Tag Archives: james graham

Labour play games on Robin Hood Tax

Labour’s attempt to force a vote on a financial transaction tax, outlined in yesterday’s Guardian, appears to be more of a ruse to embarrass the Liberal Democrats than a serious attempt to develop a consensus on the issue. The SNP used to habitually put forward motions in the Scottish Parliament aimed at splitting the Labour/Liberal Democrat Government. It’s just something that happens.

The reality is that things change on this over time, by painstaking negotiation, not by a mischief making motion in Parliament. We know that the idea of such a tax sits well with Liberal Democrats. Vince Cable has …

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In praise of ‘This House’

A hung parliament against the backdrop of a teetering economy. Parties divided over Europe. The cracks in the UK fuelling separatist demands. The whips are desperately trying to maintain order.

It’s not hard to see the appeal to current audiences of James Graham’s (no, not that one: this one) hit play, This House.

It’s 1974 and the corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and backbiting as Britain’s political parties battle to change the future of the nation, whatever it takes. In this hung parliament, the ruling party holds on by a thread. Votes are won and lost by one, fist fights erupt in the bars, and ill MPs are hauled in to cast their votes. It’s a time when a staggering number of politicians die, and age-old traditions and allegiances are thrown aside in the struggle for power.

And the good news is that if you haven’t had chance to see it in either of its two sell-out runs in London, then you can watch it live on a screen near you today, Thursday 16th May, as part of the excellent National Theatre Live series. Here’s the trailer:

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Erlend Watson replaces James Graham on the Lib Dems’ Federal Executive

James Graham’s resignation from the Liberal Democrats on Sunday created a vacancy on the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive committee.

The Electoral Commission has now recounted the votes from the original internal party election in 2010 and named Erlend Watson as the winner. Party President Tim Farron phoned Erlend this morning to formally welcome him back to FE.

Erlend told the Voice:

I regard myself as a critical friend of the party leadership, we agree on our destination although the precise route to get there is up for discussion.

I was previously on the FE from 2006-2010 including the post General Election

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What’s the most effective way of ensuring fair wages for low earners?

The question arises from James Graham’s excellent blog on how raising the personal income tax allowance, a central plank of Liberal Democrat influence in the Coalition, makes it more likely that large companies will pay fairer wages.

James was responding to Zoe Williams in the Guardian (well worth a read), who rightly highlights the negative societal impact of companies paying their employees wildly differing amounts – sky-high executive salaries at one end of the spectrum, and sub-living wages at the other that  have to be topped up by complex and costly welfare spending.

Of late there has been …

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LibLink: James Graham – Liberal – but not so democratic in the Lords

Over on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free site, Lib Dem blogger James Graham has a piece arguing that if the party wants to demonstrate its commitment to reforming the House of Lords, we should start by stopping the appointment of additional peers.

Here’s a sample:

Nowhere are the flaws of political appointment more apparent than in the Liberal Democrat party in the House of Lords. Not only are Lib Dem peers handpicked by their leader (in theory, the leader is restricted in his choice; the reality is somewhat different), they are self-selecting. You are either

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Katie Ghose appointed new Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society

The press notice from the Electoral Reform Society says:

Katie Ghose has served for 5 years as Director of the British Institute of Human Rights, a national charity with a mission to bring rights to life for everyone in the UK. A public affairs specialist and barrister with a background in human rights law and immigration, she served as a Commissioner on the Independent Asylum Commission from 2006-2008, where she helped to conduct the biggest ever indepedent review of the UK asylum system. She has worked in campaigns for several third sector organisations including Age UK (then Age Concern England

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LibLink: James Graham – Lib Dems must agree to publicly disagree

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham argues that Nick Clegg needs to admit the party’s economic differences with the Tories in public – the alternative, he warns, is that the Coalition will become rudderless. Here’s an excerpt:

That the government is embarking on a programme of deep cuts is not in question; but nobody seems to be able to explain what it is all for. The coalition can’t explain because, frankly, the coalition can’t agree. That’s why the government’s “vision” has been dominated by empty flannel such as the “big society”, which can

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“The Liberal Democrats aren’t a sort of glorified form of the Electoral Reform Society”

So says Nick Clegg in an interview for Radio 4’s Westminster Hour.

His underlying point is a good one – the coalition isn’t a single-issue coalition which is about AV and nothing else. And, as James Graham points out, the Electoral Reform Society isn’t a sort of glorified from of the Liberal Democrats either.

However, Nick Clegg does make the point at some length in the interview – “The Liberal Democrats aren’t a sort of glorified form of the Electoral Reform Society”, “I wouldn’t have stood for the leadership of the Lib Dems if I thought the only sole purpose in …

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James Graham on the dangers of Labour’s oppositionalism

James Graham, Lib Dem blogger and frequent contributor to the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, has a must-read piece today, titled ‘Not dead but…’.

James co-founded the Lib Dems’ Social Liberal Forum, and has in the past advocated closer relations between the party and Labour as a progressive force to take on the Conservatives, so he is by no means a natural cheerleader for the Lib/Con Coalition, as his blog-post makes clear.

It’s his take on Labour’s misfiring oppositional tactics, though, which I think are well worth highlighting here:

My fears that Labour would end up getting

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LibLink: James Graham – Labour’s accusations of gerrymandering are self-defeating

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website earlier this week, Lib Dem blogger James Graham dismissed Jack Straw’s overblown accusations that the Coalition is ‘gerrymandering’, and urged the voting reform bill to receive the more serious scrutiny it deserves. Here’s an excerpt:

Every time a Labour politician uses the word “gerrymandering” a puppy dies. … Gerrymandering is the act of deliberately fixing a boundary in order to give a political party an unfair advantage. Yet the proposed changes will not to lead to any more political interference in the boundary review process. …

One of the main effects of the

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LibLink: James Graham – A cruel result for the Lib Dems

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham looks at what the results mean for the party:

What can I say about this result? I’m bereft. It isn’t even a result so awful that the Lib Dems could sit by the sidelines and let everyone else sort out the mess the country is in. That, at least, would be easy. In fact, just to make things even more galling, we seem to have actually increased our share of the vote to a level that we would have been delighted with a month ago. What a cruel

Posted in LibLink | 6 Comments

LibLink: James Graham – Lib Dems will make Labour sweat

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham pours a bucket of swill over Labour’s panicked suggestions that Nick Clegg’s about to jump into bed with the Tories. And another equal bucket of swill over the idea that Labour can take Nick Clegg for a patsy. Here’s an excerpt:

There are only two things I am certain of in this election. First, every vote for the Liberal Democrats is not just a vote for more Lib Dem MPs, but will strengthen Nick Clegg’s negotiating position. The time for tactical voting has passed: it is time

Posted in General Election and LibLink | 2 Comments

Can the surge last? Lib Dem bloggers give their views …

Lib Dems leading the election race, and polling above 30% – that’s not a line (m)any of us expected to be able to type with a straight face. But it’s the present reality. The questions is: can the Lib Dem surge last? Here’s what a handful of Lib Dem bloggers think …

James Graham

Anyone who claims to know what will happen electorally next month simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. But there are a number of reasons to suggest that the Liberal Democrats’ poll leap over the weekend might last.

Firstly, polls tend to be mutually reinforcing. This is why some countries ban them during election time. The same factor which has reinforced the Lib Dems’ image as no-hopers in the past might well work in our favour now, especially since it is such a dramatic development.

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LibLink: James Graham – A new politics is up for grabs

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham makes the argument that anyone wanting to transform politics in the UK at this election has the obvious solution in their hands: a vote for the Lib Dems: “Voting Lib Dem this time is the equivalent of pressing a bloody great reset button”.

But what if the result is that a high Lib Dem vote isn’t reflected in the number of Lib Dem MPs elected? Here’s James’s answer:

What we’ve seen over the past 48 hours is the possibility of a genuinely new approach. Instead of playing

Posted in General Election and LibLink | 1 Comment

Jo Swinson target of anonymous smear campaign

This how today’s Sun reports the story:

A LIB-DEM MP has called in cops after an anonymous smear campaign was launched against her. Trouble-makers claiming to represent the East Dunbartonshire Taxpayers’ Alliance have sent letters to hundreds of voters across the region blackening the name of Jo Swinson, who is standing again on May 6. …

Ms Swinson said: “I’ve reported it to the police and they are investigating because the anonymous nature of this makes it illegal. It is clearly designed to damage my chances but I think a lot of people have seen through it.”

She saddedd : “This is

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LibLink: James Graham – Digital economy bill exposes broken system #DEbill

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham argues that it was the UK’s broken Parliament – an antiquated Lords, a whipped Commons – which got us into the legislative mess of Labour’s Digital Economy Bill. The only way to fix it, says James, is to vote for a new politics. Here’s an excerpt:

The real lesson from this experience is that we need a more representative and responsive political system. Digital rights will always be one of those Cinderella issues while the voting system focuses politicians’ attention solely on a handful of swing voters in

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Evidence based, Left Foot Forward? Not if you’re ignoring the actual evidence

The Labour-supporting Left Foot Forward blog prides itself on being evidence-based. But not, it seems, when the evidence doesn’t support the conclusion they’ve already written.

That seems to be the only explanation for their slanted weekend posting that Lib Dem tax policy “fails the fairness test”, which appears to rest on two points: 1) that people who don’t pay tax won’t benefit from tax-cuts, and 2) ignoring completely the redistributive wealth tax rises that Vince Cable and the Lib Dems are proposing.

Perhaps the authors, Tim Horton and Howard Reed, hoped nobody would notice the sleight-of-hand; or at least that it …

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Parliamentary Parties report back to conference

Party business sessions are usually fairly thinly attended at party conference, except back in the days of disaster and near bankrupcy immiediately after the merger which formed the Liberal Democrats.

They can however play an important role, particularly where well chosen questions tease out information or get commitments on the record. James Graham’s question this morning about the Digital Economy Bill was a good example of this (and would have been even more cruicial has the emergency motions ballot not decided to debate the topic on Sunday morning).

And so, here I am back in the conference hall for part two of …

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What’s the Liberal Democrat position on homeopathy?

As the issue has been debated several times recently on this site, here’s the latest statement of the party’s position:

A recent report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee examined the provision of homeopathy through the NHS and called for funding by the NHS to be stopped. The Committee did recognise that many users derive benefit from its use and did not argue that such treatments should be banned.

The Liberal Democrats believe that, as a basic principle, individuals should have maximum freedom about how they choose to get treated, so long as the therapy is safe.  When it

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LibLink: James Graham on the Digital Economy Bill

On Comment is Free, James Graham asks:

Have the Liberal Democrats been taken over by the Flat Earth Society?

To find his answer read here.

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Daily View 2×2: 4 March 2010

Good morning and welcome to Thursday’s Daily View.

There’s a huge chunk of exciting things that happened today in history, so it’s an auspicious day to welcome a baby Cullen. Our technical editor Ryan has been tweeting progress, and as I write this there’s a lot of pushing going on. Best wishes from all at LDV to the Cullen family – I’m sure LDV Towers will soon get used to night feeds. I’m dusting off my copy of Gina Ford as I type.

Male swans from Matthew Bourne's Swan LakeSo, today in history: the US Congress met for the first time in 1789. In 1790, France was divvied into départements. In 1797, John Adams succeeded George Washington, the first ever peaceful transfer of power between elected leaders in modern times. Chicago was founded in 1837; Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake premiered in Moscow in 1877 and in 1882, East London saw Britain’s first electric trams. The first Daimler car was unveiled and in 1933, the first woman joined the US Cabinet.

March 4th birthdays include Vivaldi, in 1678, Sir Patrick Moore, and Nottingham novellist Alan Sillitoe (I was at the meeting of Nottingham City Council that made him an honorary freeman of the city, incidentally)

2 Big Stories

Evil Gays update

Civil partnerships – gay marriages – could soon be registered in places of worship – something currently expressly banned by statute, which is particularly unfair on those faiths which don’t have a problem with gay relationships, including Quakers and Reform Judaism. The Times has one version of the information; the Telegraph on the other hand manages to paint a far more bleak version of the havoc that could be wrought by litigious homos.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has averred that his party’s tax breaks, maternity and paternity rights planned for married couples will also be available to their civilly partnershipped brethren. Not quite sure how this tallies with last month’s pronouncement that would be no new gay rights under the Tories.

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Daily View 2×2: 1 March 2010

It’s Monday morning. It’s the 1st March, and the question everyone’s asking is, “Where the hell did January and February go?”. For our Welsh readers, meanwhile, may we wish you a very happy St David’s Day. On with the day’s main news …

Result of LDV poll on Tories’ evaporating lead

Yesterday LDV ran an insta-poll asking our Twitter followers and site readers what you thought was the main reason why the Tories’ opinion poll lead has shrunk so fast. Here’s what the 147 of you who voted told us:

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How can we sell the Single Transferable Vote to the public?

The last 24 hours’ focus on voting systems – surely every Lib Dem’s dream come true? – have highlighted just how hard it will be to gain acceptance for the party’s preferred proportional voting system, the single transferable vote.

It’s no surprise that almost all MPs from the two establishment parties, Labour and the Tories, are desperate to hold onto the electoral system that secures their cosy hold on power: just five Labour/Tory MPs voted to include STV in any referendum on voting reform.

But it will also be the case that a significant portion of the country will …

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Lib Link: James Graham on electoral reform

James Graham gives Comment is Free the benefit of his views on Gordon Brown’s electoral reform fudge:

AV is the perfect electoral system for Gordon Brown. It enables him to look in two directions at once: supporting a system which ensures that fewer votes are wasted while being resolutely non-proportional. Superficially it sounds like a big deal, but in most elections it will probably only change the result in a handful of seats. And, like all Gordon Brown policies, it has a fair chance of blowing up in his face; because of AV’s habit of exaggerating swings, the system is

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Daily View 2×2: 21 January 2010

1920s woman in silk kimono smoking using a cigarette holderGood morning and welcome to Daily View. If you submit a tax return, there are hardly any days left to get on with it.

On this day in 1908, New York City voted to ban women from smoking in public. Two years ago, Black Monday did a number on the world’s stock markets.

In birthdays, we sing a song to Commander in Chief star Geena Davis and Christian Dior, who were born today.

And in deaths, we remember George Orwell – and use him as an excuse to pimp this link – a cartoon that fears that when it comes to dystopias, it was Aldous Huxley who nailed it, rather than George Orwell.

2 Big Stories

Stop the presses!

Men are wearing shorts in the snow in New York.

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Daily View 2×2: 14 January 2010

Good morning afternoon and welcome to Daily View on a largely uneventful day in history. 152 years ago today, Napoleon III wasn’t assassinated. It’s the day Martin Niemöller was born, the author of the words about Holocaust victims, “First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.”

Today Richard Briers, Faye Dunaway and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are celebrating birthdays, and we remember Lewis Carroll’s death.

2 Big Stories

Haiti victim search

All the papers lead today with news of the continuing search for survivors amongst the debris following the massive earthquake in Haiti.

Times: Race against time for Haiti earthquake aid
Telegraph: Race to save thousands of lives
Daily Mail: Haiti razed to the ground: Horrifying new pictures reveal extent of earthquake destruction
Guardian: International teams join Haiti rescue operation

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LibLink … James Graham: No, Simon Cowell is not a saviour

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog, Lib Dem blogger James Graham argues that political engagement via entertainment is a failed model, and asks – shouldn’t we be talking about how to make politics less like the X Factor? Here’s an excerpt:

The public perception of MPs and X Factor contestants is remarkably similar: both are regarded as vapid, essentially interchangeable, only in it for the money and the glory, bitchy, having laughable hairstyles and as all coming from the same school. … In reality, the X Factor could only dream of having as many voters as we take

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Lib Dem Bloggers Christmas stocking fillers … Part II

If you could choose up to three items for your Christmas stocking, what would they be? That was the question LDV posed to a group of Lib Dem bloggers. All this week we’re revealing what they told us, with all their choices added to the Amazon carousel widget featured on our home-page, referral fees from which will help support Lib Dem Voice: so get clicking and ordering. You can read Part I here. In part two, four more bloggers – Jonathan Calder, James Graham, Alix Mortimer and Paul Walter – give us the low-down on their Xmas faves.


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Daily View 2×2: 7 December 2009

Welcome to the 341st day of the year, folks, a day which has witnessed in past years the births of great thinkers like Noam Chomsky and Stan Boardman.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • Why the Conservatives have been making class an issue (James Graham)
  • … the one party still obsessed with class in this country are the Conservatives. Frankly, it would be nice if there were a bit more class consciousness within the other two main parties.

  • Four Years
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    LibLink … James Graham: Lib-Con pact, or just a Marr moment?

    Rather belatedly* The Voice is delighted to highlight an article by Lib Dem blogger James Graham over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free site, the subtitle of which is a neat, Tweet paraphrase of his argument: ‘The idea that the Lib Dems want to jump into bed with Cameron is a fantasy. But multiparty politics is likely to be the new norm’. But as ever with James the article is well worth reading in full. Here’s an excerpt:

    There is no enthusiasm within the party for co-operation with the Conservative party, but working with Labour is almost as unenticing a prospect.

    Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 1 Comment

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