Tag Archives: Liberal Conspiracy

Liberal Conspiracy is dead – and so too’s the amateur blogger (more or less)

Sunny Hundal announced on Friday that left-of-centre blog Liberal Conspiracy is coming to an end:

I no longer have the time to maintain Liberal Conspiracy as a daily-updated news and opinion blog, so as of today I’m going to stop. This site will become an occasionally updated personal blog, with the odd guest-post.

It’s fair to say LibCon received an underwhelmed response from Lib Dems when it was launched six years ago, mostly on account of it including the word Liberal in its title but not so much in its outlook. Sunny himself was sport enough to respond to

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments

Bloggers unite to oppose “botched late-night drafting” that proposes new press/web regulation

I’m one of 17 signatories (on behalf of LibDemVoice) to a letter published in Saturday’s Guardian, reproduced below, which opposes the “fundamental threat” of the draft legislation approved this week by MPs of all parties which would regulate blogs and other small independent news websites.

It’s not often you’ll see us, ConservativeHome, LabourList, Guido Fawkes, Liberal Conspiracy and Political Scrapbook agree on something. But what we term the “botched late-night drafting process and complete lack of consultation” has, for once, brought us together. And, as the letter notes, perhaps even more remarkably got Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch agreeing, too.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 24 Comments

Reasons for Lib Dem cheer — as told by Labour and Tory supporters

Just two things from me:

1) Anyone trying to forecast how the Lib Dems will do in 2015 based on extrapolating mid-term opinion polls on the basis of uniform national swing is likely to be as wrong as they would have been at every general election in modern history.

2) My confident forecast for 2015 is the Lib Dems will a) do less well than I’d like and b) do better than our fiercest critics would like.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 41 Comments

Abolition of Parliament: it was wrong then and it’s wrong now

Back when Tony Blair was Prime Minister Labour tried to get through Parliament sweeping powers to change the law without requiring full Parliamentary scrutiny. Then Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth was one of those who led the charge against this, writing in The Times:

The Government proposed an extraordinary Bill that will drastically reduce parliamentary discussion of future laws, a Bill some constitutional experts are already calling “the Abolition of Parliament Bill”.

A couple of journalists noticed, including Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, and a couple more pricked up their ears last week when I highlighted some biting academic criticism of the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 7 Comments

Another endorsement for the Lib Dems – this time from Liberal Conspiracy

Sunny Hundal, founding editor of the most influential left-of-centre blog Liberal Conspiracy, has just blogged his endorsement of the Lib Dems for the coming election:

After last night’s debate one thing really struck me. We on the left and many Labourites who are also on the left, fight against discrimination and marginalised people. This is why we attack the Tories for their homophobia and their flashes of racism.

But the way that both Labour and the Tories (the latter expected anyway) not only dismissed the idea of an amnesty, but actually dog-whistled throughout about how the Libdem plan would wreak havoc

Posted in General Election | Also tagged | 16 Comments

YouGov ‘push-polling’ mystery deepens

Earlier today Lib Dem Voice published a post asking the question, Are YouGov and Murdoch ‘push-polling’ for the Tories? This followed internet reports that the online pollster had been posing deliberately leading questions designed not simply to test public opinion, but to lead it.

Liberal Conspiracy picked up the story and put the question direct to Peter Kellner of YouGov, whose elliptical reply stated:

As with all agencies, we ask all kinds of questions for all kinds of clients; some public, some private. For purposes of testing theories, messages or policies we will often test statements phrased one way

Posted in General Election and Polls | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Will Tory Barnet’s ‘Ryanair Council’ model backfire?

There’s been plenty of reaction to yesterday’s Guardian story in which Tory-controlled Barnet council revelled in their plans to adopt the practices of no-frills airlines like Ryanair in their delivery of local services:

Barnet wants householders to pay extra to jump the queue for planning consents, in the way budget airlines charge extra for priority boarding. And as budget airline passengers choose to spend their budget on either flying at peaktime or having an in-flight meal, recipients of adult social care in Barnet will choose to spend a limited budget on whether to have a cleaner or a respite carer or even a holiday to Eastbourne. Other examples of proposed reforms include reducing the size of waste bins to minimise the cost of council rubbish collections.

The proposals are being seen as an example of “new Conservatism” which is spreading among Tory-controlled boroughs. Observers believe “radical outriders” such as Barnet offer a glimpse of how a David Cameron government could overhaul public service provision in an era of heavy spending cuts.

The Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh has dug out a couple of revealing quotes, first from Tory Barnet councillor John Hart:

With council tenants, and I’ll admit I am putting it crudely, it has been a lot of ‘my arse needs wiping, and somebody from the council can come and do it for me’.”

Posted in Local government and News | Also tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

What’s the right way to respond to #MichaelJackson’s death?

Why is it okay to laugh at the death of celebrities? Genuine question. As news of Michael Jackson’s death swept the world last night, causing the Internet to grind to a standstill, two things about our new cyber-age stood out to me.

First, that it was a US celeb website, TMZ.com, which broke the news of Jacko’s demise, leaving traditional media, including the wire agencies and LA Times, in its reporting wake. Its maintained the frenetic and frequently intrusive coverage today. If you want to see pics of the paramedics arriving at Jacko’s house, or of his grief-stricken relatives …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Opinion: In praise of left and right

One of the interesting features of the debates provoked by last week’s analysis of Liberator’s latest assault on ‘the right’ of the party, and the Social Liberal Forum’s related critique, was the refrain in the comments of an old theme about how unhelpful the labels left and right can be in understanding the viewpoint of the person thus labelled. Indeed it’s a point of view that in part has defined Nick Clegg’s approach to answering questions on which way he is taking the party:

It’s not a matter of left versus right, but what is fair. – Independent, June 2008

There is some truth in this. In this party ‘right’ is often used as a catch-all pejorative meaning ‘they like liberal market economics, I don’t’, whereas ‘left’ occasionally gets the prefix ‘loony’ or ‘extreme’ to mean ‘they think they’re a liberal, I think they’re a socialist’. Externally any media analysis couched in the language of left and right is rarely intended to be helpful to the party, more a dog-whistle to put off supporters of the opposite point of view. The Tories call us ‘lefties’, the Labour party ‘right-wing Orange Tories’.

However in respect of giving some sense of where a Liberal Democrat commentator is coming from, whether their priorities lie more towards redistribution and social justice or towards aspiration and prosperity, these ‘inadequate’ labels are far more descriptive than most of the alternatives.

Take for example David Howarth’s thoughtful attempt to redefine social liberalism in Reinventing the State:

Sometime in the late nineteenth century, liberalism began to divide into two different streams. One stream, which came to be called ‘classical liberalism’… The other stream, which has come to be called ‘social liberalism’.

There are three major problems with his case. The first is that his definition of what social liberalism is, is so broad, that I can see no meaningful difference between it and plain liberalism, it doesn’t need the social tag. Indeed he is forced to develop ‘maximalist’ and ‘minimalist’ tags to show differences of emphasis between social social liberals and economic social liberals.

These all being hopelessly unhelpful and non-descript labels, what is wrong with simply using left and right to show emphasis and liberal to mean… liberal?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 45 Comments

Dr Pack gets third degree

I don’t mean he’s now even better qualified to run Lib Dem Voice, I mean the Voice’s own Mark Pack been answering some tough questions from Sunny Hundal at the Liberal Conspiracy.

Amongst the questions are these:

  • No doubt you get accused of being a party mouthpiece all the time, since you actually work for the party. How would you counter that accusation?
  • Isn’t focusing only on Libdem news unlikely to attract new members?
  • Do you think Libdembloggers aren’t cohesive enough? Do they not talk to each other enough?

You can read the full interview here – and maybe even answer the questions …

Posted in Site news | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

What do you make of LabourList.org?

LabourList – self-consciously branded by its founder, Derek Draper, as Labour’s answer to ConservativeHome – officially went live today, earning generous press coverage (in terms of column inches, if not warmth of reception).

So, what do we make of it so far?

It’s interesting that, as was true of both ConHome (with Tim Montgomerie) and LDV (with Rob Fenwick) when first launched, it’s a former party staffer who’s set up LabourList: perhaps not surprisingly, a certain amount of insider-knowledge is pretty useful when establishing a must-read party site. Even less surprisingly, if you want it to be seen as …

Posted in News, Online politics and Site news | Also tagged , , , , and | 7 Comments

What should political bloggers be trying to achieve?

Interesting discussion over at Liberal Conspiracy, started off by an account of a recent Labour meeting but also spawning a thoughtful discussion in the comments. It’s a topic Lynne Featherstone covered earlier this year in a piece on this site, where she said:

Liberal Democrat bloggers tend to be either fairly inward or local looking. There are many blogs that really talk just about what is happening in the party, along with a smaller number of – often excellent - blogs which are clearly aimed at a particular local audience (including some particularly good councillor blogs aimed as residents in those wards – understandably

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 27 Comments

Applying the broken windows theory to moderating comments

Interesting post at kottke.org about how the broken windows theory (i.e. low level crime and grot in turn encourages more serious crime) may apply to the quality of online debate:

Much of the tone of discourse online is governed by the level of moderation and to what extent people are encouraged to “own” their words. When forums, message boards, and blog comment threads with more than a handful of participants are unmoderated, bad behavior follows. The appearance of one troll encourages others. Undeleted hateful or ad hominem comments are an indication that that sort of thing is allowable behavior and encourages

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Blears on blogging: bad timing and bad analysis?

Hazel Blears’ speech to the Hansard Society is attracting a fair amount of attention in the blogosphere today, perhaps not surprisingly given the inclusion of this paragraph:

This brings me to the role of political bloggers. Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a Samizdat style. The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

What does “completely cleared” mean?

A few days ago Iain Dale wrote:

On 9 June, Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy made a complaint to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, accusing Tory MP Nadine Dorries of using public funds to pay for her blog. He wrote a 21 page submission of evidence.

Last week, Nadine posted on her blog saying that she had been completely cleared of any wrongdoing.

This rather puzzled me at the time because the part of the complaint that I’d read closely looked to me an open and shut case of the rules having been breached. So how come Nadine Dorries was “completely …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

A case of media bias? The Sun, MySpace and Facebook

Is The Sun (owner: Rupert Murdoch) indulging in a campaign of partisan reporting designed to damage Facebook, one of the main rivals to MySpace (owner: Rupert Murdoch)?

That’s a question that has been raised a few times on blogs (such as towards the end of this posting ), so I thought I would take a look at The Sun’s website and compare the coverage on there of Facebook versus MySpace.

To be fair to The Sun, I asked the site’s own search engine to give me the top fifteen headlines for stories including the word “MySpace” and then the same …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 19 Comments

The Iain Dale Total Politics top blogs list

I have a confession to make, dear reader. There’s an email I’ve been, erm, sitting on while I try to work out what to do with it. And it’s from Iain Dale.

If you read his blog (what do I mean ‘if’, of course we all do) then you’ll already know what it’s about. If not here’s the copy ‘n’ paste skinny:

In early September TOTAL POLITICS, in association with APCO WORLDWIDE will publish the 2008-9 Guide to Political Blogging in the UK. It will contain articles on blogging by some of Britain’s leading bloggers, together with a directory of

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments

Boris Johnson runs up £465,000 bill to help settle in to new job

As more details emerge, the costs of Boris Johnson’s transition team are going up and up. As Tory Troll reports, the latest figures are £465,000, which is equal to 70% of the total annual cost of all the Mayor’s permanent staff and deputies. That’s an awful lot of money to be spending just on a temporary transition team.

Hat tip: Liberal Conspiracy

Posted in London | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Opinion: A Toast To Protest

Boris Johnson’s first act as Mayor of London was to ban the consumption of alcohol, and the carrying of open receptacles of it, on public transport. I have already outlined the case against in full over at my own blog, but to recap briefly…

Boris’ ban is essentially petty authoritarianism. Considering the wealth of existing legislation that criminalizes anything that infringes the rights of others on public transport, all this measure will do is criminalize those who keep themselves to themselves but wish, for whatever reason (and I can think of plenty), to drink on public transport. Boris says the ban will cut down on so-called ‘minor crime’, when it seems to me it will do quite the reverse, criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens.

I urge you to join me in protesting against this illiberal ban by donning your evening-wear, breaking out the liqueurs, and exercising your right to drink on the tube one last time this Saturday. On this Sunday, 1st June, the carriage turns back into a pumpkin as the ban comes into force. Therefore, the drinking will go on until midnight. There are a number of different events going on, most organised on Facebook; it looks like turnout could be anywhere between 5,000-10,000 combined, from all the different events.

The main ones can be found here, here, here, here, and here. The official website is here. Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy is also organising something, so you could always join him. Alternatively, you could follow these paragons of harmless eccentricity, and have a dinner party on the tube.

Most of the events kick off at Liverpool Street Station, so there’s likely to be a significant police presence there. If you want to avoid it, I’d recommend getting on at a later stop on the Circle Line such as Tower Hill or Monument.

Posted in London and Op-eds | Also tagged | 116 Comments

The reaction to Nick Clegg’s speech on taxation

In a speech to the Policy Exchange yesterday lunchtime, Nick Clegg set out the party’s tax policy and indicated that a Liberal Democrat government would look at reducing the overall level of taxation as a percentage of GDP.

These are two different things, as James Graham points out. The bare bones of the tax policy “announced” in the speech are essentially the same measures agreed at last September’s Brighton conference. It’s the overall direction, the idea that the level of taxation might just be too high, that is new – although prefigured in Nick’s closing speech at spring conference.

Continue reading »

Posted in News | 22 Comments

A liberal conspiracy?

I approach this guest article for Liberal Democrat Voice with some trepidation, not least because when I introduced the launch of Liberal Conspiracy a few months ago, it was greeted with some scepticism amongst Lib Dem bloggers. Jonathan Calder called it “a conspiracy against Liberals”, Joe Otten calls us the Lefty Conspiracy and, at worst case, Alix Mortimer said it could be “a plot to draw Liberal Democrats towards Labour”.

There’s no doubt British politics is an incredibly tribal affair and this is reflected in the fact that all our prominent political blogs are tightly aligned …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Opinion: Should we have primaries in Britain?

With the US primary season now in full sway, the question about whether or not UK political parties should hold primaries will inevitably be debated once again. Tory MEP Dan Hannan makes the case for over on the Telegraph Blogs.

In fact, primaries are now practiced in the UK by the Conservative Party, although only in a limited way – it is just one of the ways a Conservative Association may choose to select their candidates and the system more closely resembles a caucus system similar to the one used in Iowa as opposed to a full open primary system in that participants must attend a public meeting in order to vote.

It has had mixed results. Indeed, their much hyped open primary process for selecting their candidate for Mayor of London, which did more closely resemble a full open primary, ended up a bit of a damp squib. Only 20,000 votes cast in total. I don’t know the exact number of Conservative members in London but I would guess that means only 1 vote was cast for every 2 members in the capital. Given that the primary was open to non-members, that hardly looks like a hugely successful exercise in mass-participation.

Why has the Conservative experience been so patchy?

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Liberal Conspiracy: a shortage of liberalism?

The launch of Liberal Conspiracy has generated a fair amount of discussion over whether it’s really about liberalism (the founding document only refers to the Labour party, only one Lib Dem blogger was at the launch etc) or rather just a collection of terribly nice left of centre middle class moderates.

Today’s post about equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome (which seems to be one of the issues coming up in the Liberal Democrat leadership debate) rather neatly highlights the question over Liberal Conspiracy: the “left” features seven times in the piece, with just one passing …

Posted in News | 32 Comments



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