Tag Archives: conservatives

Caroline Pidgeon writes…Who is the real Boris Johnson?

Just who is the real Boris Johnson? 

Is it the man who for eight years was the Mayor of one of the world’s most multi-racial cities, or instead the man who in his 2002 Daily Telegraph column included racist insults against black people, citing “regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies” in the Commonwealth and referring to “the tribal warriors… all break out in watermelon smiles”.

Is it the man who now argues in favour of a no deal Brexit, or instead the Boris Johnson who declared in his Daily Telegraph column: “It is also true that the single market is of considerable value to many UK companies and consumers, and that leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty.”

Or indeed the Boris Johnson of 2012 who stated that whenever he considered the prospect of Britain leaving, he always came down “narrowly” in favour of Britain staying.  And the Boris Johnson who took full advantage of the cheap lending from the European Investment Bank to fund London’s transport infrastructure.

Within a few weeks Conservative party members will be making a decision on whether they want Boris Johnson as their leader. They have to make a decision over a man whose views over the years have had more twists in them than a corkscrew.

Yet examining his contradictory and insulting statements on so many issues only gets us so far.  In contrast the actual record of Boris Johnson is clear cut.  

As someone who witnessed and scrutinised his activities at City Hall for eight years I have a clearer recollection of events than the Conservative MPs now scenting the chance of a ministerial post.

When examined in the round, his record was one of inactivity, missed opportunities and an immense waste of public money.  Always putting himself before anything else. 

Yet his supporters, such as Jacob Rees Mogg and James Cleverly are now peddling the idea that his record of Mayor of London was that of unbridled success and huge achievement.

It is said that a lie can get half way around the world before truth has even got its boots on.   

We now run that risk with some of the fanciful claims being made by Boris’ supporters will start to be believed.  We cannot allow that to happen.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games

Incredibly some people seek to credit Boris Johnson with the overall success of the 2012 Games.  His contribution to their success was in fact minimal. The hard work and the groundwork at the Olympic Park started long before he arrived at City Hall.  London won the bid for the 2012 Games in July 2005, three years before he became Mayor. There was a huge amount of work undertaken in preparing our bid in the years before that.  His biggest contribution was waving the flag at the opening ceremony.

Crime 

It is claimed during his time at City Hall that great progress was made in tackling crime. The reality is that there was serious rioting across the capital in the summer of 2011, wrecking many high streets and small businesses. His supporters also overlook the fact that knife crime was increasing in the last two years of his office.

Housing

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 11 Comments

William Wallace writes: Opportunity for Lib Dems as Labour and Conservatives crumble

It’s going to be even more confusing in the next few weeks and months.  Last Sunday Philip Hammond stated clearly that it’s no longer practical for the UK to leave the EU on October 31st, given the further delays caused by the pause for a Conservative leadership election.  A majority has then to be recreated for some sort of agreement, a bill has to pass through the Commons and the Lords, and preparations for implementation by an over-stretched civil service have to be completed.

Michael Gove has now followed Hammond, suggesting that October 31st may not be a hard and fast deadline.  The passion with which other candidates for the Conservative leadership are now pledging that they will produce a rabbit out of the hat and have everything ready in time, come what may, also suggests their anxiety that this is becoming more and more difficult to manage.  

You will have noticed wilder suggestions (from Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and others) that Parliament might somehow be bypassed, that a new Prime Minister would use prerogative powers to prorogue Parliament and let the UK leave without an agreement or a legal framework: executive sovereignty overriding parliamentary sovereignty, flatly contradicting the rhetoric of the Leave campaign.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

Getting rid of May doesn’t resolve the worst thing about her deal

The papers are full of speculation that Theresa May’s days as Prime Minister are numbered. So far so like every other day for the past year or so.

If current reports are to be believed, up to 11 members of the Cabinet are poised to replace her with David Lidington, Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt pending a leadership contest in the Autumn.

This was always the danger though. If she got her deal through, she would always have been quietly – or not- dumped later this year and the new leader would preside over negotiations with the EU on a longer term trade deal. It is likely that that leader would be someone who was acceptable to the ERG. That means they would be after all sorts of impossible unicorns like a free trade deal where they had to comply with absolutely none of the EU’s rules.

There is no way the EU would agree to the carefully crafted single market being compromised – and nor should they. The level playing field across Europe is a very good thing and leaving it is an act of folly.

But it’s not only trade deals with the EU that need to be forged. It’s trade deals with the rest of the world. We would be at a distinct disadvantage negotiating on our own with China and the US. Vince keeps citing the example of Switzerland whose access to Chinese markets is next to nothing while the Chinese access to Swiss markets is almost total.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

20 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Today is topped and tailed by Brexit, hardly unusual, but there is also some good stuff responding to today’s events…

  • Rival Brexit plans reveal Govt without a course
  • Govt must act to prevent deaths on our streets
  • Govt must end ‘wild west’ drone market
  • Lib Dems: Public health cuts demonstrate Tories’ duplicity
  • Alun Cairns Must Resign if UK Government Back No Deal – Welsh Lib Dems

Rival Brexit plans reveal Govt without a course

Responding to rival Brexit plans set out by Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has said:

While people at home over Christmas will be worried

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 6 Comments

An invitation to join the Tories

Yesterday I received an email invitation to join the Conservative Party from Helen Whately MP, its Vice Chair for Women.

From: Helen Whately MP, Conservative Party Vice Chair, Women
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2018 9:37 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Don’t stand for this

Today at Prime Minister’s Questions Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May a ‘stupid woman’.

This is just the latest in a long line of misogynistic behaviour from Corbyn and his top team.

Jeremy Corbyn ‘mansplained’ to the Prime Minister on International Women’s Day, called for women only train carriages and has a Shadow Chancellor who called a female MP a ‘b****’ and said

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 17 Comments

Tories claim credit for EU Directive giving greater rights to holidaymakers.

So the Scottish and Northern Irish schools have broken up and people are starting to head for the sun. Although, to be honest, they might as well have stayed at home this year. I’ll bet you by the time I head to the Highlands at the end of August, the weather will have well and truly broken.

Anyway, I digress. Anyone heading on a package holiday will have greater rights today. This is not because of anything that the Tories have done, although they show they have the brassiest neck in the history of the universe by claiming credit for it.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Carmichael: Conservative ministers wrong to attend DUP Conference

Alistair Carmichael has criticised the appearance of two senior Conservative Ministers at the DUP’s annual Conference. The Conservatives are beholden to the DUP for a majority and in June agreed a deal with them which cost us £1 billion. The greater cost, though, is the damage to the sensitive political relationships in Northern Ireland.

Was is really necessary or wise for Damien Green to go for a dinner and Tory Chief Whip to be welcomed to the stage with such obvious pride by the DUP?

Alistair Carmichael says that it wasn’t?

The peace process is still fragile and has survived because British politicians have been prepared to rise above the usual partisan politics.

It is difficult to see how anyone in Northern Ireland and Ireland will see Conservative ministers as being anything other than part of the problem now. It was a mistake for them to go.

Ireland has been much in the headlines this weekend. Tom Brake had this to say on the comments by Ireland’s EU Commissioner that it is a “very simple fact” that “if the UK or Northern Ireland remained in the EU Customs Union, or better still the Single Market, there would be no border issue”.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

Membership matters: Are Lib Dems really ahead of the Tories? And if so, is that good enough?

One of Vince Cable’s stated aims as leader was to overtake the Tories in terms of party membership. We knew that that was a reasonably tall order, as the last known figure for Tory membership was around 149,000 three years ago. That aim was going to take a wee while to fulfil, we thought. However we were looking at it in terms of us growing. It sounds like we’re already there because the Tory membership has sunk like a stone over the Summer.

David Hencke reports on an interview with a key Conservative campaigner who puts membership at around 100,000 – below our figures:

John Strafford, chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, in an  eve of conference exclusive interview  on the Tribune magazine website, says the real membership of the party has plummeted to around 100,000- way below the 149,500 figure and 134,000 figure used by the party in 2013.

Mr Strafford said: “The party is facing oblivion. If you take the fact only 10 per cent of the membership is likely to be very active they will not have enough people on the ground to fight an election – they won’t even have enough people to man polling stations on the day.

“They are keeping council seats because often the families of the councillors are campaigning with party members to get them re-elected. They simply don’t have the local resources to do this in a general election.”

The Tories have been notoriously secretive about their party membership. Unlike us, the don’t publish the number in their annual accounts as we did even during the bad times. However, this House of Commons library report published last month gives some interesting facts and figures about trends in political party membership. Over the last 70 years or so, the Tories have had the biggest fall.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

Brake: UKIP standing aside because May has adopted their agenda

At the last General Election, we did this “Beware Blukip” thing to warn against a Tory/UKIP coalition. At the time, I thought it was a bit ill-advised because my real worry was the Tories getting a majority. They did that and look what havoc they have wreaked since.

If the Labour manifesto is supposedly going back to the 70s, the Conservative one will be going back even further to a rose-tinted view of the 1950s, rolling back as much of the social progress we’ve made in my lifetime as it can.

I mean, fox hunting. Really.

It now emerges that UKIP are standing in only 377 seats in this election and, frankly, are unlikely to win any of them. This should give us no relief whatsoever because their agenda has now been adopted by the Conservative Party.

As Tom Brake put it:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

A pointer towards the future of British Conservatism?

In the middle of an election campaign, Liberal Democrats don’t have time to read books. But keep an eye out for reviews, and extracts, of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, by Douglas Murray, which was published on May 4th by Bloomsbury. The Sunday Times gave us a full-page extract last weekend, indicating the Murdoch press’s approval of its author and his arguments. His opening sentence states that ‘Europe is committing suicide’: from loss of will, decline of Christian values (he calls it ‘existential civilizational tiredness’), lost commitment to reproduce enough children, and above all …

Posted in Op-eds | 24 Comments

Events of the week highlight the courage and clarity of Tim Farron’s stance

It’s been quite a week in British politics. The Tory conference and the UKIP self-combustion serve to crystallise a distinct change. A sea change, if you like.

We heard Amber Rudd saying companies will have to register “foreign” employees (next step getting them to wear badges?) and Theresa May hard Brexiting.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 33 Comments

The Tories’ populist agenda seeks to silence the voices of reason

The Conservative Party conference has opened the floodgates to a torrent of populist policies aimed firmly at what Theresa May calls ‘ordinary working-class people’. The NHS is to become self-sufficient in British doctors. British firms will come under increasing pressure to hire British workers. Our military will ‘opt out’ of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The hard-working people of Britain, says Theresa May, will no longer be ignored by ‘the powerful and the privileged’. And she rails against those who see their patriotism as ‘distasteful’ and call their fears about immigration ‘parochial’.

The message is clear: If you’re working hard to make ends meet, the Tories are the party for you.

I have to admit that it’s a clever strategy. This pro-British, anti-foreigner approach appeals to the many people who feel that previous governments have left them behind, while also being a sort of political catnip to Tory stalwarts. And it cleverly taps into the popular sentiment underlying the Brexit vote, without needing to refer explicitly to the shambles that is the Government’s Brexit policy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments

LibLink: Willie Rennie: The Conservatives are fanning the flames of xenophobia

Willie Rennie writes in the Times that the Tories are throwing petrol on the fires of prejudice unleashed by the Leave campaign during the EU Referendum.

Telling doctors from other countries who are here saving lives in our NHS that their position is only secure until we can rush a crop of new graduates through medical school is not responsible. Telling people from other countries who are thinking about moving here to work and pay taxes that their names might be included on a list of foreign workers is not responsible.

If we are publishing lists of foreign workers, we may as well pull up the drawbridge. These policies are not about controlling immigration. They are about demonising immigrants.

The message this sends to foreign students, medical staff, businesses and others is clear. You are not welcome here. As a liberal who has always believed that we can achieve more when we work with those around us, this does not just make me sad. It makes me incredibly angry.

The Scottish Conservatives are just as responsible as their colleagues, he adds:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 19 Comments

William Wallace writes: Could Brexit split the Conservative party?

 

How deeply could Brexit divide the Conservative Party, as the contradictory choices involved in negotiating an alternative relationship with the EU become clearer?

Media focus since the Referendum outcome has been on the widening divisions within the Labour Party.  Press comment has praised the self-discipline of the Conservatives, by contrast, in resolving the issue of leadership so quickly – though in reality it was resolved by the implosion of ‘Leave’ candidates, one after the other, leaving Teresa May in command of the field.  But the divide between practical Eurosceptics and ideological Europhobes is wide, and often bitter.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

Think about Andrea Leadsom’s target audience

Most of the progressive side of social media is frothing in collective disgust at Andrea Leadsom’s comments in today’s Times (£).

There is no doubt that they were absolutely disgusting.

After explaining that, as a former banker, she understands “how the economy works and can really focus on turning it around” — unlike, by implication, the home secretary — she stresses that she is a “member of a huge family and that’s important to me. My kids are a huge part of my life, my sisters and my two half brothers are very close so I am very grounded and normal.” Mrs May, of course, has spoken of her heartbreak at realising that she could not have children.

In case the contrast is not clear enough, Mrs Leadsom goes on: “I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible, but genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.” There is also an empathy that comes from motherhood, she suggests, “when you are thinking about the issues that other people have: you worry about your kids’ exam results, what direction their careers are taking, what we are going to eat on Sunday”.

Lest you think the Times might be making it up, here’s the audio:

It should go without saying that whether you have children or not, whether that’s by choice or not, has no bearing on whether you care about the future of our planet. However, what Leadsom did was made even nastier because she knew perfectly well that Theresa May and her husband had not been able to have children. The pain of infertility is really tough to go through, as you come to terms with the fact that your life is going to be different than you thought it would be. It gets harder as you see your contemporaries all having children and embracing family life. Leadsom disproves her own argument, that being a mother gives her more empathy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 41 Comments

Liberal Democrats need to oppose this government with more passion and rage

Thank heaven we have had no major crises while our Government is weak and split. The lordly predecessors of the present set must have turned in their graves when Cabinet responsibility was temporarily abandoned, in defiance of historic practice. The ghosts should then have howled when leading Tories began to spit insults at each other and denounce the supposed lies of their colleagues.

Yet we are stuck with this Tory Government, in or out of the EU. This collection of sophisticated predators, who systematically promote the interests of their own kind and seek the further enrichment of the moneyed classes despite the deep inequalities in Britain, know how to survive.

Where was Iain Duncan Smith’s consciousness of his Government’s preferring tax cuts for the wealthy when poor and disabled people, hit by his benefit cuts, were struggling to survive? Those were the days when David Cameron’s response to Nick Clegg’s attempts to adjust the balance of taxation in favour of the poor was ‘But our donors wouldn’t like it’, and the reply to requests for more public housing was ‘It would only create more Labour voters’. Yet, only this year did Duncan Smith apparently find his conscience and notice that the parrot-cry of ‘We are all in this together’ was false.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 44 Comments

++BBC: At least EIGHT police forces are actively investigating Conservative election expenses from the 2015 election

BBC News’ Home Affairs correspondent, Daniel Sandford reports:

Eight police forces are investigating whether Conservative MPs filed election expenses illegally after the 2015 General Election, the BBC understands.

The allegations centre around failing to register the accommodation costs of party activists who were involved in the “battle bus” operation.

The party has blamed an “administrative error”.

A Conservative spokesman said the party had already brought the error to the attention of the Electoral Commission.

The activists on the party’s battle bus targeted marginal seats.

The police probe will ascertain whether the expenses for the people using the bus should have been filed by

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments

How could David Cameron keep a straight face?

So, David Cameron accuses the SNP of being a one-party state and says the Conservatives are the people to stop them. The BBC reports:

Only the Tories can challenge the SNP and prevent Scotland becoming a “one party state”, David Cameron has said.

In a speech to the Scottish Conservative conference, the prime minister insisted his party was the only one that could challenge the Nationalists.

How he said that with a straight face, I’ll never know. These comments come from the man who is doing his damnedest to stitch up the political system for himself. He blocks any attempts at electoral reform. He changes the rules the boundaries with the result that his party has an advantage. He does everything he can to avoid parliamentary scrutiny, limiting the power of the Lords and Scottish MPs. The changes he pushed for on electoral registration mean that a million fewer people can vote. Then there’s the denial of the vote to 16 year olds at every level and trying to limit opposition funds through the Trade Union Bill.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Better the Centre-Right than the Hard-Left

 

Liberal Democrats, Conservative backbenchers and moderate Labour MPs are honourable Parliamentarians trying to resolve the Syrian situation. They understand that they cannot solve the situation overnight and with easy solutions. Contrast this fair-minded and well-intentioned approach with the black and white binary through which the hard-left narrates all foreign affairs.

American, Britain and Israel are the problem; all other states and non-state actors are either lesser evils or even victims, so their narrative goes. The anti-colonial hard left blame the west for every problem in present day Syria.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 54 Comments

Jo Swinson: Tories preferred SNP MPs to Liberal Democrats

The most successful parties in the UK at the moment are the Conservatives and the SNP, parties which are supposedly totally opposed in terms of values but who seem to be fuelling each others’ gains.

We know that Alex Salmond helped give oxygen to the Tories’ increasingly incredible and hyperbolic claims during the general election by hinting at demands he’d make of Ed Miliband. We know that the Tories spent a small fortune in seats they couldn’t win in Scotland in a strategy that could only have had the effect of ensuring that the SNP won.

There is a school of thought in this party that puts our atrocious result down to the Tory’s scaremongering about the SNP and Labour in coalition. Others say that this is a smokescreen and that actually our poor messaging was at fault. Actually, I think both were pretty strong factors and I think that we legitimised what the Tories were doing by running scared of it rather than calling it out for the nonsense it was.

The Herald reports Jo Swinson’s comments about the impact of the Tory campaign in her seat and others:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

The Conservatives and asylum seekers

Anti-immigrant feeling is one of the oldest prejudices in the book. We have rightly come to expect to hear it with wearying regularity from the right-wing press and certain parts of the Conservative party.  But there is something different about the latest round of comments and policy proposals from Theresa May and co – something darker and altogether more troubling.

Until now, even the Conservatives, who have attacked ‘economic’ migrants (including students) with every kind of financial and regulatory penalty imaginable since 2010, have maintained an attitude of respect towards asylum seekers and refugees. ‘Britain has a proud and historic tradition …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 38 Comments

Opinion: Predictions for a new Parliament

 

As the dust settles from Thursday, one key question is what will David Cameron do with his unexpected Conservative majority? Here are a couple of predictions for the upcoming Parliament.

Where the £30bn of proposed cuts will fall is largely unknown until the autumn. Health spending is protected though – which means bigger cuts elsewhere, such as £12bn to welfare. The only bright spot could be the linking of the personal allowance to the national minimum wage – raising it to around £13,000 pa.

Posted in Op-eds | 20 Comments

Opinion: What England really voted for – how we ended up here and where we’re going

Throughout his campaign, David Cameron argued that the success of his government was evidence that voters should continue to support the Conservatives.

Want more of the same, to continue on this path? Vote Conservatives, he said.

And voting Conservative was exactly what English voters did, giving Cameron’s party a completely unexpected majority. With fear of what Labour had done to the economy in the past, and the threat of the SNP and the Greens at the extreme Left, this promise rang as hope, security and comfort in the ears of moderate-thinking voters.

Posted in Op-eds | 33 Comments

Opinion: Why I would be wary of another coalition with the Conservatives

As the speculation continues on the make-up of the next government, I have been thinking a lot about the prospect of another Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

We went into coalition in 2010 for three main reasons 1) because the country needed a strong, stable government to sort out the economy which was in crisis 2) to stop the Tories from doing nasty, right-wing things, and 3) to get our own great policies, such as pupil premium implemented.

So where are we in 2015? We do not have the same level of economic difficulty as we did in 2010. The deficit is halved, our GDP growth is the highest amongst developed countries and we have record employment. Whilst it’s true that we cannot take the economic recovery for granted, we are not in crisis.

As to being able to stop the Tories’ right wing agenda in 2015, I doubt that we will be able to do that as effectively. It is likely that any Conservative/Lib Dem/DUP coalition will have the smallest of majorities. This will give those ‘swivel-eyed’ right wing conservatives a lot of power. In this parliament, the Coalition had a decent majority and the more extreme Tories could be safely ignored – that won’t be the case this time. And just to get a flavour of some of the policies on offer in the Tory 2015 manifesto – 500 more free schools, removing JSA for 18-21 year olds, requiring 40% turnout for strike action, ending any subsidy for onshore wind,  lowering the benefit cap, capping skilled migration, scrapping the Human Rights Act and introducing the snoopers charter – nice!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 76 Comments

IDS was talking openly about restricting Child Benefit to two children, so how can the Conservatives deny Danny Alexander’s claims?

Danny Alexander has claimed that the Tories would meet their target of cutting £12 billion to the welfare budget by  making massive cuts to Child Benefit, means testing, limiting it to two children, abolishing the increased payment for the first child and removing it for 16-19 year olds. He told the Guardian that they had suggested these things back in 2012 and the Liberal Democrats had put a stop to them:

The Conservatives have been under sustained pressure to detail how they will cut £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-2018, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank confirmed this week the Tories have so far disclosed only 10% of these cut in the form of a two-year freeze in working age benefits.

A separate internal government paper, Alexander reveals, was drawn up by the Treasury commissioned by the Tories for an additional £6bn cuts in welfare to be announced in the 2012 Autumn Statement.

The £8bn worth of welfare cuts were drawn up by Duncan Smith at a time when the cabinet was considering whether to stick to its timetable to reduce Britain’s national debt as a proportion of GDP. The plan was dropped.

The Tories have come out with a mockraged “But how could he suggest such a thing?” denial. This is barely credible. We know that Iain Duncan Smith was talking openly about limiting Child Benefit to two children back in 2013 as was Grant Shapps who added an even nastier element to this policy – that it should only apply to unemployed parents. According to the Telegraph, then:

But instead of denying the payments to all large families, some Tories have suggested that restrictions should be applied only to parents who do not work.

Grant Shapps, the Conservative chairman, earlier this year suggested that unemployed parents should not receive child benefit for additional children.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, last year questioned whether it was acceptable that families on benefits should continue to receive endless amounts of money for every child they have, when parents who are working often cannot afford to have more children.

The Lib Dems have insisted that there should be no more welfare cuts imposed during this Parliament.

As recently as last month, Newsnight reported that the Tories were wanting to restrict payment to three children, with Dominic Raab muttering darkly about “personal responsibility.”

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 65 Comments

Willie Rennie accuses Conservatives of trying to pull the UK apart

For the third time in ten days, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has hit out at the Conservatives, accusing them of putting party before country and risking the future of the United Kingdom they say they want to keep together.

Their actions are very different, though. Last week, Michael Fallon talked up the entirely ridiculous suggestion of a deal between Labour and the SNP on Trident with the aim of persuading swing voters in middle England to vote Conservative. They also sent their Scottish leader campaigning in North East Fife, a seat they know that they can’t win. Willie Rennie said at the time:

Just the other day the Scottish Conservative Leader was visiting North East Fife claiming they can win.  It’s a seat the bookies say is a close race between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.  The Tories are also rans.  The only result of their reckless actions would be to divide the non-SNP vote and let the SNP win.

Yesterday, Willie described the Conservative plans for English votes for English Laws as “unstable and reckless.”

We agree that there does need to be a stronger voice for England in parliament.

But we will not entertain a Conservative attempt to gerrymander those votes in order to give the Conservatives a majority say on these important matters when they don’t command a majority of peoples’ votes in England.

Like all other forms of devolution in the United Kingdom any change must be based on fairer proportional voting, not Tory plans to create a majority by the back door. The Conservatives unstable and reckless reforms threaten to undermine the future of the UK.

And, finally, today, he condemned a Conservative poster being shown in England, saying that the Tories have joined the SNP in trying to pull the country apart.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 20 Comments

Sir John Major certainly knows about parliamentary mayhem

If I was doing one of these word association games, the first word that comes into my mind when I think of Sir John Major is “b******ds”. This Guardian report from 1993 reminds us of the frustration he felt as a Prime Minister who was frequently embroiled in parliamentary mayhem, not knowing whether he was going to be able to win crucial Commons votes. Except it wasn’t nationalists, pesky or otherwise, who caused him the problems. It was his own party.

Mr Major: “Just think it through from my perspective. You are the prime minister, with a majority of 18, a party that is still harking back to a golden age that never was, and is now invented (clearly a reference to the time of Mrs Thatcher’s leadership). You have three rightwing members of the Cabinet who actually resign. What happens in the parliamentary party?”

Mr Brunson observes that Tory MPs would create a lot of fuss, but that Mr Major is prime minister. He could easily find three new cabinet members.

Mr Major then bares his soul. “I could bring in other people. But where do you think most of this poison is coming from? From the dispossessed and the never-possessed. You can think of ex-ministers who are going around causing all sorts of trouble.

“We don’t want another three more of the bastards out there. What’s Lyndon Johnson’s maxim?…”

Major’s words might be aimed at scaring Middle England into voting Tory while annoying Scottish voters into voting SNP to give the Conservatives more chance of winning that increasing elusive parliamentary majority, but what it actually does is remind us how dangerous the right wing of the Conservative Party, especially if combined with UKIP and the likes of the DUP, could be. A tiny Tory majority would give the likes of Nadine Dorries and Peter Bone the run of the place, a point well made by Nick Clegg last week with the launch of the Blukip site. Frankly, the Blu on its own is bad enough. The Kip would only be the sour on top of the bitter.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 35 Comments

Tories seem to be shredding their claim to economic competence with each new spending commitment

The Tories have gone on about economic responsibility and controlling spending for long enough. It’s bizarre, then, that their list of dubiously funded post-election spending commitments is getting longer by the day.

It’s not enough to say that the NHS will get the £8 billion it needs out of the proceeds of a stronger economy alone as Jeremy Hunt did this morning. That’s like making a commitment on a foundation of fresh air and marshmallow.

Asked how the Conservatives would fund the pledge, he said the economy had been turned around and pointed to investment in the service during the last Parliament, when the government guaranteed an above-inflation increase in funding.

He said: “If you want to be sceptical about the commitment, look at the track record.”

It’s not as if the global economy is in a particularly robust position to be able to rely on that.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Opinion: The Conservative campaign – some concerns

 

It is an opportune time to take issue with some of the key planks of the Conservative campaign.

Mr Crosby, who likes simple messages, has primarily put forward just two.  The first is that the Tories have a long term economic plan.  The second is a clever cartoon presenting Miliband as a puppet in Salmond’s pocket.

It might perhaps be argued that George W Bush, who repeated endlessly that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al-Qaida, was the original inspiration for the “Long Term Economic Plan” campaign.  Surveys showed that a majority of Americans came to believe a story known to be entirely false.  Constant repetition of the untruth helped Bush justify the invasion of Iraq.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

What’s the scariest outcome of the General Election?

While the national polls aren’t looking great for the Liberal Democrats, to say the least, in key seats there’s more of an air of, if not confidence, at least hope. Campaign teams are busily getting on with what needs to be done for them to win their seats, buoyed by increasing membership and a never-ending list of jobs to do. Ben Lazarus, who write the Telegraph’s Morning Briefing tried to fathom the other day what he called the “Lib Dems’ curious optimism”:

For a party that, since 2010 has now lost three quarters of their support, the Liberal Democrats seem remarkably calm. There are reasons for this. They know that a hung parliament could give them real power again after May . And, according to YouGov’s Peter Kellner,  despite the abysmal polling, there are two factors that may help them save more of their seats than those headline figures suggest. First, the party usually gains support nationally during election campaigns. The party benefits from TV exposure – although they no longer have the advantage of being a protest party unaffected by the rigours of government, it is likely their exposure by the main broadcasters will still be an aid. Second, Liberal Democrat MPs often have a strong personal following. Where Lib Dems are seeking re-election, their chances are often better than the national polls suggest; the party is deliberately playing to this strength, fighting lots of local campaigns instead of a national one.

With all the talk about Ukip and the Greens, the Lib Dems are sometimes forgotten.  But don’t rule them out.  They may prove more resilient than many expect, and thus play a pivotal role in the messy events that follow the election.

And it’s about what goes on following the election that I want to think about. I wrote last week that we need to keep our options open and not throw any babies out before the bath has even been run. While I understand the logic that letting the SNP be in charge of the UK would be a bit like letting Farage take charge in Europe, we don’t know what orders the people are going to give us, what hand we are going to be dealt. And, frankly, we will have to find the best future for liberal democrat ideas within that. It might be in government, it might not be.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 63 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 16th Jun - 7:08pm
    Peter Martin, this is an MMT critique (and Keynesian critique) from a marxist economist https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/modern-monetary-theory-part-1-chartalism-and-marx/ and https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/mmt-2-the-tricks-of-circulation/. You may find it of interest (or not)...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 16th Jun - 6:18pm
    @ JoeB, There's plenty of people on the left who may be Marxist, or who claim to be, but don't understand how 21st capitalism works....
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 16th Jun - 6:13pm
    That's an interesting article, Laurence. I have not seen that kind of explanation by sector before. The author concludes: "... the biggest thing is this...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 16th Jun - 5:49pm
    @ Michael BG, "Why is it a problem if Investment is more than Savings and it is being funded by foreign investment?" Firstly, if S-I...
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 16th Jun - 5:31pm
    I was looking at some other blogs on economics and came across this posting from Gavin Jackson of the FT: https://medium.com/@GavinHJackson/speech-on-the-productivity-puzzle-58e54869658 The point he makes...
  • User Avatarbernard aris 16th Jun - 5:19pm
    In talking to Dutchmen (and -women) who have lived and worked in London, I keep hearing the complaint that the bike lanes Boris was proud...