Daily View 2×2: 8 February 2010

Happy Monday morning, everyone. Let’s plunge straight in …

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Lib Dem Stories

Lib Dems reveal £63bn PFI bill for the NHS

Figures released by the Lib Dems have revealed that the NHS is facing a £63bn bill for PFI hospitals which are only worth £11bn. The figures also reveal that:

    · The first payments for hospital PFIs began in 1999 and the NHS still owes £58bn on 106 PFI contracts over the next three decades
    · The NHS will have to pay back £7.3bn in PFI payments over the next Parliament alone (2010-2015)
    · The most expensive PFI contract was for Wythenshawe Hospital where the NHS will pay back 16 times the original capital value

Lib Dem shadow health secretary, Norman Lamb, had this to say:

“These figures reveal the disastrous reality of Labour’s stewardship of the NHS. We’re entering into one of the most difficult financial periods in the NHS’s history and this Government’s legacy will be a mountain of debt.

“Despite the enormous amounts of money we owe for these hospitals, many of them will never end up in public ownership. Hospitals all over the country are mortgaged to the hilt and there are serious concerns that these repayments will lead to cuts in vital services. We need a new approach to public services in this country. By setting up an infrastructure bank the Liberal Democrats will ensure that key projects get access to the funding they need to revitalise our economy.

“The Liberal Democrats will change the way the NHS works so that money goes further and patients come first.”


Kirsty to probe ‘abusive’ Lib Dem Welsh AM claim

From Wales Online:

WELSH Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams yesterday pledged to uncover the facts behind allegations Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates verbally abused staff at the University Hospital of Wales. She said that Mr Bates had no memory of such an incident and was continuing to suffer problems from a severe head injury he sustained when he fell over in the street.

Ms Williams, speaking on the last day of her party’s spring conference in Swansea, said: “We don’t know the facts – we need to get to the bottom of this. My understanding is that Mick was knocked unconscious and suffered a severe head injury – which he’s continuing to have problems with.” …

The former science teacher plans to stand down from the Assembly at next year’s elections but the outcome of the investigation is likely to determine whether he can remain chairman of the sustainability committee. It is understood he met early with his Welsh party leader yesterday before leaving the Swansea conference. He was unavailable for comment last night.

Update: Paramedic claims Lib Dem AM Mick Bates assaulted him (BBC News)

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17 Comments

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 11:03am

    “Really, really, REALLY tired of every time a Lib Dem has any airtime, the only thing the interviewer keeps asking is what the party would do in the event of a hung parliament. …
    It’s simple enough to understand, media goons!!

    The trouble is that it’s not that easy to understand, because Nick Clegg has presented two quite different answers to the question in the last few weeks.

    First we had some cryptic comments about the party with the “strongest mandate” (whatever that means) having the right to try to govern. Granted that he didn’t say directly anything about what the Lib Dems would do, but it was widely presented as a statement that Lib Dems would support whichever party had more seats (or, occasionally, votes). How much of that was the the media jumping to a conclusion, and how much of it was behind-the-scenes spin from Cowley Street, I don’t know.

    Now we have a new doctrine – that the Lib Dems won’t support either party unless it signs up to a shopping list of Lib Dem policies, including electoral reform. Taking that at face value, it appears to mean that unless either Labour or the Tories are prepared to adopt wholesale a large part of the Lib Dem manifesto, the party will try to vote down any prospective government and force a new election.

    To complicate matters further, some other comments in the same interview are being interpreted as an indication that Nick Clegg will prefer to work with the Tories rather than Labour. Again, how much of this interpretation is spin originating from the party, we don’t know.

    I don’t think this confusion is really the fault of the media.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 1:21pm

    Steph

    Well, of course one possible strategy would be for Nick Clegg to stonewall by saying “The future’s impossible to predict and I refuse to answer hypothetical questions about what might happen in a hung parliament.” He could do that, though I don’t think it would go down too well with the electorate.

    But my point is that that’s not what he’s doing. In the past few weeks he’s come out with two quite different responses (I don’t think they can really be described as answers) to the question of “What would the Lib Dems do in a hung parliament?”

    In those circumstances, I don’t think it’s fair to blame the media for the confusion – or to complain that they’re being unreasonable in trying to clarify the position.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 1:24pm

    Steph

    By the way, I’m not sure why you’re complaining about the way I quoted from your blog. I presume you wouldn’t have wanted me to copy and paste the whole of it here. I think the bits I posted encapsulated your message pretty well.

  • Foregone Conclusion 8th Feb '10 - 1:54pm

    Alright then Anthony. I give you the challenge of coming up with an acceptable, magic pixie dust formula of no more than 50 words that would:

    (1) Not tie us to one party or the other;
    (2) Not make us sound like we’re stonewalling or playing games with the electorate;
    (3) Not make us sound like we’ll jettison all our policies and values to get into power.

    You see, it’s all very well criticising Clegg, but unless you can come up with a viable alternative for dealing with this, then I suggest that you leave him alone.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 2:22pm

    Steph and Foregone Conclusion

    I repeat, my point is that in the past few weeks he’s come out with two quite different responses (I don’t think they can really be described as answers) to the question of “What would the Lib Dems do in a hung parliament?” (Not that I’ve ever accepted the rather inane dictum about “not criticising unless you can do better yourself” – particularly where the leader of a political party is concerned!)

    And I’m sorry if I assumed too much familiarity with recent history on Steph’s part. The new pronouncement was in a Daily Telegraph interview on Saturday – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/nick-clegg/7170466/Nick-Clegg-kingmaker-of-a-hung-parliament.html – which I actually assumed your blog post the following day was a response to. The previous one was in an interview with Andrew Marr on 22 November, which was very widely reported in the media and discussed here. You can find a transcript at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/andrew_marr_show/8373015.stm

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 4:16pm

    Steph

    “I’m relieved but not at all surprised to find that’s the case despite your assurances to the contrary.”

    Kindly go back and look at what I wrote about this in my original comment. I took great care to describe accurately what happened.

    But frankly, I don’t think it’s unreasonable, when a politician is asked a question – in this case, “Is your position that it would be the sort of morally right thing, if there was that condition, to back the party which got the biggest number of seats or votes, or what?” – to interpret what he says as an answer to the question, rather than a misleading evasion of it.

    As for the Telegraph interview, I simply can’t believe you couldn’t see the part I was referring to:
    Neither leader, he says now, will get his support without signing up to his “fairness” agenda, which includes raising the entry to income tax to £10,000, extra taxes on the rich, a “pupil premium” to help poorer children, breaking up the banking system and electoral reform.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 4:55pm

    Steph

    By the way, where in the BBC interview do you see Andrew Marr being “told no” in answer to his question? I have looked at the transcript again, and I don’t see anything remotely resembling that. Quite the contrary.

    Can you quote the part you were referring to, please?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 10:12pm

    Alix

    You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.

    Talking of comment, do you have any to make yourself on these pronouncements by Clegg? It’s always interesting to hear what Lib Dems of the non-cheerleader variety think about these things.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 10:50pm

    Steph

    Frankly, I don’t have the time or the inclination to argue the toss over this. I’ve provided links to both interviews, and I’ve made it clear where I think the contradiction lies. People can make up their minds for themselves.

    But please do quote the part of the interview in which you claim Andrew Marr was “told no” by Nick Clegg. As far as I can see, he was told no such thing.

  • Richard Church 8th Feb '10 - 11:06pm

    What would David Cameron do in the event of a hung parliament?

    What would Gordon Brown do in the event of a hung parliament?

    Has anyone got a clue? Has anyone even asked them?

    What they would do is at least as important as what Nick Clegg would do, and yet only Nick is ever asked. Curious.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Feb '10 - 11:21pm

    “What they would do is at least as important as what Nick Clegg would do, and yet only Nick is ever asked. Curious.”

    In a way that’s a fair point. But it doesn’t really change the fact that Nick Clegg _is_ being asked this question – and he will be asked this question many more times between now and polling day – and the answer he gives may play an important part in deciding how people will vote in marginal constituencies. As a matter of fact, I’m one of those people.

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