Tag Archives: demos

No football last week, so why not pick your Fantasy Politics team instead?

fantasy politicsThis week’s internationals mean no English Premiership action so no further update: positions are as they were at the end of Week 3.

Which gives me the opportunity to preview Demos Fantasy Politics which operates throughout the party conference season. All you have to do is select a dream-team of up to nine MPs, three from each party: you have until the start of Labour’s on 20th September, a week today, to enter your team. I’m part of the judging team for the Lib Dem conference. Further details as below…

As conference season approaches Demos Fantasy Politics is back, letting politicos battle it out to prove their insider know-how and political nous.

Demos Fantasy Politics lets you select a dream-team of up to nine MPs, three from each party, and score points in a series of conference-based categories. Media coverage and social media mentions will be rewarded, while embarrassing gaffes and tiresome clichés will be suitably punished.

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Farage says Britain’s becoming “unrecognisable”. But the British public says our sense of belonging is increasing.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was dog-whistling for all he was worth at his party’s spring conference this week:

“In scores of our cities and market towns, this country, in a short space of time, has, frankly, become unrecognisable. Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact that in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more, this is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”

His words were eerily reminiscent of William Hague’s insidious “foreign land” speech in 2001. And his party’s slogan …

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The Independent View: Grassroots 2.0

With Conference season upon us once again, Parties reach out to embrace their wider membership of activists, supporters and sympathisers. This brief popping of the Westminster bubble is of course vital: a safeguard stopping Westminster disappearing into its own parochial obsessions.

Party Conference is only one of a number of ways of dipping into the wider public mood, of course. Polls, focus groups, constituency surgeries, party machinery and, indeed fora like Liberal Democrat Voice all allow views and concerns to (sometimes) percolate up to the leadership. And some politicians – such as Tony Blair at his height – seem to have …

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The Independent View: A blueprint for social media intelligence

The controversy over the Government’s plans to legislate for Internet surveillance, the ‘Communications Capabilities Development Programme’, has exposed a deep division within the Coalition. Into the dispute that has simmered since some details were first leaked earlier this month, David Cameron himself has weighed in to say that the proposals are necessary to stop crime, whereas Tim Farron has threatened to kill it “if we think this is a threat to a free and liberal society”.

This rumbling outrage surrounding CCDP testifies to the importance of a principled, publicly argued grounding for any kind of intelligence. It is exactly …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

How do you get people to trust councils?

With increasing numbers of people’s minds turning towards May’s elections, now is a good time to dust off and update a post from 2008 about how people view their council…

Improving trust in local government is important, and can’t be done just by focusing on improving services: that’s the verdict of State of trust: How to build better relationships between councils and the public, a piece of research from the think-tank Demos and IDeA (the local government Improvement & Development Agency), published in 2008.

The report sees trust as underpinning a wide range of objectives:

Posted in Local government | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Worth a second outing: How well does a think tank think?

Welcome to a series where old posts are revived for a second outing for reasons such as their subject has become topical again, they have aged well but were first posted when the site’s readership was only a tenth or less of what it is currently or they got published and the site crashed, hiding the finest words of wisdom behind an incomprehensible error message.

Today’s is a review I wrote back in 2006 of a Demos publication from 1997. (Can you tell I was trained as an historian?). The main message of the piece has stood the test of time pretty well – thinks tanks (and others) are frequently pretty awful at getting big picture predictions right. The one part that hasn’t is the picture of Demos as an organisation whose best days were behind it. It has recently had a resurgence, with Richard Reeves moving from being its director to one of Nick Clegg’s top aides and in total 11 of its 25 advisory board members now have government roles.

Demos logoFor no particular reason other than I recently found a second-hand copy on sale cheaply, I have just finished reading Demos’s 1997 collection, Life after politics.

Although these days Demos – with its reports on the crucial importance of hairdressers to modern society – tries a little too hard to be different and thought provoking, it was in its heyday one of the most successful think tanks in the UK. Leading lights such as Geoff Mulgan – the editor of this collection – went on to exercise significant real political power under New Labour; he spent time as Director of Policy at 10 Downing Street and also headed up the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit for several years.

A staple stock in trade of think tanks is analysis that ends up concluding that other people have got things wrong, aren’t preparing for the future correctly and don’t understand what is coming. Yet think tanks rarely look at their own record. So – nearly a decade on – how does Demos’s work shape up? Where they really right in what they were foretelling? Or would a government that followed its recipes ardently ended up getting things horribly wrong?

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Nick Clegg: delivering a Liberal Parliament

Nick Clegg has been giving a speech at the think-tank Demos today, setting out his vision for what this Parliament should achieve – and what the Liberal Democrats should get from it.

The heart of the argument is in this early section:

Now that the Liberal Democrats are in government, liberal ideas are being deployed directly. What you are seeing is liberalism in action. And I can tell you that as Deputy Prime Minister, my liberal instincts are stronger than ever. Our goal is clear.

By the time of the next election, on 7 May 2015, Britain will be a more liberal nation.


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Vince: Lib Dems are the only party of genuine economic reform

Here’s what Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable had to say today when speaking to the think-tank Demos, launching their Politics 2010 series …

What do LDV readers think of Vince’s speech?

I want today to set out how the Liberal Democrats plan to deal with the aftermath of the credit crunch and recession and the pillars of the manifesto that we will be putting to the British people in the future.

The British economy had a massive heart attack when the arteries of the banking system seized up. The good news is that the patient is still alive, albeit in

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

What the papers say…

Tories claim Labour is using taxpayers’ money to fund election advertising campaign – Telegraph, 15.1.10

“The Conservatives accused Labour of “raiding” taxpayers’ money to fund their election campaign. New figures uncovered by the Conservatives show that spending on advertising has increased to £232 million, which is a 39 per cent increase on the previous year.”

A tenth of schools fail to meet GCSE targets – The Guardian, 14.1.10

“One in 10 secondary schools in England failed to meet basic targets for GCSEs last summer and academies were disproportionately represented among the failing institutions, government statistics published today reveal.

“David Laws, the Liberal Democrats’ education …

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‘Who is Nick Clegg?’ Find out tonight on BBC Radio 4

Tune in tonight, at 10.45 pm, to BBC Radio 4 if you want to hear Richard Reeves, director of think-tank Demos, examine the intellectual and philosophical roots of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, for the Political Roots: Liberals programme. (Repeated on Wednesday 2 December at 8.45 pm).

The BBC website carries an article by Richard, trailing the programme, with some revealing quotes from Nick – for example on the influence of his family in creating a liberal within him:

There was something floating around in my family … I don’t want to make it sound as earnest as it does –

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Nick pledges to seize the Liberal Moment

You can tell it’s a pre-conference week… on Monday, the Lib Dems’ deputy leader Vince Cable launched the party’s response to the fiscal crisis, while today Nick Clegg has published a major pamphlet with think-tank Demos outlining his thoughts on progressive politics. Titled The Liberal Moment it’s available for download as a PDF dcument here.

Nick also has an article in today’s Times setting out his ambiton for the Lib Dems to replace Labour as the progressive party at a national level. Here’s an excerpt:

Today I am publishing a pamphlet, The Liberal Moment, in which I make a simple argument: in the same way that Labour eclipsed a tired Liberal Party almost a century ago, the Liberal Democrats now offer a new rallying point for a resurgent progressive movement in Britain, replacing Labour as the dominant force of progressive politics.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Compass want Lib Dems at its conference

As a visitor to LibDemVoice you may or may not be aware of the work of Compass – the influential pressure group that campaigns for a more democratic, equal and sustainable world. Compass is about building a broadly based Liberal Left politics and as a Liberal Democrat activist we wanted to introduce you to our important work and to invite you to attend our National Conference on Saturday 13 June.

We believe that both the Tory and Labour leaderships want to turn back as soon as possible to the failed politics of the pre-crash – both in terms of the old economy …

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Is David Cameron a progressive? Discuss…

There’s some coverage today of David Cameron’s speech to the left-of-centre Demos think-tank yesterday, in which he set out how the Tory party under his leadership would follow a progressive agenda. You can read the BBC report here, and the speech in full here.

I’ll pick up two points. The first is made by Mary Wakefield over at the Spectator’s Coffee House blog, in which she praises Tory education policy but warns Mr Cameron against appearing a one-trick pony:

… when education came up during the Q and A (after an hour of generalised and fairly soporific Burkean rhetoric) Cameron’s whole demeanor changed. He had actual, even workable, policies to communicate (courtesy of the excellent Gove) and he was suddenly charismatic, believable — even a little Obama-ish?

But having energised his audience, DC’s lack of anything concrete to say on any other subject became all too woefully apparent: no economic policy but sneering at Brown’s debt; nothing on Health but a fondness for the NHS…and the speed with which he scampered away from a question about foreign policy — progressive or otherwise– was embarrassing.

This strikes me as a real danger for the Tories. Indeed, if I were a this is one of the key considerations which would lead me to urge Gordon Brown to call an election for June 2009. The plain fact is that the Tories are not yet remotely ready for government (just as Mr Blair would have struggled – even more than he did – to present Labour as a government-in-waiting in spring 2006).

And if you look at the quality of the Lib Dem shadow cabinet members in key policy areas – folk like Chris Huhne, David Laws, Norman Lamb, Steve Webb – and compare it with their Tory counterparts, I know whose line-up I have more confidence in.

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