Tag Archives: london

The Independent View: London – a magnet for talent

london by Harshil ShahVince Cable recently accused London of acting like a giant machine that sucks in all of the talent from the rest of the country. Our new report, Cities Outlook 2014, shows that London is indeed a magnet for young people from across the country. But the big question is: why does this happen, and what does it mean for policy?

First, let’s look at the key stats. Somewhat counterintuitively, overall London loses population to the rest of the country. But this is overwhelmingly to the Greater South …

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Opinion: Vince is wrong about London

One of the oddest statements made by a Lib Dem in 2013 was surely Vince Cable saying that London was “draining the life out of the rest of the country”’.

Odd not just because Vince is MP for a London constituency but because he was so clearly wrong – far from draining the life out of the rest of the UK, London is a huge contributor. The most obvious way is financially: London subsidises other parts of the UK which would have higher taxes or less public spending without the benefits of the London

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 47 Comments

Liberal Democrat Voice is least London-centric of 3 main party blogs

A Very Public Sociologist asks “How London-centric is political blogging?” by studying posts on Liberal Democrat Voice, Conservative Home and LabourList between 10 October and 9 November. So how did we do?

Let’s start with the Liberal Democrats. Between the dates there were 84 blog posts made by 55 contributors. Of these 24 posts came from 18 Londoners. The next highest was 21 posts from the WestMids (all bar one the work of the prolific Andy Boddington). The next largest number of contributors was the EastMids region with eight. The next was the South East with seven (but 10 posts) and

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Delivering affordable homes and new jobs in London

Affordable Homes for LondonLast month house prices in London rose by 10 per cent – yes you read that correctly. Yet affordable homes, not over-inflated house prices, are what we need.

For an overseas investor in London’s housing market – and there are many – the price rises are wonderful news. They will be equally welcome by someone who has cleared their mortgage and is looking to sell up and move out of the capital. However, for most people who live in the capital or plan to move to the capital, such price rises are far from welcome.

It is not sustainable for people to ‘earn’ far more from rising house prices than working. As Vince Cable has rightly said these soaring house prices in London as “dangerous and unsustainable”. Vince is also right to express his misgivings about the Help to Buy scheme, which will almost certainly contribute to the over-inflated housing market in London and the South East.

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Caroline Pidgeon writes: Setting our cities free from the stranglehold of the Treasury

City Hall and Tower BridgeReforming local government finance – a phrase that is enough to send many of us to sleep.  But put a different way, devolving financial powers to our great cities, allowing local innovation and genuine localism, may keep your interest for longer!

May saw the launch of an excellent policy report called Raising the capital.  The report was produced by the London Finance Commission, an authoritative wide ranging group of experts from both inside and outside politics, but crucially including experts from Birmingham and Manchester.  The commission was chaired by respected Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Opinion: Changing Gear in London

fireworksThe fireworks over the Thames that signalled the New Year in London symbolically coincided with a handover of the chairmanship of London Liberal Democrats, as I ended my three years at the helm and Mike Tuffrey – until last May a leading Member of the London Assembly – took over.

My time in office was quite a roller-coaster, from the inflated national euphoria of Cleggmania just before the 2010 general election – when in the event we managed to hold on to seven parliamentary seats, but alas lost Richmond Park – to the frankly dire city-wide vote we received in the London Mayoral and GLA elections last May. At least we managed to return Caroline Pidgeon (rightly recognised in the New Year honours) and Stephen Knight to the Assembly.

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Opinion: We need all parties to work together to solve London’s housing crisis

Sarah Teather’s recent interview in the Observer graphically reminded us of the social impact of the housing crisis on large numbers low and moderate earners in London.

Vince Cable, on the Andrew Marr show, emphasised both the need to counter the tabloid rhetoric of benefit scroungers and restrain the growth in the welfare budget. Vince pointed to the urgent need to expand the provision of affordable housing in the …

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Opinion: Champions for London’s Children

The Liberal Democrat education policy, written before the General Election, detailed a strong strategic role for councils, including commissioning new schools and holding all schools to account whatever their status.

The question now is whether this is more than just a change in the mood music, and whether the Coalition is genuinely up for endorsing local authorities who seek to hold academies to account as part of a strong ‘champion for children’ role.  And moreover, whether they will give councils the teeth they need to do it properly.

Who better to rise to this challenge and make the case persuasively to government …

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Overnight counting, electoral fraud and the running of elections: a bounty of Electoral Commission reports

The last few days have been busy ones for the Electoral Commission, with most of the headlines caught by their report into when election counts should take place (overnight or the next day):

The Electoral Commission has recommended general election counts should continue to be held overnight.

Before the 2010 election, a number of councils made plans to count votes the day after polling day.

But a campaign by MPs and others resulted in a change of the law requiring counts to start within four hours of the close of polls…

Chair of the Electoral Commission Jenny Watson said: “We are rightly proud

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Opinion: Three steps to better campaigning in London

Immediately after the London Mayoral and GLA election Mike Tuffrey wrote some very shrewd observations on Lib Dem Voice. Now the dust has settled and the election results are known by ward perhaps it is time to think through the next stage of learning.

For me getting Caroline Pidgeon re-elected was always a top priority. I’m delighted that she has been joined by my long-standing friend Stephen Knight – the shame being that they are not joined by Bridget Fox and Shas Sheehan. But Stephen and Caroline will punch above their weight and the work they have already started …

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The Weekend Debate: Who’d get your 2nd preference after Brian in the race for London Mayor?

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

This Thursday, millions of voters will go to the polls to cast their votes in local elections. And although London is only one of those elections, its electoral size and the colourful prominence of its candidates means it has got the lion’s share of the media coverage.

For the Lib Dems, Brian Paddick has fought a terrific campaign. The former Metropolitan police chief only narrowly squeaked ahead of Mike Tuffrey for the party’s nomination following what Brian himself has acknowledged was a tricky first outing as a Lib Dem candidate in 2008.

This time round, however, he has more than held his own in the televised debates, while his advertising, social media and online presence has achieved real impact. As I reported last month, the Lib Dems’ London fundraising has been a huge success, allowing the party actively to compete at this election in a way that’s not previously been possible.

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The 3 Lib Dem mayoral candidates profiled

Three mayoral elections will take place a week today. Though the media has fixated on London’s Boris/Brian/Ken campaign, there are contests also to elect the first-ever mayors of Liverpool and Salford. In addition the following cities will hold ballots on 3 May on whether to adopt the elected mayor system: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the Lib Dem standard-bearers to become mayors of their cities next week…

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Ken Livingstone definitely needs an accountant if he can’t count to five

Remember last week at PMQs, Nick Clegg commented on Ken Livingstone’s rather complex tax affairs:

It is worth dwelling for a minute on the explanation provided by Ken Livingstone for his exotic tax arrangements. I quote from an interview that he gave just this weekend:

“I get loads of money, all from different sources, and I give it to an accountant and they manage it”.

That is modern socialism for you.

Well, no wonder the Labour mayoral candidate needs an accountant if he can’t even cope with numbers less than the number of fingers on one hand, as this leaflet, spotted at Lib …

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London Liberal Democrats – helping those with the smallest pockets get to work

Last week Brian Paddick and I launched a fairer fares package ahead of this year’s London Mayoral and Assembly elections.

Boris Johnson has been Mayor of London since 2008. In just four years he has increased the cheapest bus fare from 90p to £1.35 – and he had planned to raise fares even further until the Coalition Government stepped in and helped limit the rise. As well as bus fares, the cost of travelling on the Tube, the Docklands Light Railway, the Croydon Tramlink and the London Overground have all soared under Mr Johnson’s mayoralty.

Of course there …

Posted in London and News | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: In the name of the Olympics

With the summer 2012 drawing ever closer, it is no surprise that the amount of column inches devoted to the London Olympics is increasing. What has surprised me, though, has been how much of this coverage has been of the controversies that seem to be multiplying around the Games, and just what may be done in the name of the Olympics next year.

Flatly, I am worried that the Government is importing dodgy methods of event management to Stratford and the rest of London. The security measures recently announced are especially concerning. I hope no Liberal in Britain is reassured by …

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Meral Hussein Ece writes: my contribution in the Lords to the riots debate

This is the speech Meral made last Thursday as part of the Lords debate on the public disorder.

Baroness Hussein-Ece: My Lords, I, too, would like to associate myself and these Benches with the sentiments that have been expressed and to extend our condolences to those people who have lost so much in the terrible events from Saturday onwards. I thank my noble friend the Leader of the House for repeating the Prime Minster’s Statement today.

There is absolutely no excuse for the terrible scenes that we have witnessed on the streets of London and beyond in our cities over the …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Opinion: Leading Labour figures guilty of the worst kind of opportunism

London burns and communities reel from successive nights of violence and looting, rumour is rife, facts are scare. All we know that peaceful vigil held for Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police on Thursday night, somehow was hijacked by an angry mob and his death became the catalyst of nights of violence, which have now spread to other parts of the capital and country.

What do we hear from Labour politicians? Calls for calm? Space for the IPCC to carry out their investigation into the shooting? No, instead we have them lining up to link the violence to the …

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Green Party called it wrong on phone hacking

Just a month ago, London Green AM and Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones criticised the Metropolitan Police for spending too much time investigating phone hacking:

Jenny Jones, the Green Party member on the authority, said that the investigation, which is being handled by the Met’s serious crime directorate, was diverting officers away from more important crimes.

“Although this is not a victimless crime it is not something we should be spending a huge amount of time on,” she said.

“There are murders, child abductions and rapes that these officers could be investigating. All these people have to do is not use the

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LibLink: Mike Tuffrey – No accounting for Boris Johnson

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog, Lib Dem leader in the Greater London Assembly Mike Tuffrey argues that, though the mayor of London made many promises about changing the way the city is governed, nothing has materialised. Here’s an excerpt:

Alas, Johnson’s bold claims to change how London is governed have proved to be largely fanciful. The specific promise to introduce a cabinet system at city hall – an idea introduced by Livingstone, but afterwards abandoned by him – was quickly dropped, despite my constant probing. …

The mayor has also stopped holding regular press conferences at city hall,

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Artist arrested for filming buildings

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Does Richard Tracey understand his own recommendations?

London Assembly Member Richard Tracey has past form on writing odd letters to local newspapers in London. In August I reported on his claims that a Tory mayor and Tory boroughs were responsible for London not seeing a rise in unemployment – when in fact unemployment, sadly, has soared across the whole of London.
Now he has sent this letter to Southwark News:

“The introduction of speed cameras to enforce 20mph zones in Southwark, Waltham Forest and other London boroughs is bad for London’s hard-pressed motorists.
There are already too many revenue-raising speed cameras on the capital’s roads, London does not need more.

Furthermore, there is a danger that large areas of average speed-check cameras will encourage drivers to concentrate on their speedometers instead of the road; which would have a counter-productive effect on safety.

Many road-users feel that congestion means journeys in London already take too long and 20mph speed limits will force people to spend even longer in their cars. Not to mention that driving at 20mph causes even more pollution and higher CO2 emissions than driving at 30mph.

Richard Tracey, London Assembly Conservative Transport spokesman”

Richard Tracey might have a point that speed cameras are not popular, but he does seem to be exaggerating just how many would be necessary to ensure that 20 mph zones are effectively enforced.

Posted in London and News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Ian Clement charged with fraud

Ian Clement, one of Boris Johnson’s former Deputy Mayors, has been charged with five counts of fraud “in connection with alleged misuse of expenses.”

Clement was forced to resign in June over allegations that he used his City Hall corporate credit card to pay for private meals and groceries.

Adam Bienkov at Tory Troll has the full story, including the statement issued by the Metropolitan Police, and a statement from Clement’s lawyer in the Bexley Times who accuses the Crown Prosecution Service of “political expediency” for deciding to prosecute. 

Posted in London and News | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Met Police to Twitter at protesters

CO11MetPolice twitter screenshot

The Metropolitan Police are trying new tactics to engage with environmental activists at next week’s Climate Camp in London.

The Met have opened a Twitter account @CO11MetPolice (named after its public order unit) which is intended “specifically to inform the Camp for Climate Action of any operational updates relating to the policing of their event starting on 26 August.”

From the Metropolitan Police website:

If you follow us, you can expect tweets covering some or all of the following:

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WED: Green Lib Dems annual conference

News reaches the Voice of the Green Lib Dem’s annual conference, unfortunately just a little too late to promote it in time for the early registration rates:

SESSIONS INCLUDE: “The Great Nuclear Debate”; “Greening Your Council”; “Transition Towns”; “Eco Housing”; “Green Campaigning Workshop”

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS: Simon Hughes MP; Chris Huhne MP; Heather Kidd PPC; Donnachadh McCarthy, Media Environmentalist; Lembit Opik MP

PRICES HELD AT 2008 RATES – BOOK NOW TO ENSURE A PLACE

Registrations received after 5th June

GLD members £22 (for both days) £14 (single day rate)

Non members £28 (for both days) £18 (single day rate)

Conference fees include lunch. A separate Saturday evening

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CommentIsLinked@LDV: Caroline Pidgeon – Boris Johnson’s first year is no cause for celebration

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, writes in today’s Guardian on Boris Johnson’s first year as Mayor of London.

She says that although Johnson has promised much, he has failed to deliver on most of it:

On transport alone there has been a long list of broken promises.

Johnson pledged to establish a new express bus service that would orbit outer London. A year after being elected, not one orbital bus route has even been planned.

The mayor promised to convene an “emergency summit” of the train operating companies to tackle overcrowding and exorbitant fares. A year on,

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Opinion: There Is No Conservative Future in London

Politics and administration is a rather difficult game in major cities. Everything is much bigger- the budget, the numbers, but crucially, the problems faced on a daily basis by the millions and millions of people who you are ultimately responsible for. This means the need for coherent, meaningful policies – all directed towards a coherent, meaningful objective. When it comes to London this is vital if not essential, with the problems of an expanding population combined with the ever-chafing issues of housing, transport, planning, safety and the environment.

It has nearly been a year since we saw a certain Boris Johnson come to the helm with a slate of rather cheery-eyed Conservative members of the London Assembly, promising, in an almost messianic way, a brighter, better future for London, based on coherent policies (which he probably didn’t write) and proper leadership (which, according to Conservative Central Office, would come from unelected advisors).

So far, we have been treated to a year of farce, incompetence, dithering and sleaze, backed up with the right amount of cynical spin, and with minimal change. London has become a rudderless ship under Conservative rule; and we should not expect things to get any easier with the onset of economic hardship.

Boris Johnson’s slate of policies is now in shambles. He has failed to deliver on planning, engaging in contradictory actions on the issue of skyscrapers, much to the dismay of his Outer London base. He has failed to deliver on transport, cancelling for good any real investment in London’s infrastructure for the next 15 years save for marginal improvements on the London Overground and Crossrail – a project by the City and for the City that even they will no longer be able to pay for.

While it is not entirely under his remit, he has also decisively failed on the issue of ensuring London’s continued economic prosperity by doing precious little when it comes to regeneration. He refuses to put forward London’s case to central government, instead opting to dither before scoring petty political points when central government does nothing – all at the expense of ordinary Londoners and to his political gain.

The fact of the matter remains: there is no Conservative policy for London, there is no Conservative vision for London and there is no Conservative future for London.

Where there was once coherence, there is now contradiction. While Conservative-run local authorities from Westminster to Barnet pledge to lower living costs by bringing down or freezing the unjust Council Tax, the Conservative-run Greater London Authority does the opposite by slashing-and-burning investment funding while simultaneously raising transport costs.

The Mayoralty is now spinning around in a policy-free vacuum. Like the dying Labour administration in Westminster, they are not governing but are merely maintaining. What we are witnessing is the total collapse of policy in little over eleven months in office, an unprecedented failure in leadership, and the rise of obstruction, bluffing and uncertainty.

The Conservative Party in London seem to think they can abuse and misuse with impunity on the basis of their support from the bigoted cabal of men and women who run the Evening Standard. They claim they are going from ‘strength to strength’ – when in fact they seem to be going from hushed-up scandal to scandal – from Brian Coleman and his obsession with milking the taxpayer dry by way of Hackney Carriage to … Brian Coleman and the exploding boiler … and onwards to the Victoria Borwick Mailgate saga – the Tories seem to get away with actions that merit the full flog-and-shame routine that our media are well versed in dishing out.

Posted in London and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: The Air We Breathe

Some things are plain to see such as graffiti, neglected estates or general grot spots. However, in the case of the quality of the air we breathe, it is less apparent where there has been a breach of safety standards set by the World Health Organisation. Perhaps this is also why it is easier for the Government and local authorities to ignore the warning signs.

But should we be complacent and take the view that air quality problems are too big for us to tackle at the local or even national level? Sometimes it takes an external force …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Boris Johnson and the Evening Standard: it’s amazing what a change of editor can do

I’ve been doing a bit of number crunching. In the three weeks before the departure of editor Veronica Wadley from the Evening Standard the paper’s stories about Boris Johnson broke down as 61% positive, 27% neutral and 12% negative.

And in the three weeks after her departure? They were 43% positive (down 18%), 22% neutral (down 5%) and 35% negative (up 23%).

Isn’t it amazing what a change of editor can do?

P.S. Dave Hill reports that further staff changes are being made at the Standard.

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March 18th: the London Conference is a must!

The place for all London Liberal Democrats to be on the evening of March 18th is at the Polish Centre in King Street, Hammersmith! All party members are welcome to be a part of determining – and helping us take forward – what the Liberal Democrats will be doing throughout London over the coming months. With a General Election, Local Elections and European Elections all within the next year and a half there is a lot at stake for us – and for all Londoners too!

Our keynote conference speakers will include leading Liberal Democrats in London: Vince Cable MP, …

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    Quite @Paul in Twickenham
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