Tag Archives: ken clarke

Dear Daily Telegraph, Enough already. It’s actually okay for MPs to claim 11p for a ruler.

The_Daily_TelegraphSo the Telegraph is back to its old tricks on expenses. Five years ago, the paper uncovered some serious abuses by MPs at the taxpayers’ expense – along the way, the paper was also (as I wrote at the time) “guilty of flaky fact-checking, unfair distortions and disgraceful smears”.

Yesterday the paper attempted, rather desperately, to re-live past glories by running the story, ‘MPs’ expenses: Ken Clarke bills taxpayer for 11p ruler’. It wasn’t just Ken who attracted the Telegraph’s ire though: ‘Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, was found to …

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Jo Shaw: Secret Courts update – please support our new motion to the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference

Supreme Court - Some rights reserved by cphoffman42The Justice and Security Bill, which introduces secret courts into almost all civil cases, was rushed into its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday this week.

The Minister in charge of secret courts in the Commons, Ken Clarke, made an opening statement in the debate which made it clear that the Coalition Government does not accept the amendments proposed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, some of which were passed by the Lords. It is still …

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The Independent View: Why Lib Dems should vote against the Secret Courts Bill on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Liberal Democrat conference will debate a Bill which strikes at the heart of liberal principles. The Justice and Security Bill will effectively put ministers and government officials above the law. If this is to be avoided, it is essential that Liberal Democrats vote for the motion, unamended.

Under the Bill, the state will be able to kick anyone bringing a case against them out of court simply by claiming ‘national security’ is at risk – a claim which has been used to cover up Government involvement in torture and rendition all too often during the ‘War on Terror’.

Politicians will …

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Transfer deadline day: Laws, Brake, Foster & Swinson in, Burstow, Teather, Harvey & Stunell out, Clarke loan finishes

I love reshuffle days, they’re just like transfer deadline day. You sit there at your office computer pretending to work while secretly updating the Guardian live blog to see who your side has brought in and let go.

So, have we strengthened the side for the second half of the season or left gaping holes in our defence?

Well, we have managed to hold on to all our big players – Cable, Alexander, Davey and Moore – and, despite losing his place to Alexander after his suspension early in the season, we now have a fighting fit Laws back and ready …

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The other issue Lib Dem peers can win on tomorrow

Moves in the House of Lords to amend the health and welfare bills have been getting the lion’s share of recent coverage, but this week sees a quartet of Liberal Democrat peers leading the charge on a different topic – the Legal Aid Bill.

Lib Dem Lords Thomas, Carlile, Clement Jones and Phillips have a set of amendments down for debate tomorrow to put right what Ken Clarke hasn’t got right in his zeal to end the so-called ‘compensation culture’. The amendments look to tighten up and improve the plans to ban so-called ‘referral fees’ in personal injury cases. Its these fees which …

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NEW POLL: Who is your Liberal Voice of the Year?

Today’s the day we launch our search for the Liberal Voice of 2011 to find the individual or group which has had the biggest impact on liberalism in the past 12 months. This is the fifth annual award, and as is our tradition, we’re looking beyond the ranks of the Lib Dems to find the greatest liberal who’s not a member of our party.

The list of nine nominees appears below. These were sought from Lib Dem members via our most recent survey; 233 nominations were submitted, and each of those short-listed needed to clear a threshold of five.

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Opinion: Criminalising squatting

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offender Bill has returned to the House of Commons this week. The problems with the Government’s proposed Legal Aid reforms have been apparent for a while. Some people will see their access to justice seriously curtailed, while the courts are likely to silt up with inexpert litigants-in-person. The chances of any money being saved – when considered in the round – are limited. In this context it is good to see reports that Liberal Democrat MPs Tom Brake and Mike Crockart are tabling amendments to seek to address some of the most …

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Opinion: Labour’s problem

There’s been nothing dramatic about this conference season apart from a few gaffes, but under the surface, I think the Labour conference was significant.

While I enjoyed the Lib Dem conference, I don’t think the journalists did. Whenever I passed a well-known TV presenter, they had a face like thunder. They were looking for factionalism and controversy, but all they found was Lib Dems facing up to a difficult situation with determination and loyalty. That makes dull TV, so they must have been tearing their hair out.

The Tory conference was more entertaining.

Theresa May’s remark about cats, and the more recent

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Brian Paddick writes: What’s good for the Metropolitan Police is not good for politicians

The evening after the Metropolitan Police shot an innocent Brazilian at Stockwell I went and saw the then Deputy Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson. I asked whether it was true that the Commissioner had barred the Independent Police Complaints Commission from their legal duty to investigate the death. He said it was. I told him I thought it was the most stupid decision I had ever heard of (I knew by then that we had made a terrible mistake). He smiled and said “It’s my job to support the Commissioner.” I was concerned from then on that Stephenson might be giving …

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PMQs: Pots, kettles, medians and Erskine May

Pity poor old Ken Clarke. When your own side are saying you are too old for the job, then you know things are bad. Phillip Hollobone (Con) asked at Prime Ministers’ Questions why magistrates have to retire at 70 years old while the man who appoints them, the Justice Secretary – Clarke, is 71 years old. With friends like that….

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Opinion: A child dies every 20 seconds from lack of clean water

On 19 May, the summit of European-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific parliamentarians (the ACP-EU Assembly) at Budapest called for action to alleviate the global crisis in clean water supply.

One in six people in the world have no access to clean water. 2.5 billion are without clean sanitation and 1.5 million die every year from water contamination.

The report presented to the summit found that there are three main causes of water pollution: industry, agriculture and sewage. In developing countries 70% of industrial waste is dumped untreated into water. The most common source of water pollution, however, is faecal matter.

One of the Millennium Development Goals …

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PMQs: Broadcast the Prime Ministerial Test Card

He’s been one of the safest pairs of ministerial hands over decades. But he dropped a serious brick during a Five Live interview this morning. Then he wouldn’t answer his phone even when it was Number Ten trying to urgently contact him. Then the Leader of the Opposition called for his sacking at Prime Minister’s Questions. Then Number 10 went ballistic and sent him out to do another round of media interviews to try to mitigate the damage. It was quite a day in the life of one Rt. Hon Kenneth Harry “Ken” Clarke QC MP.

When the Prime Minister has …

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Meet the Lib Dem bloggers: Andrew Reeves

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 Andrew Reeves, who blogs at http://andrewrunning.blogspot.com.

1. What’s your formative political memory?
In 1984 Ken Clarke gave me an award at a thank you party for delivering leaflets for him. In front of the 200+ people there he also asked me if I wanted to join the party – and in front of them all I said no! I was pleased he’d won but said that the more I had got to know the party I realised why I couldn’t. He was somewhat embarrassed!

2. When did you start blogging?
Tuesday 15 May 2007.

3. Why did you start blogging?
I worked for Lynne Featherstone from just after the 2005 general election until the end of 2006, before becoming one of the two London Campaigns Officers. I was amazed Lynne found time to write her own blog posts so this was my initial inspiration. I also signed up to run the Great North Run in 2007 and so wanted to use it for a training diary.

4. What five words would you use to describe your blog?
I cheated here, I asked some friends for their five words – here is a selection: friendly, personal, prolific, timely, political, caring, liberal, sharp, punchy, researched, readable, passionate and straight-talking.

5. What five words would you use to describe your political views?
I’m a social liberal democrat.

6. Which post have you most liked writing in the last year (and why)?
I enjoyed writing this, not because I was suspended from Twitter, because to be honest that was a nightmare, but thanks to the support shown by the online community, inside and outside the Liberal Democrats:
Andrew Reeves is still suspended on Twitter – but the support is awesome

7. Which post have you most liked reading in the last year (and why)?
I love reading Caron’s writing, because unlike my shoot from the hip and rant style, Caron is more methodical and this shows in her writing. In this post Caron highlights the hypocricy of the Labour party while still maintaining decorum – perfect:
Labour didn’t love NHS Direct

8. What’s your favourite YouTube clip?
I don’t particularly bother with YouTube, but this was my favourite ever:

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

In other news… electoral reform, bribery, sexy IT and paperwork problems

Will Straw has rightly taken the Conservative Party’s Baroness Warsi to task for not only trying to whip up fake scares about AV benefiting the BNP (who are actually against AV) but also for claiming that AV may make politicians try to appeal to the supporters of extremist parties when in fact her very own election literature did just that.

Ken Clarke is pushing on with implementing the Bribery Act – despite claims from Labour earlier in the year that the government could be about to delay implementing the Act indefinitely.

A Whitehall IT chief has admitted that, “Labour …

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Youth Justice day: thanks and farewell

A final thanks to all those who have contributed to today’s focus on Youth Justice. I trust, dear readers, you have found the debate enlightening and challenging and those of you heading for Sheffield will join us for the debate on Saturday afternoon. We have a fringe event on Friday evening at 8pm in Suite 5 in Jury’s Inn. Peter Oborne will be chairing a debate with Tom McNally, Simon Hughes and others on Youth Justice in an Age of Austerity.

In the midst of all that I personally find unpalatable about the Coalition this is one area where I have …

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Youth Justice: the minister’s view

Since I became Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice last May I have been working with Ken Clarke and the other Ministers within the department to make radical changes to the criminal justice system. Our plans are about finding out what works – the methods of rehabilitation and punishment which actually reduce crime.

One of the key aspects of this vision is preventing and tackling offending by young people. In England and Wales the number of children aged 10 to 17 grew rapidly during the course of the 1990s and into the second term of the Labour government in …

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The Liberal Democrat challenges for 2011: showing the difference Liberal Democrats make

Over the festive season we’re running a series of posts on the main Liberal Democrat challenges for 2011. You can find all the posts as they appear here.

When it comes to getting public support in return for making a positive impact on the coalition government, there are two requirements for the party. It has to have achievements that people know are down to the Liberal Democrats and also to have achievements which add up to more than a scattering of interesting details. Unless there is a clear thread running through them, the details will get lost in the non-political noise …

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Five of the best political adverts: Britain deserves better

This week we’re running a series featuring five of the most effective political adverts. After looking at the US and Australia, today it is back to the UK and the 1997 general election campaign:

Yesterday’s Australian advert, It’s Time, looked as much like a music video as a political advert. Music too played a major role in one of the UK Labour Party’s 1997 general election broadcasts, and the most powerful of all the ones I’ve seen ‘live’ at the time of broadcast.

As in the Australian Labor Party’s case, Labour too had been out of power for a long time – 18 years this time – and also faced an incumbent government that many felt had passed its sell-by date. The genius of the Labour ’97 effort was to put together ingredients which usually featured in Conservative broadcasts – patriotic music, Union Jacks, Conservative ministers, celebrating Conservative members – and turn them into a devastating attack, raising fears of what another term of Conservative government might do.

As I noted in my previous blog post about this broadcast, watch out for the very different way in which Ken Clarke was viewed then compared with now:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: good and bad reasons for backing Ken

Ken Clarke is coming under pressure from the Red Tops about his plans for sentence reform. According to Conservative Home, even David Cameron is getting cold feet. But Liberal Democrats, it is assumed, are bound to be backing Ken.

This might be thought a given as Liberals are, from the point of view of the media, supposed to have a benign, Panglossian view of human nature which unkind souls might call unrealistic or wet.

Wrong on both counts!

I have long thought the only good moral reason for punishing someone is that they deserve it and that the state is …

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LibLink… Shirley Williams on the coalition: Not one bed – two beds

The Guardian today has an interview with Shirley Williams, who at 80, continues to work full-time and is active in questioning the coalition government’s stance on academies, health and Trident:

If you give up what you most care about you start dying. It doesn’t matter what age.

Debate within the coalition on the key issues is a positive thing, insists Williams:

What we have to do is get as much as one possibly can of what Lib Dems believe into the coalition programme. It’s no good simply saying our role is to say no to everything.

Williams admits her surprise that the Liberal Democrats, of whom she was a founder, formed a coalition with the Conservative Party.

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Opinion: National influence, international irrelevance?

I remember the day I self-identified as a Liberal Democrat. I was a teenager, perhaps 16 or 17, (disclosure: I’m now in my mid 30s) and was actually watching a political debate that was taking place on what was, at the time, ‘yoof’ TV.

The three main parties were represented. I can’t recall who the other two people were, but the stand-out performance was from Simon Hughes.  Everything he said just made sense and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why the Liberal Democrats were not in Government.  This was the point at which I became politically aware.

I can’t …

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Thanks Jack: Tory right finds a friend in Labour

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is calling for cuts in Britain’s prison population, following the agenda set by the Lib Dems and previously opposed by both the Conservatives and Labour.

Those Labour activists still clinging desperately onto the idea that the Lib Dems are mere cheerleaders in the coalition are going to have to twist themselves into yet more contortions – or simply  ignore the facts – as they continue to push their line.

As Jack Straw writes in The Mail:

has allowed his government’s penal policy to be dictated not by his own common sense but by Justice Secretary Kenneth

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The coalition agreement: jobs & welfare and justice

Welcome to the thirteenth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

The jobs and welfare section of the coalition agreement is one of the least important – not because the policy area doesn’t matter (it certainly does) but because it says very little beyond, “we want to make the welfare system better”. Quite what better means and whether it can really be done is all down to how Iain Duncan Smith in particular does his job, the choices he makes and the degree to which pensions …

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Opinion: A Diminished Clarke – a picture of electoral calculation and desperation

What Ken Clarke has been sent out to do (FT.com – requires registration) – and has been willing to do – diminishes him. It can hardly diminish his party.

Ken Clarke is a fervent European but he has been willing to return to the frontline of Tory politics. No doubt he believes he has done a deal…and he has calculated that he can hold back the forces of Euro-scepticism in the Tory party. The gag he is now prepared to wear, on European matters, is a measure of how unsound his judgement has become.

He has a point when he complains …

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Public poll says Cable for Chancellor – how to bank this in real votes?

Vince Cable is the public’s preferred choice for Chancellor, according to a poll by PoliticsHome.

Of the general public polled, 31% chose Vince Cable above George Osborne, Alistair Darling, Ken Clarke, Peter Mandelson and Ed Balls.

The poll also found that 79% of Liberal Democrat voters supported Vince Cable for the job, while Osborne and Darling received much lower levels of support from their own parties’ voters. (Find the full results at PoliticsHome.)

As Iain pointed out yesterday, Vince’s recent recce to the Treasury does raise questions about how he could land the job.

Of course, national polls like this …

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The Independent View: A Lib-Con coalition? Don’t hold your breath

In the past week, the Conservatives have been talking up their chances of doing a deal with the Liberal Democrats if the forthcoming general election fails to deliver them a working majority. Conservative shadow business secretary Ken Clarke has even suggested that “Nick Clegg is a conservative”. David Cameron meanwhile regularly describes himself as a “liberal Conservative” and has claimed that on a range of policy issues, “there’s barely a cigarette paper between us”.

But in a new report from CentreForum, the liberal think tank, we argue that the two parties’ similarities …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Tories send advance party to reassure Brussels

The Telegraph reports that shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke is going to Brussels tomorrow for “secret talks” with members of the European Commission:

Mr Clarke, who will be accompanied by Mark Prisk and John Penrose, junior shadow business ministers, is expected to seek concessions on financial and employment regulations during the meetings, which are not listed on the European Commission’s official diary.

Fiona Hall MEP, Leader of the European Liberal Democrats, said,

The question is what deal will he do? Will he sell out his own beliefs or those of his anti-European colleagues?

and suggested that such secret talks meant that “the …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Chaos engulfs Conservative position on Regional Development Agencies

Back in December I reported how Caroline Spelman had dropped the Conservative Party’s policy of abolishing Regional Development Agencies. Then last week Ken Clarke was reported as ordering a review of the nine English RDAs to decide what to do with them, but now the Conservative Party has denied there’s a review. So there’s going to abolish them, but not and going to review them, but not. All clear I trust?

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Tories’ double whammy tax bombshell

I leave the country for just three days, and come back to find that, in my absence, the Tories have fallen to bits over tax. I must try this going away lark again, some time. (What do you mean, post hoc ergo propter hoc?)

Of course, it’s possible to claim it’s all a storm in a teacup: that (i) George Osborne’s announcement that the Tories will go into the next election promising to raise the top rate of tax, and (ii) Ken Clarke’s declaration that their inheritance tax cut for the rich was an “aspiration”, are merely a …

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Ken Clarke lays into Conservative policy, again

Well, well – he’s certainly started with a work rate that puts some Conservative Shadow Cabinet members to shame … for it’s another day, and another attack from Ken Clarke on the policies that David Cameron and George Osborne have been pushing. Following up his earlier comments about the IMF, this time Ken Clarke has criticised them over tax policy. As Benedict Brogan reports:

What Ken Clarke has to say about promoting marriage through the tax system amounts to a violent rejection of everything Dave and George have been proposing. Better yet, he justifies it by claiming the Shadow Chancellor

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