Tag Archives: paul waugh

Page 3 and the Tories: showing their modern, enlightened face

page 3 news in briefsPoliticsHome’s Paul Waugh reports the Tory distress at the axing of one of their favourite parts of The Sun:

the long-running News In Briefs section of Page 3 of the Sun (it’s been going since 2003) is, I can report, no more.

The section was missing from today’s paper, now under a new editor, and I understand there are no plans to resurrect it.

Several Tory MPs are already in mourning. The party’s popular ‘Breakfast Club’ of MPs (which numbers ministers as well as backbenchers) has a tradition whereby

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Tim Farron in outspoken and honest interview shock!

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAn interview with Tim Farron is never a dull one, that’s for sure. I found that out when I spoke to him for the party magazine, Ad Lib, last month — prompting the headline, Lib Dem brand ‘tainted by Tories’ (£), in The Sunday Times.

Today’s he’s in the headlines for an interview in The House magazione with Paul Waugh and Sam MacRory in which he likens Lib Dem MPs to ‘cockroaches’ (hard to get rid of) and ‘nutters’ (because of …

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5 points on Clegg’s admission that Coalition was wrong to cut capital spending

Nick Clegg in DublinNick Clegg has sparked a flurry of excitement with his admission in an interview for The House magazine that the Coalition cut capital spending ‘too far, too fast’ to coin a phrase. Here’s what he said to Paul Waugh and Sam Macrory:

“If I’m going to be sort of self-critical, there was this reduction in capital spending when we came into the Coalition Government. I think we comforted ourselves at the time that it was actually no more than what Alistair Darling spelt out

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Vince the Lib Dem Eurosceptic on the “extraordinarily historically important” European single market

Vince Cable - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsI’m grateful to PoliticsHome’s Paul Waugh for reporting Vince Cable’s words stressing the importance of the EU’s single market at a time of deep austerity in the western world:

“State aide cuts to the heart of the big debate which is rippling though our country at the moment which is about our future within the European Union. I have to say that this whole issue of raising again in a fundamental way British membership and the terms of

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PoliticsHome: ‘New Cyril Smith abuse claims’

Paul Waugh at PoliticsHome has published an in-depth article publicising allegations of child abuse against former Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith:

Sir Cyril Smith became the latest public figure to be accused of abuse today after residents at a boys’ hostel described how he made youngsters strip, fondled them and smacked their bare bottoms for punishment.

Two former residents of Cambridge House hostel in Rochdale have gone on the record for the first time to tell PoliticsHome.com how former Liberal MP Smith treated them as teenagers in the 1960s.

Barry Fitton, who was 15 at the time, said that the former Rochdale MP

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Your essential weekend reader — 8 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Three big things I’ve got wrong since I’ve starting blogging and commenting – ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie confesses to a trio of big errors on the NHS, higher-rate tax and equalities: “One of the many reasons I don’t want to be an MP is that I think this sort of ability to think openly and reflectively is probably impossible when you are standing for office.”

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EXCLUSIVE: 72% of Lib Dem members backed reshuffle return for David Laws. (But it wasn’t to be.)

Earlier this week, LibDemVoice started asking party members signed up to our discussion forum a range of questions — the survey is still live, but one of the questions is already a little previous so we’re reporting it early…

We asked: Would you support or oppose David Laws making a return to government at the next reshuffle?

  • Yes – to a cabinet post 58%
  • Yes – but only to a non-cabinet post in government 14%
  • No – he should not return to the government at the next reshuffle 21%
  • Don’t know / No opinion 7%

In total, then, 72% of Lib Dem members in our sample wanted to see David Laws return to a ministerial post in the Coalition government, with most wanting to see him return to the cabinet 18 months after he was forced to resign.

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

What’s the difference between Ryan Giggs and Ed Miliband? Nick Clegg tells all…

In the USA they have the White House correspondents’ dinner, an occasion for leading politicians to take pot-shots at the media, themselves, and – most crucially – their opponents. Barack Obama’s quip-assault on Donald Trump ended the wannabe Republican presidential hopes before they’d begun.

The UK has no equivalent, but (as PoliticsHome’s Paul Waugh notes) the Parliamentary Press Gallery lunches are the nearest equivalent. And today was Nick Clegg’s turn to convey a serious message… whilst landing a jab or two. So, who was in Nick’s sights? Step forward Labour’s troubled leader Ed Miliband, and one-time rival Chris Huhne. …

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Learning the lessons from last week #3: Grassroots campaigns don’t win national elections

Liberal Democrats have long known that grassroots campaigns can win a ward, a council or a constituency – but they don’t win national election campaigns. It’s the knowledge that you need both the grassroots campaign and an effective national media and/or advertising campaign that explains why when Chris Rennard was the party’s Chief Executive not only did the Campaigns Department grow hugely in size – but so too did the national press team.

Yet at the heart of the Yes campaign in last week’s AV referendum seems to have been a big mistake: trying to run a grassroots campaign to win …

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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:

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You shouldn’t support the arts by supporting artists – Labour MP

A rather revealing complaint by Labour MP Gloria de Piero during the week. She had a go over how much the government is spending on purchasing artworks. If her complaint had been that a time of large deficit the government should be cutting this area of spending even more quickly than it is, that would have been fairly common for political debate with the usual for and against arguments on each side. Or, if her complaint had been about the choice of artists, that too would have been the trigger for a fairly common debate about whether modern artists are brilliant …

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So you want to be a political journalist?

A sister title to Shane Greer’s So you want to be a politician?, Sheila Gunn’s So you want to be a political journalist? is a collection of thrity-two lively short chapters giving an insight into the life of a political journalist.

With an impressive cast of contributors, including Peter Riddell, Carolyn Quinn and Michael White, the book has plenty of insider information, presented usually in the style of lively anecdotal chats. This is not a tedious career advice book nor a studious academic tone but rather something that gives a flavour of what it is like to be a political journalist and how to get there.

MP Adam Holloway’s contribution is the one that turns sour on political journalism, explaining how he became so disillusioned with coverage of himself that he not only ceased writing a column for the local newspaper but also stopped sending out local news releases.

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The Budget: the Liberal Democrat influence

Earlier today the Liberal Democrat Press Office’s Phil Reilly tweeted, “Income Tax cut – from the front page of the @libdems manifesto to the pockets of 25m taxpayers”.

Certainly better to pick from the front page than the back page, as announcing a barcode would have been lacking a little in interest (except, perhaps, to one of my former economics lecturers, who once tried to persuade us that the checksums on barcodes matched up with a warning from the Bible and predicted an imminent Second Coming).

That however wasn’t the only major policy was a distinct Liberal Democrat flavour to it. So too was the news about pensions. As Stephen Williams MP put it, “Proposals for a £140 flat rate pension, together with the Lib Dem commitment of restoring the earnings link, will ensure our pensioners get a fair deal”.

HM Treasury logoBoth of those announcements were unsurprising, but one decision that had been up in the air was over the Green Investment Bank and how much power it really would have. George Osborne’s previous strange absence from the debate was put to rest when he announced a series of pieces of good news on the Green Investment Bank: starting a year earlier, £2 billion more in funds and, crucially, it can borrow. As Paul Waugh put it “Big victory for Cable”, not to mention Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg, who had taken the lead in settling the internal debate over how much powers to give.

Amongst the details was success for the long-standing Liberal Democrat calls for water rates relief in the South West, though overall the details did not add up to a particularly green budget, Green Investment Bank aside. The IFS’s initial analysis is that, “The Chancellor also insisted that green taxes will rise as a proportion of total receipts. This remains the case on current Treasury forecasts, but by the narrowest of margins”. Some of the non-financial measures, such as the new standard for zero-carbon homes, give the Budget a greater overall green tinge than the pure financial numbers show. How deep that tinge is will depend on how measures such as the presumption in favour of sustainable development pan out when the details are settled.

Here’s the email from Nick Clegg to party supporters about the Budget:

Today the coalition government has announced a budget that will return the UK to sustainable and balanced economic growth and which puts helping Alarm Clock Britain at its heart.

We are increasing the income tax threshold by £630 to £8105; lifting hundreds of thousands of low income earners out of paying income tax and putting £126 back in the pockets of low and middle income earners. This is in addition to the last budget that took nearly a million of the lowest income earners out of tax and made millions of hard working individuals £200 better off. We are making a real difference in people’s lives – from the front page of our manifesto to people’s back pockets.

Alarm Clock Britain will be further helped by the measures we have taken to give motorists a fairer deal. We are shifting taxation away from the pumps and onto the broader shoulders of the oil companies instead – with fuel duty being cut and taxation on oil companies rising.

At the same time we are making the wealthy pay their fair share with increased measures to tackle tax avoidance, higher charges for non-doms and a special tax on private jets. This budget also places green growth front and centre – the Green Investment Bank will begin operation next year with £3bn of capitalisation, delivering an additional £18bn of investment in green infrastructure by 2014-15.

We were left a toxic economic legacy by Labour with a record deficit and debt. Under Ed Balls Labour have no answers and solutions to the mess they left. The difficult decisions we have taken in government have rebuilt confidence in Britain’s ability to pay its way, kept interest rates lower than they would otherwise have been, and have provided the stability that business and individuals need to invest in the UK’s economy.

There are no easy decisions in this budget. But we are delivering a budget which will mean that that those who can pay more will; and those who are working hard to make ends meet will get a helping hand. This budget is progressive, green, liberal and what our country needs at this time.

Earlier in the day Danny Alexander took to YouTube to talk about the Budget:

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Lib Dems’ half-term report: gold stars from Simon Hughes – and Paul Waugh

Over at PoliticsHome, Paul Waugh has a very positive piece, highlighting the recent series of announcements which bear a distinctive Liberal Democrat stamp:

Today, Nick Clegg can bask in last night’s AV Bill victory, delivering an historic referendum that could possibly see his party in power for a long time.
But the DPM can also celebrate having played a key role in a string of other areas being discussed today. On each issue, you can judge his success by the irritated reaction of the average Tory backbencher.

Paul helpfully lists welfare reform, gay marriage, green policy, growth, the AV referendum and more.

Go …

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Hughes on Cameron’s council tenancies plans: “It is not a Liberal Democrat policy, it is not a coalition policy.”

Lib Dem Voice’s Sara Bedford reported here this morning her reaction to David Cameron’s suggestion that he wanted to look at fixed-term tenancies to help solve the issue of scarce council housing.

Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes has been quick to make plain his outright opposition to the proposal, telling the Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh:

“The ideas put forward by David Cameron this week in no way represent the policy of the coalition and certainly do not represent the policy of the Liberal Democrats.

“We will not let anybody have their homes taken away. We must continue to suppport established

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How the Westminster Village media is still struggling with concept of coalition

It can be surprisingly easy to excite some journalists. Today is a case in point. Nick Clegg stood in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions. During his exchanges with Jack Straw (who was standing in for Labour’s Harriet Harman), the Deputy Prime Minister referred to the invasion of Iraq as “illegal”.

To most people watching this is not a surprise. The Lib Dems’ opposition to the Iraq war, which was supported by both Labour and the Tories, is pretty well-documented, I think it’s fair to say. The fact that the Lib Dems and Conservatives have reached a coalition agreement does not alter the past, nor does it alter politicians’ individual views. Why should it?

And yet the response from some journalists has been to label this a “gaffe” – a term otherwise known as a politician saying something he believes which a journalist hopes to be able to spin into a story.

Indeed, it’s interesting to see how a story like this can develop.

Posted in Op-eds and PMQs | Also tagged , , , , and | 56 Comments

Nick Clegg’s speech to the Royal College of Nursing

Earlier in the week it was Gordon Brown addressing the nurses but today it was Nick Clegg’s turn. As journalist Paul Waugh put it:

Ooh, Matron. Clegg going down a storm with at nurses’ RCN conference. Better ovation, more laughs at his gags than Brown.

Here’s the speech which got this reaction:

Thank you so much for inviting me to speak to you today. It is a real honour to be here.

You don’t need me to tell you that the job you do is one of the most important jobs there is.

You are the lifesavers as well as the shoulders to cry …

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Cameron thinks elitism will fix education

The Conservatives think they can improve education in this country by making the teaching profession “brazenly elitist” but it looks like they haven’t done their homework. David Cameron’s latest wheeze would actually exclude Carol Vorderman, the Tories’ own Maths Taskforce chief.

David Cameron made a speech today at a south London school, outlining Conservative pledges:

The Tory leader said he wanted to make teaching the “noble profession” and would bar students with a poor degree from taking government cash to train for the classroom.

And in what was almost certainly a conscious echo of Labour rhetoric, Mr Cameron said: “Good education is the right of the many not the privileged few.”

Michael Gove, the Shadow Education Secretary, went further in confronting head on claims that the Conservatives’ policies favour the better off.

An incoming Conservative government would be guided by a “moral purpose” to make opportunity more equal, he said, adding that it was a ‘scandal’ only 79 boys in receipt of free school meals achieved three ‘A’s at A-level nationwide compared with 175 pupils from Eton alone.

“It’s a scar on our conscience and we are pledged to reverse it,” said Mr Gove.

However, “breaking open the supply of education” won’t be achieved by discouraging graduates with lower classes of degree.

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What does £10,000 mean to you? To Zac Goldsmith it’s a “very marginal tax benefit”

Under pressure from a deeply unhappy David Cameron, the Tories’ ‘trustafarian millionaire’ candidate for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith, has at long last pledged to end his non-dom status with immediate effect – his original plan, before the row sparked by the original Sunday Times revelations, was to become a full UK taxpayer next year.

But you’ve got to love this ‘man of the people’ quote from his spokesman, who, when asked how much the change in tax status would cost Mr Goldsmith, replied:


The benefits were very marginal. I don’t know if it is £10 or £10,000.”

Hat-tip: the Evening Standard’s

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Daily View 2×2: 1 December 2009


Welcome to December (political pinch-punch and no returns?)

Today is World Aids Day and also 90 years since the first female MP, Nancy Astor, took her seat in the Commons.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

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

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What does the future hold for British political blogging?

Predictions that the next general election will be the one in which the internet will make a huge impact have regularly come and gone. Post-Obama ready yourself for another such clutch of predictions, but underneath this punditry froth the internet has got on with quietly shifting the way politics works. It’s been more at the unglamorous organisational end (imagine trying to organise a campaign without email) than at the eye-catching systems-shattering dramatic end beloved of pundits, but it’s been a major change nonetheless.

Following in the footsteps of email, blogging has also established a firm place in the logistics of politics, even if its impact on the overall style and conduct of politics is less clear and less dramatic. Blogs have become a key news medium for people involved in or significantly interested in politics, they have become a key part of the flow of news to and from journalists and for some MPs and candidates they reach local audiences large enough to be a significant factor in their election efforts.

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 5 Comments

Steve Webb over-rules Nick on universal child benefits

Evening Standard blogger Paul Waugh has the story:

Work and Pensions spokesman Steve Webb has indeed put his foot down to kill off Nick Clegg’s suggestion (floated in the Guardian on Saturday) that the party could means-test child benefit.

Webb made plain his feelings at a Fabian fringe event.

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Commentislinked@LDV – bumper edition


I am agog to hear the podcast of last night’s LDV fringe event (hint), but in the meantime, some snippets of news from the jumping-up-and-down-on-the-sidelines school of conference reporting.

First, David Howarth is plugging away the civil liberties message in the Guardian:

…I am still profoundly unconvinced by the Tories’ conversion to the cause of freedom.

First, Tory proposals have a tendency to smack of too little, too late. For instance, its surveillance proposals looked oddly similar to those to be found in the freedom bill. Scrapping ID cards? Getting rid of the ContactPoint database? Reining in councils’ investigatory powers? It’s

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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

Boris Johnson in expenses hot water

Two pieces of troubling news regarding London Mayor Boris Johnson and his approach to expenses: he’s been running up big bills himself and he also personally signed off expenses on the controversial corporate credit card, the use of which resulted in (yet another) Deputy Mayor having to quit.

Paul Waugh has the details of Boris Johnson’s expensive taxis:

I know Boris loves London’s cabbies, but this is ridiculous. A new written answer to City Hall today shows that the Mayor seems to be following in the footsteps of Ken Livingstone when it comes to his love of the hackney carriage.

Boris’s total bill

Posted in London | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Twitter and the rise of new media

Something fascinating happened yesterday. I was browsing through one of the internet forums I regularly visit when I noticed someone posting that people should go to the Daily Mail poll page on their website and vote yes to the poll that asks “Should gypsies jump the queue on the NHS?” in order to mess with them.

When I got to the page and duly voted “Yes” I was astonished to see that the poll was at 93% Yes and 7% No. The forum I refer to has nowhere near enough people to make a dent in the thousands who vote in …

Posted in News and Online politics | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 8 Comments

Osborne claimed £47 for DVD of his own speech on … value for taxpayers’ money

The Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh has been doing some digging into the newly-released MPs’ expenses claims on the Parliamentary website, and has come up with this ‘file-under-you-couldn’t-make-it-up’ story:

Among the tiny fragments of new info available on MPs exes today is this:

George Osborne claimed £47 of taxpayer’s money for two copies of a DVD of his speech – and the speech was on “value for money”.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

How well is Cameron dealing with MPs’ expenses?

Until the last couple of days, received wisdom – both among the mainstream media and the blogosphere – is that David Cameron has had a ‘good crisis’, dealing firmly with those Tory MPs who’ve committed egregious expenses abuses (from moats to trees to duck islands) and being ahead of the curve on democratic reforms.

So I was intrigued to read this analysis by the London Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh today, which notes how this received wisdom is now beginning to be questioned, not least by Tory MPs themselves:

… as the days have gone on, it seems that Cameron has also

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George Osborne: he was for cracking down on public sector pay before he was against it reviewing it

Poor old George Osborne. It’s a tough job being Ken Clarke’s deputy the Tories’ shadow chancellor, desperately walking the tightrope between keeping happy your right-wing, Hannan-worshipping party activists (and that’s the majority of them), while trying not to scare away the voters for whom a right-wing, Hannan-worshipping party is a nightmare spectre (and that’s the majority of them).

That, at least, is the only explanation I can come up with for George’s current confusion about whether or not he’s in favour of a crack down on public sector pay and pensions. Here, for instance, is the Financial Times which …

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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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