Five stories from five years – March 24th

Time, I think, to revive that part of the old Friday Five where we looked at what we were writing about on this day in previous years. Here are five posts from March 24th.

First up, a little Boris related schadenfreude from 2013: Boris has a right Mair in live BBC interview.

For most of the 10 minutes — and perhaps for the first time ever — Boris looked as if he would rather be anywhere else than beneath the glare of the TV lights. This was his reckoning, and he looked winded, lumbering like a past-his-prime former heavyweight champion. Only at the very end did we glimpse again the rambunctious front Boris likes to project, but by then it was too late.

Tory MPs will have looked on and perhaps felt a gratitude for David Cameron they may not have felt in a year or more.

Paul Walter reviewed PMQs in 2011: PMQs: PIP or pip-squeak. Libya, disability benefits and the Morning Star. And where was Britain in the league table of government wastefulness?

Well done to the researcher who dredged up these facts for the PM to spout: We “are 72nd on wastefulness of Government spending, behind Kazakhstan and Cambodia; 108th on Government debt, behind Malawi, Lesotho and, yes, you’ve guessed it, Libya; on the soundness of banks, we are 133rd. Our banks, under Labour, were less sound than those in Serbia, Estonia, Madagascar and Chad.” I think Cameron really is over-egging the pudding now.

Those who say that the Liberal Democrats didn’t warn about the need for cuts in this Parliament should take a look at the Cleggster’s response to the pre-election Budget in 2010:

The battle we have just seen between the Chancellor and the Leader of the Opposition was a depressing spectacle. A phoney war to cover up the fact that they are both the same:

Neither has the courage to come up with details of the cuts we need to tackle Britain’s deficit. Neither is being straight with people about the tough times ahead. This budget was a budget in denial about the scale of change needed. About as honest as the CV of the rt hon member for North Tyneside. It is built on growth figures that are unlikely to materialise. It is built on false comfort from a small drop in borrowing that doesn’t affect the structural deficit. And above all, it is a budget in denial about the cuts needed. We have had just waffle today.

Nick and Vince’s Budget responses in full has the Almighty Vince in glorious technicolor too.

What struck me is that two months before the MPs’ expenses scandal blew up in 2009, we had two stories about the subject. However, the one I’m choosing here is one from Mark Pack on performance standards for returning officers: Performance standards introduced for Returning Officers across Britain. 

The quality of Returning Officers and their staff has always been very variable. Ask anyone who has been involved in elections across different areas, and the chances are they have a store of horror stories about just how bad things get in some areas at times.

My own favourite? The Returning Officer in a Parliamentary by-election in the 1990s who said to myself and the Liberal Democrat agent, “I suppose, as it’s a Parliamentary by-election, you’ll be expecting us to count all the votes this time?”. Err, yes.

I love this one from 2008 – our Lord Paul Tyler had taken some flack in the press for asking the BBC to publish the results of the Strictly Come Dancing vote (which they have never done) and in Strictly Guevara, we reported his response to his critics:

It strikes me that politicians are constantly under fire for being ‘out of touch’, not residing in the world that people outside the Westminster bubble do. Yet when a parliamentarian takes an interest in TV shows that have attracted public attention, he is denounced for wasting time and money. It seems that we are both too aloof and not aloof enough.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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