Tag Archives: jacqui smith

Layla Moran to appear with Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith in Bournemouth

Layla Moran MP will be the special guest star on Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith’s Lib Dem stop on their tour of Party Conferences.

The LBC Presenter and former Labour Home Secretary host a weekly podcast, For the Many, which is for me an unmissable hour of politics and outrageous filth. The live shows are a bit tamer. The presence of an audience is usually enough to remind them that someone else is actually listening.  Usually.

As many of you will be planning your Conference diaries in the next few days, make sure you include this show. It is bound to be hilarious. It’s happening on the Sunday night of Conference between 7 and 9 pm at Canvas, 24 Poole Hill, Bournemouth. You can get tickets here.

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LISTEN: Ed Davey on For the Many Live at Edinburgh

Ed Davey’s appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe is now available online.

He talked to Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith for their For the Many podcast.

Ed was in cracking form, very funny, bright and relaxed.

He came on stage while Iain and Jacqui were having a bit of a barney about women’s football. I had tweeted Jacqui after Iain told Harriet Harman that one thing that men could do better than women was play football. She got a lot of mileage out of that over the various shows. Anyway,  Ed was full of support for the Lionesses.

Jacqui then challenged Ed to come up with an act of heroism after Keir Starmer helped find a dog while he was on holiday in the Lake District. She might not have been expecting him to come up with an actual example, but he did rescue a woman from the path of an oncoming train.

Jacqui challenged him to get Iain Dale, who has said multiple times that he’s not sure who to vote for at the next General Election, to commit to voting Lib Dem. Ed is smarter than to fall for that trap, and, while he outlined lots of good reasons to vote Lib Dem, he recognised we might not gain Iain’s support.

Iain challenged him on why our national polling isn’t reflecting our by-election success. He pointed to local election success and the fact that we were talking to people about the issues they cared about.

His top task, he said, is to get the Conservatives out of Government.

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Review: Vince Cable at the Edinburgh Festival

Our Glorious Former Leader, Vince Cable, came to Edinburgh yesterday to talk to Iain Dale. It was great to see him for the first time Bournemouth  Conference in 2019. He looks well and hasn’t aged even now he’s turned 80.

There was a time when our press office held its breath whenever he came to Scotland. I remember one Conference in particular, ahead of the independence referendum where he said something that wasn’t quite our line which the press and the SNP made hay with. Today, he could not have been more on message, praising what Ed Davey was doing in terms of building the party’s infrastructure and campaigning capacity.

Talking of Ed, he’s going to be here on Saturday at 4 pm, talking to Iain and his For the Many partner Jacqui Smith. You can get tickets here. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, do, it is bloody hilarious and you need it in your life. And if you are going on Saturday, get in touch with me ([email protected]) and I’ll let you know where we are meeting beforehand.

Iain started by asking him about his time as a Labour Councillor in Glasgow in the 1970s. Vince described how he was chief whip at a time when corruption was rife, and four of his group ended up in Barlinnie. He left for the SDP and has never felt  tempted by Keir Starmer’s Labour who are not offering anything positive. He criticised Wes Streeting for saying that it is better to offer no hope than false hope and thinks that they should be doing more to inspire people.

Education, he says, should be the priority at the next election, rather than the NHS. The Tories have failed so comprehensively on it and it desperately needs investment to improve attainment.

He reckoned that there was not much chance of us going into coalition after the next election. We would be heavily outnumbered, and the party would be reluctant to go there again.

Iain asked him if he was “pissed off “that he was seen as too old to go for leader back in 2006. He was, but he accepted the mood to hand power to the next generation

He talked about the coalition years, saying that he winced along with many of us at the Rose Garden scenes.  He says he’s probably the last man standing, though, who thinks that we were right to go in to the coalition and reeled off a long list of things that we had done,  the Green Investment Bank, the industrial strategy, investing in children from deprived backgrounds in school.

He vigorously defended privatisation of Royal Mail saying it was the only option to enble it to modernise as it wasn’t allowed to borrow.  He blamed the union for not co-operating. Iain pushed back on him as he thought the union leader was pretty reasonable from his interviews with him on LBC but Vince said that if they had co-operated, the privatisation would have brought in more money for the taxpayer. He also said that the most recent problems within Royal Mail were the result of bad management rather than the privatisation.

He considered resigning several times during the coalition years – over the  sting when he said some inappropriate things about the BSkyB takeover, when cuts started to hit his department, particularly in the further education sector and  towards the end when it was all going wrong.

He talked about his time as leader and the stroke which led to him stepping down. While he made a full recovery, he decided to stay quiet about it at the time in case it was seen as s sign of weakness.

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Kicking off the weekend

Welcome to the first proper weekend of the Summer holidays,  in England at least. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, we’re about half way through.

Powys Lib Dems help low-income families during Summer holidays

For many of us, it’s a chance to relax and unwind with our families. For others, it can be an incredibly stressful time. For parents on low incomes, the Summer holidays can be a nightmare. In Powys, Liberal Democrats have helped a bit with that, as we reported earlier in the week, by finding the money to continue the vouchers for families entitled to free school meals in their area. It was shocking that the Welsh Government scrapped the scheme introduced by our Kirsty Williams when she was Education Minister.

Labour is doing its best to kick struggling low income families in the teeth with Keir Starmer’s announcement that Labour would not get rid of the two child limit on benefit claims. He’s got himself in hot water with his own party. I have to say that if I had been a single mother with 3 kids in Uxbridge,  struggling to pay the bills, I’d not have been inclined to go out and vote Labour on Thursday. They can blame ULEZ all they like for their narrow defeat, but could they have won if they had had anything hopeful to say to people living in poverty?

Somerton and Frome shout-outs

Of course, it’s always great to wake up on the Saturday after a glorious by-election win. The heroes of the campaign have, I hope, managed to get some sleep. A huge shout out to Paul Trollope, whose arrival in Somerset within 24 hours of the by-election being a reality got the short campaign off to a flying start. Ruth Younger, match fit from 3 by-elections already helped deliver Sarah Dyke’s victory yesterday.

I suspect all of the staff involved had plans for the Summer which probably involved getting some r and r before the build up to a General Election year. For the fourth time in two years, they mobilised and delivered a cracking campaign so well done to all of them.

And to everyone who travelled there, including the fair few who went from Scotland, a massive thank you.

One group of people who don’t often get thanked are the volunteers who host the Maraphones. Richard Huzzey, Jacquie Gammon, Stephanie Ouzman and Hannah Perkin have been running these events at least 4 days a week since June. On polling day, they were joined by Federal Conference Committee Chair Nick Da Costa who just popped in to make calls but ended up pulling a 12 hour shift as a host to help with the many people who joined in the event. Thousands of calls were made during the maraphones, to voters and to members to encourage them to go, which is crucial in the early days of the campaign to build momentum.

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Want to know who Ed Davey would snog, marry and avoid?

Ed Davey is heading to Edinburgh on Saturday 12th August to take part in the For the Many Podcast with Iain Dale and former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Tickets, which cost £17, are selling fast, so don’t miss your chance by snapping them up here.

I hope he knows what he is letting himself in for as these shows can be quite the wild ride with a generous helping of smut and comedy alongside the politics. There’s usually a bit of snog, marry, avoid and in the most recent live show, outgoing Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price was asked which politicians he would like to see on Naked Attraction. There are some questions to which “none” is the only acceptable answer. To be fair, the live shows are usually less lurid than the weekly episodes, the audience providing a reminder that someone else is actually listening.

I reckon our Ed will handle himself pretty well as long as he realises that there are few boundaries. He is, I think, much better at these sorts of informal events than at the big set piece speeches.

For the Many has been going since 2017 and, if my calculations are correct, will hit its 400th episode during its Edinburgh run. I started listening to it by accident just before Christmas last year and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Since, I’ve gone back to listen to some of the episodes covering Brexit, Covid and the ongoing Tory psychodrama. As you would expect, Lib Dems don’t usually get the credit we deserve in their analysis so I generally fall asleep during the serious bits and wake up in fits of rib-breaking laughter at some of the outrageous filth they come out with.

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A must read: The Honourable Ladies Volume 1

I have a new incentive for rewarding myself for completing tasks. An item on my to-do list gets done and I get to read another entry in a wonderful new book edited by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith which tells us about every woman MP from 1918-1996. It’s a real treasure trove which covers the battles women have fought over the past century for equal pay, against discrimination, for childcare, for rights in the workplace – for things even as fundamental as the right to continue working after marriage or to have your own bank account.

The Honourable Ladies’ profiles are written by women MPs and commentators with a few Liberal Democrats involved. Baroness Liz Barker wrote about Vera Terrington, who was Liberal MP for Wycombe from 1922-24, championing housing, women’s rights and animal welfare.

Jo Swinson wrote about an earlier young MP for East Dunbartonshire, Margaret Ewing, who went on to represent Moray. Her generous portrait makes you want to find out more.

In her profile of Megan Lloyd-George, Kirsty Williams tells about the radical Liberal who felt that the party left her and who joined Labour, about her independent spirit and the solidarity she found with other women – mirroring cross-party solidarity between women across politics that we find today.

Other Lib Dem contributors include Caroline Pidgeon, Lynne Featherstone, Olly Grender, Julia Goldsworthy, Kirsty Williams, Susan Kramer and Alison Suttie.

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Opinion: The Nutt affair – or, the thin line between evidence and policy

Firstly, a disclaimer: I am a scientist, who is also interested in governance and politics, so the following post may come across as somewhat heated. Apologies, but I do feel that the recent furore over Prof. David Nutt’s sacking as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) goes right to the heart of why I took up both science and politics as profession and interest respectively.

We begin with Prof. Nutt’s most recent criticism of the government’s drugs policy, which attracted headlines for claiming that alcohol, despite being legal and freely available, was more harmful than the Class A narcotic ecstasy (MDMA). At first sight this may seem like an outlandish statement to make, but the evidence, collated by Prof. Nutt, suggests otherwise; granted, the recent publication from Nutt’s The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London wasn’t peer-reviewed, but the methodologies used to calculate his ‘harm index’ were so, and published in one of the most respected medical journals, The Lancet in 2007 (the full article is behind a paywall, contact me if you want the pdf…). Just to repeat this – using what seems to me to be a robust method, taking into account everything from physical harm to the user to social harms at large, ecstasy does indeed seem to be less dangerous than alcohol, and it’s using this tried and tested method of enquiry that Nutt used to conclude that cannabis should remain a class C drug.

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Government afraid of technology offers to protect the public

The Government has launched a consultation on their plans to keep a record of all our “communications data” – that is, the time and recipient of each email, text message or phone call we make, the websites we visit and the place from which we do this.

Although the Government has climbed down from its plans to establish a central database of all communications data, it proposes to make communications service providers hold it instead, for a whole year. Then “public authorities” and “investigators” would be given access to it for their purposes.

The title of the consultation document itself is an irony-free piece of doublethink: “Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment.” In this the author has tried to establish a false common enemy. It implies that it’s us and the Government against Technology, against Change itself. “We’ll protect you,” can then run the argument.

For all the mentions of balance in the document (7 of them, in fact) it’s hard to present a balanced choice once the frame has been set.

No wonder they want to tip the balance: the Government is worried that the pace of technological change is running away from them faster than their salami-slicing tactics of hoarding up every last piece of data about us can keep up. Methods of communication are improving and increasing so mass surveillance is getting cumbersome and expensive.

Note the use of words like “degrade” in the foreword, which make date stamps on our text messages sound like some kind of weapons-grade data plutonium in the war against the bogeyman:

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All North West terror suspects released without charge

All 12 men who were arrested two weeks ago in terror raids in the north west of England are to be released without charge.

However, nine of the men are to be deported for breaching the terms of their entry into the UK. Greater Manchester Police have released them into the custody (oxymoron, surely?) of the UK Border Agency.

The police raids, which were hastily brought forward and led to the resignation of Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick are now under renewed scrutiny.

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary said,

“This is yet another embarrassment for Jacqui Smith coming hot on the

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Huhne attacks RIPA snoopers’ charter: “the Government’s surveillance society has got out of hand”

Today’s Times reports:

Councils are to have their powers to snoop on the public severely curtailed. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will signal government plans today to reverse the expansion of the surveillance society amid growing alarm at the extent of official spying.

And not before time, for as the paper reports elsewhere:

A survey by the Liberal Democrats found that 182 of the 475 local authorities in England and Wales had authorised the use of Ripa powers on 10,288 occasions in the past five years.

It found that 1,615 council staff have the power to authorise their use

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Porn on expenses – nothing to hide, Jacqui Smith?

There’s something oddly, uh, gratifying about today’s revelation that the nation has been paying for Jacqui Smith’s husband to watch porn.

In case you’ve been busy with F1, the boat race, large amounts of roast food and sundry other matters, here’s the story from the Beeb:

The Home Secretary’s husband has said sorry for embarrassing his wife after two adult films were viewed at their home, then claimed for on expenses.

Richard Timney, who is also Jacqui Smith’s parliamentary aide, said he understood why people might be angry.

Ms Smith said she “mistakenly”

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Should we be worried that MI5 think John Reid is still Home Secretary?

Take a look here. Let’s hope they’ve noticed a few other things have changed. Like we’re not at war with Germany. And we no longer rule India.

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Good news! It only takes three hours to learn how to fight the war on terror

And you get a cup of tea thrown in too. Or coffee.

You may have heard Gordon Brown boasting that,

Tens of thousands of men and women throughout Britain – from security guards to store managers – have now been trained and equipped to deal with an incident and know what to watch for as people go about their daily business in crowded places such as stations, airports, shopping centres and sports grounds.

Good news hey? Even if some of their time may have been spent on learning that people who prefer tofu to meat are indulging in just the same sort of …

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CommentIsLinked@LDV: Norman Baker – It might be legal, but it’s not right

Over at the Mirror, crusading Lib Dem MP Norman Baker writes (briefly) about the damage that the ‘drip, drip, drip of stories about MPs’ expenses’ is doing to Parliament. Here’s an excerpt (actually, it’s pretty much the whole piece):

We can’t continue to have revelations that the public find so shocking. Jacqui Smith’s homes are a prime example. It’s not acceptable that she can claim her main home is her sister’s spare room. Saying it is within the rules is not good enough. House of Commons officials must be able to veto MPs’ declarations. They need to ask questions like where

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Pressure grows on Jacqui Smith over expense claims

The former chairman of the Standards Committee, Sir Alistair Graham, has acquired rather a habit of speaking out bluntly to put pressure on MPs over their standards and he’s done it again on Newsnight:

“It must not look as if you’re manipulating expenses for your own financial gain.”

If it is found Ms Smith resides in her London home more nights a week than her Redditch home, he said: “She’ll be in the clear in the sense of the rules, but in the sense of her political career – she won’t be.” (PoliticsHome)

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At the third time of asking, Jacqui Smith gets investigated

Paul Waugh has the story:

Jacqui Smith’s expenses claims are set to receive fresh scrutiny today. I’ve learned that she has now been written to by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon in the light of fresh allegations made this weekend by her neighbours in south-east London.

Having turned down two previous requests to investigate the affair, Mr Lyon has asked the Home Sec to  provide additional information on how often she stays at her sister’s home in Nunhead.

Dominic and Jessica Taplin  this weekend told the Mail on Sunday that Ms Smith was rarely in her London home more than three nights

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Ecstasy – a very political drug

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has recommended that ecstasy be downgraded to Class B. The Council’s chair, Professor David Nutt, likened the levels of harm caused by ecstasy to those caused by horse-riding. Apparently, horse-riding causes about 10 deaths per year and the use of ecstasy in isolation causes between 10 and 17.

So have the government accepted the evidence of their own advisory body this time, having recently rejected their advice by upgrading cannabis from C to B? What do you think? The Guardian has more:

The credibility of the

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Evan sticks up for drug adviser in ecstasy row

As the Guardian reports:

The government’s drugs adviser last night apologised for saying that the risk in taking ecstasy was no worse than in riding a horse. Home secretary Jacqui Smith had yesterday carpeted Dr David Nutt over comments that emerged 48 hours before his committee was expected to recommend downgrading the drug. …

Smith’s attack on Nutt, the new chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, comes when this week it will publish a report expected to recommend downgrading ecstasy from class A to class B. Smith has made clear she will veto the council’s view as

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CC all your email to Jacqui Smith Day

The Government have plans to start a massive database recording every phone call you make, every email you send, and every text you remove the vowels from.  They have named this bizarre plan the Interception Modernisation Programme, which hardly sounds reassuring, and is still more concerning as the acronym IMP.

But just as the plan to exempt MPs from the FOI bill spurred an impressive new generation of campaigning via Twitter, the big mad database plan has prompted some novel forms of protest.

“CC your email to Jacqui Smith Day” is a group and a fan page on Facebook that …

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