Tag Archives: william hague

Farage says Britain’s becoming “unrecognisable”. But the British public says our sense of belonging is increasing.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was dog-whistling for all he was worth at his party’s spring conference this week:

“In scores of our cities and market towns, this country, in a short space of time, has, frankly, become unrecognisable. Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact that in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more, this is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”

His words were eerily reminiscent of William Hague’s insidious “foreign land” speech in 2001. And his party’s slogan …

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Martin Horwood MP writes… Why Nick Clegg’s response to Jenny Tonge was right

The controversy surrounding Jenny Tonge’s resignation from our party in the House of Lords has attracted a lot of comment online. I’m co-chair of the parliamentary party’s international affairs committee (although writing here in a personal capacity) and I think the stance which Nick took as leader was right.

Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine – for whom I have a great deal of time – have suggested that Jenny’s ‘intention was to imply that Israel’s wilful failure to uphold and respect the human rights of Palestinian Muslims and Christians is behaviour which is likely to lead to its …

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Opinion: Egypt – time now for the power of votes in ballot boxes

Egyptians have risked, and continue to risk, so much for their future. Back in February, there was jubilation in Tahrir Square, at the ousting of President Mubarak after forty years of autocratic rule. There was hope for a more democratic future. Nine months on, they are back in Tahrir facing military and police brutality, asking why the ruling military council is denying the people that future.

These are the most sustained protests since Mubarak was ousted. Nearly 40 people have been killed. It is thought that many have been shot dead by the security forces. Many hundreds are injured. There are …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Lib Dems hold Tories back on Europe

The Spectator reports:

Hague says he’s been held back on Europe by the Lib Dems
William Hague’s comments in an interview with The Times that the Liberal Democrats are restraining the Tories on Europe will increase the grumbling among Tory backbenchers about the power of the junior coalition partner.

I’ll file that in the ‘good news’ pile.

Posted in Europe / International and News | 14 Comments

Chris White writes: Policies or personalities?

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, described Pope Gregory IX as ‘a Pharisee seated on the chair of pestilence, anointed with the oil of wickedness’. The Pope replied that the Emperor was the forerunner of the Antichrist and the monster of the Apocalypse. (‘The Popes’, by John Julius Norwich, 2011).

Such was political debate in the 13th century, topped up by episodes of unspeakable violence.

At this distance it seems rather laughable that an Emperor and a Prelate (especially one considering himself the Vicar of Christ) should behave like that.

But while burning at the stake is now thankfully behind us, vitriol is not. …

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Martin Horwood MP writes: Facing up to human rights in China

Premier Wen Jiabao of China arrived in Britain over the weekend for a series of events culminating in bilateral talks with the Prime Ministers today at Number Ten.

While the discussions will undoubtedly turn to the economy, trade agreements and further cooperation between our two countries, I hope the Prime Minister will also promote our greatest exports: our long held values of democracy, human rights and free speech.

These bilateral meetings offer the British government a chance to place human rights unambiguously on the agenda in our discussions with the Chinese. As William Hague wrote last year, “promoting human rights is …

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Opinion: However unfair it is, Chris Huhne should step down

Another morning with the papers dominated by stories about the ever more complicated driving arrangements of Chris Huhne who is now (said to be) saying he can’t remember what happened on the evening in question.

There are accounts of his ex wife’s movements that day, maps showing who was where and allegations that he has asked others to take his points in the past. Perhaps inevitably there are claims of other extra-marital arrangements in the past.

Like everyone else apart from those directly concerned I have no idea whether any of this is true but that is no longer the …

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The Independent View: Lib Dem green credibility in crisis

The environmental credibility of the Liberal Democrats is under threat.

Its general election manifesto was easily the most ambitious of all the main parties, with the environment firmly at the heart of every policy area.

So our hopes were high when the party joined forces with Cameron’s Conservatives last year  - and higher still when one of the new Prime Minister’s first acts was a promise to lead the greenest Government ever.

Twelve months on the picture looks much bleaker.

Friends of the Earth asked the former chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, Jonathon Porritt, to review the Coalition’s first year in office. His assessment was pretty damning.

Little or no …

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The Independent View: Why I’m voting Yes to AV – Simon Woolley

I was a little surprised to be invited to be guest speaker at the Liberal Democrat spring conference last week. But the surprise was not because I’m supporting the AV Yes Vote. After all, I am vice-chair of the campaign.

It was rather because party bosses are well aware of my criticism after the main conference last September. My beef with them, expressed in the Guardian and other places, was a result of the party’s failure to do something positive about its lack of BME political representation.

Of course, I wasn’t there to talk about representation. But I did anyway. …

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The weekend debate: Old versus young at work

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

During the week Foreign Secretary William Hague talked of having a network of diplomats who are past their retirement age of 60 but can be called on to help out at times of international crisis. However Labour MP Frank Roy attacked the idea saying that the Foreign Office instead should be “nurturing young talent”.

What’s your view on this and more generally – should we do more to keep on the skills of people beyond 60, or should people be promptly moved out …

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Back from the Brink: the extraordinary fall and rise of the Conservative Party

Peter Snowdon’s history of the Conservative Party in opposition, quickly updated last year to include the final stage in their recovery, has four white men on its cover striding towards the reader – Cameron, Osborne, Hague and Clegg. It tells you immediately the sort of book that Back from the Brink: The extraordinary fall and rise of the Conservative Party is: tightly focused in on politics as seen from and carried out in Westminster.

This is an account of senior political figures and their political, policy and media manoeuvrings. The public feature very rarely (unlike in Deborah Mattinson’s memoirs from

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Nick Clegg averted the axe from over-16s’ child benefit

Paul Walter has spotted an under-reported point in the child benefit coverage of the past few days: that payments for children aged 16 to 18 were originally intended to be stopped, but that this plan was dropped after Nick Clegg intervened.

Paul spotted this in a “deep trawl” of the Telegraph:

The controversial decision to “pre-announce” the child benefit decision was made 10 days ago by the key Conservative power-broking trio of David Cameron, Mr Osborne and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, it is understood.

A couple of days later they informed Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, and his party

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Naughty, naughty, Guido – let’s check that poll again, shall we

Paul Staines, who blogs as Guido Fawkes, seems very keen indeed to persuade his readers that the public’s right behind him on his pursuit of William Hague over the allegation of improper activities with his former special advisor.

Keen enough, it appears, to take a rather inventive approach when it comes to interpreting the opinion polls.

When you ask a question in a poll and the result comes back as 46% yes, 12% no, most of us would take that as an indication that the public’s in the “yes” camp.

Not Staines.  He’s taken all the “don’t knows” – many of whom may …

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Half a defence of Paul Staines (aka @guidofawkes)

My Voice colleague Iain Roberts has already blogged about this afternoon’s big political news that William Hague’s special advisor Christopher Myers has quit his post following allegations — vehemently denied by both — that they might be having an affair.

Iain writes: “We at Lib Dem Voice wish both the Hagues and Christopher Myers well,” and I agree 100%. However, there are two further points I’d make.

The questions were fair enough…

Paul Staines blogged about the issue on 24th August, using the Freedom of Information Act to ask three questions inquiring as to the suitability of Mr Myers acting …

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Paul Staines, William Hague and questions for bloggers

Allegations have recently been posted on Paul Staines’ blog Order Order (where he blogs under the pseudonym Guido Fawkes) about a relationship between William Hague and one of his special advisors, Christopher Myers.

These allegations have led to Myers resigning from his post and to the Hague’s releasing a full and frank statement which include revalations they would, I’m sure, have rather remained private about the problems they’ve had in their attempts to start a family.  The allegations have been categorically denied by William Hague.

We at Lib Dem Voice wish both the Hagues and Christopher Myers well.

Claims are often made for …

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Opinion: The automaton body-politic

Not for nothing was England once known as ‘Perfidious Albion’ – it would change policy stances more often than a modern quick-change model on a catwalk. Ah yes, those days when foreign policy was as reliably firm as blancmange in a microwave set on high. But not nowadays, of course.

No, Foreign Secretaries and their FCO policy officials who devise and draft policy these post-Great Game days can be relied upon to issue policy that is robustly embedded in the nine points of policy-making as set down by the Cabinet Office and the Better Regulation Executive (BRE). To which all Government …

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No official Hague invite to Lib Dem conference

According to today’s Daily Mail, the Foreign Secretary William Hague is being lined up to speak at the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference in Liverpool next month. The paper describes Hague’s participation as ‘a move designed to cement relations between the coalition partners’.

The Foreign Secretary, widely seen as one of the best orators in the Commons, is expected to lead a Conservative charm offensive at the gathering in Liverpool in the hope of winning over disaffected LibDem activists. Tory sources suggest Mr Hague will give a ‘witty’ address, rather than focusing heavily on policy.

Posted in Conference and News | 21 Comments

Opinion: National influence, international irrelevance?

I remember the day I self-identified as a Liberal Democrat. I was a teenager, perhaps 16 or 17, (disclosure: I’m now in my mid 30s) and was actually watching a political debate that was taking place on what was, at the time, ‘yoof’ TV.

The three main parties were represented. I can’t recall who the other two people were, but the stand-out performance was from Simon Hughes.  Everything he said just made sense and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why the Liberal Democrats were not in Government.  This was the point at which I became politically aware.

I can’t …

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Nick Clegg declares “Ich bin ein Berliner”

Well, sort of. Here’s the AFP report:

BERLIN — Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has already made history with his meteoric political career and on Thursday he notched up another feat: speaking German to the Germans.

“I find the famous Berlin fresh air very refreshing,” the Liberal Democrat leader told reporters in fluent German after talks with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin, before talking up the importance of bilateral relations.

But perhaps to the relief of Clegg’s notoriously monolingual compatriots — he speaks five tongues — he was not completely at ease with the grammatical minefield that is the German language,

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BBC produces evidence of Hague’s dishonesty over Ashcroft

The BBC has received a leaked Cabinet Office document suggesting William Hague was aware of, and approved, the terms of the deal under which Lord Ashcroft gained his place in the upper house.

Here’s what the BBC is reporting today:

Former Conservative leader William Hague was kept informed about the negotiations of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status, leaked papers have suggested.

He was said to be “satisfied” with the final outcome in July 2000, Cabinet Office papers seen by the BBC showed.

But that seems a little odd as,Hague claimed last November (and we reported), that he didn’t know the details the obligations …

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott – I am comfortable joining the Liberal family

Over at The Observer today, the Lib Dems’ newest MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, former leader of the Tories in Europe, writes about why he had to leave David Cameron’s party in protest at their extreme views. Here’s an excerpt:

It was chilling to hear say to one very senior spokesman at an EU meeting some years ago: “We can say what we like here, but it will be different when we are in government.” I should have left then, instead of carrying on the pro-European fight from within.

My decision to join the Liberal Democrats this weekend was made easier by the

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The Ashcroft affair: will the biggest political fallout be in the marginals?

So far, it’s true to say, that despite heavy negative coverage for the Conservative Party day after day about Lord Ashcroft, there hasn’t been much sign of damage to the Conservatives in the opinion polls.

In some ways that reflects the degree to which the issue plays to natural political cleavages: is doing everything you can within the law to avoid paying taxes acceptable? Plenty of Conservatives will answer “yes”, so discovering quite what lengths Ashcroft went to – and the fact of him being a Parliamentarian – doesn’t really damage their view of the party.

But there are three reasons to believe …

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The Ashcroft affair: it’s not just about money, it’s about the civil service

What has slowly been dragged out of the Conservative Party over the last day is that senior figures such as William Hague and David Cameron were kept in the dark over the exact facts of Lord Ashcroft’s financial affairs for many years. Despite seeking reassurances and the like – and answering questions about it in public – none of them actually got to the bottom of the matter.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the Ashcroft affair itself for a moment (many of which amount to the simple question, “Is something being legal enough to make it acceptable?”), what does …

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One-third of Cameron’s shadow cabinet opposed to gay rights

Nick Clegg made some waves this week by calling for full gay equality, and challenging the Tories and their leader David Cameron to follow his example. Well, now Lib Dem research has shown what an uphill battle the Tory leader will have on his hand even convincing his own shadow cabinet to back such moves – let alone his even more right-wing backbenchers – as The Guardian reports:

Nearly a third of David Cameron’s shadow cabinet voted against gay rights legislation at some point over the last two parliaments, demonstrating their “shameful” record in tackling discrimination, according to the

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What the papers say…

Civil  servants are as bad as bankers … The Telegraph trumpets Gladstone’s anniversary … Tories support Labour’s school Sats Tests … Another dodgy Tory donor exposed … Labour split on voting reform … Lords skim expenses cream … BBC to make film on Thorpe tragedy … what Chris Huhne thinks of Prince Charles … Unions sit on money for Labour … look at who says Hauge is Vauge …and the only thing the final polls of the year can agree upon is that Liberal Democrat support is holding up

Now Civil Servants join bankers in ludicrous bonuses – Daily Mail,, 24.12.09

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Cameron: more Hague than Blair? How the Tory leader has lost sight of his strategy

That’s the question the Indy’s Steve Richards asks in a persuasively argued column today:

David Cameron’s leadership of his party is often compared with Tony Blair’s during the period up to the 1997 election. … The comparison is one of the most misleading in British politics. … for the election leading a party that proposes tax cuts for the well-off and married couples, massive spending cuts whether or not Britain is out of recession, withdrawal from the social chapter and a renegotiation of the Lisbon Treaty. … The trajectory of Cameron’s leadership is much closer to another former leader. He might have tried to learn from the New Labour guidebooks on how to win elections, but inadvertently he has followed more closely the course adopted by one of his own recent predecessors. …

Both Hague and Cameron are outstanding parliamentary performers, witty and quick to exploit the weaknesses of political opponents. Both are calm under fire. Both started to shift their positions when they appointed press secretaries to advise them on the media. Amanda Platell urged Hague to adopt more right-wing and populist policies. Andy Coulson has sometimes advised Cameron to do the same on issues such as immigration, crime and tax cuts.

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LDV readers say: overwhelming NO to idea of EU President Blair

A couple of weeks back, LDV posed the question, Do you support or oppose Tony Blair becoming the first President of the European Union?

There’s no room for doubt about the overwhelming view of readers of this site (who may or may not be representative of Lib Dem supporters more generally) – here’s what you told us:

>> 27% (144 votes): Yes – no matter what you think of Blair, Europe needs his leadership abilities
>> 73% (389): No – he is the wrong person for the job
Total Votes: 533 Poll ran: 28th October – 17th November 2009

I agree with …

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Has Ashcroft met his obligations after a decade?

In 1999, Tory leader William Hague proposed billionaire Michael Ashcroft for a life peerage, along with a promise that Ashcroft would take up permanent UK residence.

The millions Ashcroft has pumped into the Conservative Party has prompted political opponents to question his legal status – whether he lives and pays taxes in the UK.

That’s never been clear; but in Sunday’s Andrew Marr Programme on the BBC, William Hague was asked about Lord Ashcroft and some think Hague has settled the issue.

Here’s the exchange:

Marr “You’ve been out and about with Lord Ashcroft. Do you know whether he pays tax in this

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Daily View 2×2: 5 November 2009

Good morning and welcome to the Voice’s early morning roundup of news and views. It’s 5th November, an anniversary we can all remember, when Guy Fawkes didn’t quite manage to get his suggestions for MPs’ expense reform through Parliament. It’s also Art Garfunkel’s birthday – he’s 68 today.

2 Big Stories

Bloody betrayal raises fresh doubts about Britain’s campaign in Afghanistan

The Times carries the story most papers are leading with this morning.

The killing of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman raised fresh doubts yesterday about Britain’s mission in Helmand.

Senior political, diplomatic and military figures warned that public support for the British presence was in danger of collapse without a clear and freshly defined strategy.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has one of the more startling headlines I’ve read recently:

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Daily View 2×2: 4 November 2009

2 Big Stories

Tory trouble as Lisbon Treaty passes
As the Czech President Vaclav Klaus ratified the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – now set to become law within a few weeks – the Conservative Party once again finds itself risking deep divisions over Europe rising to the surface.

As the Daily Express reports:

denied that the party had broken any promises by dropping the referendum pledge.

“A British referendum until this very day would have meant that the Lisbon Treaty wouldn’t enter into force if people voted no. The position of president of the European Council, the foreign minister of Europe, would never have been implemented,” he said.

“We were very clear that our promise applied to those circumstances. After today, those things will come into force and a referendum can’t change them, it can’t unwind them, it can’t prevent those things being created.

However for Tory Eurosceptics it has become an article of faith after Mr Cameron gave a “cast iron guarantee” two years ago that he would give the British people a chance to vote on the treaty.

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Bill Cash said he had written to Mr Cameron urging him to “reconsider” his decision not to hold a referendum, saying the Tory leader had been “badly advised”.

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    @George Crozier & RC - You think this polling erroneous and most people are positive about the Lib Dems? Maybe your sample set is very...
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    This isn't even about not wanting someone from the "left" of the party in the role - the current president is very definitely of the...
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    "Don’t you believe in balance and a diversity of views? " Yes, I do indeed! I believe we are stronger for our diversity and for...
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