Tag Archives: Ming Campbell

Labour and the SNP’s judgement in Megrahi case completely wrong – Campbell

Lib Dem MP and member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Ming Campbell has been commenting on the revelations about the Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi case:

The Labour government completely failed to take into account the horrific nature of the crime, the consequences and the sentence imposed when it took the view that it could assist the release of Mr Megrahi.

Equally in Scotland, the Justice Secretary failed to take account of these three significant factors when reaching a conclusion about the exercise of compassion.

If both had paid proper attention, the Labour government would not have been so embroiled and the Scottish

Posted in News and Scotland | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Tuition fees: which way will MPs vote on Thursday?

Today saw a weird piece of media face with an impostor conning several news outlets into reporting that Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart was going to resign as a PPS and vote against the tuition fees increase. The impostor even got as far as being interviewed by the BBC on the World at One before the hoax was rumbled. His office said that, “Mike is still waiting to see what the final offer will be before he votes and that has always been our line”.

(Ironically just before this took place, I was in Millbank to appear on the BBC’s

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 76 Comments

Trident: no renewal this Parliament

The BBC reports that the predicted policy has won the day:

The government says £750m ($1.2bn) will be saved over four years on the Trident nuclear deterrent missile system by cutting the number of warheads on each boat from 48 to 40 and reducing the number of missile tubes from 12 to eight. The UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile will be cut from 160 to less than 120. The final “main gate” spending decision on Trident will also be delayed until 2016 – after the next general election.

Party President Ros Scott has emailed party members, saying

Trident will not be renewed

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Ming on university funding: new system may gain his support

Former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell was one of the party’s first MPs to indicate unhappiness with the Coalition’s programme for government, stating he would vote against any increase in student tuition fees that October’s Browne review on university funding might recommend. Under the terms of the Coalition agreement, Lib Dem MPs were supposed only to abstain on any such measure.

However, this week’s Times Higher Education Supplement indicates that the Coalition’s proposals for a graduate contribution may just be enough to win Ming over:

Speaking in the run-up to the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool starting on 18 September,

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

“When two ride astride, one must ride behind”

Okay, the poster’s exactly 100 years old – and the issue highlighted here is Asquith’s Liberal government’s attempts to reform the House of Lords – but somehow it was the caption which to me seemed to resonate down the years into these Coalition days:


(From the LSE archives: COLL MISC 0519-053).

For others it may bring to mind Ming Campbell’s nag in Five Days that Changed Britain: “If you have a dog… for long enough, eventually you begin to look like your pet. Well, if you have a coalition …

Posted in Humour | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Ming: Trident must be included in Strategic Defence Review

A press release arrives in the Lib Dem Voice in-tray:

Commenting on George Osborne’s announcement that the Ministry of Defence will be responsible for the cost of replacing Trident, Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Menzies Campbell said:

“This confirmation of what had already been predicted makes it essential that the case for like-for-like replacement of Trident should, as the Liberal Democrats have agreed, be part of the Strategic Defence Review.

“How can you possibly take on such a large financial commitment as Trident without considering the military and political implications?

“If fierce cuts are to be made in Britain’s conventional forces, surely we have

Posted in News | Also tagged | 24 Comments

When is a rebellion not a rebellion?

The Coalition decision to raise VAT was, by some measure, the most controversial aspect of the Government’s first budget. In our recent survey of party members, 42% opposed the move, though 48% endorsed it (however reluctantly) to deal with the deficit.

The party’s MPs have also been wrestling with the issue. The VAT increase was debated on Tuesday night in the Commons – in the end only Colchester’s Bob Russell from the Lib Dems voted against the Government, siding with a Labour amendment.

As Jim Pickard in the FT notes, St Ives MP Andrew George, and four other Lib …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

The coalition agreement: transport & universities and further education

Welcome to the twentieth and last (phew!) in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

Traditionally the transport sections of party manifestos contain commitments to various expensive, long-term public expenditure projects. In the current financial climate it is no surprise that the coalition agreement’s transport section is rather heavy on matters of regulation and bureaucracy and rather light on directly spending money to improve transport.

So we have a promise to “make Network Rail more accountable to its customers”, a commitment to “fair pricing for rail travel”, a …

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

Daily View 2×2: 28 May 2010

As Big Ben chimes seven, it’s time to celebrate the day 151 years ago, that the famous bell was drawn on a carriage pulled by 16 horses from Whitechapel Bell Foundry to the Palace of Westminster.

To show that cuts in Westminster are nothing new, the cost of the bell was reduced by recycling the metal from the previous, faulty bell:

George Mears, then the master bellfounder and owner of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, undertook the casting. According to foundry records, Mears originally quoted a price of £2401 for casting the bell, but this was offset to the sum of £1829 by the metal he was able to reclaim from the first bell so that the actual invoice tendered, on 28th May 1858, was in the sum of £572.

If you’d like to know what Big Ben itself has to say today, you can follow it on Twitter: @big_ben_clock.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that caught my eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

Tim Farron runs for deputy leader; Campbell and Munt back him

News from the Tim Farron campaign camp:

Following the announcement by Vince Cable that he will be stepping down as Deputy Leader to concentrate on his new role as Secretary of State for Business, Tim Farron MP has been urged by colleagues to stand for the position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Commenting Tim said:

“Having served as Vince Cable’s PPS during his eight glorious weeks as acting leader, I am fully aware of what a difficult act he will be to follow and I’m so grateful to Vince for what he has achieved in the role.

“His new …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 33 Comments

The coalition agreement: defence and deficit reduction

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

Despite the importance of the two areas, these are two of the shortest sections in the agreement, reflecting how there are a small number of dominating issues.

For defence there is the Trident compromise – it will be replaced unless there is a better value for money alternative. What the wording leaves unclear is the extent to which any alternative has to meet Trident like-for-like in terms of destructive power and constant instant availability. Whether …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

LDVideo Easter Saturday special: Lib Dem leaders at PMQs

Welcome to this latest LDVideo instalment, and today as a special holiday treat we’re highlighting three political video clips showing Lib Dem leaders on top form at Prime Minister’s Questions.

First up, is Ming Campbell. Now Ming didn’t always have the happiest time at PMQs, but there were times when he hit his stride perfectly, and this was one such occasion, on 24th January 2007, when shaming Tony Blair’s failure to debate in the Commons whether troops should be withdrawn from Iraq:


(Also available on YouTube here).

Secondly, how could we forget Vince Cable‘s starring turn as acting leader? Certainly Gordon ‘Mr Bean’ Brown will never forget it:

Posted in YouTube | Also tagged , , , , , and | Leave a comment

Memo to the media: Clegg was first on Labour’s stealth tax, as Tories play catch-up

Excuse me, while I discard my customery mode of politness, and begin to vent …

From Nick Clegg’s budget response, 24 March 2010:

Finally, on tax, the other gross disappointment in this Budget was the failure to make our tax system fair. Under Labour, the bottom 10 per cent. pay a staggering 48 per cent. of their income in tax, while the richest pay 34 per cent. The Chancellor took pride in saying today that he would make no big announcements on tax. How can he look at a system such as that and say, “Let’s have more of the same”?

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Parties select their “star performers” for General Election campaign

From the FT:

The Liberal Democrats will centre their campaign on joint appearances by Nick Clegg, leader, and Vince Cable, Treasury spokesman, in an attempt to project a blend of youth and experience.

A clutch of former Lib Dem leaders will be deployed in the regions. Paddy Ashdown is taking a hands-on role directing the Lib Dem’s defence of the south-west heartlands. Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be touring seats in Scotland and the north.

The article also lists Chris Huhne (“pugnacious, quick-footed”) and Lynne Featherstone (“sound media performer”) as ones to watch in the Liberal Democrat campaign.

Read the …

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Book review: Peter Watt’s Inside Out – 5 things which struck me

Let’s begin with the positive: Inside Out, Peter Watt’s autobiographical account of his two years as Labour general secretary during the handover from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, is an entertainingly gossipy book which, at 200 pages, doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s packed with anecdotes and throwaway remarks which cast a new – and rarely flattering – light on Labour’s senior dramatis personae. In short, well worth reading.

But does Peter Watt come out of it well. Hmmm, there I’m less sure. Here are the five aspects of the book which struck me …

Thing 1: Tribalism

The over-riding impression of Inside Out is quite how tribal politics is. And not just tribal between parties – that’s, at least in part, to be expected – but also within parties. For example, the very New Labour Peter Watt boasts of exploiting the rift between Blair and Brown when hacking for the post of general secretary, accumulating a motley collection of votes on Labour’s National Executive Committee from “trade unionists, people on the hard left and passionate Blairites”.

Mr Watt presents the traditional mea culpa at the end of the book (“tribalism turns good men bad”), but it’s easy to be sage after the event: what politics needs is for its participants to recognise this when they’re in leadership positions, not when they’ve shed them.

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 18 January 2010

Happy Monday morning, everyone.

On this day, in 1788, Britain established a penal settlement at Botany Bay in Australia; while, in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent the first transatlantic radio transmission originating in the United States to King Edward VII. Even more excitingly, it’s the birthday of AA Milne (b. 1882), Oliver ‘Laurel &’ Hardy (b. 1892), Cary Grant (b. 1904) and Peter Beardsley (b. 1961).

But without further tarrying …

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • Holyrood: The Budget Battleground (Caron Lindsay)

    The first act of the budget drama plays out this week. Let’s hope that the process is more serious production and less pantomime farce.

  • A couple of classy links (Alix Mortimer)

    I once saw a blogger, a smart, impassioned, left-wing blogger, comment to the effect that his £40,000-odd salary was not that high.

Posted in Daily View and News | Also tagged , , , , and | Leave a comment

Daily View 2×2: 14 January 2010

Good morning afternoon and welcome to Daily View on a largely uneventful day in history. 152 years ago today, Napoleon III wasn’t assassinated. It’s the day Martin Niemöller was born, the author of the words about Holocaust victims, “First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.”

Today Richard Briers, Faye Dunaway and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are celebrating birthdays, and we remember Lewis Carroll’s death.

2 Big Stories

Haiti victim search

All the papers lead today with news of the continuing search for survivors amongst the debris following the massive earthquake in Haiti.

Times: Race against time for Haiti earthquake aid
Telegraph: Race to save thousands of lives
Daily Mail: Haiti razed to the ground: Horrifying new pictures reveal extent of earthquake destruction
Guardian: International teams join Haiti rescue operation

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Ming Campbell answers questions from readers in The Independent

Ming Campbell has been answering a wide range of questions:

What is Cleggism as a political philosophy?

Did the dream of proportional representation die with Roy Jenkins?

How can Liberal Democrats withstand the onslaught of Ashcroft money in marginals in the South-west?

Cameron is right about the genuine symmetry between Tories and Lib Dems. So why won’t you admit you’ll prop him up in a hung parliament?

and more.

Read the full set of questions and answers here.

Posted in LibLink | Leave a comment

Referendum: what’s going on?

As The Voice and others have covered this week, the Liberal Democrat policy on a Euro-referendum – or not – has been in the news. Understandably the media reports have caused some confusion over what the party’s current policy is – and on this occasion I don’t think the media is to blame.

The party’s policy has been that if there is to be a European referendum, it should be an in/out referendum. However, lurking behind the word “if” were two different points of view earlier this year. One group of people believed that an in/out referendum was a good …

Posted in Europe / International and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

YouTube ‘cos we want to: bumper conference catch-up special edition

Welcome to this very special bumper conference edition of our occasional LDV feature, YouTube ‘cos we want to, featuring some of the most memorable moments from the past week. For those Lib Dems who’ve been isolated inside the ‘Bournemouth bubble’, missing out on all the media coverage I hope this selection of clips gives you a sense of what you missed while you were, erm, there.

From Nick’s leader’s speech to Vince’s dust-up with Paxman on Newsnight, Chris Davies’s rant to the Huhne ‘n’ Pickles show on Radio 4 – it’s all collected here for your viewing/listening pleasure. Enjoy …

Posted in Conference and YouTube | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

#ldconf podcast: IPPR fringe

We were taping ippr‘s fringe with our own Editor at Large Stephen Tall along with some relative political unknowns – Shirley Williams, Menzies Campbell and Charles Clarke.

The ippr did say they were recording the event themselves, and their recording is probably better than ours, but I can’t immediately find it on their website.

Play
Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Conference round-up: the last 24 hours

Here are the three main lines promoted by the party from conference to the media in the last 24 hours:

  • Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference unveils plans to increase the pay of Britain’s lowest-earning troops by £6,000, improve the condition of forces’ housing, and ensure proper medical provision for all personnel. The proposals, which would mean that no service personnel in the Army, Navy or RAF would receive less basic annual pay than a new-entrant police constable or development-level firefighter, would be funded within the MoD’s existing budget.
  • Liberal Democrat Conference has demanded an independent, public inquiry into allegations of British Government complicity in

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

CK and Ming are most-missed political big-hitters

PoliticsHome has the low-down:

Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell are the former political ‘big beasts’ that the public would most like to see more of, according to a new PoliticsHome poll. 1,228 UK adults were shown a list of former political big hitters and asked to tick all of those they would like to see return to prominence.

The two former Lib Dem leaders were the most popular choices, with just over a third of people (thirty four per cent) wishing for Kennedy’s return, and twenty two per cent backing Campbell. Kennedy was the most popular choice among supporters of all political parties and none.

For the record, here’s the list of former big-hitters missed most by Lib Dem supporters, and whom we’d – apparently – like to see more of:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Nick and Ming speak out on Megrahi

Nick Clegg, who has publicly opposed the Scottish executive’s decision to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi, today responded to the news that Gordon Brown – who has remained silent about the case until today – let it be known to the Libyan authorities via his foreign office ministers that the Prime Minister did not want Mr Al Megrahi to die in prison:

The Foreign Secretary has now admitted that the British Government made its position on Megrahi’s release clear to the Libyans.

“It is now clear that Gordon Brown felt able to share his feelings with a power-crazed

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

Ming in the Psychiatrist’s Chair

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell was interviewed by Dr Raj Persaud in an event called the Psychiatrist’s Chair at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

From the Times:

It promised much — a candid, soul-baring encounter between a psychiatrist skilled in the probing of great minds and a political grandee seasoned by life’s storms. Both men have their demons: the former tainted by scandal, the latter one of many ensnared in the parliamentary expenses affair.

The article offers but tantalising snippets of the interview (patient confidentiality?), but content yourself here with such hints. It’s a pity that the Times, who …

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Ming to head police inquiry into Damian Green police raid

Here’s how the BBC reported this under the slightly unappetising headline, Sir Menzies to head Green probe:

Sir Menzies Campbell is to chair an inquiry into the police raid on the Commons office of Tory MP Damian Green.

The former Lib Dem leader will review how the Commons authorities deal with search requests from the police. The cross-party panel also includes former home secretaries David Blunkett and Michael Howard and ex-foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Commons leader Harriet Harman, who has set up the pane, will ask MPs to approve its terms of reference. She has asked it to report by

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‘The Age of Ming’ – Tue 23 June, BBC Radio 4, 11am

If you have the chance, you can listen live to BBC Radio 4′s ‘The Age of Ming’ tomorrow, Tuesday, at 11 am. If you don’t have the chance, there’s always Listen Again. Here’s the BBC online article:

Sir Menzies Campbell lasted less than two years as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Many believe he was hounded out of office by a media obsessed with his age and appearance. The former Olympic athlete protests that, after his admittedly shaky start in the Commons, views were formed in the press that never wavered.

His background should have been an image-maker’s dream: born into

Posted in Leadership Election | Also tagged | Leave a comment

NEW POLL: was Clegg right to ditch Trident?

The big domestic political news last night was Nick Clegg’s announcement that the Lib Dems would oppose the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, arguing “the world has changed, the facts have changed, you’ve got to change with them. So like-for-like replacement for Trident is just not right.”

As Nick himself has admitted, this is a reversal of the position he adopted in the leadership contest with Chris Huhne in late 2007. The Nick argued that dumping Trident would destroy the UK’s bargaining power in non-proliferation talks in 2010. Here’s the BBC news report:

Mr Clegg hit back that

Posted in Voice polls | Also tagged , , and | 21 Comments

Why I’ve lobbied my MP over the choice of Speaker

In the past it’s never really occurred to me to lobby my MP about who they were going to support in a contest for Speaker of the House of Commons. I’ve seen those contests as largely internal affairs, with MPs knowing the candidates and their likely ability to do their job far better than me, and with the choice having only a limited impact on life outside the Commons itself.

This time, though, matters are clearly different. The MySociety team has put together an excellent three-point manifesto, which Speaker candidates are being asked to back:

1. Voters have the right to know

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

CommentIsLinked@LDV: Sirs Ming & Alan publish their Speaker manifestos

Over at The Times, the two Lib Dem candidates for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons – Sir Menzies Campbell and Sir Alan Beith – set out their manifestos, stating what reforming credentials they would bring to this most historic of offices. Excerpts below:

Ming Campbell:

What is needed is a Speaker who imposes their authority on the House of Commons, not their politics; a Speaker who will stand up for all MPs and when necessary stand up against the Government of the day; a Speaker who will not be intimidated.

The primary purpose of the House of Commons is

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    Disagreed with Tiny Benn about many, many things. But his jaundiced view of The Privy Council was entirely appropriate. Another one of those Westminster-cum-Disneyland bits...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 22nd Jul - 4:23pm
    Telling the public that the party is over may indeed be sobering, but someone has to do it. And no, I'm not talking of going...
  • User AvatarDav 22nd Jul - 3:51pm
    In cases like the declaration of an aggressive war, there should be some form of blocking minority possible or a supermajority necessary to press on....
  • User AvatarAlex Sabine 22nd Jul - 3:28pm
    An interesting postscript on Gove: a letter to the Sunday Times signed by 76 people, many of them head teachers of high-performing schools in deprived...
  • User AvatarStephen W 22nd Jul - 3:27pm
    I'm not scared. I genuinely laughed. I read this twice to decide whether it was genuinely a satire. Then considering writing a detailed rebuttal, then...
  • User AvatarTony Rowan-Wicks 22nd Jul - 3:26pm
    Government on the back of an envelope comes to mind How was the parliamentary party bamboozled into supporting so many nutty ideas? The membership was...