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Four ways you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Four ways you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Four ways you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

Also posted in News | 15 Comments

20 March 2023 – some reflections at the end of the day…

Firstly, an apology to those of you who’ve been waiting for comment moderation this evening – my duty as Chair of my small, but perfectly formed, Parish Council took me away from my desk.

But there will be those of you who will be disappointed with my decisions today. William Byrd might well fairly reflect my thoughts on that:

My wealth is health and perfect ease,
And conscience clear my chief defence
I never seek by bribes to please
Nor by desert to give offence
Thus do I live. Thus will I die
Would all did so, as well as I

We have had a number of what I would describe as the online equivalent of “drive-by shootings”, which in truth were pretty easy to decide upon, and then there are those who use absurd arguments, or obviously false names or e-mail addresses, or who deliberately misrepresent the views of others. There are also more “shades of grey” comments where, if I’m honest, I may have erred on the side of caution – I am a bureaucrat, after all. But, for the benefit of the unhappier of you, I courteously point you towards our comments policy, a document which some people might benefit from reading. We retain the right to publish comments (or not) as we see fit.

Moderation is, by its very nature, art not science. Balancing freedom of expression against protection for the vulnerable is, I feel, a mark of one’s liberalism, weighing the rights of the individual against the interests of the wider community. It does mean entertaining the notion of honest doubt and responding accordingly, something that isn’t without its risks.

And, with that final thought, I bring today to a close. But, as I pass over the editorial baton, I leave you with William Byrd’s “My Mind to me a Kingdom is”, and hope that it brings you, as it does me, some joy and just a little peace.


Four ways you can help Liberal Democrat Voice

The Voice is only a success because of the interest and support from our readers. For many people just lurking and reading the site is all they want to do – and that’s fine, we’re grateful for people taking the time to read the site.

You can though help us continue to produce interesting content for a growing audience. Here are four simple ways:

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Season’s Greetings

The Lib Dem Voice team will be taking a break until Thursday 29th December, and we will not be moderating comments or replying to emails until then.

In the meantime we wish you days of peace and love.

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Welcome to my day: 28 November 2022 – lifting one’s eyes to the horizon…

It’s been a somewhat trying week for your Day Editor, as we’ve come under fire for doing pretty much what we’ve always done from people who’ve previously taken no interest in what we do but would now really rather we did it in a way that they approve of.

In fairness, when you take on a role like this, you expect some criticism. We’re too loyal to the leadership, or not loyal enough. We don’t address the big issues, or focus too much on perceived minutiae. We don’t allow freedom of speech or our moderation is too lax. And, sometimes, that …


Welcome to my day: 21 November 2022 – showing a little heart…

It’s been an interesting week here at Liberal Democrat Voice. As readers may be aware, we rewrote our editorial policy to reflect what, I would acknowledge, has been the way that we’ve managed the site for some time.

I first became involved in the editorial side of things about a decade or so ago and, as it turned out, it was harder than I had thought at the outset. I came back about five years ago because, well, the team were short-staffed and somebody needed to step up. I have, however, consistently spoken of my personal preference for a culture of mutual self-respect and inclusion. I’m a liberal, obviously, and believe in freedom of expression. And balancing those two concepts has proved… difficult.

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Welcome to my day: 6 June 2022 – waiting for Sir Graham Brady…

It looks a bit like a Samuel Beckett sort of a week ahead. Have fifty-four Conservative MPs concluded that;

      a. Their principles cannot bear the behaviour of the Prime Minister; or
      b. Their majorities cannot bear the behaviour of the Prime Minister?

Or, perhaps, that they can get a vote but not win it… yet.

Whatever the truth, like Vladimir and Estragon, we are fated to spend too much time talking around the fate of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson than of the issues that so badly need fixing. On the other hand, if you’re an opposition party looking to embarrass the Government in a by-election, the prospect of the Conservatives spending the next three weeks fighting like rats in a sack is a thing to warm the soul.

The polling data from Wakefield;

      Labour 48%
      Conservatives 28%
      Greens 8%
      Liberal Democrats 7%
      Reform UK 3%

if accurate, suggests a 13.7% swing from Conservatives to Labour, which would overwhelm vast swathes of the Red Wall. The swing from Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats is noticeable too, albeit not as dramatic in impact, but shows that there is a move towards us which, in seats such as Harrogate and Knaresborough, or Cheadle, might be very welcome indeed.

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Welcome to my day: 21 February 2022 – “I’m still standing…”

It’s been a bit blowy in deepest mid-Suffolk, and I hope that our readers have come out of the trio of storms unscathed. Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have brought chaos to a country undergoing a fair bit of chaos already.

On this day in 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto”, probably the most influential political manifesto ever written. Admittedly, those who claimed to be implementing it weren’t terribly keen on winning hearts and minds through simple persuasion and an intensive leafleting campaign, but its impact still hangs heavy, as the situation in Ukraine reminds us. Richard Trevithick ran his locomotive for the first time at the Penydarren Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil in 1804, and probably didn’t have to worry about trees on the line. And, though it seems hard to credit, it’s ten years to the day since Emlyn Hooson died. Here’s what Eric Avebury had to say about him.

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Welcome to my day: 17 January 2022 – “I wanna be the Leader

Roger McGough wrote the poem which, perhaps, sums up the current Conservative dilemma better than most;

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I’m the leader
I’m the leader

OK what shall we do?

Johnson became Leader, because he was seen to be a winner of elections – and when you look at his previous opponents, you could see why. His record of actual achievement in office? Not so great but, if surrounded by good people, it could work. It cannot now be said that he is surrounded by good people.


2021 – the year in review: December

The Party was throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the North Shropshire by-election. And, with the gratefully received co-operation of the Conservatives – Non-local candidate? Check. Hapless campaign? Check. – the bookies were suggesting that we were marginal favourites to achieve the 26.4% swing required to snatch the seat. Our campaign team were taking no chances, with “private briefings” somehow reaching the media.

And the wheels were really falling off the Conservative wagon, with defections, endorsement by the Guardian and a visit from the Prime Minister in which he failed to remember his candidate’s name.

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2021 – the year in review: November

Normally, reports of the Commons Select Committee on Standards are approved without much drama but, in what turned out to be a catastrophic misjudgement, Conservative MPs were whipped on an amendment to a report which would, effectively, let Owen Paterson off the hook for breaching Parliamentary rules forbidding paid advocacy. He was as guilty as all hell in the eyes of many, despite his aggressive campaign to prove otherwise. Instructions had come from the very top, with suggestions that the Prime Minister was attempting to nobble the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

It worked, sort of, with the vote won. But, with thirteen Conservative MPs voting against, and nearly another one hundred either absent or abstaining, it looked pretty awful. As Andy Boddington put it, the Commons had lost its moral compass. Amidst widespread public and media outrage, Boris did what he so often has done, sacrificing a colleague to save his skin with a screeching, tyre shredding u-turn. Paterson almost immediately resigned his safe North Shropshire seat, creating an unexpected opportunity. Recent election results suggested that Labour might be the credible contender. Andy disagreed… vehemently.

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2021 – the year in review: October

As October opened, the petrol shortages were beginning to recede, but words like cabotage and haulage were reaching public consciousness. A patina of incompetence was beginning to stick to the Government – it turns out that listening to experts, making plans and carrying them out was a better way to run the country than just perpetually reacting to things as if they were a surprise. It also meant that a few people were reminded what those foreigners had been doing all that time.

The Wayne Couzens murder trial had resulted in a whole life sentence at the end of September, but the response of senior policing figures drew much criticism. Miranda Roberts explained some of the more alarming issues and offered some very useful advice, whilst Wendy Chamberlain offered a perspective that, perhaps, only a former police officer could have.

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2021 – the year in review: September

I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of Party conferences – I’m not a policy wonk nor am I a frequent speaker, no more than half a dozen times over more than thirty years – but I appreciate that, for many, there’s something about being surrounded by your fellow Liberal Democrats that inspires and encourages.

But if politics is about changing lives for the better, it wasn’t a bad conference. Abolishing conversion therapy may not impact directly on many, but for those it does affect, it is life changing. Building more houses, especially more affordable housing, …

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2021 – the year in review: August

As Western forces withdrew from Afghanistan, hopes that the Afghan Government could stand on its own two feet proved to be entirely illusionary, as did the Afghan Army. And whilst it could be reasonably said that no British Government could have dealt well with such a collapse, the failure of the Conservatives to honour their commitments was a reminder that their policy aim was almost solely to get to the next afternoon.

It started with the failure to evacuate those Afghans who had assisted our troops as interpreters, as Ed Davey noted. The challenge of how to evacuate U.K. nationals and their dependents proved difficult, as key players were either on holiday or blind to the issues. Our Foreign Affairs Editor, Tom Arms, wrote a masterful summary of the consequences of the Taliban victory, setting out the geopolitical issues. Perhaps he should have been our Foreign Secretary…

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2021 – the year in review: June

The Chilterns were once covered in forest, if my geography lessons are remembered correctly, which meant that the recycled paper going through doors across Chesham and Amersham was now coming from elsewhere.

And, despite a huge lead in the polls, Conservative MPs were becoming a bit fractious, with a rebellion in the Commons over cuts to the overseas aid budget. The tensions between the new ‘Red Wall Tories’ and the traditionalists were beginning to emerge, and this theme became more and more a talking point as the year went on. William Wallace highlighted some of those tensions.

A week out …

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2021 – the year in review: May (part 2)

On 5 May, a candidate was chosen for what looked, on paper at least, like an uphill struggle at best – Chesham and Amersham was a historically safe Conservative seat where, even in our best years, 30% of the vote reflected the high-tide mark. The next day, Amersham Town Council went from having no Liberal Democrat councillors to being Liberal Democrat controlled. But it was a genuine long shot, right?

The notion of a Progressive Alliance became much talked about, and Peter Wrigley made a persuasive case for one. The problem, as is so often the case with such an idea, is that Labour’s idea of a big tent comes solely in red with roses around the door. Perhaps, as Stephen Barber considered, a realignment of British politics was on the cards. It did feel a bit optimistic, given that a thoroughly unlikeable Conservative administration seemed strangely popular.

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2021 – the year in review: May (part 1)

Conservatives 10% ahead in the polls, a set of English County elections in friendly territory for them, a disrupted campaign phase. It was going to end badly, right?

But it didn’t, as Liberal Democrat groups across the country demonstrated that, if you worked hard, had a clear strategy and took advantage of the resources available from ALDC, you could win seats from the Conservatives despite their air war advantage. Across the country, complacent Conservative administrations fell, and although the overall result was pretty much break even – a small net gain – it felt like a win. In fact, whilst the Conservatives were up more than 200 councillors overall, those gains were at the expense of Labour, whilst the night’s other big winners were the Greens, albeit from a low base. Which reminds me, Theakes promised to run round his kitchen naked if we made net gains – is there a record of this event?

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2021 – the year in review: April

‘Twas the month ‘fore elections
And all cross the land
Were Liberal candidates
With leaflet in hand

A neutral observer might have warned against much in the way of optimism five weeks before polling day. A by-election in Hartlepool was unlikely to offer much cheer either, although Andy Hagon took up the gauntlet for the cause. And, of course, COVID still stalked the land.

The Liberal Democrats took a stance against vaccine passports, which appeared to run counter to public opinion, but was at least consistent with the Party’s long held views on ID cards. The debate was just another reminder that modern-day Conservatives appear only to happy to argue against taking away the freedoms that benefit them whilst happily removing freedoms from everyone else. Their hypocrisy in that regard was to haunt them as the year went on.

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2021 – the year in review: March

A legend passed away unexpectedly. Heavens, he could be troublesome – cantankerous, occasionally outrageously rude, but if any one person represented the sheer bloody-mindedness of Liberal Democrat campaigners, it was Tony Greaves. A peerage did little to change him other than to allow him a platform to make life miserable for hapless Government ministers. We still miss him but, as Molly Nolan noted, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Another remote Federal Conference saw Ed Davey outline his vision for the country. Some of you weren’t impressed but then again, some of you aren’t actually Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, my colleague, Paul Walter offered an insight into the mechanics of intervening in a debate and mused about the lack of a conference bar. Take my advice, Paul, and find a local brewery that delivers…

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2021 – the year in review: February

It’s my personal view, albeit a controversial one, that Dawn French was the worst thing that ever happened to Parish Councils. That changed in February, when a meeting of an obscure Parish Council in Cheshire went viral. I noted that not all Parish Councils are like that, whilst Ruth Bright reminded us that all levels of government have their share of unpleasantness. Who would have thought that the County Officer of an Association of Local Councils would become a celebrity? But Jackie Weaver rode the wave of publicity and did more to publicise the sector than anyone could have dreamed of.

COVID restrictions were still an utter shambles, with leaflet delivery allowed, then not allowed. The Government in Westminster might have been useless and, quite possibly, corrupt, but Kirsty Williams was working hard right to the end, planning for Welsh education.

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2021 – the year in review: January

Welcome this mini-series, in which we’ll take a look back at the LDV year through our own personal prism. And where more obvious to start than at the beginning…

2020 had not been a particularly easy year, but you always want to start a new one with some enthusiasm, and Caron introduced us to something that was going to become pretty big as the year went on, the Maraphone. Perhaps it was a coincidence that the Government tried to ban leafleting a week later… We weren’t benefiting from local government by-elections either, as they’d been suspended due to Lockdown 2 – the sequel.

January also saw the culmination of Republican attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election, one which was far closer than we had hoped it would be. But, despite what some would describe as a coup attempt on 6 January, democracy triumphed… just. Some of the lessons learned from the campaign as a whole were brought to us by John Surie, a member of Liberal Democrats Overseas.

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Welcome to my day – 20 December 2021: there’s no business like snow business…

Greetings from Westbrook, Maine, where your friendly neighbourhood Day Editor is on grand-parenting duty for a few days. As you can see from this picture of the town’s library, we’ve had snow, about six inches of it. Luckily, it seems as though most people here own a snowplough, or have one bolted to the front of their truck, so there hasn’t been much disruption.

As I left Britain, the news of the North Shropshire by-election was just beginning to sink in and I’m reminded a bit of the 1992-97 Major administration. In the sense of a Government out of good ideas and mired in bad behaviour, there is an easy comparison, but whereas the Major administration contained some capable ministers and was led by a man whose word could be relied upon to a great extent, you can hardly say that about this administration. Mind you, whoever leads the Conservative Party is going to have to reconcile the irreconcilable – those contradictory promises made to deliver Brexit are no easier to untangle now than they ever were.


Welcome to my day: 13 December 2021 – hey, I just met you and this is crazy…

Gosh, is it Monday already? Apparently so, although the weekend seems to have passed me by. Here in Creeting St Peter, the Christmas social calendar has fallen foul of people’s not entirely unreasonable preference that Christmas isn’t put at risk, with Saturday’s coffee morning cancelled and Friday’s pub night likewise.

Once again, you get a definite sense that the Government is several steps behind public opinion but then, given that they’re currently struggling with the definition of a party, or truth for that matter, and with Liz Truss evidently on manoeuvres for a potential leadership contest, it would be impressive if they could metaphorically walk and chew gum at the same time.

On this day in 1577, Sir Francis Drake set out to circumnavigate the globe, making himself wealthy in the process and rather upsetting the Spanish. This day in 1864 saw Paraguay declare war on Brazil, setting off the War of the Triple Alliance. With Paraguay eventually facing off against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, it didn’t end well, with estimates suggesting that Paraguay lost up to 70% of its population through battle casualties, disease and starvation. And, on a more optimistic note, 13 December 1920 saw the establishment of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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Welcome to my day: 6 December 2021 – “Fire The Cannons!”

Good morning, gentle reader!

It’s a murky start in the Gipping Valley this morning, but your day editor is alert and eager for a new week.

So, where to start? As Iain Roberts, once of this parish, noted on Twitter;

It seems that we’re now into Government as angels dancing on the head of a pin, as ministers desperate try to define the word ‘party’ in such a way as to meet regulations that certainly weren’t broken. The fact that such gatherings were banned altogether doesn’t seem to register but, if reminder was ever needed, it does emphasise that rules are apparently for …


Welcome to my day: 29 November 2021 – the sun is out, the sky is blue…

Good morning(ish) everyone, and welcome to another Monday. I had been hoping that this would be coming to you from Mumbai, as I was supposed to be at a family wedding on Friday, but something about a pandemic…

Ah well, never mind.

Today is the 276th anniversary of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army occupying Carlisle. They had also reached Manchester at this point, but the high water mark of that uprising wasn’t far away. The Sonderbund War ended on this day in 1847, when the canton of Valais surrendered to the Swiss Federal Army. And, one hundred years later, the United Nations General …


Welcome to my day: 22 November 2021 – an unexpected use for lettuce

Good morning, gentle reader (although not all of you seem to be particularly gentle at the moment…)!

Yes, Monday comes around again, as inevitable as a tax return – by the way, the deadline for online submission is just ten weeks away – and thus it is my turn to keep the site turning.

Whilst much Liberal Democrat attention is focussed upon North Shropshire, we’re in the last ten days of the campaign in Old Bexley and Sidcup, where Simone Reynolds is flying our flag. She improved our vote share from 3.3% to 8.3% in 2019, and it would be nice if she could keep the third place she gained then.

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Welcome to my day: 15 November 2021 – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Good morning, gentle readers, as the days get shorter and the nights that little bit gloomier. Certainly, they’re not short enough for the Conservatives, even as they are definitely gloomier.

I have to admit to wondering whether there was anything that the Government could do that would shake the British public out of its apparent lethargy. A botched Brexit? Apparently not. A shambolic management of the pandemic? Seemingly, no. But, as it turns out, they had found a “long fuse” means to undermine themselves – greed.

It does astonish me that some Conservative MPs are so wilfully negligent of conflict of interest …


Welcome to my day: 8 November 2021 – knowing it’s wrong and doing it anyway?

I was, I admit, slightly surprised by the response of some Conservatives to scrutiny over the “Paterson affair”. Nadhim Zahawi first admitted live on television that he hadn’t read the Standards Committee report before, then upon it being pointed out to him that he’d voted to reject it anyway, then stated that he had “looked at it”, whatever that means. Meanwhile, Alex Chalk, the MP for Cheltenham, sent an e-mail stating that Owen Paterson was wrong to lobby ministers on behalf of companies employing him, that it was wrong to conflate his case with the question of amending the disciplinary system for MPs, and that it was wrong to impose a three-line whip for the vote. What he didn’t mention was that he voted as ordered.

One might begin to wonder if Conservatives have gained the view that it really doesn’t matter what they say or do any more, given that the pollsters still show them leading regardless.

But the hare is running in North Shropshire now. Is it winnable for the Liberal Democrats? Well, we’ll never know if we don’t try, and you wouldn’t envy the Conservative candidate – are they loyal to Owen Paterson, or do they condemn him?

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  • Peter Martin
    @ Paul Barker, There may only be a very small chance but that's literally infinitely greater than "no chance"! There would be an even greater chance if th...
  • Paul Barker
    Again, a pointless article - perhaps The Voice Team could think about rejecting pieces that are just nonsense ? Short of War, there is no chance of any result ...
  • David Allen
    "Unfair to say we ‘re saying nothing" Up to a point, yes. However, being against sewage dumping isn 't exactly sticking your head above the parapet and br...
  • Ruth Bright
    Caron, sorry to display my ignorance here but could you tell members like me outside Scotland more about the National care service stuff? Genuinely interested....
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    Where is a JFK when you need someone to draw the line. No line ,no stopping Putin. rearming is essential. Is the current long away target sufficient? I think ...