Tag Archives: guest editor

A final word from Paul Walter

Thanks very much to the LDV editorial team for letting me guest edit the website again today. This time I decided to randomly approach keen LibDem bloggers to ask them to write posts on any subject. I was very pleasantly surprised by the very enthusiastic response I received.

Thanks very much indeed to Charlotte, Lorna, Dazmando, Andrew, Spidey, Emma, Maureen and Daniel for taking time out from their campaigns to write such splendid posts.

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Opinion: the biggest news story in Scotland

When Paul asked me to write this blog post I was so chuffed to be asked, but, given we are in the middle of the Scottish Parliamentary elections, I was also really worried about being able to find the time to write it.

However, I have found the time and here it is. It may not be what you are expecting.

There is a massive story doing the rounds in Scotland and it is not about the election but about the tragic death of Mercedes the polar …

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Opinion: this time last year…

This time last year…

…the Liberal Democrats were storming up the polls.

Nick Clegg was more popular than Churchill, and Gordon and Dave were regretting ever agreeing to those pesky TV debates.

Our party leader could describe the Iraq war as ‘illegal’ without causing mass panic amongst Downing Street lawyers.

This time last year we were asking people to put us into government.

This year?

This year the Lib Dems jumped into bed with Conservatives.

This year the Lib Dems sold out on tuition fees.

This year the party become ‘just like the others’.

Really? It’s always worth …

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Opinion: A visit to the library

Every Christmas Eve throughout my childhood, a mystery visitor came to the doorstep of our council flat and deposited a bag of children’s books before disappearing into the darkness. S/he never stopped to be recognised or thanked, and we never found out who s/he was, but I still remember the thrill of opening up another consignment of new reading every Christmas.

Even without our mystery benefactor, however, I and my three siblings would have been brought up with books. My father left school at 14 to be …

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Opinion: A day in the life of a first time candidate

Friday – 4 weeks before Election Day. Mood: Dazed and confused, tired but determined

7am: Woke with a horrible sensation in my gut that I had forgotten to do something. This is happening way too often now.

7.30am: At the laptop in pyjamas, armed with max strength coffee. Writing Focus articles. Spent 3 hours on the doorstep yesterday, so have catching up to do. Whole Focus needs to be rewritten by the end of today. Big story broke in the press. Changing lead story to reflect residents’ anger on …

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Opinion: So what’s it really like on the doorsteps?

A week after nominations closed for the Borough council elections, what’s the reception like on the doorsteps here in Stockton?

To be honest, it’s a bit mixed. In wards where we have Liberal Democrat councillors, the reception is generally good. There are always some people who “don’t do politics”, and that hasn’t changed. There are some who were always going to vote for one of the other parties, and that hasn’t changed. There are many who support us, either because they’re committed Lib Dems (not …

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Opinion: Big society or big community?

We seem to be stuck in a warp of niceties at the moment. In the bad old days the Tory party was the nasty party. Thatcher flexed her muscles and in a previous downturn we all had to get on our bikes. Yet today we seem to get a different flavour of conservatism. It’s all big society, low interest rates and a penny off fuel duty. What is going on?

I’ll let you into a secret. The Lib Dems may have a little something to do with this. We seem …

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Opinion: Can the Liberal Democrats survive another coalition?

We already know how hard a coalition is with the Tories. So what would happen if we get another choice of forming a coalition with this Tory party or Ed Miliband’s Labour at the next general election?

At the moment, perhaps the most likely scenario is a coalition with Labour with less Liberal Democrat MPs. On the plus side Ed Milliband will be wanting to put his new ‘radical’ (maybe) mark on Labour’s story in power. Now this is something we can help him with. We have …

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Opinion: We must become the party of liberty

When William III arrived on these shores in November 1688, the new King proclaimed to maintain the liberties of England and vigorously defend the liberty of his subjects. In the subsequent months, Parliament adopted the Declaration of Rights – The English Bill of Rights 1689. The corner stone of our constitution, which is still in force to this day but sadly has become a forgotten relic of antiquity.

It seems that we in Britain have forgotten about our hard struggles to gain our liberty. When it comes to foreign …

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Guest editor today – Paul Walter

Astonishingly the editorial team have seen fit to vacate the LDV control tower and let me guest edit the website for another day. Power! Last time, I contacted mainly old LibDem friends who I’ve worked alongside over the years, and got them to write some fascinating posts. Having now exhausted my slim LibDem “Roladex” of contacts, I took a different approach this time. I randomly approached a number of keen LibDem bloggers and asked them to write a post on any subject. To my pleasant surprise, they responded very …

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That’s all folks

And so we reach the end of my day at Lib Dem Voice Towers.  If you’ve come away impressed at the good things that Liberal Democrats are doing and planning around the country, if you’re feeling enthused and want to do more to help your local campaign, if you’ve enjoyed reading the varied selection of articles we’ve done today, then this day has done what I wanted it to do.

The polls are not great. The media are giving us a bit of a kicking but we can’t let that become a self fulfilling prophecy. We need to be out there …

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Opinion: Why Elizabeth Evans is the best choice for Ceredigion

Campaigning in Ceredigion is rather unique. The big beasts of 20th century British politics, the Conservative and Labour parties, hold no sway here. It’s a battle instead between liberals and nationalists and the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate Elizabeth Evans is proving to be a formidable opponent to Plaid’s Elin Jones.

The ‘poster’ war, which is always a central feature to this unique constituency’s electoral battleground, was in full swing early on. Over the years, it’s always been opportune to show that momentum is on your side by getting those road-side …

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Opinion: An American Student in an Edinburgh Election – inside Alex Cole-Hamilton’s campaign

It is fairly common in American Universities for 3rd year students to go abroad for a semester.  Although I had many options, I eventually decided to come to Edinburgh, Scotland to intern with the Scottish Parliament.  The way my program is structured is that there was class for five weeks, an internship in parliament for 4, then once parliament dissolved we began working on a campaign up until polling day.  So that’s how, on March 22nd I came to be working with Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Edinburgh Central.  When I first met Alex I was sitting in …

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Interview: Alistair Carmichael Part 2 – The Life of a Whip

Welcome to the second part of my interview with Liberal Democrat Chief Whip and Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.

Most of us who are interested in politics have either read House of Cards or watched it on DVD and think we know how a Chief Whip operates from watching the dastardly Francis Urquhart at work. I said to Alistair that I really didn’t think pushing people off buildings or lacing their heroin with rat poison was quite his style – so what was a typical day in the life of a Chief Whip like?

Caron, that’s one of the nicest things

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Opinion: The Campaign for Reading

In Reading, with council elections taking place most years we are used to campaigning all year round.

But this year is different.

For the first time we are defending our record in power at local (and national) level.

We are no longer in our comfort zone but it is exciting to be able to deliver for residents on the really key issues such as housing and social mobility where Labour failed.

And as Andrew Stunell MP, Minister for Local Government observed when he came to visit us last week it is a record of …

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Jeremy Purvis: Creating an ambitious, compassionate and fair Scotland

I caught up with Scottish Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesman Jeremy Purvis at the manifesto launch on Tuesday and asked him what a Liberal Democrat Scotland looked like.

Posted in News and Scotland | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Opinion: The First Time Candidate’s View

Being a first time candidate is a daunting experience, but a hugely rewarding and humbling one.

I was one of the youngest people to ever go through the candidate approval process, at just 17. Many people were surprised that I bothered, given I couldn’t stand for election yet anywhere, but in all honesty, I wanted to get it done and out of the way, so that when opportunities (such as the one I’m about to describe) occurred, I would be able to take full advantage. My advice to others is don’t wait for that ideal seat to come up before you …

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

Opinion: Civil Partnerships, a thoroughly modern union

Sophie Bridger is the President Elect of  Liberal Youth Scotland. LYS brought a motion on Equal Marriage to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in 2010. It was passed and our manifesto launched on Tuesday has a commitment to open up marriage to same sex couples and civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. Sophie looks at the future for civil partnerships.

When the subject of gay marriage is approached, you’re hard pushed to find a Liberal who disagrees. The right to marriage, complete with religious ceremony, should be available to all. But when it comes to civil partnerships, I often find people are slightly …

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Opinion: How the Liberal Democrats transformed Hull City Council

Cllr Abi Bell is Deputy Leader of Hull City Council. She writes about how the Council has gone from the worst in the country to the best under Liberal Democrat administration.

Another year and another election in Hull. It seems like only yesterday we were fighting the General Election. Last year we missed out on winning the Hull North constituency from Labour by just 600 votes – securing the 4th best swing from Labour to the Lib Dems in the country and turning what was once an unassailable Labour stronghold into one of the country’s most marginal constituencies.

I think it’s fair

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Opinion: Scottish Liberal Democrats’ ambitious manifesto plans to create 100,000 jobs

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch of the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto which took place in the beautiful town of Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders.

The venue, Caerlee Mill, had been chosen to highlight key pledges to boost business and economic growth, but, as the BBC’s Brian Taylor said, “The venue had been chosen to symbolise economic renewal – but, on the day, it also spotlighted the concept of triumph over adversity.”

There are three main themes to the manifesto. When leader Tavish Scott …

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Welsh Lib Dems launch the Assembly election campaign

On Tuesday I welcomed Kirsty Williams to Newport East as we launched the Welsh Liberal Democrats campaign for the Assembly elections.

It is clear that this election is the most important one that Wales has seen since devolution. After the devolution referendum, this election is about the kind of government that Wales needs.

At least that it is what is should be about. It is clear that Labour and Plaid will run a mile before having to defend their record in government in Wales. The truth is that Labour have had their paws all over the Assembly Government for a full 12 …

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Opinion: Persuading Northern Ireland to say Yes to Fairer Votes

Some of you may have wondered where the prolific blogging from me has gone. However, in the words of Mark Twain, “The reports of my (blogging) death have been greatly exaggerated.”

I’ve had an awful lot to say these last few months but I’ve  been saying it to a diverse political and non-political audience,  all to get as many of them as possible to say the same thing at the ballot boxes on 5th May. That one word is sometimes thought to be alien to many in Northern Ireland and that word is “Yes!”

Yes, that’s …

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Youth Justice day: thanks and farewell

A final thanks to all those who have contributed to today’s focus on Youth Justice. I trust, dear readers, you have found the debate enlightening and challenging and those of you heading for Sheffield will join us for the debate on Saturday afternoon. We have a fringe event on Friday evening at 8pm in Suite 5 in Jury’s Inn. Peter Oborne will be chairing a debate with Tom McNally, Simon Hughes and others on Youth Justice in an Age of Austerity.

In the midst of all that I personally find unpalatable about the Coalition this is one area where I have …

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Youth Justice: the minister’s view

Since I became Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice last May I have been working with Ken Clarke and the other Ministers within the department to make radical changes to the criminal justice system. Our plans are about finding out what works – the methods of rehabilitation and punishment which actually reduce crime.

One of the key aspects of this vision is preventing and tackling offending by young people. In England and Wales the number of children aged 10 to 17 grew rapidly during the course of the 1990s and into the second term of the Labour government in …

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Youth Justice: the magistrate’s view

just over 100 years ago a Liberal government decided that young people should no longer be routinely tried in the same courts as adults. Thus was born the juvenile, now youth, court system in England and Wales. During the last hundred years much has changed in penal policy, both corporal and capital punishment have been abolished, and the prevention of re-offending has taken on a greater importance over the punishment of offenders. There is also a live debate about the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

For some, magistrates, and especially lay magistrates, sometimes seem like the ogres in the system. They …

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Youth Justice: the lawyer’s view

Society has gone badly wrong in the way in which it deals with those crimes committed by young people.

There are far too many children coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Children can appear in the adult Crown Court charged with grave crimes or if they are jointly charged with an adult. Under those circumstances, a child is confronted with the full rigour and formality of the court process. Following a finding by the European Court of Human Rights that the applicants Thompson and Venables had been a denied a fair hearing before the Crown Court, …

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Youth Justice: on raising the age of criminal responsibility

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that states should set an age below which children cannot be held criminally liable – but does not specify a minimum age. A quick survey of other jurisdictions confirms that by comparison the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales – at ten years – is extremely low.  Indeed, it is the lowest in the European Union. In other member states it ranges from 13 to 18. A survey of 90 countries by found that the most common age of criminal responsibility was in fact 14 years

Taking into account …

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Youth Justice: the prison governor’s view

One of the most powerful pieces of learning for me during 34 years of being in and out of custodial establishments is the capacity of their residents to respond to opportunities; to being appreciated and congratulated for work well done; to being respected for doing something worthwhile. It is the realisation that this might have been their first experience of any of this that initially takes the breath away, and always disturbs. Although, therefore, Governors have to concern themselves with secure and safe custody and, yes, maximising resources to provide opportunities for offenders in their custody, and doing …

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Youth Justice: Linda Jack’s guest editor day

At Spring Conference we will finally get the opportunity to debate our Youth Justice policy – we have taken a “muscular liberal” approach – recognising that the present system fails not only some of our most vulnerable young people – but more importantly, society itself.

Other countries, even the most unexpected, have a far more enlightened approach to youth justice, recognising that punishment and rehabilitation have to be combined with meeting welfare needs of children and young people who have often been badly neglected.

Today a number of fellow Lib Dems express their professional and personal views of what our response should …

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Thanks for reading

Thanks very much to the Liberal Democrat Voice team for giving me the privilege of guest editing the site today. It was a huge pleasure to be able to contact LibDem friends I greatly admire, and then receive back articles which were of high quality and fascinating in equal measure. So many thanks to David B, Duncan, Katy, Mary, Sue, David R, Colin and Gerald for writing such wonderful articles so promptly and to Mark for posting them up and generally advising.

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