Tag Archives: guest editor

Opinion: Coalition politics

Going into a coalition government with another party was always going to be hard, particularly with the Tories! It feels to me like a trip to the dentist. Something I know is the right thing to do for the long term, but very painful in the short term.

I supported the coalition. Given that I spent the last eight years as a relatively high profile Liberal Democrat in Liverpool, a city that judges it’s people and particularly it’s politicians by how much you hate the Tories, it was a brave thing to do!

I supported it for two reasons.

Firstly, my liberalism is …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

Opinion: Not the whole truth

On Monday, while in London for a meeting, I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard. (I can never resist a good freebie – I was once an MP after all –  and besides it gave me three extra Sudokus to do on the train home).

Inside I found four vouchers (one for each of the remaining days of the week) for “i” – Britain’s first new quality newspaper for over two decades. The paper only costs 20p a day. But I am such a sucker for freebies that I just could not resist using the vouchers to try it …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: A post-CSR view from the South West

Down here in the South West we are bracing ourselves for the impact of the government’s efforts to reduce the budget deficit.  The public sector is by far the biggest employer here (about 40%) and redundancies seem inevitable, compounded by posts falling empty and not being filled thus reducing the number of real vacancies. Will the private sector be able to grow fast enough to compensate? I live in Sherborne, a pretty little market town which is renowned for its variety of small, independent retailers. They sustain the local way of life, provide some limited employment opportunities and attract visitors …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Duncan Hames writes… Time to value

Almost every working person knows their salary or their hourly rate. Some can even express it as a fraction of the cost of hiring a plumber. Yet our time outside work lacks similar recognition in the choices we make: we should value our time for more than just the contribution it can make to our household budgets and material needs.

There is strong quantitative evidence that beyond a level of around £15,000 per year, extra income has little improving effect on a person’s well-being: put bluntly, the extra money doesn’t pay you back for your time. Despite this, British employees are …

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Opinion: Pulling the plug on swimming pools?

Over the last week, we’ve all focussed on welfare issues, tuition fees and housing. The impact of the 7% pa cut in local government funding has yet to register with most of us.

Each council will make its own decisions on how to deal with a total grant reduction of 28% over four years. Coverage will be local, so the public will inevitably blame councillors rather than ministers when popular services disappear.

The media have been, inaccurately, talking about a 28% cut in council budgets (rather than in funding) – it’s not quite as bad as that, although it will still be …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Opinion: Reflections on local and national power

Well, Autumn Conference in Liverpool was an interesting experience. Bumping into Ministers and asking them to sort out issues was strange. An odd aircraft carrier here, and regeneration scheme there. Who knows if these discussions had any effect, but at least we could ask the people who might make the decisions. Few of us now remember the last time this happened. The 1929 Liberal Assembly seems a long time ago now.

Being in coalition has this upside. To be able to influence decisions is what we stand for elections for. We think our ideas are better than those of the other …

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Opinion: Secret ingredients and the 2010 General Election

Over the past few months, many people within the Liberal Democrats have asked me for my views on the 2010 General Election campaign, and the lessons that we can learn from the experience ready for next time.

In the South Central region (where I worked as the Campaigns Officer) the results were mixed. We had substantial swings towards us in both Portsmouth South and Eastleigh, but failed to win Oxford East from Labour, and sadly lost our previously held seats of Oxford West and Abingdon, Winchester, and Romsey to the Conservatives.

Clearly any election result is the unique consequence of a combination …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

Opinion: The Tea Party – lessons for the Liberal Democrats

The Tea Party movement is even now preparing for its first big electoral test.  Banners are being printed, bumper stickers peeled, computerised push-pollers tested.

They are a frightening prospect for European liberals.  Perhaps any foreign radical movement looks bizarre to outsiders, but the combination of Sarah Palin, red-neck fundamentalists and the shadowy Koch brothers with their billions is a fearsome prospect.

Yet the Tea Party has lessons for us, even if it doesn’t make its way over here – which in some form or another it seems likely to do.

Posted in LDVUSA and Op-eds | 10 Comments

Opinion: Did the LibDems pick the wrong weekend to call for curbs on anti-terror measures?

James Lyons of the Daily Mirror tweeted last night to say “Oh dear – lib dems picked wrong weekend to call for curbs on anti-terror measures”.

He referred to a Guardian story about LibDem backbenchers calling for the scrapping of control orders and the limit to detention without charge to be reduced to 14 days.

Well yes, I suppose if you have a hangover this morning and, therefore, impaired thinking faculties, it is easy to hear the news (of the discovery of the toner cartridge bombs on their way to the US) and think “silly, woolly Liberals” for raising their …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Paul Walter to guest edit Liberal Democrat Voice tomorrow

Tomorrow we’ve got our fourth guest editor running the site for a day, Newbury blogger Paul Walter. He follows Caron LindsayMark Valladares and Linda Jack.

Paul’s got a great set of guest posts lined up already, so do pop back tomorrow to take a read.

This is the last of our little run of experiments with guest editors so if you’ve got any views on how it has gone and whether we should do something similar in future, please comment below.

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So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight

So, 13 hours after it began, my day as guest editor comes to an end. I’ve loved it but I am so, so tired. I think it’s going to take me a week to recover.

I’ve always admired the Voice Team but am now even more convinced than ever that whenever you see Alex Foster, Sara Bedford, Helen Duffett, Mark Pack, Stephen Tall and Iain Roberts, not forgetting Ryan Cullen for his technical wizardry, you should offer them food, alcohol, cuddles or all three. They do this every day. Blimey!

I want to say a huge thank you to lots of lovely …

Posted in Site news | 4 Comments

Opinion: How we transformed council housing in Perth and Kinross

Cllr Peter Barrett is Perth and Kinross Council’s Housing and Health Convenor. He was once described in the local newspaper as the “Saviour of Tay Street” after defeating a previous administration’s car parking plans. Here he describes how he has transformed the housing service for the better. I’ve always thought that housing is one of the most important issues to sort. In fact, I’d say that there’s little point in the Pupil Premium if the kids it’s there to support don’t have warm, dry, comfortable homes to live in and enough food to eat. It’s hard to learn if you’re

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Helping children with allergies and Nigeria with Climate Change – all in a year’s work! Interview with Jo Swinson MP, part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of my interview with Jo Swinson MP. I hope you don’t mind the fact that it’s so long. I just sometimes think that blog interviews are quite short and sometimes it’s nice to have a more in depth chat. I’ve written it pretty much exactly as she said it so it’s real conversation. Think of this as the Hello multi page spread without the photographs. The plain text is my bit and the italics are her’s.

Not that I’m stalking Jo or anything, but I do have a They Work for You alert for …

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Sport, body confidence and gender stereotyping – Interview with Jo Swinson MP, part 2

As mum of an 11 year old daughter, I’m really worried about the pressures on her to look a certain way, so Jo’s and Lynne Featherstone’s Campaign for Body Confidence is very close to my heart.  I asked Jo – what’s happening with it?

Jo: It’s really exciting about this. Lynne and I had always planned to continue it after the election but we hadn’t reckoned on her being Minister for Equalities which is a great boost. We’ve had a steering group meeting and we’ve got Mumsnet, BEAT, the eating disorders charity, Girl Guiding UK, the YMCA who do all sorts …

Posted in News and Scotland | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Door knocking, Deputy Leader and Honourable Friends – Interview with Jo Swinson MP

This afternoon, I had a chat with Jo Swinson, MP for East Dunbartonshire, new Deputy Leader of the Scottish Party. Now that I’m going all high tech, I actually recorded it. Or, at least, my 11 year old daughter set up the voice recorder on the laptop and showed me how to work it. This is a great way to interview someone because you can have a proper chat and don’t have to worry about taking notes. I’d asked Jo for a five minute chat and we actually talked for 21 minutes, covering everything from the vibe on the doorsteps …

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George Lyon: Our high hopes for the Scottish Parliament elections

George Lyon MEP is Chair of the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Election Group. He was elected in 2009 and details of his campaigns on subjects such as fair deal for rural drivers,  disabilities, food labelling and can be found on his website www.georgelyon.org.uk. Here he writes about the Party’s prospects and priorities in next year’s election.

What a year it has been for Liberal Democrats.

This time last year, I don’t think anyone in their heart of hearts believed that Liberals would form part of the government for the first time since 1945.

But this time last year we did have the right …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | 3 Comments

Opinion: We should be ambitious in our campaigning

Katy Gordon fought Glasgow North in the General Election in May and is now the top candidate  on the Glasgow Regional list for the Holyrood  elections in May. In this inspiring article, she shows how her team’s “yes we can” attitude paid dividends, increasing membership by 150%.

When I started campaigning in June 2007 as PPC for the target seat of Glasgow North, I had very little idea of how to go about it.  All I knew was I was fed up with Labour taking the people of Glasgow for granted, that the Lib Dems had real potential to grow in …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

Opinion: The day the Northern Irish came to Scottish Conference

For many years now I have attended Scottish Liberal Democrat conference as a Northern Irish person. I’m not alone as there are many familiar accents scattered across the Scottish parties of other Northern Irish born members.

However, last weekend was the first time I attended as a Northern Irish local party member, but again I was not alone. I’d travelled over with the local party chair Michael Carchrie Campbell and one of our youth members Stephen McFarland had travelled down with the rest of the Aberdeen University crew.

It was a good conference for us all to get to, even though Michael …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

A snapshot of a first class debate – a Scottish persepective on higher education

This week has seen Vince Cable and Nick Clegg adopt a position on tuition fees which is at odds with long held and much loved Party Policy. It remains to be seen how many of our MPs will go along with any recommendations to increase tuition fees.  Already, MPs like Greg Mulholland, Julian Huppert, Tim Farron, Ming Campbell and Charles Kennedy have already stated that they will honour the pledge they signed during the Election campaign to oppose any increase.

In Scotland last weekend the positions were almost reversed, with the Holyrood Front Bench anxious to support our policy of free …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

The speaker who stole the show at Scottish conference

The first time I walked into the hall at Scottish Conference on Saturday, I saw an unfamiliar face making a passionate, articulate heartfelt speech about how your brains and not your background should be reason you get on in education.

An astonished looking friend whispered to me “she’s only 13.” Actually, she’s 14, but she got the first standing ovation of the day and a name check in Tavish Scott’s leader’s speech later.

Posted in Scotland | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Opinion: Delivering a bright new future for Edinburgh

“I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left”, wrote the outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury in May this year.

Reel back three years to the May 2007 Scottish local elections.  The Liberal Democrats had become the largest party in the City of Edinburgh Council after 23 years of Labour control.  A new Lib Dem led coalition with the SNP was beginning to look eagerly at how to change the city. We didn’t get a note.  Instead, we got a stark warning from the Director of Finance that reserves were perilously low and the Council was heading for a …

Posted in Local government, Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Tim Farron: why you should back me for Party President

Party President candidate Tim Farron was asked what his election would do for Scotland:

Much has changed in politics in the last few months, but the political process didn’t stop with the formation of the Westminster Government.  In Scotland, it’s time to get those shoes re-soled and dig out that delivery bag and those clip boards – we’ve just a few months until elections to Holyrood and the fairer votes referendum, and then just one year until Scotland-wide council elections.

It will be my job, if elected your party president, to inspire members and activists to go out and fight the coming …

Posted in Party Presidency | 10 Comments

Susan Kramer: why you should back me for Party President

Party President candidate Susan Kramer was asked what her election would do for Scotland:

Nick Clegg and others have argued effectively that the benefits of coalition will be evident in time for the General Election in 2015.  But Scotland has elections in seven months. We have to move rapidly to the front foot to argue that the coalition is putting key Liberal Democrat policies in place and to do that we need the ammunition.

Communication is absolutely key.  This is why I will criss-cross the country not just to join local campaigns but to listen and make sure that grassroots voices are …

Posted in Party Presidency | 4 Comments

Opinion: We are a party founded on the principle of free education

Liberal Youth Scotland has made a huge impact in the last few years. They have fought for equalities, demonstrated against the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church when they threatened to come to Edinburgh, produced many excellent motions to our Conference where their Quiz/Debate evenings have become the place to be. Their VP-Communications tells us what LYS has been up to and how it feels about the Browne Report.

Liberal Youth Scotland is one of the fastest growing movements in the Liberal Democrats today. Since April, our membership has gone up by over 60%. Over the past two years, we have succeeded in …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Opinion: A first timer’s guide to Scottish Lib Dem Conference 2010

Saturday’s Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference was the first conference I’d been to, and aside from a local hustings at the general election, the very first political event I’d ever been to. I was very much a newbie and a little bit nervous and uncertain about what to expect from the day. I even had to ask what it was best to wear, although that was really to stop my wife insisting I go in a suit. I wouldn’t have looked out of place in a suit, but if I’d turned up in a pair of green wellies I wouldn’t have been the only one …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Presidential prospects, passionate debate and poll confidence – a day of inspiration, optimism and hope

Mark Valladares, who was the first guest editor to be let loose on this hallowed site, was sober at the time he agreed to it. I can’t say the same, but if Dr Pack will insist on asking for volunteers very late on a Friday night, then he probably deserves everything he gets.

When Mark offered me a day this week, its proximity to our first Scottish Conference was too opportune to turn down.

Normally Autumn Scottish Conference is an earnest but modest gathering. This year’s was keenly anticipated, though. How would we adjust to being part of a Westminster Government with …

Posted in Site news | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Caron Lindsay to guest edit Liberal Democrat Voice tomorrow

Tomorrow we’ve got a new guest editor running the site for a day, Scottish Lib Dem blogger Caron Lindsay. She’s the third in our series of guest editors, following Mark Valladares and Linda Jack.

I’m really looking forward to reading the posts Caron’s already talked about having ready to publish. Do come back tomorrow and see how Caron adds a different perspective and touch from the usual on here.

We have a couple more guest slots lined up later this year already but if anyone else would like to be a guest editor for the day, please drop an …

Posted in Site news | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Blessings and Challenges from a day on Lib Dem Voice

Well, that’s it then. First lesson to anyone else thinking of following Mark and me in guest editing LDV – it’s not really the day you are doing it you need to take off… it’s the day before!

Ideally you need to have your contributions done and dusted the night before. In my case, so close to conference, yesterday was what you might call a challenge. I had a normal day at work, extended because I had been out of the office for nearly a week.

I had then booked to meet fellow Tweeps for a #tweetup, thinking I wouldn’t …

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Linda Jack’s day as guest editor

A big thank goes out to all at the Voice to Linda Jack, who has been our guest-editor for today.

Taking the theme of conference reviews, Linda has kept us busy with interviews and articles all day.

For posterity, here’s a list of the posts we have featured today.

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Opinion: I always love Conference

I always love conference, in fact I love all three Party conferences. Because inspite of the fact that I am most comfortable with my LibDem tribe I am on the whole comfortable with people with a genuine interest in politics. Let’s face it all of us are such a small proportion of the population.

As I walked through Liverpool in the evening I strongly suspect that those girls dressed up to the nines, well kind of in nothing actually, had no idea they were hosting a party of Government in their hometown.

That is what is so great about conference, …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment
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