Party strategists are demanding better “messaging” from politicians. It includes using the phrase “as a Liberal Democrat …” at every opportunity, and regularly uttering the word “coalition”, which research finds is popular with voters.

Aides to the Deputy Prime Minister fear too many low-profile Lib Dems

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Tim Farron: good speech, but wrong message

Sometimes the toughest speaking gigs for MPs is when they are talking to a friendly audience – but something interesting is happening behind them. So it was a few months ago with Julian Huppert talking to Putney Liberal Democrats. Very thoughtful speech, well received by the members and supporters present – but Julian had to struggle to avoid being upstaged by the cute, preening, attention-seeking cat paddling back and forth behind him.

When Tim Farron came to speak to Haringey Liberal Democrats last night, there was no cat to distract – but instead the minor drama of the stalwart member who …

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I want to hear a speech from Tim Farron that I disagree with

Over on his blog Jonathan Calder makes a good point about the speech-making abilities of Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron:

My impression of Tim is that he is very good at saying things people agree with. So in Cumbria he is against second homes and in favour of farming subsidies and Kendal mint cake…

Now that Tim Farron is being spoken of as a possible party leader, he needs to risk the odd unpopular speech. Someone in that class cannot always be telling people what they want to hear.

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Total Politics: top blogs and bloggers

Following its list of top Liberal Democrat blogs and bloggers, Total Politics has now also published its overall list of top blogs and bloggers – two lists in which many Liberal Democrats feature.

In the top 50 of the blogs list, Lib Dem Voice is in at number 12 (up from 27 last year), Caron Lindsay at 25, Jonathan Calder at 38 and Andrew Reeves at 44.

In the top 50 of the bloggers list, I’m in at number 20, Caron Lindsay at 29, Andrew Reeves at 43 and Jonathan Calder at 49.

Thank you to everyone for your votes …

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‘Renegades with a mission’ – the Sindy’s verdict on the Social Liberal Forum

The Social Liberal Forum — a group of Liberal Democrat members who advocate ‘that a democratic and open state has a positive role to play in guaranteeing individual freedom’ — met yesterday for their first conference on a high note: their mobilising role at the party’s spring conference is widely credited with having strongly influenced the Coalition’s changes to the controversial NHS reforms.

Here’s how the Independent on Sunday, with an inevitable nod towards stereotypes, reports the gathering:

Welcome to the first annual conference of the Social Liberal Forum – the home of “proper” Liberal Democrats. Not the quasi-Tory,

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How Great Ormond Street’s Jane Collins escaped investigation last year

Jane Collins, the Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital, is facing calls to resign after it was revealed that critical details about the hospital’s role in the death of Baby Peter were withheld from one inquiry into the tragedy and, despite the hospital’s subsequent claims, were also not supplied to the second inquiry.

However, what has been less commented on in the coverage in the last few days is the way Jane Collins escaped being investigated by the General Medical Council last year:

The chief executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital has escaped investigation over the Baby P scandal …

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Learning the lessons from last week #5: You can’t be distinctive with someone else’s vocabulary

A favourite pastime of cynical journalists with space to fill is to take select phrases from the speeches of different party leaders, remove the names of the authors, jumble up the order and then ask the reader to guess which leader said which. Even with the wondrous variety of the English language, it’s no surprise that words and phrases often overlap, even between politicians with radically different views of the world. There is, even so, sometimes a deeper truth in this parlour game for cynics.

It’s a truth that the words of Liberal Democrats in the run up to last Thursday’s …

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In other news… speed cameras and does online campaigning work?

Jonathan Calder reports how Cornish councillor Jeremy Rowe is finding Twitter useful as a way to communicate with residents in his area who are hard to reach through traditional politics. Cllr Rowe’s local experience compliments the message that Google search data gives about people wanting to find politicians on Twitter. (If you are a councillor or local candidate and wondering how to build-up your own local following, see The secret to getting 1,000 ward residents to follow you on Twitter.)

Speed cameraPaul Walter reports …

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In other news… Son of mansion tax, Tory councillor switches to Lib Dems and more

Nick Clegg has been telling the Financial Times how he would like to see taxes introduced for the most expensive properties as part of any removal of the temporary 50p top rate of income tax. Son of Mansion Tax here we come…

Jonathan Calder reports on the latest goings on in the lively world of Leicester politics, including Conservative Councillor Nigel Porter resigning from his party and deciding to fight his ward for the Liberal Democrats in May’s elections.

The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign has published details of its donors and challenged the No campaign to show the

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Meet the Lib Dem bloggers: Jonathan Calder

Welcome to the latest in our series giving the human face behind some of the blogs you can find on the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator.

Today it is Jonathan Calder, who blogs at Liberal England.

1. What’s your formative political memory?

I can remember JFK being assassinated and being taught to say that Alec Douglas Home was Prime Minister, but really my Liberalism dates from the early 1970s when my father left us (an experience that taught me I was not a Tory) and the Liberals were winning by-elections.

I realised that I was not a Socialist a couple of years before that when Boxmoor County Primary School demanded a letter from your parents before you were allowed not to have custard with your pudding.

2. When did you start blogging?

The first post on Liberal England is dated 4 March 2004.

However, I did write the diary of Whittington (Susan Kramer’s cat) during the first London Mayoral election in 2000. That has some claim to be the first political blog in Britain.

3. Why did you start blogging?

I wanted a shop window for my various writings, but blogging soon became an important activity in its own right.

4. What five words would you use to describe your blog?

Liberal, eclectic, wistful, humorous, inquisitive.

5. What five words would you use to describe your political views?

Liberal, localist, pragmatic, postmodern, civilised.

6. Which post have you most liked writing in the last year (and why)?

Andrew Mitchell, the great and the good, and me from September last year. It reminds me of my trip to New York for Oxfam and reports an event that no mainstream journalist would get to attend.

7. Which post have you most liked reading in the last year (and why)?

I was very impressed by The Contented Lib Dem’s series of posts on the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. They are summarised here. He or she argued a controversial case, backed it up with evidence and engaged with the commenters, getting the better of most of them. Unfortunately, nothing has appeared on that blog since.

8. What’s your favourite YouTube clip?

Assuming that the Bible and complete works of Steve Winwood are already on the island, how about this version of Dolphins by Tim Buckley?

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LibLink: Jonathan Calder – Larry the cat is no true blue

Over on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site, Liberal Democrat blogger-in-chief, Jonathan Calder, turns his attention to one of this week’s most important political stories: the arrival of Larry, Downing Street’s newest resident (who also happens to be a cat). It was, of course, Downing Street’s rodent problem (no, actual rats, thank you Harriet) that necessitated Larry’s presence, and Jonathan even has time for a brief history of Westminster’s rodential (yes, that really is a word) residents, as well as its feline ones.

Here’s an extract:

You could argue that his arrival marks a much-needed victory for Nick Clegg. True, Larry is

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Andy Coulson finally goes

Over the years we’ve covered Andy Coulson many times on this blog, over both his extremely high salary when working for the Tories (much higher than salaries levels Tories were criticising others for having) and also – more importantly – the phone hacking allegations.

Although yesterday he resigned, he is unlikely to depart the political stage quickly or quietly as the long queue of people at various stage of taking legal action over allegations of phone hacking mean the details of who did what and with whose knowledge will continue to be newsworthy for a good while yet.

The official Liberal …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats should stop using the word ‘progressive’

The decline of Labour as a coherent intellectual force is one of the defining features of recent British politics. No doubt the next few years will see a healthy process within Labour to seek to heal the wounds and to re-focus. I suggest that under the banner of ‘progressivism’ this process has started.

2010 saw commentators for the first time in the UK judging political propositions on the basis of whether they are ‘progressive’ or not. Ed Miliband’s own analysis is that in government Labour “…lost that sense of progressive mission.” But what on earth does progressive mean? What kind of …

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The Liberal Democrat challenges for 2011: defining and explaining economic fairness

This is the final piece in a series of posts on the main Liberal Democrat challenges for 2011. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Having started this series with the economy and then moving on to more internal issue in latter posts, it seems fitting to return to economic issues for the final post in this series.

Getting the substance on economic fairness right is and should continue to be a top priority for the party. In addition, getting the messaging right will help differentiate not only the Liberal Democrat contribution to the coalition from that of …

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Our Christmas presents guide

Wondering what to get people for Christmas presents? Here’s a selection of what various Liberal Democrat bloggers suggest:

Jonathan Calder recommends Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music by Rob Young: “Anyone with an interest in folk music will find this book engrossing. Young traces the rise of the genre from Cecil Sharp and other Edwardian song collectors like Ralph Vaughan Williams and George Butterworth, through the post-war radialism of Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker, to its electronic heyday in the hands of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. He finds the visionary spirit living on in unlikely artists such as …

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The Saturday Debate: Local government is to the Lib Dems what the unions are to Labour and big business is to the Tories

Here’s your starter for ten in our Saturday slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

I was struck by this recent article by the Economist’s political columnist Bagehot, headlined When progressive actually means misanthropic, reflecting on the Lib Dem conference, and specifically the debate on free schools.

Highlighting that, while the party may have lacked power at Westminster, the Lib Dems have for decades now been a major player in local government, it observes that:

… local government occupies much of the mental space taken up by national politics in the Labour and Conservative parties. … more

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Nick Clegg’s speech at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is representing the UK at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals summit in New York.

Lib Dem blogger Jonathan Calder is also there, with an international group of bloggers put together by Oxfam to report on the summit. You can read his take here.

The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan writes fulsomely about Clegg’s diplomatic experience and linguistic skills here.

Meanwhile, here’s his speech:

Introduction

It is an honour for me to address the General Assembly today for the first time as Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
And it is a privilege …

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Tessa Munt cleared of council tax fraud allegations

In July the Mail on Sunday reported allegations that Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt had falsely claimed a council tax discount. As the BBC now reports:

Wells MP Tessa Munt has been cleared of allegations of falsely claiming a single occupier council tax discount.

The Lib Dem has always denied any wrongdoing over newspaper allegations she had friends living with her.

Hat-tip: Jonathan Calder

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Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards 2010 – nominations now open

BOTY 2
The Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year Awards, run by Lib Dem Voice, are back for their fifth year. As usual, they’ll be awarded in a budget lavish ceremony at the party’s autumn conference in Liverpool. (There’s further information on the event over at the Lib Dems’ Flock Together site). Click on the following links to see last year’s Shortlist and the Winners.

This year’s awards are as follows:

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More on Richard Grayson, Liberal Democrats and ideology

A footnote to my piece earlier this week about Richard Grayson’s pamphlet. In it I commented:

What I think Richard under-plays is the way the party’s attitude towards the state has changed not in response to different internal ideological views gaining ascendancy but rather in response to changing external circumstances. Given the huge expansion in public spending in the middle years of the Labour government, and the big expansion of central control in the early, middle and late years of Labour government, it is hardly a surprise that many who previously instinctively reached for more public spending and new regulations

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Lib Dems’ Moore praises Gove apology as schools building programme axe triggers coalition tensions

The blunder in the education department which led to the publication of a list of axed school building schemes containing 25 errors continues to rumble on. Conservative education secretary Michael Gove has apologised and taken the rap for his officials’ mistakes.

The Lib Dems’ Michael Moore was sympathetic to Mr Gove’s plight on the BBC’s Question Time last night, commending the quick and full apology:

I think he did that with grace. I think he did it appropriately and he’s determined that that doesn’t happen again. Nobody would wish that had happened. It was a major mistake, it has been

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Did you know that two-thirds of people don’t pay income tax?

No, I didn’t either.

But that’s what Polly Toynbee says:

… it does nothing for the 62% of adults who earn too little to pay tax.

Oh hang on, what’s this Lord Bonkers is saying?

It’s not that 62 per cent of people don’t pay tax, it’s that 62 per cent do pay tax.

How out of touch with the lives of ordinary people do you have to be to make a mistake like that and not spot it? It hardly encourages you to have faith in Toynbee’s judgement as a columnist.

You think someone at the Guardian would have spotted it though.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarToby Matthews 31st Oct - 4:19pm
    RC- Please note that the article specifically discusses reducing other taxes. Your other points seem to reiterate what I have already mentioned. LVT is not...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 31st Oct - 4:14pm
    RC You are quite wrong when you say -- ".. But it is not realisable wealth unless you move somewhere else to live. It is...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 31st Oct - 4:08pm
    This news was shocking. Disgraceful that Clegg should in any way defend it. Whilst there is undoubtedly a problem with refugees in the Mediterranean region...
  • User AvatarRC 31st Oct - 4:07pm
    @ Toby Matthews "LVT would be higher in London because wages are higher in London. Note that supermarket employees in London are paid more than...
  • User AvatarT-J 31st Oct - 3:56pm
    Ok, I admit that I lumped you in with a few other former LibDems turned Green members, apologies for that if you are now unattached....
  • User AvatarToby Matthews 31st Oct - 3:47pm
    Nobody is 'taking aim at London'. It has been mentioned many times here that much of London (tenants) has everything to gain from a free...