Daily View 2×2: 23 November 2009

It’s the 23rd November – which means great celebrations in (parts of) the Lib Dem blogosphere at the 46th anniversary since the first broadcast of Doctor Who. And it’s happy birthday, too, to Zoë Ball and Kirsty Young.

2 Must-Read Blog-Posts

Why we should not be afraid of a hung parliament (Mark Thompson)

A hung parliament is the sort of scenario that the Lib Dems been waiting for for years. It would finally give us a chance to wield some real power and exert our influence on policy and politics in a way that had been denied to us previously.

Cagoules, Coat Hangers and Cake – A taster of the Bloggers’ Unconference (Caron Lindsay)

The event was well worth doing. We had 2 MPs, John Barrett, whose anecdotal and often amusing blog has been praised … and a jet lagged but still jovial Jo Swinson came more or less straight from the UN where she’d been chairing an inter Parliamentary debate on the global economic crisis.

2 Big Stories

700,000 people trapped on benefits for more than 12 years

The Lib Dems’ Work & Pensions spokesman Steve Webb has revealed that more than 700,000 adults of working age have been claiming benefits for as long as Labour has been in power.

The figures show that:

* 1.5 million people have been claiming Incapacity Benefit, Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance for more than 5 years

* Of these, more than half a million people have been claiming for between 5 and 9 years, while 700,000 have been claiming for over 12 years

Here’s what Steve has to say:

Labour has trapped people in a system where they have to be out of work for a year before getting extra help to find a job. This is the way to destroy a person’s confidence not boost their job prospects. The situation is even worse for people with health problems who are sent away and abandoned on benefits. People who don’t get help from day one find themselves ignored and forced into debt, with the constant worry making it even harder to get a job. Ministers need to change the system so that people get real help from the second they walk into a Jobcentre.”

Criminals being tagged triples in nine years – Howarth

The number of offenders being electronically tagged has more than tripled in less than a decade, according to figures highlighted by the Liberal Democrats. The three key points are:

* The number of offenders being tagged has increased from 19,012 in 1999/2000 to 69,895 in 2008/09 – an increase of 268%.
* The number tagged last year was a record in the total of 550,000 people who have been “electronically monitored” since tagging began in 1999.
* Around 18,800 subjects are tagged at any one time, of which 58% are on community sentences, 25% are on bail and 17% are on release from prison on licence.

David Howarth, the Lib Dems’ Shadow Justice Secretary, commented:

As our penal system becomes increasingly overburdened, electronic tagging is being used more and more to deal with offenders. Electronic tagging can be very successful in dealing with low-level offenders but only if the system is well-organised and well-policed. The effectiveness of tagging will be undermined if tags are used indiscriminately on offenders not suitable for them. The huge increase in people being tagged has undermined the effectiveness of the system because it has not been matched by increased investment. The recent increase in tags being tampered with and curfews broken demonstrates that they are not being taken seriously enough by some of the people who wear them.”

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  • Terry Gilbert 23rd Nov '09 - 10:07am

    It is of course much more likely that the LDs will hold the balance of power should there be a change of Government – last time this happened in 1997 we went into the election with 20-odd seats; this time its 60-odd. (Assuming we keep them, of course…..my own view is that Clegg’s attempt to move the party rightward risks alienating many hitherto loyal supporters.)

    However, one of the scenarios Mark Reckons does not address is that some other combination is possible – eg with Nationalists, or Irish Unionists, who could represent significant voting blocks in the next Parliament.

    For my money, the interaction between percentage opinion polls and the outcome in terms of seats is so complex that, while it is worth planning for all scenarios, detailed speculation about the result, and likely majorities (see Politics Home!) before the Friday after the election is largely a waste of time.

  • It is complex but it is still a fair bet that a Lib Dem either voting LD or Tory in seats 100-120 on the Tory target list (excluding LD-held seats) is bringing a Tory Commons majority closer; whereas in seats 1-50 on the same list voting tactically for Labour in order to keep the Tories out could even now leave Labour with their own majority. Both scenarios would mean another 5 years on the sidelines for the LDs.

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