Tag Archives: 2014 month by month

Five posts to sum up December 2014

It was the last Autumn Statement before the General Election and Lib Dems were keen to show what we had put into it. Nick Clegg announced £150 million to help improve treatment for young people with eating disorders.

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Five posts to sum up November 2014

November started with a ministerial resignation as Norman Baker left the Home Office, saying that he wanted to release himself from “walking through mud” of working in a Department that thought it was run by the Conservative party, not the Coalition. In his first broadcast interview, with the BBC News Channel, he had praise for Theresa May and some advice for his successor:

Be firm, be fair, be courteous, make sure you promote Lib Dem policies but don’t give in.

For Remembrance Day, Anthony Hook reminded us what was at stake in the First World War:

The war had to be won to prove that a democratic government could protect the nation from existential danger. Defeat would have been used by liberal democracy’s opponents to argue for a less democratic future. Defeat might have strengthened Communism, or very likely have led to calls for more power for the military or monarchy – anyone but elected politicians who had lost the war. British and French defeat in 1918 might well have set back democracy’s progress in Western Europe by decades.

The War was utterly terrible and if it could have been avoided should have been. But the idea that it had no important outcomes is not right.

Those who died, did not die pointlessly. They saved freedom. The horror of the Western Front gives us motivation to prevent war and democracy, which the fallen secured, gives us the means to prevent it.

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Five posts to sum up October 2014

 

For the first time, courtesy of Alex Salmond’s timing of the independence referendum, it was the Liberal Democrats who brought the political conference season to a close. But before we all travelled to Glasgow, we had to sit through Ed Miliband forgetting the deficit which was fairly tame in comparison to the Tories salivating over removing people’s human rights. Ahead of the Conference, the party sent out a briefing to members on election strategy which I took a look at.

Let me put this bluntly. If we as a party don’t get our backsides into gear and fight the campaign of our lives over the next few months, the horror story that’s been unfolding in front of our eyes at the Tory Conference could be a reality. That could be our government. I don’t think any of us actually want that to happen, however annoyed we may be with various decisions taken by the Coalition Government. I certainly don’t want it to take a period of majority Tory Government for folk to realise that the Liberal Democrats actually did some good.

The party knows that it needs all its members engaged, inspired and committed and ready to ask unreasonable things of themselves in terms of commitment of both time and money in the months ahead. To that end, they have sent every member a 16 page Election Strategy Briefing in very official looking brown envelopes. The document explains the Dragon’s Den process which has been taking place with our strategic seats. I’ve been involved in that these past two years as a Scottish party state representative. It’s given me a good overview as to what has been going on in these important places. I have to say I was hugely impressed in the difference between this year and last year.  There has been a huge rise in activity on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, there needed to be, but it’s very heartening to see it. All those campaign teams that I and others put through their paces deserve huge amounts of applause, snuggles with labradors, chocolate, beer and appreciation.  The briefing goes on to explain what we are looking to achieve in the campaign and what we need to get our seats won. It looks at policy, the technology and how that all fits together with what we do on the ground. It’s a good read.

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Five posts to sum up September 2014

 

The beginning of September saw squeaky bum time in the Referendum went ahead in one poll. What, I wondered, could the pro UK do to pull it back?

There is very little chance of this vote now being decisive enough to put the issue of independence to bed for a generation. If the UK doesn’t deliver on not just more powers but greater social justice as well, then Scots will insist on another referendum. Nicola Sturgeon has already talked about doing it all again in 5 years if we vote no. We need to get those people back who want a Federal UK but are voting yes. It’s important that these people believe that the chance of achieving that goal is better after a No vote. It certainly isn’t after a Yes vote which is irreversible.  The likely narrow no vote is the option which gives people the most power. Voting yes would be handing it over to an SNP establishment which is very comfortable with power and for all the talk of a written constitution, is unlikely to want to cede much. The fact that it’s centralised everything that sits still for more than two minutes shows that. The very last thing I want to do is to trust them with more power. Imagine what Clear Desk Kenny MacAskill would do with counter-terrorism measures.

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Five posts to sum up August 2014

 

In August, the referendum got serious, but if it’s a laugh you want, skip to the 4th post. It’ll make you squeal.

The SNP and Yes saw the writing on the wall so started using desperate tactics saying the NHS, which is completely devolved to Scotland anyway, was under threat, using a much depended upon institution as a political weapon.

Some Liberal Democrats supported independence, though, as Denis Mollison wrote:

Crucially for Liberal Democrats, how will the prospects for further devolution look on 19th September if we vote No? Any progress will depend on Tory or Labour support, and what they are offering is minimal: indeed the limited devolution of income tax could in practice leave us worse offOur own current policy is much watered down from the original Home Rule concept, with separate parliaments for each country and a federal parliament for foreign affairs and macro-economics. Until we reach that stage the `West Lothian’ problem will just get worse and worse.

If we couldn’t achieve Home Rule 100 years ago, when there was a majority Liberal government and 6/7ths of the Scottish MPs were Liberal, we’re not likely to do so now.

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Five posts to sum up July 2014

So we get to July. Time for a long, hot Summer unwinding by the beach? Not a chance. Not with a referendum on… But first, there was emergency legislation to cover internet data loopholes. In a mammoth post, we looked at the pros, cons and dangers for our party.

The papers covered the promotion of some Tory women by comparing their outfits rather than their competence. Nick Clegg mocked them on Twitter. He did that quite a few times over the year, being random and funny and getting talked about.

There was a change of heart from the party on the Bedroom Tax based on the evidence of its first few months. To be honest, the conclusion was almost inevitable and highly predictable, but credit to the party for at least acting when the evidence was irrefutable. It wasn’t working, there were no smaller places for people to move to and it was causing hardship.

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Five posts to sum up June 2014

And so we reach the mid-point of the year. Already bruised, battered, fraught and fretful and along comes a Tory-UKIP bunfight in the form of a by-election in Newark to cheer us up. Not.

Stephen Tall pored over the results:

It was another dire night, to cap a dire fortnight. We didn’t just lose our deposit, we came sixth. Our vote collapsed. Four years ago, 10,246 Newark voters marked a ‘X’ beside the Lib Dem box. Yesterday, just 1,004 did so. In contrast to the Tories, not a single Lib Dem MP turned up to campaign. To be fair, they’re doubtless all knackered after a gruelling election period: but if our MPs couldn’t be persuaded to show up for our candidate why should we be surprised if the voters didn’t?

Much credit to our candidate, David Watts, who did his best in what was clearly a tricky campaign. Commenting on the result last night, David was phlegamtic: “Well it wasn’t a good result, but smaller parties often get squeezed in by-elections and that’s what’s happened to us here. We knew, from talking to people today, that a lot of our voters had transferred to vote against UKIP to make sure UKIP didn’t get elected and some have clearly gone to Paul’s campaign on the hospital which is a very important campaign.”

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Five posts to sum up May 2014

May saw the start of a campaign that was to eventually change the law on what has become known as Revenge Porn. The friend I quoted in the article wasn’t going public at that time, but it was Hannah Thompson who so eloquently and with real grace and dignity told her story and persuaded the likes of Maria Miller, Julian Huppert and Sal Brinton to fight for change.

Remember that interview where LBC’s James O’Brien took apart Nigel Farage on such issues as UKIP’s dodgy  immigration claims and its MEPs’ expenses? We shouldn’t forget that infamous moment when he said …

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Five posts to sum up April 2014

By April the European election campaign was in full swing. The second Nick v Nigel debate took place on the BBC. Nick’s performance wasn’t as strong as it had been in the LBC debate the week before. His big error, which he later acknowledged, was to say that the EU would be roughly the same in 10 years tome. That made us look far too wedded tot he status quo rather than the reformers we are.

Nick was never going to come out of these debates ahead, but that isn’t help. At least he had the nerve to take Farage on, though.  Stephen Tall told us not  to panic:

Recent polls show the British public pretty split on whether the UK should remain within the EU, but tilting towards staying in. The Lib Dems’ internal polling suggests that, among the one-quarter of the public who’ll consider voting for the party, pro-Europeanism plays pretty well. My main frustration of tonight’s debate was that Nick Clegg failed to advance the pro-reform case for staying within the EU as well as he’s done in the past – but there will be many more times and places for him to make that point in the next seven weeks. Overall, clear defining the party as being pro-European is more likely to win the Lib Dems the votes the party needs to win, both in 2014 as well as 2015.

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Five posts to sum up March 2014

We continue our saunter through the year in the eyes of Liberal Democrat Voice authors and contributors. In March we had our Spring Conference in York and the build-up to Nick vs Nigel intensified.

But first, we had to deal with someone behind the scenes briefing against both Tim Farron and party activists. By and large, this party has been pretty together given he challenges that presented themselves over the last few years with little public sniping. Caron Lindsay just wanted everyone to play nice.

I don’t want to over-egg the pudding, because, by and large, members of the party have been pretty civilised, wherever they stand on the Coalition. Compared to Labour’s toxic factionalism and the hatred of Cameron in some areas of the Conservative party, we are a bunch of cuddly teddy bears in comparison. But when the instinct to show our claws takes hold, we really need to quash it. Nobody should be talking about anyone to the media in these terms. Our energy needs to go into winning elections, not fighting petty, internal battles on the pages of the media.

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Five posts to sum up February 2014

Over the next few days, we are looking month by month at the year that’s coming to an end. What were we all thinking about in February?

6th February saw #timetotalk, an initiative by Time to Change to get everyone talking about mental health. Liberal Democrat Voice took part with a series of moving and powerful posts as people shared their own experience. Eleanor Draycott wrote about what it’s like to live with Bi-Polar Disorder and the pain inaccurate assumptions about her illness causes her:

One of the most common misconceptions about people with Bi-polar, as with any other mental health problem, is that they are a danger to other people. Nothing makes me more angry than when I’m watching a film or television programme and they announce that the serial killer, murderer etc is Bi-polar and just leave it at that – like that explains everything. It doesn’t. Of course it can happen, and it does, but assuming that a person with a mental health issue such as mine is automatically going to go on a killing spree is like assuming anyone with a gun is going to go out and shoot someone in the head, or that anyone who drinks alcohol is going to become and alcoholic. The world just doesn’t work that way. Even at my worst times I have always been more of a danger to myself than to anyone else, which isn’t ideal, but I’d rather hurt myself than harm another being, be that man, woman, child, animal or “other”.

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Five posts to sum up January 2014

Charles KennedyOver the next few days, we’ll remind you of five posts from each month, to give you a flavour of what was in the minds of LDV readers and contributors in what proved to be a gruelling and often bruising political year. 

1 January 2014 was the day we were going to be overwhelmed every single Romanian and Bulgarian coming here. We would all turn up to work the next day to find out we’d been replaced. They’d be hiding everywhere, even in our bread bins. Or so Farage would have had us believe, anyway. Remember all those very amusing posts on social media, with people saying things like “Just popping out to the pub, but can’t get past the crowds of Romanians and Bulgarians”.  It might have been funny for those few hours, but the reality is that parties which peddle the migrant-bashing line seem to be in the majority at the moment. If that isn’t a call for liberals to remember who the enemy is (clue: not each other), then I don’t know what is.

On New Year’s Day itself, Charles Kennedy summed up the challenges of the year ahead. 2014, he said, was not for the politically timid

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