Author Archives: Alix Mortimer

The restoration of Andrew George?

There’s no peace for a blogger this morning. Earlier today I gave Andrew George, whose flat is sometimes used by his daughter, a stern 4/5 for piggy-wiggyness. My basis for this was that, whatever the precise ratio of usage between Andrew and his daughter, I didn’t want to pay for something that was for her benefit as well as his.

Andrew has just made the following statement on his website:

Fact 1: We purchased nearly 1/3 of the flat ourselves and bought half of the furniture and fittings without making a claim from taxpayers’ money.

Continue reading »

Posted in News | Tagged and | 13 Comments

The LDV 2×2 Daily View (13/05/09)

2 Big stories

Look, mum, we’re in the papers! And not in a good way. So far, the Lib Dems’ expense revelations in the Telegraph are pretty small beer, on the whole – but we’re not content with that, are we?

Meanwhile, in the blue corner, David Cameron is getting tough on the same issue. What I’d have given to be a fly on the wall in the meetings he had yesterday. Ever seen a man with a moat get a bollocking? Me neither, alas.

2 Must-read blog posts

The new all-singing,

Posted in Daily View | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

What’s the damage so far?

“Not in the same league,” said Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight last night, of Liberal Democrat expense claims, as compared to those of the other two parties.

Well, ok, as Norman Baker pointed out on the programme, no moats, no swimming pools, no house flipping and no Margaret Moranesque holiday homes. Yet. But there are still some pretty rotten apples. And it’s worse for the Lib Dems, precisely because we have campaigned on this issue for so long. So, who are the Lib Dem piggy-wiggies?

Well, firstly, the Telegraph has released details concerning twelve of

Posted in News | Tagged | 20 Comments

Cushions, Sir Menzies? £176.25?

…and a scant hour later than my doleful lament, I am spitting angry. Here’s what the Telegraph has to say:

Sir Menzies Campbell’s expenses claims show that he brought in the designer to fit out his small flat in Dolphin Square, a few hundred yards from the House of Commons.

He justified the claims by saying he had not used his full second home allowance in previous years.

The refurbishment claim under the Additional Costs Allowance included Roman blinds worth £528.75, five cushions costing £176.25, four bedside

Posted in News | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Assume the position

Tomorrow is “our” big day. I know Stephen has just posted on this, and I wouldn’t like to suggest that Lib Dem Voice is anything other than a smooth, slick uni-messaging operation, but I’d just like to have my twopenny’s worth before the revelations begin. You can do that when you have posting privileges.

First of all, I say “our” day, but actually watching the expenses scandal unfold has been the first non party-political experience I’ve had of watching the news for some time.

I’m self-employed, surviving on family hand-outs and on the dwindling work

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Toilets, mice and Lord Rennard

What is it with the expenses scandal and the smallest room?  Already the revelations concerning John “two lavs” Prescott and John Reid’s glittery black loo seat have left Telegraph readers with more wholly unnecessary images than the mind can comfortably encompass. We should probably be grateful that the only Lib Dem item of toilet accoutrement expenditure known thus far is a relatively inoffensive £9.99 toilet brush holder from Homebase.

More alarmingly, we now have at least one offender in the matter of dodgy second home designation, Lord Rennard (health warning – NotW link):

For peers to claim for second

Posted in News | Tagged and | 71 Comments

Labourlist: more trouble at mill?

Readers will recall that we broadly stayed out of the whole Draper/McBride/Dale/Guido blog war on this  site.

This wasn’t so much deliberate choice as an undiscussed humdrum content decision, since there wasn’t even a bit part for a Liberal Democrat anywhere in the whole affair, and we try not to blog about blogging too much. So any coverage we did offer would have largely been of the popcorn-and-laughter variety. Folk who read here would know where to go to get their Drapergate fix; we were in no way best placed to deliver it.

But we did

Posted in News | Tagged | 14 Comments

That petition (or, why Gordon shouldn’t resign)

You know. That one. The one championed all over the right-wing internet and even alluded to at yesterday’s PMQs by a Tory backbencher who pointed out that more people want Brown to resign than voted for him. It’s a neat point, since Brown’s only mandate is the one his constituents gave him, and any comeback referring to the size of his constituency vis-a-vis the internet-going public will just invite restatement of that fact.

The terms of The Petition must make it one of the most brusque documents ever submitted to the Number 10 website:

Continue reading »

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 33 Comments

PMQs: education

Some real desperate farce from the House this afternoon. Brown’s answers to Cameron were incredibly poor throughout – “I’m sure that sounded great in the bunker” Cameron said after one particularly otherworldly response. As a further indicator of the standard on the government side, planted questions enable the PM to mention the National Minimum Wage and football, and several involved waving the scary “before 1997” card.

A sneering question comes from a Tory backbencher about bullying in the workplace (vis, Number 10) referring to reports of  “a Whitehall official” throwing office equipment around. Gordon even manages to

Posted in PMQs | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Lib Dem Gurkha motion won by 21 votes

Nick Clegg’s Opposition Day debate motion has passed this afternoon by 267 votes to 246 – a narrow but highly significant victory. The motion demanded that all retired Gurkhas be awarded the right to settle in the UK.

Brown seems to have a political death wish at the moment. He was on the wrong side of today’s argument and he’ll be on the wrong side tomorrow when he tries to push through his hasty YouTube mash-up of MPs expense reforms too.

More analysis when that happens – suffice it to say for the moment that

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 13 Comments

Lib Dems to raise the personal tax allowance

At last! I’ll write up a fuller analysis later, but for now, here’s the announcement that I, and many others in the party, have been waiting for. Let’s skip over the £700-and-a-pony-for-all headline. This, friends, is a liberal tax measure.

The party will promise to raise the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 by closing tax loopholes exploited by big businesses and the wealthy.

Measures which will be used to pay for this proposed increase in the personal allowance include:

  • Restricting tax relief on pension contributions to the basic rate
  • Taxing Capital Gains at marginal income tax

Posted in News | Tagged | 32 Comments

Police intelligence on protestors shared with energy company

David Howarth has obtained email evidence via a Freedom of Information request that government officials have shared secret police intelligence with a private company.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform emailed police intelligence to E.ON about peaceful protestors’ movements and meetings in the run-up to the Kingsnorth Climate Camp protest.

See the Guardian for more:

At first officials at BERR refused to release the emails, despite a request under the Freedom of Information Act from the Liberal Democrats. The decision was reversed on appeal and although large sections have been blacked out,

Posted in News | 5 Comments

A quick word on the polls

Yes, I know the monthly poll round-up here is sacred. But before we all chow down to our weekend Smeargate extravaganza, let’s briefly consider the latest exploits of BPIX.

As regular poll-watchers will know, we don’t incorporate BPIX’s figures into our monthly round-up at LDV because, uniquely among pollsters, their figures and filters are not published for scrutiny. It should be noted that BPIX commission Yougov to carry out the actual polling, but then apply their own undisclosed filters and methods to interpret the findings. BPIX only works for the Mail.

Last time they polled, in

Posted in Polls | Tagged and | 13 Comments

A small victory on council snooping

It’s not all bad news this week, though. Local councils’ use of surveillance powers, which have been notoriously misused to investigate offences like dog-fouling and lying about your school catchment area, must now be sanctioned by elected councillors “or senior officials”.

This is being headlined by some as a “ban” on snooping, but that’s not what it is. It’s at best a hopeful sign of increased accountability. My joy is guarded partly owing to the “senior officials” rider, and partly because the whole idea falls short of the Lib Dem proposal to require a magistrate’s

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Fixed elections and political policing

Two damning pieces of news this morning.

The first comes from Erith and Thamesmead, where the already controversial Labour selection process has just taken a turn for the sinister. The BBC reports:

A London Labour spokesman said: “It was discovered that the seal on a ballot box containing previously received ballot papers for the selection of Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead was broken.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the process, hustings meeting has been immediately postponed and a new date will be fixed.”

The candidates include Georgia Gould,

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Ian Tomlinson did not die of a heart attack

Sky has the story:

A second post-mortem into the death of G20 protest victim Ian Tomlinson has shown he died from an internal bleeding and not a heart attack.

The 47-year-old newspaper vendor was seen being shoved violently by police and then being pushed to the floor during the London rally.

The officer involved in the incident has since been questioned under caution for manslaughter, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has confirmed.

Mr Tomlinson was first thought to have died from a heart attack but the second post-mortem examination has contradicted these findings,

Posted in News | Tagged | 7 Comments


It’s twenty years since the Hillsborough disaster today.

It’s been crossing people’s minds lately anyway. The Sun reported in the immediate aftermath about fans stealing from the dead and urinating on ambulancemen trying to treat the victims – stories designed to obscure the crowd control failures of the attending police force, and which turned out to be completely and utterly untrue.

We’ve seen something similar happen again in the past couple of weeks with the “hail of bottles” stories put about by the police who treated Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests – it even ended

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Opinion: Nick and Chris, please stay behind after class

Nick Clegg first

I don’t know about you but I nodded along to Nick’s piece in Comment is Free this morning with mounting spluttery agreement before finding myself rather let down.

Yes, expense abuses amongst MPs are appalling. Yes, they are symptomatic of a wider malaise in politics, a point drawn out very skilfully. Yes, ordinary people do want to give politicians “a kicking” and that in many ways was the most powerful line of the whole piece. Politics is indeed broken, and the rise of the far right is indeed a clear danger. (Is

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Are City police trying to nobble CCTV footage?

Dr Pack of this parish has been tracking the IPCC through various dimensions of reality with the assiduity of a timelord over the past few days. First they said there were no public CCTV cameras in the Cornhill area, then they said there were cameras but they weren’t turned on, then they said the chap who said there were no cameras thought he was right but wasn’t, etc etc.

Well, at least they seem to be getting their act together with regard to private CCTV footage in the area. They claimed yesterday:

Continue reading »

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Is this really Britain?

Under cover of the greasy cloud that is Smeargate, worryingly unBritish things are happening (again).

Around midnight on Easter Monday, 114 people were arrested in Nottinghamshire. Their crime? They had not committed one. They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage, if you can follow that. They were apparently arrested while meeting at a school in the middle of the night. A number of homes were raided and “specialist equipment” recovered. The following day, yesterday, all were released on bail without charge. From the Guardian:

Scores of officers

Posted in News | 4 Comments

UPDATED: Ian Tomlinson – C4 has footage too

Well, they’ve kept that under their hats. Channel 4 News tonight revealed their week-old film of the incident involving Ian Tomlinson and a masked riot police officer. Shot from a different angle, the delay in revealing the footage is apparently due to the C4 camera having been broken.

The footage very clearly shows the officer batonning Tomlinson to the leg from behind before pushing him to the ground. I was, frankly, dubious about this bit on the evidence of the Guardian video, but you can’t miss it here. One other thing – the officer is apparently

Posted in News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Ian Tomlinson – video footage emerges

The video uncovered by the Guardian and apparently shot by a New York banker, shows Tomlinson walking along slowly, hands in pockets, away from a line of police who are handling dogs. They are moving forward behind him, when one apparently gets impatient, lunges forward and sends Tomlinson sprawling to the ground. There is an audible crack at this point, though it’s impossible to tell where it’s coming from.

Tomlinson is then helped by two protestors, and seems to be asking the police what the hell they did that for. One of them appears to answer

Posted in News | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Update on G20 death inquiry

The Observer reports on witness statements taken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission:

Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.

A police source told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson appears to have become caught between police lines and protesters, with officers chasing back demonstrators during skirmishes.

This possibility is supported by footage of an Al Jazeera reporter being caught in a police charge and pushed into the main body of the protestors while reporting to camera:

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Chris Grayling – should I have defended him?

Voicers may recall that back in February I raised a sardonic eyebrow at the outrage surrounding Chris Grayling’s immolation at the hands of the Mirror.

The issue at stake was his second home allowance, when his constituency (my home town of Epsom and Ewell) is only 17 miles from Westminster. Not so fast, said I!:

“Only” 17 miles, eh? Ever tried negotiating it on the train? Oh, but of course not. You all live in Islington, don’t you.

One of my favourite pet facts to come out of the Policy Exchange report Cities Unlimited was that

Posted in News | Tagged | 2 Comments

UPDATE: Tom Brake inside the kettle!

Braking news (sorry, sorry) reaches my sofa that Tom Brake, attending the protest as a legal observer, was among those not permitted to leave the City cordon zone operated for several hours by police yesterday.

See the tardily-uploaded CNN report here. (Watch out also for the economically literate and articulate protester on just before Tom – quick, send that man a copy of The Storm and a membership form!)

h/t Will Rhodes

UPDATE: Tom has since put up a video of his experience in the kettle on Youtube.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Wild rumour and gossip from the streets of London

…And since I have spent much of the last twenty-four hours clicking refresh on the #G20 twitterstream, I may as well turn it into some semblance of reportage for those with better things to do.

It goes without saying that the Twitterers – including some good work by the Guardian team – were quicker with the news than any other channel. I first learned about the smashed windows at RBS, the police baton charges, and the police dogs from Twitter. “Dogs, horses and water cannon” is the procedure in public order situations, according to a friendly policeman talking to one of the Twitterers.

The consensus for much of the day was that the BBC were being slow and Sky News being sensationalist – the Beeb are always slow but I felt not all the Sky people were slavering with anticipation. “I must stress,” one of their on-the-ground people said, outside the sacked RBS branch, “That it’s a very small number of people causing the trouble.”  Still, they were the first after Reuters to get hold of the ghastly news that a man collapsed and died in the Bank protest at around 7.30 in the evening.

Posted in News | Tagged | 9 Comments

PMQs: Cameron agrees with Clegg (but does it matter?)

I must apologise, must I not. I spent any spare moment yesterday glued to the #g20 Twitter stream, which says much in itself, not only about my indolence but about the relevance of PMQs to the concerns of the outside world.

It’s the nature of the beast with the G20, I think. It’s hard enough for journalists and commentators with thousands of words at their disposal to say anything meaningful about such a complex, open-ended and uncertain set of negotiations. A half-hour clutch of stage-managed questions and answers frequently interrupted by partisan honking stands no chance.

But before the G20 came up, Cameron opened on the question of the MPs expenses review and, unusually, made himself look like a bit of a tit by demanding a meeting between the three main party leaders. Twice. The second time after Brown had already agreed to one. Brown enjoyed a rare moment of fun with that. Cameron doesn’t often walk into traps that facile, and it makes one realise how much he relies on Brown’s dreadful slowness in debate.

Posted in News and PMQs | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Porn on expenses – nothing to hide, Jacqui Smith?

There’s something oddly, uh, gratifying about today’s revelation that the nation has been paying for Jacqui Smith’s husband to watch porn.

In case you’ve been busy with F1, the boat race, large amounts of roast food and sundry other matters, here’s the story from the Beeb:

The Home Secretary’s husband has said sorry for embarrassing his wife after two adult films were viewed at their home, then claimed for on expenses.

Richard Timney, who is also Jacqui Smith’s parliamentary aide, said he understood why people might be angry.

Ms Smith said she “mistakenly”

Posted in News | Tagged and | 32 Comments

PMQs: tax cuts and Mervyn King

The PM in PMQs is off being fawned on by the Wall Street Journal, so today Harman and Hague reprise Brown and Cameron’s usual do-nothing-party versus do-everything-badly-party routine.

Points of interest:

– Hague highlights the fact that the small company loan guarantee scheme, which was set to begin on 1 March, is still not working (he mentioned it last time he deputised)

– Jacqui Smith, sitting by Harman, appears at certain points in the proceedings to be chewing a frog.

– Is Harman embarrassed to mention the VAT cut, Hague goads when she misses

Posted in News, Parliament and PMQs | 4 Comments

Heath’s fuel poverty bill – what next?

Well, nothing, that’s what

Last Friday, a staggering majority of those present (89 to 2) voted to proceed with the bill but parliamentary procedure requires 100 MPs to be present for the bill to proceed to a full vote. As the Times put it with admirable clarity:

The Fuel Poverty Bill has been thrown out of parliament because not enough MPs could be bothered to vote.

I am one of those still picking their jaws off the floor about this. Surely to goodness if there was ever a bill it was worth catching a slightly later train on Friday for it was this one.

The cause is unimpeachable. It was plainly chosen to be unimpeachable. Yes, various Members might have disagreed on the ways and means, but that’s what debate is for. As one attendee put it:

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) on bringing in his Bill today. He has done the House a real service in doing so, thereby allowing us to debate some extremely important issues associated with fuel poverty. Nobody in the House today has argued to the contrary of the Bill’s general purpose. We can all agree with the purpose of the Bill as set out in clause 1—to eradicate fuel poverty.

Posted in LDV campaigns, News and Parliament | Tagged | 32 Comments


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