Tag Archives: glasgow conference 2013

LDVideo: Glasgow 2013 party conference redux

Why attend a Lib De conference? And what happens when you do? Those are two of the questions communicatios firm covi set out to get answers to in this 5-minute video featuring Alison Goldsworthy, Vice Chair of the Liberal Democrat Federal Executive: Mark Pack, Editor of Lib Dem Newswire; David Boyle, author and policy maker; and Professor Stephen Lee, Chief Executive of CentreForum…

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Nick Clegg’s speech: my first impressions

This was Nick’s sixth speech to a Lib Dem autumn conference, and was his most relaxed and assured performance to date. As with the best of his Letters from the Leader, it worked because he took us behind the scenes of government – such as “shell-shocked civil servant promising me we’d get on with things shortly – but first he had to get us some desks”.

The list of achievements in government was despatched pretty quickly: tax-cuts for the low-paid, the Pupil Premium, new apprenticeships social care reforms, railway investment, same-sex marriage, and so on. Past speeches have sometimes …

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Opinion: Mr Cameron call a general election – we relish the challenge

I am pretty sure that everyone can remember where they were at on 7 May 2010. I, for one, was being staggered as I caught up with the results overnight that the Liberal Democrats had polled a staggering six million votes, the highest number of votes since the days of the Alliance. I was running at more or less 24% of the national vote and winning seats such as Redcar, Burnley and Bradford East and coming oh so close in seats such as Ashfield, Swansea West, Derby North. At the same time as that was happening, Nick Clegg came to …

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Nick Clegg’s speech to Lib Dem conference 2013

nick clegg by paul walterNick’s just mounted the platform in Glasgow – here’s what he’s expected to say over the next 40 minutes or so…

Three years ago – nearly three and a half – I walked into the Cabinet Office for my first day as Deputy Prime Minister.

Picture it: history in the making as a Liberal Democrat leader entered, finally, into the corridors of power, preparing to unshackle Britain after years of Labour and Conservative rule. Only to arrive and find an empty room and one shell-shocked civil servant promising

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The Independent View: Will competition and choice open up the banking sector for the better?

Credits CardsIn light of the launch of this week’s Current Account Switching Scheme, the Liberal Democrat conference was well timed to ask at a fringe meeting: “Will competition and choice open up the banking sector?”

In short, the scheme guarantees that anyone who wishes to move their current bank account to another institution will be able to do so hassle-free in seven working days. No burden is placed on the customer and it is all underpinned by a seven-day guarantee. This is real progress from the previous 30-day process and importantly the lack of a guarantee that often saw customers doing the legwork themselves. I hope to see positive effects of the changes in the months to come.

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Conference comment: What the papers say (4)

Clegg VotingTHAT email, the one giving a briefing to MPs on how to address the media, was always going to delight the political gossips. And so it proved. Shorn of the drama of a full out Farron versus Clegg versus Cable bloodbath, the quidnuncs in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and at politics.co.uk leapt on the email. The New Statesmen notes that MPs are told not to refer to the “bedroom tax”, it is a “spare room subsidy.” Regardless, as the Guardian and Inside Housing report, the conference condemned the bedroom tax for discriminating against the most vulnerable in society.

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Conference economy debate: Nick Clegg’s summation in full

Nick Clegg Economy Motion 4Chairman Andrew Wiseman called Nick Clegg of Sheffield to summate on the economy debate. Nick said:

Colleagues, just to show that I can also agree with Paul Homes, I strongly agree with Paul about what a brilliant, brilliant debate that was. It really, really does show us at our very, very best. No other part could stage such a democratic and respectful debate. Well done to everybody on whatever side you were on the debate.

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Conference comment: What the papers say (3)

Ed Davey GlasgowToday’s big debate is on the economy and the Guardian reports Vince Cable and Nick Clegg at odds over future economic direction:

Clegg has decided to stage what Cable and some on the left regard as an artificial showdown over economic policy during a set-piece two-hour debate… Cable’s aides said he will stay away from the debate, which is being billed as a test of Clegg’s authority. Cable believed a compromise could have been reached between the leadership and the left over their amendments to the economic motion, especially the right for councils to borrow more to build.

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Conference: Do the Liberal Democrats want more homes and more jobs?

Do the Liberal Democrats want more homes and more jobs? That and other questions that will get an answer, one way or another, when our Conference debates the economy today (Monday). One of the two amendments tabled by the Social Liberal Forum with support from 100 Conference representatives calls for the Coalition to commence the dramatic increase in housebuilding that the Party endorsed last year.

The barriers to this at present are, as ever, in the housebuilding industry and the Treasury.

The former has by most estimates some 400,000 planning consents at its disposal, assisted by policies that effectively waived the lapsing …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must champion our economic achievements

It’s the enduring burden placed upon liberals that we are often found to have made the correct policies calls in the crucible of history. But we fail to turn such perspicacity into a victory in the more immediate court of public opinion.

Whether it is on major issues such as the Liberal party’s historic pioneering of the welfare state before any other; the commitment to green issues which predated Cameron’s hugging of a husky by two decades; Caroline Pidgeon’s proposal for a bicycle hire scheme before either Boris or Ken; liberals have historically been ahead of the policy curve, nut been …

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Opinion: Clegg’s rethink on immigration visa bonds needs a rethink

Plans to impose a blanket £3,000 ‘bail’ bond on all visitors from Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are on hold after Clegg refused to “sign them off”, according to the Guardian .

However speaking on the Andrew Marr show this this morning Clegg confirmed that a pilot scheme would go ahead. He suggested the bail bond becomes a general tool for border officials rather than a blanket policy covering all visitors irrespective of how genuine they appear.

The danger is that border staff could now have a new weapon in their armoury to disproportionately exercise against citizens of colour …

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Conference: Defending the Future will not defend the realm

The defence of the realm is the foremost responsibility of any government. The defence policy paper that will be debated in Glasgow this week is not only worrying, but potentially dangerous.

The first business of any defence policy is to recognise that the armed forces are to wage war in the name of our interests. We must be clear what these interests are. We can then be clear as to when we will deploy our armed forces into combat, what equipment they will need, the training they will require and the size and composition they must be. War is, after all, …

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Conference: There is an urgent need for more social housing

Lord Shipley gives some of the background to Amendment 2 to the Economy Motion. 

A year ago our Party committed itself to building up to 300,000 new homes a year. The proposals were outlined in the housing policy paper Decent Homes for All. The aim was to achieve this by supporting private investment and by giving greater powers to local councils and social landlords.

A shortage of homes has made it extremely difficult for young people to buy their own home. Rents continue to rise to unaffordable levels for many and 500,000 people in work now receive housing benefit because …

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Opinion: The Bank of England’s Independence – the Law

Political RavishmentAccording to the Independent, Nick Clegg wants to take on the ‘left’ in his Party.

In doing so he accuses the Social Liberal Forum’s amendments to the economics motion as “ending the Bank of England’s independence by ordering it to do more to create jobs” and “tearing up the fiscal mandate.”

Let’s deal with the first accusation. The 1998 Bank of England Act granted the Bank independence to set interest rates. That is instrument independence. However, the remit for the Bank is set by the government and so The Bank does not have goal independence, it takes its goals each Spring from the Government.

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The Independent View: Coalition should do more to promote the creative industries as a growth sector

WordleThe Coalition Government’s record for the creative industries is mixed.

On the plus side, innovations such as the Creative Industries Council are welcome and have enabled a lot of cross industry collaboration on common issues affecting different sectors, such as skills and access to finance.

The enabling of the Live Music Act to come into law and promises of further entertainment deregulation are of huge benefit to my sector.

Creative industries have benefited from tax breaks to enable them to continue to compete globally.

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Opinion: Keep the Bank of England Independent

Conference on Monday will debate an amendment from the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) to the Economy Motion which calls the government to “monitor closely the progress of the Bank of England, ensuring it has a refocused mandate that allows monetary policy to aid growth, reduce the unemployment rate to below 6% creating at least a million jobs, and to address weak income growth, targeting a higher level of national/median income.”

Who could possibly disagree with that? Well, me for a start. In practice this is reducing the independence of the Bank of England.

Liberal Democrats have long argued that the Bank of …

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Conference Comment: What the papers say (2)

Paddy Ashdown GlasgowIn an interview with the Guardian, Paddy Ashdown is however unequivocal. He says we should not turn our back on a future liaison with the Tories:

Paddy Ashdown has urged his restive party to prepare for the possibility of a second coalition with the Tories, saying the Conservatives have proved surprisingly good and trustworthy partners for the Liberal Democrats in government.

As the newspaper recognises, that’s not going to go down well with the left of the party. In a mea culpa, Paddy admits that he was wrong to have pushed so hard for a deal with Labour after the 2010 election, when Nick Clegg was moving towards the Tories. “I was wrong and Nick was right,” he says.

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Conference: Jo Swinson on payday lenders

Jo Swinson GlasgowSpeaking to Scottish Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Glasgow today, Scottish Liberal Democrat MP and Minister of State for Business and Consumer Affairs Jo Swinson set out how she was taking steps to build a stronger economy and a fairer society by tackling unscrupulous payday lenders.

In her speech to conference, Jo Swinson said:

Since becoming the Minister responsible last year, I’ve tackled this issue head on.

Last December we published research on the problems and options for action.

In March we saw the Office of Fair Trading announce a crackdown amidst evidence of the widespread failure of the industry to treat customers fairly.

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Nick Clegg’s Conference rally speech – “We are the party of jobs”

Nick Clegg arrives at GlasgowSpeaking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference rally in Glasgow this evening, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is expected to say:

Welcome to Glasgow. This year’s conference sees us gather in a city that has always been important to the Liberal Democrats, a city once represented by Roy Jenkins, that gave us Ming Campbell and where nearby in 2005 Jo Swinson won a famous victory to take her seat from Labour and become an MP at just 25.

Before anything I want to pay tribute to our team of Scottish MPs who lead the way in Parliament in arguing for a United Kingdom that is strong, secure and together. All under the direction of our fantastic Chief Whip and rally compere.

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Conference: Willie Rennie MSP – A stronger Scotland within the UK

William RennieSpeaking to Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn conference in Glasgow, Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said:

On the first Sunday of this month I took part in a relay race over the Comrie hills near Perth.

Covering 20 miles with teams of five runners we battled clubs from across Scotland.

For the third year in a row my partner was David Greig.

That’s right. David Greig, one of Scotland’s foremost playwrights.

We are equally matched runners.  Less equally matched playwrights.

We support each other up and down the hills.

Through the bogs and over the heather.

We both run for the team – Carnegie Harriers.

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Opinion: We need zero tolerance for zero hours contracts

Lego WorkersThis week Labour began to move the economic debate away from deficit reduction to living standards. It really is a shame that the party elected in 1997 to tackle social mobility and subsequently failed to shorten the gap between the richest and poorest in our society now seem to stand up for working families in hard economic times. Wednesday saw Ed Miliband’s dismal attempt to rekindle his relationship with the TUC but for me he did touch on an issue close to my heart; he committed to legislating to curb the use of zero hour contracts.

I have to admit a special interest, I have worked for a company that uses zero hour contracts for about a year. I myself am not on a zero hour contract. I am also a student and understand the level of flexibility that is required by some people. However I refuse to accept that flexibility cannot be achieved while providing income stability, holiday pay and a safety net for when you fall ill. It is also not constructive for a company to build a relationship with its staff using zero hour contracts resulting in a large staff turnover and an unhealthy competition for hours.

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Opinion: Ten reasons why the bedroom tax must go

The conference amendments can only be an expedient stop-gap to complete repeal. Here are ten reasons why the bedroom tax (also known as the spare room subsidy) should go.

1. Bedroom Tax is targeted to victimise the most vulnerable members of society. Two thirds of the victims of Bedroom Tax were receiving Incapacity Benefit: over 440,000 nationally.

2. An extra bedroom is not an extravagance if you need additional space for medical equipment, a room for carers to sleep in or live in a household where an ill person is too unwell to sleep in the same room as their partner and to do so would negatively affect the health and wellbeing of both.

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Conference: Social Liberal Forum at Glasgow

Social Liberal ForumThere is some welcome cause for cautious optimism among Social Liberals on the beautiful train journey to Glasgow (and, indeed, for those observing from the side-lines). A series of pieces, for example in the New Statesman and on Politics Home, by prominent figures reasserting the traditions of Beveridge, Hobhouse and Keynes have helped allay fears about the direction of the party and reminded the wider world we are still here.

The Social Liberal Forum has been busy, too. Yet again a large number of agenda items have had significant SLF input, resulting in a healthy balance to an equally healthily packed Conference agenda.  Here are a few highlights of the agenda and fringe for social Liberals:

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Conference Comment: What the papers say (1)

Clegg SpeechIt fairly wall to wall Lib Dem coverage in the national press today and party leaders are cheerleading for our role in the coalition. Even newspapers that are not normally friendly towards the Lib Dems have something positive to say. There is a grudging respect that the Lib Dems took on the near impossible task of collaborating in a coalition government and have stuck with it.

Nick Clegg gives an exclusive and upbeat interview to the Independent.

Over in the Telegraph, Danny Alexander says that hard pressed workers deserve pay rises as the economy recovers. He says the party has to “shout from the roof tops“ to ensure that voters recognise the role it has played in improving the economy.

Anyone who says this better economic news is all to the credit of the Conservatives is wrong. This is a joint plan that bears the imprint of the Lib Dems.

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Nick Clegg – “The clouds are lifting. We need to look people in the eye and say – we got it right”

Clegg WatfordSpeaking to the Independent, Nick Clegg is upbeat:

We need to be unabashed about the fact that we have played a vital, even pivotal, role in saving the British economy and a leading role in providing fairness in the tax, education and skills systems and greening our economy for the future.

Clegg gives a list of Tory proposals that the Lib Dems have vetoed. Among them are  a recent attempt to cut planned child care provision for two-year-olds; a 40p top rate of income tax; cuts in inheritance tax for the rich; workers being “fired at will” without good reason; state schools being run for profit; a divisive two-tier examination system; and regional pay for public sector workers.

We need to explain that this country would be very different indeed – in my view a lot less fair – if the Conservatives had been left to their own devices.

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Jeremy Browne MP writes… Proud of our record in Government

The fundamental question for Liberal Democrats gathering for conference is this: are we proud of our Government or ashamed of it?

I think we should be proud.

The Coalition Government came together in 2010 when Britain was in deep trouble. We had been hit by an economic shockwave. The last Government was borrowing a ruinous £450 million extra every single day.

We also faced serious problems which held our people back and threatened our future prosperity. Entrenched inter-generational poverty and welfare dependency needed to be tackled head-on. School standards had fallen behind our international competitors, wasting the talent of our young people and …

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Conference Comment: Is Nick Clegg “worse than Michael Foot”?

Michael FootIf you only read the Independent, it would be grim news. The paper reports that Lord Oakeshott popped his head above the parapet to tell Parliament’s The House magazine that Nick Clegg is “worse than Michael Foot”.

We have to accept that Nick’s ratings have been poor and have been for a long time. You’ve got to be frank that his ratings are down at levels which, if you go back, were only seen by Mrs Thatcher shortly before she left and Michael Foot.

Well, that’s his view and the Telegraph’s venerable Benedict Brogan dismisses it outright:

His views have been discounted to irrelevance from over-use. We’ve heard it all before, from him.

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Conference: Emergency Motion – Home Office Immigration Poster Vans and Attitude to Migrant Communities

Go Home Poster VanI was a witness at an Immigration tribunal hearing earlier this year for a friend. Let’s call her Little Red. She came to the UK from China as a masters student and worked for the NHS on graduation. But following a painful divorce she found she no longer had the right to work and live in the UK. Little Red has appealed the Home Office’s decision but is still waiting for an answer. Hers is merely one case in half a million back log of cases currently with the Home Office or in the appeals system.

At a packed meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration at the House of Commons on 9th July, I met a Welsh lady who had responded to their enquiry. She recently became a grandmother and her new grandson was only two weeks old at the time. But as her daughter did not earn more than £18,600 per year, she could not sponsor her non-EU spouse under the Family Migration Rules that came in a year ago. It was heart breaking to see a young family torn apart.

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Conference: Nuclear power – the raw politics

SizewellWill the Lib Dems ditch their historic opposition to nuclear power? That debate is set to be one of the main flashpoints at the Glasgow conference. New polling evidence – published here for the first time – shows the outcome will affect support among key voter groups – ‘our market’, as the jargon goes – with all that means for key seats and the overall result of the next election.

Of course the debate itself will be about technical details: how nuclear technology can be called safe when no solution has yet been found for waste that remains lethally radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years; whether the promise of no public subsidy can be true if Brussels has to approve funding guarantees as “state aid”; and how renewables will ever gain critical mass if the high costs of nuclear crowds out resources and public funding for newer technologies?

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Menzies and Paddy on coalition politics and the election

Menzies and PaddyIn today’s Guardian, Menzies Campbell says that Nick Clegg has turned the corner and his role as leader is no longer under threat:

Coalition politics is not for the faint-hearted. Nor is leadership, as Nick Clegg will tell you. As he contemplates his fourth party conference as deputy PM, his thoughts, and his leader’s speech, need to be turning to the general election, now less than two years away. He can do so with more confidence than 12 months ago. Last year’s atrial flutterings over his leadership have died away. His policy of differentiation between the Liberal Democrats and their Tory partners has become overt and even reciprocated.

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Recent Comments

  • Adam Robertson
    @Peter Martin - How many seats did the Lib Dems win simply because the Tory/Reform was split? Yes we won seats because the Tory/Reform vote was split. However, ...
  • David Raw
    @ Tristan Ward I'm afraid Winston Churchill came a thousand years later than, "the early 10th century Liberal Party", and I'm afraid the good folk of Dundee...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Alex, “How many seats did the Lib Dems win simply because the Tory/Reform vote was split?” "Probably not very many actually." "Actual...
  • David Raw
    @ Tristan Ward Lessons of History ? Not advisable to ride on the back of an alligator, no matter how vulnerable and docile it may appear at first sight ....
  • Tristan Ward
    @David Raw Yes it was the alliance between liberal forces and conservative forces that led to the decline in the early 10th century Liberal Party. But liber...