Tag Archives: david cameron

Heart of England, reject the Tories now

Perhaps we should have known. The Witney constituency is West Oxfordshire, a quiet, beautiful farming area of fields dotted with golden-stone villages and small towns. It is an area for hunting, real ale and country dancing. Among the little towns is Chipping Norton. And Chipping Norton became identified with a ‘set’, including David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks – and you remember then about the News of the World and the phone-hacking scandal.

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Rennie on referendum anniversary: Cameron does not deserve our respect or fond memory

Willie Rennie speaking at Lib Dem Spring conference, Liverpool 2008It’s two years since the Scottish Independence was held and Scotland chose to stay in the UK. Within hours of the result, David Cameron had trashed the fragile victory by banging on about English Votes for English Laws. Whatever the merits of the case, that really was not the time.

Willie Rennie MSP, speaking to activists at the party’s federal conference in Brighton, has said that  David Cameron “does not deserve our respect or fond memory” as he slammed the Tories for entrenching division following the independence referendum in 2014.

Speaking to senior councillors, Willie recalled how the former Prime Minister used the result of the independence referendum to stoke up English nationalism for party advantage.  He he is glad that Mr Cameron has gone from Downing Street.

He said:

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Did you spot the Liberal Democrat in David Cameron’s Resignation Honours?

Really. There was one:

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 00.45.02

There’s a surprise. Lena Pietsch, Nick Clegg’s former Special Adviser when he was Deputy PM, gets an OBE.

This is what the Standard had to say about her two years ago when they named her one of the most influential people in London.

Nick Clegg’s director of public relations
The happiest Lib-Dem in Britain on July 13, German-born Pietsch was celebrating her team winning the World Cup. On maternity leave during the summer, having given birth to her second child, she continued to advise Mr Clegg from home, including on using Twitter to appeal to women voters. An ex-journalist, she was key in persuading the DPM to do his Call Clegg show on LBC Radio.

Cameron has done what Nick Clegg failed to do last year. When he announced his dissolution honours, female Special Advisers were conspicuous by their absence, as Jo Swinson wrote for us.

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So farewell then David Cameron…

In the week of Chilcot, we can at least observe that David Cameron didn’t cause an unnecessary Middle East invasion which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

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Goodbye, David

As David Cameron leaves No 10, his legacy is being scrutinised.  I have to say that I found the glowing tributes coming from his Cabinet colleagues as they entered Downing Street yesterday pretty nauseating.

Much of the news commentary has been way too positive.

I am dreading the inevitable fawning over him that’s going to happen as he faces his last Prime Minister’s Questions. I will not be happy if, as they did for Blair, any of our lot indulge in any applause or standing ovations for him.

Let’s look at some of the key compliments people are paying him:

Stabilise the economy?

Well, do you remember the 1980s when the recession lasted for years because the Tories insisted on cutting public spending beyond what was sensible? Well, this time they were prevented from doing so by the Liberal Democrats in coalition. They wanted to cut further and faster. It was Nick Clegg and David Laws, by and large, who saw that common sense prevailed. Even then, some of their ideas weren’t put into practice because the Tories wouldn’t have it. Some of us felt that even the Liberal Democrats in Government too far but at least the economy was starting to do well. Until, that is, David Cameron’s actions have led to a spectacular crash in the value of the pound. More money was wiped from the country in the days after the referendum than we ever paid to the EU. And that’s only the start.

Same sex marriage?

Well, he didn’t really. The person who drove that through Government was Lynne Featherstone, backed up by Theresa May. Cameron regretted it because of the fuss his backbenchers made. He couldn’t even get half of them to go through the lobbies in support of the measure. Nick Clegg was the first leader to enthusiastically embrace the concept of same sex marriage and did so even ahead of the 2010 election.

He won two elections and a referendum?

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A PM fails this country and destroys another, yet faces no action. Where’s the accountability in that?

I’m watching an at times close to tears Tony Blair giving his response to the Chilcot Report.

He asks us to accept that he took the decision to go to war in good faith. I’m not sure that was ever actually in doubt. Charles Kennedy, in disagreeing with him in the House of Commons during the March 2003 Commons debate, did not doubt the sincerity of his position.

However, Blair’s comments, and all the regret he may feel, cannot make up for what the report makes clear was a very flawed decision making process, with insufficient planning for the aftermath, putting British forces in added danger as they were fighting on two fronts (Iraq and Afghanistan) and weren’t given the resources to do their jobs and that the process establishing whether the decision was even legal was flawed.

The “with you, whatever” memo is not quite damning as it seems. If you read the whole thing, Blair is actually trying to steer the US President down a path of forming an international coalition and pointing out the consequences of not doing so. The problem with the memo as Chilcot says is that he sent a fairly detailed exposition of the UK Government’s position without even asking the Foreign and Defence Secretaries to comment. However, I am less convinced that Straw or Hoon would have changed anything, but that’s just a personal opinion. Also, using loose language like “with you, whatever” is at best not advisable. At worst it shows a contempt for Parliament and the decision making process in Government.

I have never been one of those people who has thought that Tony Blair should be tried as a war criminal. To suggest such a thing, that there is some equivalence between him and the likes of Radovan Karadzic, sentenced earlier this year for his part in the Bosnian genocide is to my mind inappropriate. The errors of Blair and his Government were not of brutality but of folly, negligence and incompetence.

Those were pretty major errors but nobody involved is actually going to face any consequences for that. How can that be? If Blair were still in office, he would have to resign in disgrace. A decade on, he enjoys a privileged and comfortable life with an international career.

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Farron reacts to David Cameron’s resignation

Tim Farron has said that this “self-inflicted wound” will be David Cameron’s legacy as he commented on the Prime Minister’s resignation.

12 months ago David Cameron had the best result of his career. Today, the worst.

I was honoured to share a platform with the Prime Minster on this campaign, but this result, this self-inflicted wound, will be his legacy.

There have been many things I did not agree with the Prime Minister on, but I must thank him for his stewardship of the country and for the way he took the very bold decision to create a Coalition Government in 2010. It was an incredible act of bi-partisan cooperation.

The result of the referendum has left him with no choice. In this immediate period, the Government must act quickly to steady the economy, reassure the markets, and immediately set a new course.

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Cameron should make way for people capable of making a positive case for Remain

Last night I spent an hour of my life I won’t get back listening to two men who, respectively, don’t much like and loathe the EU, take questions separately from an ITV audience.

It was every bit as dire as you would expect and then some. Watching Cameron head up the case for Remain is a bit like watching that kid (who would have been me at my school) with no hand-eye co-ordination being forced to captain the netball team. Except, of course, that nobody forced Cameron into that position. He chose to pander to the right wing of his party and UKIP.

What was worrying is that the worm thing on the Times Red Box website was mainly pro Farage, but I did wonder if that was because the sort of demographic who would be using it would be more predisposed to Leave. Matt Chorley’s email this morning confirms that, saying that 80% of those using it were pro Brexit to start with.

The problem is that he sounds half-hearted in his arguments for the EU. There is no positivity, nothing in his demeanour or his words to inspire people to vote his way.

During the Scottish referendum, for all he increased the Yes vote every time he opened his mouth, he did at least appear sincere about wanting the UK to stay together. Don’t, he said, vote Yes to hammer the f-ing Tories. He seemed genuinely worried, at least until the result was declared and then he was quick to put party before country and pointscore on English Votes for English Laws.

Last night, Cameron did a lot of Leave’s job for them, legitimising their anti-immigration lines rather than spelling out the many positives of immigration. The whole programme centred round the economy and immigration. That was it. Nothing on human rights, nothing on workers’ rights. The latter is the one argument that I’ve found can switch people. Very few people actually think that the Tories would preserve their hard-won employment rights, particularly if they move substantially to the right post Brexit.

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Laws: Cameron was frightened of Boris

David-LawsI just happened upon the tail end of Michael Crick’s Channel 4 programme about the relationship between Cameron and Boris. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it. The programme contains an interview with David Laws in which he says that Cameron and Osborne were always very sensitive to what Boris was doing. Asked if he thought Cameron was frightened of Boris, David said “Yes.”

He also savaged the Prime Minister for putting the country through this referendum, taking such a huge gamble with the nation’s future,   purely to try to deal with the age-old split in his party.

Michael Crick wrote about his programme for the Radio Times site:

Some see Johnson’s declaration in favour of Brexit as another calculated move, albeit a huge gamble – one that almost matches Cameron’s big risk in holding the referendum in the first place. The friends and allies of 2005 are now seemingly adversaries to the death, as Cameron increasingly came to fear Johnson as the only man who could really destroy his leadership.

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Offshore 101, or: Can we please stop asking David Cameron to resign?

One of my favourite things about the Liberal Democrats is members don’t just get stuck into debates – they go looking for the evidence to back up what they’ve got to say. That’s why this week’s furore around what David Cameron did or didn’t do has been so frustrating.

The Panama Papers are fascinating to me, as a lawyer and a would-be tax specialist. It looks likely that when the dust has settled there will be evidence of money laundering, of tax evasion, of tax avoidance and of regulatory failings. But so far most journalists and commentators are throwing around words like fund and trust as if they’re the same thing, and treating tax avoidance, tax evasion and money laundering as equivalent acts. Unfortunately, much of the social media discussion so far has accepted these red herrings.

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Should politicians publish their tax returns?

Here’s Tim Farron telling Sky News on Friday that he is going to release his tax return, regardless of whether anyone else does. He said he made his decision because he thought that people had “a right to have their confidence in their leaders enhanced and not further diminished.”

Tim Farron: “I’m Going To Publish My Tax Return”“It’s up to him. I’m going to.” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron on whether David Cameron should publish his tax return.

Posted by Sky News on Friday, 8 April 2016

And so, David Cameron has now published his tax return. It doesn’t really tell us anything that we didn’t know already. We discover that he’s a rich man. We discover that he and his wife get more in rent for their Notting Hill home every year than some of our homes are worth. They are getting in more than £7,500 per month.

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Is it Game Over for Cameron?

A few years ago, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives had to resign effectively because he’d taken a few taxi journeys that he shouldn’t on parliamentary expenses. This was the result of the much stronger freedom of information rules in Scotland and was part of our own expenses scandal in 2005.

If those are the standards which merit resignation, David Cameron should perhaps have been a little more careful over the statements he made earlier in the week over his personal financial dealings. He might have told us that he didn’t have any shares now, but holding back the information that he had held shares in his father’s offshore trust for 13 years before selling them just before he became Prime Minister demonstrates a lack of candour. Why couldn’t he just have been up front about it at the beginning of the week? We should expect more from our political leaders.

Tim Farron agrees, telling the Mirror:

The Prime Minister has for days denied that he had offshore funds but has been dragged to the truth.

For ordinary taxpayers to have faith in the system they have to be able to have faith in their leaders. They deserve better than half truths and qualified statements.

It might be an idea for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to review the matter to make sure that Cameron always kept to the rules on registering these shares. At first glance, it looks as though he did. The rules for registering shareholdings are as follows:

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David Laws on Marr: I want to expose how NHS chief was leant on to encourage debate on NHS funding

It’s the second week of David Laws’ coalition revelations serialised in the Mail on Sunday. This week we have him telling us that:

To take them in turn:

You have to wonder why we bought and publicised the £8bn figure, too. It’s all very well for David Laws to tell Andrew Marr today that Norman Lamb was always sceptical about it, but I seem to recalls making a massive thing about how we were the only party who was going to meet the £8bn request in full. If we knew that the figure was nonsense then, why on earth did we not say loudly and lay out the choices that the nation faced in a much more realistic way?

On Marr, David Laws emphasised how the Lib Dems helped IDS veto Treasury requests for further welfare cuts, confirming that Osborne saw it as a cash cow.There are problems with this analysis, though.  Danny Alexander seemed to be hand in glove with Osborne on a lot of this stuff, at one point calling people affected by the Bedroom Tax “bedroom blockers.” Also, a lot of the really awful ideas, from the rape clause to the capping at two children were IDS’s idea.

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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.

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A practical suggestion to improve the UK’s influence within the EU

As a Brit, living in Brussels and working in the European Parliament, I’ve had a lot to reflect on over the past months and weeks.

When asked by friends and colleagues, “well what do you think about ‘Cameron’s renegotiation'”, I reply “embarrassed”.

It’s a very English sense of embarrassment, arising from the social awkwardness of being associated with someone who has done something fairly stupid and feeling guilty by proxy. Like being the nephew of the drunk uncle who ruins the children’s birthday party, it is difficult to have any response other than a weary “yes, I’m sorry he’s at it again”.

This is in many ways the scenario we find ourselves in today.

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Tim Farron on English language classes for Muslim women

 

David Cameron has announced a £20 million fund for English language classes for Muslim women, claiming that 22% of Muslim women in the UK do not speak English.

That figure of 22% was challenged on the BBC Today programme by Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent with the Metropolitan Police, who claims that the figure should be nearer 6%.

Help with learning English is the least the Government can do to help migrants settle down, live a full life in the UK and contribute to the local community. That is why in the Coalition the Lib Dems prevented the Government from cutting funding for English language classes.

So why limit it to Muslim women? The answer to that question is revealed in the subtext – Cameron manages to link the lack of English with extremism.

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Is David Cameron mixing up cause and effect?

David CameronParents should take lessons in how to control children – PM” – runs the main headline in the Observer this morning.

Expansion of parenting classes is certainly something to be welcomed. When I was first a parent, I thought it was very strange that parents were offered classes on breathing techniques during pregnancy and pelvic floor exercises, plus inspection of changing areas and bottle procedures after birth, but not a word of guidance after that, until primary school “parent/school agreements”.

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Tim Farron: Nobody is above the law, including armed police

There’s a disturbing article on the front page of today’s Sunday Times (£) which reports that David Cameron is going to make it easier for Police using firearms to avoid prosecution.

The prime minister stepped in after police chiefs warned that the fight against terrorism is being compromised because firearms officers risk prosecution if they pull the trigger.

Cameron ordered a review of the law after a national security council meeting last week at which police chiefs demanded greater political and legal backing for those charged with protecting the public from a Paris-style massacre in Britain.

Senior government sources say the prime minister is prepared to change the law in the new year to make it harder to drag police officers through the courts if they shoot to kill.

The thing is, I’m not aware of Police being dragged through the courts for firearms offences at all. If that were happening, it might be necessary. Police are rarely prosecuted for things that they do on duty as it is.

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Donald Tusk hoping to reach Agreement on UK EU Referendum by February 2016

 

David Cameron has not been very lucky lately with his letter writing. One letter to a local councillor in Oxfordshire scored own political goal, charges of hypocrisy and ministerial misconduct. Another letter to the president of European Council, did not even warrant a reply. Donald Tusk wrote ‘in response’ but not back to David Cameron. He addressed his letter to the European Council where he refers to David Cameron in third person.

I cannot help noticing the dynamic between our Prime Minister, setting out his outlines for an ‘In or Out’ referendum, and the European Leaders who will agree beforehand “where we stand on the issue of a UK in/out referendum before we address it at the December European Council”. Is this the illustration of the future, where we in the UK will be reduced to pleading with the European Leaders who will then let us know “where they stand on the issue”? I hope not.

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David Cameron is hoist with his own petard

Hat-tip to Peter Black for inspiring the title

Here below is some fascinating reading. First, a letter which David Cameron sent to the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (bearing in mind the PM’s constituency of Witney is in Oxfordshire) and then the reply he got.

Via, it seems, a somewhat incautious researcher or adviser, Mr Cameron reveals an extraordinary ignorance of local government finance, coupled with remarkable arrogance.

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LibLink: Guy Verhofstadt – David Cameron wants a two-speed Europe

 

Guy Verhofstadt heads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament and is the former Prime Minister of Belgium. In the Independent he examines David Cameron’s stance on Europe under the headline “EU referendum: David Cameron should spell it out. He wants a two-speed Europe“. He writes:

This week, or so we are told, the Prime Minister will set out his Christmas list of EU reforms to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk. A broad agreement on the UK’s renegotiation package is envisaged at the December summit of European leaders. There will be battles and setbacks in the weeks to come, but there are reasons to think a deal can be found.

Many in continental Europe strongly agree with David Cameron that the European Union of today is not fit for purpose and is in need of fundamental reform. Most accept that the direction of travel has shifted towards some form of “two-speed Europe”, broadly based around eurozone “ins” and “outs”. And clarifying these two types of membership would surely be progress, compared with the chaotic multi-speed, hotchpotch EU of today. Maybe it is time for Cameron to be explicit and use the expression “two-speed”.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Cameron and Corbyn stance on Brexit “downright pathetic”

Tim Farron has put up a stonking case for Britain to remain in the EU over on Politics Home and denounced the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for their stance on the issue:

On my mantelpiece there is an old black and white photo. It’s of my Uncle Morris at 14, the same age as my daughter is today.
It was taken in 1934 and in six years, he was dead, shot down over Beachy Head.

A generation ago there were nuclear weapons pointed at Britain on the soil of countries that today are our partners in the EU. Now we are sitting round a table together.

If these were the only reasons for staying in the EU they would pretty much clinch it for me.

What is the European Union? I’ll tell you – it is the most successful peace process in world history.

As such events show we toy with European disunity at our peril. Being a supporter of the European Union is not always easy. Some of the institutional structures and decision-making are hard to defend – indeed in many cases I wouldn’t want to.

But the case for Europe isn’t about institutions. It’s about partnership with our neighbours. It’s about a vision of how we address the great challenges of the 21st century: economic globalisation and protectionism, resource depletion and climate change, terrorism, crime and war.

After making the case that this is no world for isolationism to be a good idea, he then criticises David Cameron for effectively putting party before country:

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David Cameron’s speech open thread

David Cameron makes his 10th speech to Conservative Party Conference. His ministers have already sickened many with comments on immigration, young people’s productivity and justifying cutting benefits for poor people by suggesting that they need to work harder. Let’s not forget that the Tories have already given a massive cut in Inheritance Tax for the very wealthy.

It’s almost as if the Tories think they are off the hook. They can say what they like because they feel no threat from Jeremy Corbyn. They feel that their election campaign for 2020 is written. All they have to do, they think, is put out leaflets with his “nuclear button” comments. Will there come a point, though, when that just can’t help them? I certainly hope so.

And before he even gets up, I’m annoyed. The BBC’s Jo Coburn gave us some commentary on Samantha Cameron’s outfit as she and Dave walked over to the Conference Centre. Why?

I guess the question is whether the world will actually last through the speech – a Christian group has predicted its demise today, although that would be unfortunate given that it’s the Bake Off final tonight.

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Should we laugh when the Daily Mail flex their muscles?

I admit it. I laughed at #piggate. But should I have?

Four years ago, a scandal engulfed the newspaper industry. The News of the World was closed down, and News International reporters were arrested.

Before, all politicians knew, if a major tabloid newspaper targeted them, they had good reason to be afraid.

After, I remember the heady celebration of politicians who compared it to liberation from a police state.

“Don’t worry,” one said, when asked if this kind of threat would return. “It’s like when people stop being afraid of the secret police. If no one is afraid, they lose their power.”

Well, if I …

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“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


Emma Lazarus – words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, New York City (with thanks to Rev. Giles Fraser).

Tim Farron has today responded o David Cameron’s approach to the refugee crisis as follows:

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Cameron’s hot air on seagulls

It’s a problem that’s been going on for at least a century. Seagulls, seagulls and more seagulls in towns. In some places, such as St Ives, Cornwall, the local seagulls seem to have evolved to be particularly skilfull at nicking sandwiches out of “emmets'” tourists’ hands just as they leave the baker’s shop. They swoop from, apparently nowhere, and snatch food. Icecreams are a seagull speciality. The gulls know where the icecream shops are, they know which roofs to sit on, poised. They know exactly when to swoop to grab some poor unsuspecting child’s icecream. (And it is quite a frightening experience for the child and its parents).

The problem is that seagulls are a protected species. They tend to be reasonably protected from predators. Many attempts have been made to curb them in towns, but the problem rumbles on, year after year.

Posted in Op-eds | 23 Comments

Farron calls on Cameron to act to end “immeasurable suffering” of migrants

Tim Farron has written to David Cameron to urge him to ensure that the UK takes its fair share of those poor, desperate, vulnerable people we’ve all seen on our tv screens. He wrote:

I am writing to you about the current humanitarian crisis in Calais and its impact here in the UK.

I am sure you agree that it is heartbreaking to see hundreds of desperate people subsisting in makeshift camps night after night, willing to risk life and limb in the hope of a better future while many in Kent and across the country see their daily lives hugely disrupted through no fault of their own.

I welcome your commitment yesterday to providing France with the resources needed to deal with the situation and am writing to seek assurances that alongside the necessary security measures, support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, and ensure that, in line with international obligations, standards of welfare and accommodation are urgently improved.

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Cameron needs to stop the BS, remember his studies and behave like a statesman/person

It’s ten o’clock and the polls have just closed all over the country. From St Agnes island hall in the south to North Unst Public Hall in the north, the presiding officers have just locked the doors and are preparing the ballot boxes for transportation to the local counting centre. I can now say what I like!

There has been much dangerous talk in the election campaign. David Cameron has implied that a government with the tacit support of Scottish MPs would somehow be illegitimate. He has accused Ed Miliband of preparing a “con trick” to enter Downing Street with the support of the SNP. Even Nick Clegg has joined in by referring to a “coalition of the losers” – being a possible bloc of MPs led by the leader of the second largest party.

All this sort of talk must now stop.

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Labour minority government – or coalition with the Lib Dems – would not actually need the SNP’s support

Professor Colin Talbot of Manchester University has written an interesting blog which reinforces many of the points made here by Tony Greaves.

He mentions that much of the talk of “Confidence and supply” deals, Queens Speech votes and second 2015 elections ignores the reality of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which is kind to minority governments.

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Norman Baker’s genius response to David Cameron: David, I need you to stop sending dishonest and patronising letters

Norman Baker by Liberal DemocratsThe Tories don’t seem to have got the hang of excluding the opposition from their target mailings. This may be a good thing as we wouldn’t have had the joy of reading our Norman Baker’s fantastic and hilarious response to a missive he received from David Cameron, in whose government he served until last November.

Here’s the Prime Minister’s letter:

David Cameron Letter

And here, in full, is Norman’s pithy response. Enjoy.

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