Tag Archives: the independent

Independent: “Lib Dems fall out over who should take on George Osborne in election debate”

Cable alexander clegg some rights reserved by liberal democratsStephen Tall’s article here yesterday – Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election – has been picked up by today’s Independent:

As the minority coalition partner, the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Nick Clegg must choose between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who represented the Lib Dems in the 2010 debate.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Independent: Liberal Democrats’ “major and under-rated contribution” to Budget success

Budget 2010 photocallYesterday’s Independent editorial had some very complimentary things to say about the Liberal Democrats’ influence on the Budget:

It is widely said that George Osborne had a decent Budget this week, aided in no small part by Ed Miliband’s curiously weak response. But the Liberal Democrats, as has frequently been the case during this parliament, made a major and underrated contribution to its success.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Lib Dems on the front page. Don’t worry, this time it’s for our tax policies

“Lib Dems declare war on rich” is the hyperbolic front page of today’s Independent.

indy lib dem tax jan 2014

It’s tagged ‘exclusive’ though the article – which you can read here – seems to be reporting Lib Dem policy as approved by the party’s September 2013 conference – namely: (1) Introduce a Mansion Tax, applicable at 1% on the value of a residential property in excess of £2 million; and (2) Cap the lifetime limit for which tax relief is available on pension contributions at £1 million. (Flick to page …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 11 Comments

“Osborne’s waving an enormous red flag” – Social Liberal Forum’s warning to Lib Dems over Autumn Statement

Prateek Buch, director of the Social Liberal Forum, has an article in today’s Independent – The Lib Dems should not sign up to Osborne’s austerity straitjacket – issuing a stark warning to his fellow Lib Dems to take note of the “enormous red flag” he says was waved by George Osborne in last week’s Autumn Statement.

That flag was the Chancellor’s pledge for the economy to move into surplus by 2018/19, within the course of the next parliament. To achieve that – what, in effect, was the original Alistair Darling plan to eliminate the deficit over two parliaments …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 27 Comments

Is Nick Clegg looking at all-women shortlists for 2020?

From today’s Independent:

Nick Clegg is planning to introduce all-women shortlists for the Liberal Democrats if not enough female candidates are selected in winnable seats in 2015.

The radical policy change, which will upset many activists who believe it would go against the party’s constitution, would be introduced in the next Parliament as many candidates have already been selected for the election in 18 months’ time.

Only 12 per cent of Lib Dem MPs are women, and there are none at all from ethnic minorities. Lib Dem sources said a number of “excellent” female and ethnic minority candidates have already been selected

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 43 Comments

LDVideo: Vince Cable praises Royal Mail’s “very good launch” onto the stock market

Royal Mail shares soared on their first day’s floatation yesterday, prompting inevitable accusations that the company had been priced too low. Here’s Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable explaining his aim to assure long-term investment irrespective of the froth of the “spivs and speculators”:

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

The dance of coalition

Nick Clegg and David CameronSteve Richards, writing in the Independent, has a thoughtful analysis of the three main parties and their level of unity. He claims that the Liberal Democrats display “the greatest sense of unity and discipline” and yet they have the greatest level of internal differences. I like to think that is because we are a broad church that tolerates and even celebrates differences, because we do unite around the fundamental principles of fairness, liberty and equality.

But, according to Richards, those differences make it unlikely that the party will agree to another coalition with the Conservatives, hence his headline: “There will be no Con/Lib coalition after the next election”.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 26 Comments

ATOS lose monopoly on work capability assessments after audit shows up “unacceptable” standards

Those of us who are concerned about the fairness of the welfare system often cite the Work Capability Assessment, which claimants of Employment and Support Allowance are required to take. It seems that every few days there’s a story in the press reporting how someone has been marked fit for work when it is clearly inappropriate to do so. Yesterday the Daily Record carried the story of a woman who lived just a couple of miles away from me who was told she was fit for work weeks before she died of a brain tumour.

Concerns about the WCA appear …

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

‘Red lines’ v ‘a long shopping list’: Clegg sets out plan for slimline 2015 manifesto

Nick Clegg will be speaking today at the party’s local government conference in Manchester (Nick Thornsby will be covering it throughout the day here on LDV) and The Independent is one of the newspapers which trails what he’ll say.

Here’s my quick take on the top lines on which they’ve been pre-briefed…

The Deputy Prime Minister will take on his internal party critics by demanding a slimline manifesto at the 2015 election setting out the Lib Dems’ non-negotiable “red lines” in another coalition rather than a long shopping list of policies.

There’s been much discussion recently about ‘red lines’ in …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 70 Comments

LibLink…Fiona Hall MEP: Lawson’s EU lunacy is a recipe for economic disaster

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament Fiona Hall has responded to former Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s call for Britain to leave the EU.

Writing in the Independent, she spelled out some of the economic consequences of such a move:

We are currently on the cusp of a game-changing trade deal between the EU and the US, which will bring billions of pounds to the British economy and create tens of thousands of jobs. The US has also made it quite clear that our ‘special relationship’ would cease to be special were the UK outside the EU. Major trade agreements with India and

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments

LibLink – Lucy Care: Gay marriage struggle for equal rights is a Quaker one too

Lucy Care, a member of the Federal Policy Committee from Derby and regular contributor to Liberal Democrat Voice, has written an interesting piece for the Independent on the Quakers’ involvement in the fight for LGBT equality.

She recalls a gay man talking to a Young Quaker workshop when she was in her teens and how this affected her:

He described his search for love and finding his ‘Mr Right’.  He talked about his joy and loving commitment towards the man with whom he hoped to spend the rest of his life.  The emotions which he described seemed to me then – and

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Nick Clegg gets sassy at DPMQs

Yesterday saw the monthly “Pick on Nick Clegg” day at Westminster. Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions is not known for its searching scrutiny of Government. Instead, Labour and Tories line up to take cheap shots at Nick. The experience he gains there is probably why he’s so good at town hall meetings and question and answer sessions at Conference.

DPMQs usually passes by unnoticed by the press. Yesterday, however, was different. Nick had a “Stalin

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How would you answer the question about the Lib Dems the Indy asks all with an open mind to consider?

Mark Pack has posted excerpts here from Nick Clegg’s interview in the Independent today — but it’s worth highlighting also the conclusion of the paper’s leading article today assessing the Lib Dems’ contribution during the first two years of Coalition Government:

There remains much to criticise this Government for, and The Independent on Sunday disagrees with its policy on tax and spending, higher education, the NHS and much else besides. But there was no possible government after the last election that could have delivered all that this newspaper wanted. The effective choice was between a Conservative minority government and

Posted in News | Also tagged | 39 Comments

The Independent: Lib Dems should “make peace and move on” from the Health Bill

Today’s Independent has an editorial with some friendly advice for the Liberal Democrats. The paper praises the party for the amendments made to the Health and Social Care Bill but advises that it’s now time to “make peace and move on” by passing the Bill:

With the Liberal Democrats in Gateshead for their spring conference this weekend, NHS reform is once again top of the agenda. And once again grassroots activists are threatening rebellion. It would be a mistake – for the NHS and also for the party. It is time to make peace and move on.

Last year’s conference was a

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Lord Ashcroft, Panorama and a herbivorous Liberal Democrat Peer

Yesterday’s Press Gazette  highlights that the Panorama programme broadcast, entitled Secrets of the Tory Billionaire, on Monday night may help the Independent defend the libel case brought against it by Lord Ashcroft.

In a development that you couldn’t make up, the Independent, in its own coverage of the programme,  referred to Lord Ashdown when talking about the Conservative Party’s major benefactor.

This prompted our own Paddy Ashdown to write to the paper with, The Voice suspects, his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek

“It is one thing to misrepresent my position on the benefit cap as you did last week,

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

Indy splashes on Lib Dem Voice members’ survey findings

Our latest Lib Dem Voice members’ survey (the final results from which will be published this weekend) has generated ample coverage in today’s Independent — including this rather splendid graphic showing who you chose as the top/bottom 5 performing Lib Dems:

Here’s some of what the paper wrote about the findings (and, don’t forget, you can catch up on all the survey results here on LibDemVoice):

survey of 564 members by the Liberal Democrat Voice website shows that Mr Clegg’s standing in his own party has recovered a

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Opinion: Lobbying scandals strengthen Lib Dem calls for reform

The Independent’s expose of the tactics used by the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger to impress potential clients shines the spotlight again on the lobbying industry.

A team from Bell Pottinger was filmed pitching to journalists posing as representatives of the Uzbekistan Government, a regime which, as Amnesty’s 2011  report shows, has an atrocious human rights record. The lobbyists boasted of virtually instant access to the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet.

If I were James Dyson, I would not be happy that my PR company were citing access to the Prime Minister on my behalf as part of …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 8 Comments

Why Simon Kelner is wrong to defend Johann Hari

Johann Hari is used to provoking controversy – as the Independent’s most outspoken left/liberal columnist its his stock-in-trade – but yesterday found himself on the receiving end of criticism of his integrity.

The reason? His repeated borrowing of quotes from interviews published by other journalists which he then drops into his own interviews as if they had been made directly in conversation.

The accusation first surfaced last week on the DSG blog concerning an interview Mr Hari undertook with ‘Italian communist and every ultra-leftist’s favourite “psychopath”’, Toni Negri. And the accusation went mainstream after Yahoo editor Brian Whelan’s demolition …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 28 Comments

What has the DPM done for us?

Lib Dem blogger Matthew Gibson has blogged Nick Clegg’s achievements as DPM over the past year, as viewed by the mainstream media.

Matthew’s been monitoring the papers for months, noting all the positive stories about the Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader.

He splits these up by the common themes that have emerged: leadership, competence, being principled and standing his ground.

Here’s a taster:

Competence

The Independent praise Nick Clegg’s simple and direct language in his speech at Conference concluding ‘Clegg knows what he is doing – quite unusual for a leader of a party’ (see here).

The Daily Telegraph believe

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

The Royal Family, freedom of information and the rest of the story

At the weekend The Independent ran a piece very critical of the Liberal Democrats in government:

The Royal Family is to be granted absolute protection from public scrutiny in a controversial legal reform designed to draw a veil of secrecy over the affairs of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William.

Letters, emails and documents relating to the monarch, her heir and the second in line to the throne will no longer be disclosed even if they are in the public interest…

The decision to push through the changes also raises questions about the sincerity of the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to government transparency.

And …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 14 Comments

The Independent. It isn’t.

‘Lib Dem support hits all-time low’ shouts the front page of the Independent today. It’s a bit of a rum story for two reasons.

First, because it’s not true — though I recognise that’s rarely a reason for a newspaper not to run a story. Those who doubt my word can read Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Blog post, pithily titled: Lib Dem support NOT at all-time low.

And, secondly, because even if it were true it’s not really news — we all know Lib Dem poll ratings have taken a battering. We also all know how fickle have been the opinion polls over the past 12 months. A year ago, many were writing off the Lib Dems’ chances because we were regularly polling below our 2005 general election figure. The came ‘Cleggmania’, and our ratings rocketed — only to subside by polling day itself. And since then they’ve been on a downward trend.

What will be the position by May 2011? No-one really knows. Our opponents and pessimistic supporters will assume we should get used to low ratings; those who are optimists among our ranks will look forward to our ratings increasing.

Posted in News and Polls | 46 Comments

Why a part of me is cheering on Rupert Murdoch

At face value, the figures released by News International this week showing that The Times and Sunday Times had registered some 105,000 customer sales since its paywall was erected in July sounded like good news. As analysts attempted to decipher the company’s ‘fuzzy numbers‘, doubts began to creep in.

Understanding those paywall figures

The reality appears to be that roughly 50,000 individual users have subscribed to gain access to the newspapers’ content, whether online or through the iPad app or the Kindle edition. The other c.50,000 customer sales are for single-use or pay-as-you-go access to the website, and will …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 8 Comments

Do the polls matter?

Today’s Independent runs quotes from Sandra Gidley, Lembit Opik, Bob Russell and myself alongside their latest poll report. Here’s the full length (i.e. 3 sentence rather than 2 sentence) version of what I said to them:

Politics isn’t about winning elections, it’s about implementing policy – and Liberal Democrat ministers are getting to do that day in, day out regardless of what that week’s opinion polls say. Winning elections certainly also helps in politics, but with the next general election years away, national voting intention questions don’t mean very much this far out. After all, three months after the 1979

Posted in Polls | 23 Comments

Top Lib Dem asks: was Ashcroft’s peerage given under false pretences?

Today’s Telegraph reports that Lib Dem peer Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott has called for all documents relating to Tory donor Lord (Michael) Ashcroft’s peerage to be made public to establish whether the Queen conferred the honour under false pretences:

Lord Oakeshott, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, wrote to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, urging him to publish all relevant papers as a matter of urgency, to make clear whether the monarch had been misled. … William Hague, the former Conservative leader, said that he discovered only a few months ago that Lord Ashcroft had enjoyed ”non-dom” tax status for the last 10

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: You Ask The Questions

Lynne Featherstone takes to her keyboard to respond to the Independent’s questioning readership.

You can read her answers here.

Lynne doesn’t exactly get an easy ride. Those questions which aren’t of the form “Why don’t the Lib Dems pack up and go home?” are all specifics about how much her expenses were:

Why did you think it reasonable to spend £22,000 of our money on stationery for your office? Hannah Farthing, London

When I was elected in May 2005 I promised to be one of the “hardest working MPs – ever”. If you look at my record, you will find I have delivered

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Clegg calls for full gay equality – what will Cameron do?

Nick Clegg has taken the opportunity of an interview with The Independent’s Johann Hari for Attitude magazine to lay out a comprehensive range of measures to promote gay equality – and has laid down the gauntlet to the Tory leader David Cameron to justify his ‘liberal Conservatism’ by following suit.

Here’s how the paper summarises Nick’s proposals:

* Force all schools – including faith schools – to implement anti-homophobia bullying policies and teach that homosexuality is “normal and harmless”.

* Change the law to allow gay men and women the same marital rights as straight couples, including the symbolic right to use

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 55 Comments

Media to start getting marked for quality of opinion poll reporting

The quality of traditional media coverage of political opinion polling has been a common cause of complaints amongst political bloggers. The most obvious problem is when an opinion poll from one polling company is compared not with the previous poll from that company but against an older one because the intervening one happened to have been published by a different media outlet.

Whilst comparing, say, the latest ICM poll with the previous ICM poll is the most useful comparison to make, if that previous ICM poll appeared elsewhere, in the part it has got airbrushed out of report of the latest …

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

Is this the laziest piece of political journalism ever?

Well, no, it’s probably not. But it must at least qualify for the laziest piece of journalism this decade. I refer to today’s Independent article, ‘Clegg faces party backlash over Tory alliance’, by Nigel Morris and Michael Savage. Oh, go on, then, here’s a link if you must; though I begrudge handing them the traffic. The opening para gives a flavour of the kite-flying, unsourced speculation:

Nick Clegg faces a backlash from grassroots Liberal Democrats if he moves his party too close to the Conservatives in a hung parliament.

Well, yes, he probably would. Which is why he won’t. Unless the …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 9 Comments

Since when is something debated in public, in front of journalists called “hidden”?

Since yesterday, in fact. Because in an otherwise thoughtful piece on hung Parliaments in The Independent, Steve Richards made this comment:

If there is a hung parliament there will almost certainly be no formal coalition government, even if Nick Clegg and Vince Cable would like to join one. Clegg is trapped by what is known as his party’s “triple lock”, a hidden rule that might become of vital relevance. Before entering a coalition he is bound to secure the agreement of his MPs, other national representatives and the membership.

Credit to Steve Richards for knowing about this rule. But “hidden”? It …

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

The Lib Dems: ahead of the curve or missing the moment? #ldconf

The editorials of two newspapers today sum up the alternative ways in which this past week’s Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth has been regarded – both internally by party activists and externally by the media. (Who knows what those members of the non-politically obsessed public thought, if anything, of the whole thing?)

The Times is pretty scathing of the party’s week in its leader column, Missing the Liberal Moment:

This week has been an opportunity lost for the Liberal Democrats. As the week unfolded, the excitement dissipated. With an election on the near horizon, with the Labour Government’s lease on power coming to an end and the Tories not yet commanding enthusiasm, this week has been an object lesson in how not to seize the day. …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 11 Comments



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