Tag Archives: john pugh

Tribal politics and liberalism – the fight to the death

I have a slightly irrational aversion to holding up diamonds, wearing rosettes and beginning sentences with the phrase “Only the Liberal Democrats”. In fact I canvass now with a badge I had made which says on it against a yellow background “Bloody Politicians”. 

I really,really do get the importance of branding etc but I do think that the future of Liberalism depends on the death of tribal politics.

We are living in strange times where political discourse is often reduced to the exchange of insults, declaration of tribal belief and parodying of alternative perspectives. As Nick Robinson tweeted<

Much but not all of this is done through social media. Political debate ,as opposed to the political exchange of fire, is harder now to engage in. Voters are increasingly endorsing populist-right and left- politicians who offer simple solutions, ignore complexity and play successfully on emotions and fears.

Polarised politics though has certain key definable features we need to understand and as importantly worry about emulating.

It characterises political opposition in terms of a moral gulf. Those who back a different position are knaves, fools or both. They are not just people who have arrived at a different opinion. There can be no dalliance with the enemy not just because they are wrong but because they are necessarily evil. So we have the coarsening of political discourse, mindless abuse of opponents etc 

A second key characteristic is to deny or minimise the possibility of shared truths between political opponents. One side has to have got all the facts right and the other side all the facts wrong.Intelligence is only ever used by opponents to mislead and confound. 

These two key characteristics act to reinforce each other. It cannot possibly be the case that one’s political opponents have looked at the same facts one sees and arrived at different conclusions, possibly sharing some similar core values to oneself. That’s a liberal mirage.

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Cllr John Pugh writes: Cautionary tales from Southport

We’re happier people in Southport after our council by election which we won decisively in what used to be a rock solid Tory Ward and left Labour in a poor third place.

People might be surprised to know that whereas I owe my success to my small and dedicated team, I drew what inspiration I had from my limited reading not of J.S.Mill or Jo Grimond but from the Hindu classic ,the Bhagavad Gita.

Let me explain. We’ve had a rough time lately in Southport – pushed from first to third place on a rising tide of Corbynism in the General Election. a councillor suspended, two defecting to Labour and a fractious and demoralised mood growing. We had a substantial rally of the Corbyn cult on Southport beach with St Jeremy himself in attendance, a media losing interest in us, the party nationally tanking in the polls, a new Tory MP and many of us were just plain knackered after the gruelling, high-intensity campaigning of July’s General.

In such circumstances we were scarcely in a position to welcome a by-election in a ward polarised between a wealthy shoreside area and a deprived town centre. There was serious a possibility of us only being able to add to a narrative of decline. On the other hand we could conceivably change that narrative.

I had when stepping down this year intended to return to local politics but would have welcomed more propitious circumstances in which to do it. I was only too aware of the adage that ‘all political careers end in failure’ and a former MP not winning or worse in a council seat in his own constituency would be a pretty good way of proving it- especially as I knew both Labour and Conservatives needed to pull out all the stops in the contest.

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Former MP Pugh elected to Council in a night of Lib Dem gains and holds

Congratulations to Cllr John Pugh. Southport’s former MP who retired from the Commons at the General Election has had a cracker of a win in a by-election for the Dukes Ward of Sefton Council.

That great result was upstaged by a 25% swing from the Tories in Arun.

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Exclusive: Former Lib Dem MP John Pugh to stand in Southport Council by-election

A snap by-election on Sefton MBC in Merseyside could see John Pugh, Lib Dem MP for Southport until he stood down in 2017, make a return as a councillor.  He previously served as one for 14 years until his election as MP in 2001.

If successful, John would be following in a expanding line of former Lib Dem MPs who have gained council seats in recent times, people such as Adrian Sanders, Tessa Munt, Mark Hunter and John Leech.

The by-election takes place on Thursday 2nd November in Dukes Ward (which covers Southport Town Centre and West Birkdale) following the resignation of a sitting Conservative councillor due to ill-health.  Dukes Ward is generally regarded as the most Conservative of Southport’s seven wards.

The resignation was only submitted last Thursday 21st September with the Tories “calling” the election the following day and they have been distributing a leaflet since last weekend.  However Southport Lib Dems have also been quick off the mark with a Focus leaflet going out from Sunday.

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Sue McGuire selected to fight Southport

It’s just a week since John Pugh announced his decision to retire at the snap General Election. Last night, local Liberal Democrats selected Cllr Sue McGuire to fight the seat on 8th June.

From the Southport Visiter:

Sue McGuire represents Cambridge Ward in Southport, which covers parts of Churchtown and Marshside, and is a governor at Marshside Primary School.

She was first elected to Sefton Council in May 2010, and was chosen as leader of the party in June 2015.

Born and bred in Banks, Sue attended Tarleton High School.

She has worked extensively within the community to support and help residents on issues including local health services, council services and tenancy problems.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

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John Pugh to stand down as an MP

John Pugh has announced that he won’t be fighting the General Election in his Southport constituency.

From the BBC:

John Pugh, MP for Southport, said he planned to retire next month, but “did not bank on the prime minister’s opportunism” in calling an election.
He said he did not want to work through “the nightmare chaos of Brexit” in the next parliament.
The local constituency party will now choose a new candidate from an all-woman shortlist.

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Farron: PM must clear up David Davis’s single market mess

Yesterday, Brexit Secretary David Davis made his first parliamentary statement since his appointment and it didn’t reveal very much. Our EU spokesperson was not impressed:

Paul Walter found some cause for optimism but there were also some very worrying aspects.of his answers to questions from 85 backbenchers.

He stated that full access to the single market was “very improbable.”

I am saying that this Government are looking at every option, but the simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, then I think that makes that very improbable.

Tim Farron has written to Theresa May to ask her to clarify exactly what he meant. Is the Government actually giving up on the single market before we even start? If so, that is a real disaster for the country.

Tim said:

David Davis yesterday seemed to rule out membership of the single market for access, in a statement, from the government, at the dispatch box.  I know it has been a while since he was on the front bench and he might be rusty but these things matter.

The public need to know if ideological zeal is threatening our economic security.  It is time for the Prime Minister to step in and clear up the mess.

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Guardian revelations about Clegg, Cable and the Lib Dem election catastrophe

Well, as the ballot papers get sent out in the leadership election, the Guardian publishes a series of revelations tonight about the last year of the coalition and the aftermath of the European elections.

Apparently Nick Clegg was ready to resign in the wake of the European elections and was talked out of it by, among others, Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron. Certainly at the time, the feedback that Federal Executive members gave at our post Euro disaster meeting was that there was no appetite in the wider party for a leadership election, but they did want things to change.

Vince Cable, it transpires, did know about the Oakeshott polls.

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Nick Clegg’s leadership: A summary of the coverage

Nick Clegg visits Manchester VelodromeWell, there was a certain inevitability that poor election results would lead to calls for Nick Clegg to resign. Today, the papers are full of comments from activists and MPs critical of the Deputy Prime Minister.

John Hemming, John Pugh and Adrian Sanders have all gone public with their criticism of Clegg. It should be noted that none of them are particularly noted for being his biggest fans. There is a certain irony that where there were elections on their patches, they did reasonably well. In Pugh’s Southport …

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Lib Dems: “Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant and we have nothing but sympathy for those whose lives he ruined”

cyril smith bookWe reported here yesterday the latest revelations of extensive alleged paedophile abuse by former Liberal MP, Cyril Smith, in a new book co-authored by his Rochdale successor, Simon Danczuk. Today’s Observer highlights the party’s response, and the responses of two current Lib Dem MPs, John Pugh and John Hemming:

In a statement the party said: “Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant and we have nothing but sympathy for those whose lives he ruined. His actions were not known to, or condoned by the Liberal Party or the

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John Pugh MP writes… Grim up north

You may have read the Observer article entitled “Northern Lib Dem MPs rebel over cuts.”

It’s a source of wry amusement to behold how the national media treat our internal democratic procedures. Not since primary school have I been referred to as “ringleader”, let alone of a bunch of “rebels” – Northern council leaders, peers and MPs who endorse the pre-budget submission “Grim up North?”.

The title is meant to be a little ironic because there are many promising signs up North and a lot of support for the Coalition’s objectives of re-balancing the economy.

However, your typical Northerner is classically known …

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5 reasons not to assume the FDP wipeout in the German elections will happen here in the UK

fdp germany logoAn amazing result for Angela Merkel, increasing her vote and almost winning an absolute majority for the conservative CDU in her third election. A dire one for the liberal FDP, eliminated from the German Bundestag after failing to cross the 5% popular vote threshold – from 93 seats to 0 in one go. Ouch.

Part of the fun of elections in foreign countries is cherry-picking the bits of confirmation bias that suit our own weltenschaung. “Liberal party wiped out after coalition with centre-right party, eh – you just wait til …

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11 Liberal Democrat MPs vote for registrars to be exempt from marrying same sex couples

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has made fairly easy progress through the Commons tonight. After a Government/Labour compromise on a review for extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, and the heavy defeat or withdrawal of amendments, including “son of Section 28”, it looks as though many of the barriers to this Bill’s passage have been removed.

There is still a further day of debate tomorrow, though, and further amendments to be debated.

One of the amendments discussed today, defeated by 340 votes to 150 in favour, was to allow registrars to exempt themselves from marrying same sex couples. Eleven Liberal …

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Equal marriage: 2 Lib Dem MPs against and a further 9 (or 10) Missing In Action

Lynne Featherstone with Same Sex marriage bill - Some rights reserved by Mark PackTomorrow the House of Commons will vote on the Bill to allow equal marriage for same-sex couples which Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone did so much to push forward as Equalities Minister.

Two Lib Dem MPs have so far publicly declared their opposition:

  • John Pugh MP (Southport)
  • “I will vote against the Bill – against Gay Marriage but not necessarily for all the reasons the churches give but because I think there is a good liberal

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    LibLink: John Pugh MP – With hindsight, Cable’s deficit reduction plan looks better than Osborne’s

    Lib Dem MP John Pugh has written a thoughtful, balanced piece on economic policy for the New Statesman website. He freely admits he has voted for every part of George Osborne’s economic strategy brought before the Commons (“I did not know if it would achieve all its major objectives but I certainly did not know it would not”) but says the facts are plain: it’s not working. Here’s an excerpt:

    Yes, jobs are being created in the private sector, unemployment is not moving upwards, the deficit is down, our export markets are engaging with the emerging economies, inflation is low and

    Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments

    Opinion: No economic case for regional pay

    The clamour against regional pay received renewed vigour yesterday as 25 Liberal Democrat backbenchers endorsed a paper calling for the government to scrap any plans to link public sector pay to private sector earnings across the UK. The paper prepared in the office of John Pugh MP, analyses the evidence submitted to the Treasury and Office of Manpower Economics and concludes that there is no economic case for introducing regional pay.

    The government has considered the introduction of regional pay in light of concerns that public sector pay premiums across the UK are ‘crowding-out’ the private sector. However statistics show that the private sector is not struggling to recruit staff, as vacancies in the public sector go unfilled for longer and a survey of business leaders shows that the majority have not struggled to compete with public sector wages.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 31 Comments

    What Lib Dem members think about the NHS Bill: 57% opposed, but majority might back it if significantly amended

    We’ve been surveying the views of current Lib Dem members this week on your views on the NHS Bill. Over 500 responded, and here’s what you told us…

  • A majority of Lib Dem members – and a majority of Lib Dem members who will be voting delegates at the party’s spring conference at NewcastleGateshead this weekend – oppose the Coalition Government’s NHS reforms as they currently stand. By 57% to 32%, Lib Dem members reject the Health & Social Care Bill.
  • However, that does not automatically mean the Lib Dem conference will vote to ‘Kill the Bill’ if
  • Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 18 Comments

    LDVideo: Harris & Pugh on Murdoch’s new Sun on Sunday paper

    The News of the World is dead, long live the Sun on Sunday… starting from this Sunday. Here’s how two Lib Dems have responded to the announcement by News International…

    Evan Harris: I’ll buy SoS ‘to see what it’s like’

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    The Beveridge Group announces its relaunch

    The Liberal Democrat Voice team have received a press release from John Pugh MP, which may be of interest to those in the Party keen to engage in debate on policy and philosophy.

    With an eye to the new parliamentary year and forthcoming legislation, the Beveridge Group has reformed and a new updated website is already up and running. The initiative follows widespread concern inside and outside parliament as to where Coalition policy on public services may be going.

    We want to prompt a proper debate as to where the …

    Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

    DPMQs: LibDem MPs enjoy an untroubled post-questions lunch

    Time was when Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions was the closest you got to bloodsports in the House of Commons. The DPM would be tethered, red-faced and growling, to the dispatch box, as Labour MPs taunted him and propelled all sorts of bile at him, augmented by the odd tactical nuclear missile rear-launched by the Tory swivel-eyes.

    We’ve come a long way in a few months. Now, DPMQs are relatively sedate affairs. The DPM is well in control and there is little mischief from the Labour benches. Well, none that would spoil LibDem MPs’ lunches.

    Indeed, at least four MPs found it difficult …

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

    Pugh: we must we must be able to guarantee safety before we start fracking

    The Press Association reports:

    If Britain is to benefit from a controversial drilling technique to extract gas from the ground “we must be able to guarantee safety at every stage”, a Liberal Democrat MP has said. Dr John Pugh (Southport) said without appropriate and effective monitoring of the process, public support would not be achieved.

    Fracking, which involves hydraulic fracturing of shale rock using high pressure liquid, led to the tremors which hit Lancashire earlier this year. Environmental campaigners and local residents have called for an immediate halt to the exploration work, which could lead to vast untapped gas reserves. Energy firm

    Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

    PMQs: You can’t gesticulate your way out of a Balls-up

    He still looks like a clever sixth former to me, but it is fair to say that Ed Miliband has cracked Prime Minister’s Questions. His performance this week was excellent.

    “Just a bit late” was David Cameron’s description of Miliband’s raising of the Fox affair. It is easy to understand why Miliband did not raise the subject last week. Labour played a canny game with Dr Fox. They did not call for his resignation and at the last PMQs, Miliband did not ask directly about the issue. This allowed Dr Fox to swing in the media wind, without obvious Labour encouragement. …

    Posted in News, Parliament and PMQs | Also tagged , , , , , and | 2 Comments

    Baroness Liz Barker writes… The Health and Social Care Bill in the Lords

    I have spent my entire working life in the field of health and social care. For many years I worked for Age Concern and for all my time in the Lords I have been a member of the Health and Social Care team. I am, and always will be, a passionate supporter of an NHS which is free at the point of need and open to all regardless of their ability to pay.

    Although the Health and Social Care Bill only came to the Lords this week I have been working on it for several months along with Liberal Democrat colleagues, including …

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

    Rolling news from conference: Saturday morning

    Richard Kemp summates on motion, asking people also to back both amendments; i.e. cooperation rather confrontation to improve bill. Some MPs vote for amendment 1, some abstain. Amendment overwhelmingly carried. As is amendment 2. Lines 6-15 deleted from motion, amended motion carried. All MPs can spot voted for.

    Evan Harris summates on amendment 1. “It is unusual for me to summate on a debate where there have been no speeches against my amendment”. Says government ministers must work hard to change the bill radically. Amendment 1 lays out how it should be improved – and Liberal Democrats in government “should follow …

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

    John Pugh MP writes… What I have learned from ‘The Mafia’

    Stephen Tall on this site last week queried why it was that so many Liberal Democrats sounded ‘conservative’ on public sector reform. Supporting local democratic bodies (ie, councils) was likened to Conservative support of business and Labour support of unions— both sectional interests.

    I think this is a flawed analysis. Liberal Democratic attitudes follow not from any sectional interest but a belief in democratic accountability. Opposition to many alleged reforms in public services hinge on a conviction that they are a poor substitute for it.

    To understand what’s going on I have learned from Mafia films you must ‘follow the money.’

    We …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

    Opinion: liberals should cut the deficit and support a strong state

    There is a myth that a desire to balance the books is a virtue only of right-leaning governments.

    There is myth that those who want to shrink the state are more concerned than others about how the state raises money.

    Deficit deniers in one corner – state shrinkers in the other.

    But Liberal Democrats can act to reduce the deficit and be positive about the role of the democratic state.

    What prompts any given government to run a deficit is usually circumstantial, prompted and encouraged by economists reading the runes. Reaganomics was based both on huge deficits and reducing the role of the …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 28 Comments

    Six Lib Dem MPs rebel on Coalition’s Academies Bill

    The BBC reports:

    MPs have approved legislation which paves the way for a radical overhaul of the school system in England. The Academies Bill, allowing schools to opt out of local council control as early as September, is now due to receive Royal Assent on Tuesday.

    However, the Bill sparked a revolt among some Lib Dem MPs, with five defying the whips to back an amendment proposed by Southport MP (and former teacher) John Pugh allowing parents to be balloted if a school governor objected it to becoming an academy.

    The five Lib Dems who supported John’s amendment were Annette Brooke …

    Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

    Pugh sticks up for posties sacked for not wearing cycle helmets

    The Express has the story:

    ROYAL Mail bosses were branded draconian yesterday after sacking three postmen in a week – for not wearing cycle helmets. They were accused of adhering rigidly to ­guidelines to cut staff and slash costs ahead of ­privatisation. Many others also face disciplinary action ­following the clampdown in Southport, Merseyside. Several have launched an appeal to be re-instated. Father-of-two David Smith was dismissed after 17 years.

    Southport Lib Dem MP John Pugh believes the posties have been treated unfairly:

    The only one at risk for not wearing a helmet is the postman himself – so why is

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

    Lib Dem MPs divide on embryology bill free vote

    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passed the House of Commons easily this week, 355 to 129. The Bill’s measures include allowing scientists to produce human-animal “hybrid embryos” for stem cells, use of “saviour siblings” to provide bone marrow or umbilical cord tissue for treating genetic conditions, as well as making it easier for lesbians and single women to access NHS fertilisation services and allowing a lesbian or gay couple to be named on the birth certificate as the legal parents of their children.

    The Lib Dems made it a free vote, and 16 MPs voted against the Bill at …

    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

    Opinion: Essence of Cleggism

    Most good political speeches on policy are made up of mood music, initiatives and core ideas. By far the best section of Nick’s manifesto speech was the serious attempt to refine and define core beliefs on public services.

    I am therefore emboldened to distil out of it the essence of Cleggism with the hope that if I am wrong I will be corrected and so further enlightened.

    As I understand Nick’s thinking on the matter of public services, the state remains the funder and regulator of services but not the exclusive provider i.e.  it can give money to individuals to secure …

    Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments
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