Author Archives: Sara Bedford

Sara joined the LibDems as a student in the 1980s, becoming National Chair of YLD (the predecessor to LDYS and Liberal Youth) between 1990-92. After serving as a member of the Federal Executive and Federal Conference Committee between 1991-95, in 1996 Sara settled down to motherhood and serving as a councillor for Abbots Langley on Three Rivers District Council, which has been majority Lib Dem controlled since 1999. She is also an active member of the core campaigns team for the target seat of Watford. Sara is a well-known councillor and campaigner, not only in Hertfordshire, but also across the country, due to her involvement with by-election campaigns and many party groups. She is a member of the Hearts and Minds group of the party’s Technology Board and continues to blog at Always win when you're singing.

Will the Tories do a deal with the nationalists to freeze the Lib Dems out?

According to this morning’s FT, the Conservatives are so anxious not to have to work with the Liberal Democrats that they are eying a post-election deal with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and even the DUP. Worried that Cameron will fail to gain an overall majority, Tory strategists are drawing up contingency plans with almost anything on offer to avoid having to face up to electoral reform.

Both the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists have made it clear that their price for working with any of the three main parties at Westminster would be a relative increase in the funding allocated to Scotland and Wales. The DUP are likewise going to seek more money for the Northern Ireland Assembly. This will not be easy for a government attempting to reduce the country’s huge deficit, whilst attemping not to upset its shire heartlands.

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Vote Clegg – get Maggie’s support

Yesterday both Mark Pack and I blogged about the Daily Mail and other tabloids paying paparazzi  to stalk Miriam Gonzalez Durantez as she shopped at Rigby & Peller. Today it appears that the Mail have had second thoughts and pulled the article from their web site – only to replace it with something even more odious – a Jan Moir poison special.

Ms Moir is obviously still preening from her nasty, homophobic character assassination of Stephen Gately last year, as this time she goes for a full house. In one page she manages to make snide criticism about women who have their own careers, mothers who like to spend time with their children, fathers who like to spend time with their children, wives who support their husbands in their jobs, wives who don’t support their husbands in their jobs, women who earn more than their partners, people with a religious faith, people without a religious faith, women who shop for their own clothes, particularly in any ‘upmarket’ shop and women who do a grocery shop for food for their family. Gosh, that doesn’t leave many of us unscathed!

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Daily View 2×2: 8 April 2010

Welcome to this morning’s Daily View. We’ll be changing the format of this a little over the next four weeks, in order to better reflect the way the general and local elections campaigns are progressing, so here are my thoughts  four weeks out from polling day.

2 big political stories

Digital Economy Bill forced through by Labservatives
We’ve all heard the news, but those interested to see exactly how the #debill progressed through the Commons last night, the Guardian live blog makes interesting, if ultimately depressing reading .

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The price of a Labour marginal? £81 million

Earlier this year Professor Tim Briggs, medical director of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, threatened to challenge local MP Tony McNulty and stand as an independent candidate for Harrow East. Professor Briggs was angry that after a 15 year campaign for funding to rebuild the hospital and a decision to fund essential repairs two years ago, the hospital remains in a state of disrepair, with rainwater seeping through ceilings and a maintenance backlog estimated at £54 million. The situation had worsened further, when a row between the hospital and NHS London intensified, leading to fears that the hospital could be split up as part of a restructuring process to save money.

Within four days of Professor Briggs announcement, Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Health had agreed an emergency meeting to discuss funding for the hospital. And on the last full business day before the General Election, an £81 million package to rebuild the hospital was announced. Professor Briggs expressed his delight at the decision, but not his surprise. Andy Burnham expressed similar thoughts when the Professor later announced that he would not now seek to join Dr Richard Taylor on the green benches. Making the announcement, Andy Burnham said, “Tony brought me here in 2006 and made the case for the hospital and for his constituency, and for me it was unfinished business.” One wonders why it took four years for the business to be finished?

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Daily View 2×2: 30 March 2010

Today just 2250 years ago, the first sighting of what we now know as Halley’s Comet was recorded Eric Clapton becomes eligible to draw his pension, whilst it’s also ‘Happy Birthday’ to fellow sexagenarians Robbie Coltrane (60), Eddie Jordan (62) and Mervyn King (63).

Once this day in 1978, the Conservative Party announced it had recruited advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi to revamp its image and get its political message across ahead of the General Election. Politicians both within the opposition and in Prime Minister Jim Callaghan’s government criticised the Tory stance, describing it as ‘frivolous’.

Fourteen years later we saw John Major climb onto his soapbox to urge voters in Cheltenham to elect John Taylor as their MP – a mission which resulted in the election of Lib Dem Nigel Jones.

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Tally Ho! Tally Ho! It’s off to vote we go!

Supporters of hunting across the country are being sent to help in the marginal seats the Conservatives need to win to form the next government, in the expectation of a free vote on hunting with dogs early in a Cameron government.

From The Independent:

The hunt chairman , Tim Page, wrote: “I would like us all to reflect on what is at stake if we do not succeed in helping get a Conservative government elected at the forthcoming general election, and, importantly with a sufficient majority to give the time to a free vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act 2004.”

He went on: “Quite honestly, it is not long-term sustainable to carry on as we are … Many of us have kept the show on the road, living for the day of repeal. The Committee of the Hunt, supporting the position of the MFHA expects everyone who hunts, whether mounted, by vehicle or on foot, to spend a minimum of two days leafleting ahead of the election being called.”

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Conservative donor to stand against shadow minister

Stuart Wheeler, the man who gave the Conservative Party £5 million, is forming his own political party and standing for Parliament.  Prominent anti-EU campaigner Wheeler, who was expelled by the Tories last year after making a donation to UKIP, will announce tomorrow that he has set up the Trust Party and will fight Bexhill MP Greg Barker at the General Election.

The Trust Party is aiming to stand just three candidates, one each in England, Scotland and Wales. It will have a manifesto based on cleaning up the ‘corrupt’ expenses system and proposes a new Parliamentary court, with the power to jail politicians. Other ‘highlights’ of the party’s policies …

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Daily View 2×6: 25 March 2010

A pleasant surprise this morning to wake up and find that, despite the fact I am doing the Daily View, it is indeed Thursday and not Tuesday! In celebration of yesterday’s Budget, there’s riproaring inflation of the number of posts featured in today’s Daily View. Don’t tell Vince! Is it sustainable? I doubt it, so enjoy while you can..

Thirty years ago, the British Olympic Association (BOA) voted by a large majority to defy the government and send athletes to the Olympic Games in Moscow.  The Conservative government has pressed the BOA to boycott the event in a protest at the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the previous year. Sir Denis Follows, the chairman of the BOA, said that whilst he was sympathetic to the government’s stance, “We believe sport should be a bridge, and not a destroyer”. 

On this day in 1655 Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens discovered Titan, the largest natural satellite of the planet Saturn.  During their 1969 honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their first Bed-In for Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.

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Daily View 2×2: 9 March 2010

On this day in 1956, the British authorities ordered the deportation of the Greek Cypriot leader, Archbishop Makarios, in the hope of restoring law and order to the island.

Thirty seven years ago today, the people of Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the United Kingdom. In a referendum on the future of the province, 591,280 people (57%) of the electorate voted to retain links with the UK. A poll boycott by the nationalist population meant that only 6,463 voted in favour of a united Ireland.

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Conservative political adviser resigns over conspiracy conversation

A Conservative political adviser at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has been forced to resign, after a taped phone conversation was posted on the internet, alleging that he was conspiring to oust the council’s deputy leader Alison Knight.

André Walker, a former high-flying Conservative student, who has previously worked for London Councils, and Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham councils, was recorded and photographed on a phone by another passenger on Tuesday night, travelling travelling back from Waterloo station.

The Slough & Langley Observer has the story:

A statement from the Royal Borough said: “Effective from this morning (Friday 5 March 2010) Mr André Walker has tendered his resignation from his position in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. This has been accepted and he is no longer employed by the council. The Royal Borough will not be making any further comment.”

Mr Walker said: “I went into work today (Friday) as usual. My position was untenable and I resigned. I was on the train on Tuesday night, I made some comments I shouldn’t have, I was incredibly unlucky to sit next to a left wing activist who decided to record me.

“I put the council in a difficult position, I have apologised for that. A conversation I had was overheard, I said the wrong thing, I have apologised. That apology has gone to various people in the group including Alison Knight. I resigned because that was the appropriate thing to do. I haven’t spoken to Alison Knight.

“I think I have been pretty reasonable. I owned up to a mistake I have made. It’s pretty hurtful for me to hear all these allegations.”

Listen to the conversation below or view a transcript on You Tube.


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Why has Nick Griffin suddenly become so shy?

It’s not like Nick Griffin to shy away from publicity. His reaction to any possibility of a flicker of spotlight is to run towards it, maximising the impact of his message of hate. But it seems that the BNP leader is now revealing a reticent side to his personality.

Today’s London edition of the BBC’s Politics Show will be covering the constituency of Barking, the one which Griffin hopes to win and become the BNP’s first MP. The programme will feature a discussion between the main parties’ candidates for the seat – and in the case of Barking, the BNP are sadly one of the contenders. But Griffin won’t be appearing, despite an invitation from the BBC. Why?

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Daily View 2×2: 2 March 2010

Welcome  to another Tuesday here at LDV Towers. Today we say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Lembit Öpik, who is 45 today. Estonia’s, Northern Ireland’s, Montgomeryshire’s finest shares his special day with comedian Dave Gorman, who is 39 today and cricketer Andrew Strauss, who is 33.

On this day 40 years ago, Ian Smith declared Rhodesia a republic, cutting the country’s last link with the British Crown five years after he unilaterally declared independence. Ten years ago today, 2000 former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet headed home to Chile, after being told the UK would not extradite him on …

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Cornwall Conservatives veto Clegg visit

Local councillors and campaigners are flabbergasted after Conservative-run Cornwall Council decided to prevent Nick Clegg from visiting a key regeneration site in the county.

The Lib Dem leader had been due to visit the Heartlands Project, part of a rundown old mining area which is due to be transformed using a multi-million pound Lottery grant.

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Daily View 2×2: 23 February 2010

Today the people of Guyana celebrate the country becoming a Republic in 1970. Mashramani, often abbreviated to  ‘Mash’, is an annual festival that celebrates the nation and people of Guyana with a carnival parade, music, games and food.

On this day in 1945, the Stars and Stripes was raised over the Japanese-held volcanic island of Iwo Jima, rather than the flag of a trade union.

This morning the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable is in Canary Wharf, delivering a keynote speech, which will outline the Liberal Democrats plan for the banking and financial services industries.

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Daily View 2×2: 18 February 2010

Welcome to my second Daily View of the week, as Alex continues his Caledonian cultural capers.

On this day five years ago, the ban on hunting with dogs came into force. As a long-term campaigner against blood sports, I don’t think it’s been the most successful piece of legislation ever. Today is also the anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s u-turn of 1981, when she withdrew plans to close 23 pits and agreed to reduce coal imports from eight million to five-and-a-half million tonnes over the next year. As we know, it was only a short reprieve.

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Daily View 2×2: 16 February 2010

Welcome to today’s numerically challenged Daily View – a bit like a Conservative policy paper.

On this day 51 years ago, Fidel Castro was sworn in as Cuban Prime Minister. Twenty five years ago Clive Ponting resigned from his post at the MoD over the Belgrano affair, despite having been acquitted of breaching the Official Secrets Act a week previously. Just five years ago, the Kyoto Protocol came into force.

Today is of course Shrove Tuesday, so get ready for pancakes tonight. But don’t rely on your opponents giving up campaigning for Lent. I’m off to spend the night setting the budget for the good residents of Three Rivers.

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Daily View 2×2: 9 February 2010

Welcome to this morning’s Daily View.  I am sure I cannot be the only person to be cheered by waking to the news that the Conservatives believe that their no. 1 electoral weapon is George Osborne.

On this day 60 years ago, United States Senator Joe McCarthy launched his anti-communist crusade, with a speech accusing more than 200 staff in the State Department of being members of the Communist Party.  On 9thFebruary 1979, England and Birmingham City forward Trevor Francis signed for Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest for £1 million, the first UK footballer to move for a seven figure sum.

Today is also the third anniversary of the death of actor Ian Richardson CBE, best known for his portrayal of the Machiavellian Conservative politician Francis Urquhart in the wonderful House of Cards trilogy.

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Luciana Berger to be opposed by ‘Roylety’?

Things may be going from bad to worse for Luciana Berger, the newly-selected Labour PPC for Liverpool Wavertree. After mutterings about the selection process, followed by concerns about the candidate living in the same house as hundreds of ballot papers, the actor Ricky Tomlinson, famous for roles in Brookside and the Royle Family, has announced that he will be seeking the nomination of Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party for the seat.

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Watchdog says Shadow Home Secretary ‘likely to damage’ trust in statistics

Yesterday I wrote about Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling’s extraordinarily twisted use of statistics to try to justify part of the Conservatives’ ‘Broken Britain’ narrative.

Today the BBC’s Mark Easton, who broke the original story, has the news that Chris Grayling has just been sent a sharp letter from Parliament’s statistics watchdog, informing him that his mis-use of statistics about violent crime is ‘likely to damage public trust in official statistics’. The Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), Sir Michael Scholar, says he does ‘not wish to become involved in political controversy’,  but ‘must take issue’ with Grayling’s comments ‘yesterday about violent crime statistics’.

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Conservatives’ use of crime statistics ‘selective and mendacious’

This morning’s Today programme provided another of those ‘mustn’t miss’ moments, as presenter Evan Davis  took the Conservatives’ Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling to task over the party’s misleading use of crime statistics.

Last week Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Affairs editor, had asked ‘Are the Tories being honest with their claims on violent crime’:

Last week, David Cameron told me that one reason he could justify the phrase “broken society” was because of “significant” increases in violent crime, notably gun and knife crime in Britain.  When I challenged him to produce the evidence, his party press office sent the BBC a list of statistics. It emerges that the only way the Conservative leader can back up his claims is to ignore the klaxon warning attached to the statistics following changes in the way police record violent incidents in England and Wales.

Tory Central Office e-mailed this claim to me: ‘Violent crime has increased from 615,985 offences in 1998-9 to 1,034,972 in 2008-9, an increase of 68 per cent’. The document cited, however, includes this massive caveat: ‘The National Crime Recording standard was introduced in April 2002. Figures before and after that date are not directly comparable’. And yet, that is exactly what Mr Cameron appears to do.

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Daily View 2×2: 2 February 2010

Today is Groundhog Day, but I’ve resisted the temptation to simply give you yesterday’s Daily View again. It’s also the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, which symbolises the turning point of winter towards spring.

Twenty years ago today President FW de Klerk began to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, announcing that he had lifted the 30-year ban on the African National Congress, the Pan African Congress and the South African Communist Party. De Klerk also committed to release jailed ANC leader Nelson Mandela, who was freed nine days later. Commenting on the news, Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “He has taken …

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Police stop TV presenters under anti-terrorism legislation – for carrying glittery hairdryers

Anna Williamson and Jamie RickersIt appears that photographers are only one of a long list of ‘suspects’ for London’s crimefighters. Today children’s TV presenters Jamie Rickers and Anna Williamson reported that they had been questioned by police under anti-terrorism powers – for carrying glittery hairdryers.

The pair, who front ITV1’s Toonattik, were filming on London’s South Bank. Along with the hairdryers, they were also armed with  children’s walkie-talkies and hairbrushes.

The Press Association has the story:

Anna, 28, said: “We were filming a strand called Dork Hunters, which is to do with one of the animations

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Daily View 2×2: 26 January 2010

Today we say ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Special One – Jose Mourinho – who is 47, and to ice hockey’s record goalscorer Wayne Gretzky, who is two years older.

Nine years ago today, more than 25,000 people died after a massive earthquake measuring up to 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the Indian state of Gujarat and neighbouring areas in Pakistan. In 1998, US President Bill Clinton told a White House press conference “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.

2 Big Stories

Mother aquitted in new ‘mercy killing’ trial 

Yesterday Sussex mother and former nurse Kay Gilderdale was acquitted of attempting to …

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Lib Dem PPC resigns over e-mail allegations

David Jack, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Stoke-on-Trent North, resigned yesterday after accusations that he sent a racist email to a constituent (but see update below).

David cited professional and personal issues as the reason for his decision to step down, but last night’s Channel 4 News gave details of an email allegedly sent by Mr Jack, which contained racist and abusive language. He has denied sending the email, claiming he was out drinking with friends at the time the email was sent.

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Brown rediscovers his middle class roots

Last weekend, the Fabian Society held their New Year conference, entitled ‘Causes to fight for’. I was fortunate to attend the conference on behalf of Liberal Democrat Voice, at the invitation of the Fabians. Over the next week, I will share with readers of LDV some of my thoughts and observations from the day. Today: the keynote speech from Gordon Brown.

Just over 30 months ago, Tony Blair made an over-emotional and stage-managed resignation speech. But as Brown’s long march to his inevitable anointment as party leader began, behind the scenes at Labour HQ a more rapid changeover took place, …

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Daily View 2×2: 19 January 2010

On this day in 1966, Indira Ghandi was elected as the first woman Prime Minister of India, whilst 20 years ago today, the rebel English cricket team, led by Mike Gatting, landed at Johannesburg airport.

Today we wish a happy 30th birthday to world champion Jenson Button and also commemorate the 132nd anniversary of the birth of former Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman. Voters go to the polls today in Massachusetts, to elect a Senator for the seat left vacant by the death of Edward Kennedy.

2 Big Stories

Cadbury agrees Kraft takeover bid

It seems that UK confectioner Cadbury has given up the

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Conservative policy making informed by TV detective series

Today’s FT has an interview with wannabe Chancellor George Osborne, where he once again fails to give any real details of the Conservatives’ economic plans, should they win the next election. Osborne talks about his admiration for Sweden, although he is unable to put his finger on exactly why, saying:

“I’m no expert on Swedish society but I am a regular viewer now of Wallander”.

What next: Chris Grayling telling the Daily Mail that he is changing the Conservatives’ policies on drugs after catching up with a few episodes of Van der Valk?

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Lord Tebbit’s praise for the Lib Dems’ tax plans

In his blog post in today’s Daily Telegraph Lord Tebbit asks, “Why won’t the two main parties do anything about the madness of taxing the poor?’.

“And I hate to say it, but only one party leader seems to have grasped that, if you construct a system where unskilled people are worse off by taking a job than by staying on welfare, they remain trapped in poverty – and that is Nick Clegg.

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Daily View 2×2: 12 January 2010

On this day in 2001, Sven Goran Eriksson took over as manager of the England football team. On the same day, the carers of eight year old Victoria Climbié, who died after being tortured and fed like a dog, were found guilty of her murder, leading to questions being asked of Haringey Social Services.

Today is the 281st anniversary of the birth of Edmund Burke. It’s also the 59th and 56th birthdays respectively of  US radio ‘personalities’ Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern.

2 Big Stories

Four steps to a fairer Britain

Yesterday saw Nick Clegg set out the priorities which will be at the heart of the party’s …

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Daily View 2×2: 5 January 2010

With the thought that there are only 353 days to Christmas and considerably fewer until the General Election, we launch into today’s Daily View.

On this day in 1918, the Free Committee for a German Workers Peace, which would become the Nazi party, was founded. In 1941, the aviator Amy Johnson, disappeared over the Thames Estuary and was never found. And 28 years ago today, Peter Sutcliffe, a 35-year-old lorry driver from Bradford appeared in court, charged with 13 murders of women in West Yorkshire.

Happy birthday to the second most famous son of Abbots Langley, footballer, actor and current Celebrity Big Brother ‘inmate’ Vinnie Jones, who is 45 today and to former US Vice President Walter F. Mondale, who is 82.

2 Interesting Stories

With the thought that some of you may have already noticed other parties’ pronouncements in the news yesterday, here are two more slants on the coming election.

 We’re being outgunned by slick Tory machine, says Labour’s Andrew Slaughter

The Labour MP for Hammersnith believes that his chances of re-election are being hampered by a lack of funding compared to his Conservative opponent. Slaughter said;

“People should be concerned that money is being poured into seats like this and the consequences of that for democracy,”

Funny how Labour never saw this as a problem when they were the ones bringing in large donations?

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  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 15th Jun - 10:12pm
    @Dilettante Eye Just who is fooling who? Whoever you are, your nom de plume just about sums up the naivety of your view. On the...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 15th Jun - 8:42pm
    @ JoeB, "In essence, unemployment results from a lack of private investment" How about "In essence, unemployment results from a lack of spending" ? And...
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    Where is the Leeds event?
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    Chuka Umunna has been truer to the "none shall be enslaved by poverty..." aspect of the Lib Dem constitution than the Lib Dem leadership candidates!...
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    "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" Just shows you can fool some people all of the time. Some still don't get they were...
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    Ruth Coleman-Taylor offers a perfectly good rough and basis for welcoming refugees from other parties - sign up to the Preamble and bring all your...