Author Archives: Mark Thompson

Opinion: Oh no! Ed’s got us!

Well he has hasn’t he? I mean this ruse to force a vote on the a mansion tax is piece of political genius surely? The Lib Dems will look like fools traipsing through the lobby with the government whilst Labour dangles something that the party in general and Vince in particular has wanted to bring in for years.

Won’t they?

There’s no denying it’s an eye-catching move clearly designed to embarrass the Lib Dems. But of course the party’s MPs will (largely – a few backbenchers may peel off of course) vote with the government on any opposition motion of this nature. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 58 Comments

Opinion: It’s time for Nick Clegg to make the liberal case on drugs policy

The Mail on Sunday yesterday reported that the Home Affairs Select Committee report into drugs policy, reporting this morning, is going to recommend that the option of legalisation should be seriously considered and a Royal Commission should be set up to report on the issue prior to the 2015 general election.

As readers of my blog will know, I am a long standing supporter of liberalisation of our drug laws. So this report is a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned. – A sensible pragmatic look at the problems with

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dems should park Lords reform. For now.

I am an enthusiastic supporter of electoral and constitutional reform in this country. I have been arguing for years that the First Past the Post system for the Commons is hopelessly out of date and unfair and that there is no place in our constitution for an unelected second chamber. I was delighted when the coalition agreement included action on the latter and heartened by Nick Clegg’s various comments in the early days of this government that made it clear he was throwing his full weight as Deputy

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 38 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dems should not fear a Lords reform referendum

We got battered last year. So it would only be natural if we were to be a little wary of plunging headlong into another referendum for changing our political system so soon after the public rejected our proposal for AV for the Commons by such a wide margin.

There are now rumblings from Conservative MPs and also the Labour leadership that any change to the Lords should be subject to a referendum. Nick Clegg has strongly argued that this is …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 19 Comments

Gender Equality and MPs – is our performance as bad as it looks?

I am very unhappy with the number of female Lib Dem MPs. 7 out of 57 is not good enough and we need to improve. The leadership programme which assists those from underrepresented groups to become candidates will hopefully help.

7/57 = 12.3%. So, less than an eighth of our MPs are women. The Conservatives have 48/307 = 15.6%, Labour 81/258 = 31.4%. Activists from the two other parties have pointed this out to me on numerous occasions. They are right to. It is embarrassing. We definitely need more female candidates. In 2010 we only had 134 (21.3%). The Conservatives had …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 32 Comments

Opinion: How much does geographical accident influence politics?

I have been wondering for a while how much of a role geographical accident plays in politics.

When I first decided to get involved with politics a few years back I chose the Liberal Democrats because they were the party that most closely matched my views. In my local area, the party did not have any council seats but there are a small group of very dedicated and experienced local members and campaigners who have fought a number of local and national elections with alacrity since I joined.

The situation, though, has got me thinking about how political careers are nurtured and …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments

Opinion: The progressive case for aligning pension ages across the public and private sectors‏

The government is pressing ahead with plans to align pension ages across the public and private sectors. By 2020, both men and women in the private sector will have their retirement ages aligned at 66. But if the public sector is left unreformed, many people working within it would still be able to retire with their public sector pension available from the age of 60 or 65 (depending on whether they are male or female).

There is a progressive case to be made for aligning the public and private sector in this respect. Recent research has shown that currently the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 15 Comments

Opinion: How 295 losers could have been winners

I like Simon Wright, the recently elected Member of Parliament for Norwich South. I met him at a training event at Lib Dem conference a couple of years ago and he seemed like a nice chap. Understated but passionate. There were a few other candidates in the room on that day who could have gone on to become MPs but he is the only one who made it.

However Simon has a particular distinction within the House of Commons. He was elected with the smallest proportion of the vote of any MP. He got just 29.4% of the vote …

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

Opinion: our ministers need to communicate better – and fast

I have previously been a big supporter of the coalition government.

During the negotiations back in May I wrote that we should take the Tory deal for the good of the country and that it was effectively the only game in town.

I was also supportive of many of the actions taken in the early days of the government including the decision to focus more heavily on reducing the deficit. I broadly accepted the arguments that the government as a whole have used to justify this.

I have not blogged myself since the start of August but have found myself in mid-October …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 34 Comments

Opinion: Cannabis legalisation not just preserve of sandal wearing Lib Dems!

A new poll just commissioned by Lib Dems for Drug Policy Reform (of which I am a member) and conducted by Vision Critical shows that 70% of people are in favour of cannabis being legalised.

It also shows that more people are in favour of legalising amphetamines (speed), magic mushrooms and Mephedrone (the drug recently banned by the government) than are in favour of keeping them prohibited.

For ecstasy there is still a small majority in favour of prohibition (54%) but 39% are in favour of legalisation in some form. Even heroin and cocaine have around a third of people who …

Posted in News | 29 Comments

The Liberal Democrat general election prospects: what does history say?

I was having a look at data from previous elections recently with a particular focus on the number of seats and percentage of votes gained by the third party in the last few decades.

The first thing that is clear and which I already knew is that in the last three general elections, the Lib Dems have consistently increased their number of seats. The figures are:

1997: 46 (+26)
2001: 52 (+6)
2005: 62 (+10)

The huge leap in 1997 is often put down to our improved targeting campaign techniques championed by Chris Rennard.

There is something else interesting in the figures which I had not …

Posted in General Election and Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments

Opinion on Nick’s second anniversary: Mark Thompson – The next few months the biggest test of Clegg’s career

Last week saw the second anniversary of Nick Clegg’s leadership of the Liberal Democrats. LDV marked the occasion by inviting three Lib Dem bloggers to assess Nick’s contribution to date, and to look ahead to what the future might hold. You can read Neil Stockley’s post here, and Iain Roberts’ here. Today is Mark Thomspon’s turn …

The first thing I would say is that had I have been a member in 2007 I would have voted for Chris Huhne. I think his politics are closer to my own personally and I felt he had the higher profile. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 6 Comments

Where to get ideas for blogposts

Welcome to part three of our “Introduction to blogging” guide for Liberal Democrat bloggers or would-be bloggers. It’s appearing each Saturday between now and Christmas, with all the posts available via this page. The series will then be revised and collated into an e-book, so please do post up your comments as the series progresses. Today it’s the turn of Mark Thompson (the one with the blog rather than the one with TV empire) addressing one of the problems that befalls many would be bloggers: how do you keep on coming up with ideas for new posts?

Posted in Blogging guide | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Behind the Fringe: Richard Dawkins at the Lib Dem conference #ldconf

For some fringe events at this year’s conference I have been OK to pitch up with a couple of minutes to spare and still expect to get a seat. However for the ‘Reason under threat – the war on irrationality’ event with Richard ‘God Delusion’ Dawkins, I wisely plumped for getting there about 20 minutes early. Even then I ended up fairly near the back!

Posted in Conference | Tagged and | 13 Comments

Mark Reckons interviews Lib Dem PPC Bridget Fox

Last weekend, I took a trip over to Islington to meet Bridget Fox, the Lib Dem candidate for Islington South & Finsbury.

I had got to know Bridget a little bit via Twitter and blogging but I thought it would be interesting to meet her. She seemed like a strong campaigner from what I could tell and with the Labour incumbent Emily Thornberry only having won against Bridget by 484 votes in 2005, the seat is one of the party’s main targets at the next general election.

I helped out during the day with some leafletting and canvassing. In between the morning and afternoon sessions I took the opportunity to interview her outside the Market Cafe on Whitecross Street.

An edited version of the interview appears below. The full version is available on my blog here.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Meeting Vince Cable (sort of)

I attended the Guildford Lib Dems Summer Supper last night organised by Sue Doughty the former Guildford MP and PPC and her team. The guest of honour was Vince Cable who has been a frequent visitor to Guildford and supporter of Guildford Lib Dems over the years.

Despite living about 20 miles away, in Sandhurst, I have helped out with canvassing etc. numerous times in Guildford. The incumbent Tory MP only has a majority of a few hundred and it is nice to help out in a constituency where we have a very good chance of taking the seat back …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 1 Comment

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 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 8 Comments

Opinion: The rollercoaster ride of joining the Lib Dems

I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats for nearly a year now, having joined in June last year (although I had been helping out before that). Since joining I have been to the one-day London policy conference in January, leafletted in my local area and a nearby constituency, canvassed, become a member of the comittee of my local party, set up a blog for local activists, got involved with the Lib Dem Coders and blogged my backside off on my own blog.

So I have been pretty heavily involved. I have met a lot of nice people in …

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Confessions of a ‘Newbie’

I went to the one-day Lib Dem policy conference at the London School of Economics at the weekend. As a fairly new member of the Lib Dems (I joined a few months ago) I was curious to see what happens at these sort of events and was also looking forward to it. I attended with Darren, a fellow member of my local constituency branch in Bracknell, who has been a member for a while longer than myself.

The first thing that struck me was how open everything was. The 300 or so people who were there, who included councillors, …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

Recent Comments

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    I’m not convinced about this supposed non-aggression pact with Labour. One of the few successes for the Tories this month was in a by election in a seat near ...
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    Holding the balance of power after the forthcoming election would appear so improbable as to be absurd. However, if we do secure ca. 30+ MPs it's possible that ...
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    The coalition should have taught us that what you initially negotiate is not that important. Government is mostly about reacting to events and the larger party ...