Tag Archives: Ming Campbell

LISTEN: Ming Campbell on North Korea, an anti-Brexit party, gender equality and what he ate before a big race

When something goes awry in the world, I always want to hear what two people think of it – Paddy and Ming. I don’t always agree with them, but what they have to say is always worth hearing.

Last night Ming Campbell was on Any Questions. He had his own alliterative response to Trump’s “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” – inexperienced, incompetent and incoherent. He said that the UK should work with the UN to sort this situation out and warned against any sort of military engagement. He said that the world was in a very dangerous situation.

Other issues raised included whether there should be a new centrist anti-Brexit party. Ming said, quite correctly, that there was one and there was no time to faff about creating another. The fallout from the Google memo was also discussed.

But you’ll have to listen to the end to find out what Ming used to eat before a big race in his running days when he held British records and stuff. It certainly wasn’t the sort of tailored, scientific approach we see with elite athletes today.

I was also surprised that he came out in favour of the sacking of James Damore from Google. He was pretty clear. What he’d said was wholly inappropriate and he had to go. I kind of agree with him – but on the other hand, I am very aware that Damore worked for a company in a country which has next to no employment rights. I suspect that firing him will make him a vast amount of money and will make him a bit of a celeb in alt-right circles. A disciplinary process that told him off might have been a better way of dealing with the situation.

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Rennie, Cole-Hamilton and Campbell launch Christine Jardine’s campaign to take back Edinburgh West

You know that wonderful post-election Saturday morning feeling, that you can lie in bed for a bit longer and you don’t have to rush off and do anything? When you can lie about all day reading trashy novels and drinking gin and tonic in the sunshine?

Well, it will be lovely when we get it in 5 weeks’ time.

Today, we had to drag our weary limbs out of bed sooner than we would have liked and head out campaigning.

In my case, it was to the Edinburgh West campaign launch. Regular readers will know that last week, the Edinburgh West campaign moved into the old SNP office next door to what is now Alex Cole-Hamilton’s constituency office.

Some considerable pleasure was taken in removing the giant poster of Nicola Sturgeon on the window. It has now been replaced with this:

So, this morning the office was jam packed with party members, including our new councillors Kevin Lang, Louise Young and Hal Osler, a film crew making the party election broadcast, a bunch of photographers and Tom Gordon, political editor of the Sunday Herald.

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Lib Dems respond to US air strikes on Syria

It was quite disconcerting to wake up this morning to see that Donald Trump had launched air strikes. There is no question that Syria needs to be dealt with. You just can’t have any government getting away with gassing its own people. I just feel uneasy about Donald Trump being in charge of this. Does he even have a proper strategy? I also feel uneasy about our Government just slipping into line behind him.

On Question Time last night, Tim Farron was talking about the importance of establishing no fly zones and of humanitarian aid, but made clear that doing nothing was not an option in the face of an attack as horrific as the one we saw earlier this week.

He has since described Trump’s action as “proportionate” but went on to say that our Government’s response was not sufficient:

The attack by American forces was a proportionate response to the barbarous attack by the Syrian government on its own people.

The British government rather than just putting out a bland statement welcoming this should now follow it up and call an emergency meeting of the Nato alliance to see what else can be done, be that more surgical strikes or no fly zones.

Evil happens when good people do nothing, we cannot sit by while a dictator gasses his own people. We cannot stand by, we must act.

I don’t always agree with what they say, but in situations like this, I always look for the views of three people: Paddy, Ming and Julie Smith

On Twitter, Paddy said:

I also had a conversation with Julie on Twitter:

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Wow – a Liberal Democrat on Question Time tonight

Good news. We have a Lib Dem on Question Time tonight.

It may actually be worth watching.

Although there is a downside.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Ming Campbell: The public deserves the chance to change its mind

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Ming Campbell was the first Lib Dem peer to bring up the status of EU nationals. It was, he said, extraordinary that the Government has not assured them of their right to stay given that they are so beneficial to our economy, academia and family life. He went on to talk about the right of the public to change its mind as the consequences of Brexit become clear.

My Lords, I am the 16th speaker in this debate, and I am already reminded of the explanation why the conventions of the Republican and Democrat parties in the United States last for four days, when two would be sufficient. The answer is that because usually, after two days, everything has been said but not everyone has said it. By the time we come to close of play tomorrow evening, that may be even more obvious.

In a moment or two, I shall talk about the role of your Lordships in this most serious matter, but before I do that, I support the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, about the position of EU nationals living in the United Kingdom. It is extraordinary that the Government have not yet made any concession in respect of their future. It is extraordinary that they have not recognised that those citizens are an essential part of our economy and, indeed, of our academic life. It is extraordinary that they have not accepted that they are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers of United Kingdom citizens. Are we really and truly contemplating even the remote possibility that we will be prepared to start knocking on their doors, whether at midnight or midday, expelling them from the United Kingdom? The fact is—in a debate in which we have referred to public opinion—all tests of public opinion say that these individuals are entitled to the protection that so many of your Lordships argued for in this House.

The central question for me and for others is: what is our role in this most difficult and complicated issue? Is it to accept without demur the Bill before us, and indeed to put aside the very idea of amendment? Some have exhorted and encouraged us, and even attempted to bully us into doing so. But I rather thought, when I had the privilege of being introduced to your Lordships’ House, that I was expected to use my judgment and experience and to exercise responsibility. In the circumstances in which we meet today, are not these qualities as important now as they have ever been?

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Alex Cole-Hamilton and Ming Campbell honoured at Scottish Politician of the Year Awards

New Lib Dem Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton won the “One to watch” award at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, presented at a glittering awards ceremony in Edinburgh.

He was also praised by his predecessor, Margaret Smith:

From The Herald:

With one third of MSPs new to Holyrood this year, the largest field was in the One to Watch category, sponsored by ScottishPower Renewables, with the judges impressed by the breadth and depth of talent being attracted to the Parliament as its powers increase.

The winner was the LibDem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton, who gained the Edinburgh Western seat from the SNP and is already tipped as his party’s next leader.

It’s not difficult to see why he won when you see the quality of his debut speech on the European Union

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Ming Campbell on Chilcot: “My ally right or wrong is not sustainable”

The House of Lords has been debating Chilcot this week.

Ming Campbell, our foreign affairs spokesperson at the time, spoke in the debate. Here’s his speech:

Contrary to popular belief, I have never believed that what we were presented with was a false premise—implying that there was some effort at deception—but I have always believed that it was flawed, and the distinction is important. But it is clear that throughout these events Mr Blair thought that it was the right thing to do—and he still does. That was inevitably a moral judgment, but the strength of it gave rise to the error of making the evidence fit the judgment rather than the judgment fit the evidence.

The belief that the United Kingdom should be with the United States “whatever” was a flawed belief. Indeed, some would say that that single word reveals all that lay at the heart of the disastrous decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein. On reflection, there seems to have been a complete misunderstanding of the position of the United States. George W Bush always wanted regime change—it was no secret—but why was that? It was because around him was a cluster of influential neocons who thought that his father had made a fatal error in not instructing American forces to go to Baghdad at the end of the first Gulf War. If anyone doubts the good reasons for that decision, I suggest they read the memoirs of Sir John Major, who sets out with great clarity his support for that decision.

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Ming Campbell talks EU democracy, security, sovereignty in BBC Big Debate

Yesterday, I went to Glasgow to take part in Radio Scotland’s Big Debate as part of the Remain contingent. As they did during the election, the BBC invited a delicately balanced audience.

I almost combusted on the spot when I saw that there was to be an all-male panel. Then I looked at the Leave contingent, all but one of whom were men and only men spoke. The Remain contingent, however, were almost perfectly balanced and it was the women who actually spoke the most during the hour.

It still feels strange to hear Ming Campbell introduced as Lord Campbell of Pittenweem. His partner on the remain side was the very able SNP MEP Alyn Smith. Both of them were very good at making the positive case for the EU and busting a lot of Leave myths. The Leave panellists were Tory Brian Monteith, who lives in France and is a former Conservative MEP. George Laird is from Labour Leave.

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Lords’ Maiden Speeches: Ming Campbell on the Scotland Bill and the F word

Lord Campbell of Pittenweem (a very pretty fishing village in North East Fife) made his maiden speech unexpectedly early. I had been taking to him a few weeks ago and he had said it probably wouldn’t be till January. He couldn’t resist the temptation to come in on the Scotland Bill, especially as he’d chaired two commissions on how more power could be devolved to and beyond the Scottish Parliament.

Here is his speech in full:

My Lords, I am not entirely clear how to respond to that but I think that the good people of Pittenweem will make their own judgment.

I hope that it will not be thought presumptuous of me to suggest that we should be loath to draw any parallels between the Schleswig-Holstein question and any of the contents of the Bill. It will be remembered that one of those who claimed to understand the question went mad, and it may be thought an unfortunate omen.

Contrary to expectation, this is not the first time that I have spoken in your Lordships’ House. The last occasion was more than 30 years ago but I have good cause to remember it well. Outside, there was a most Indian of Indian summers; inside, being after 1 October, the central heating was going full bore, and I was dressed in full court dress and wearing the necessary full-bottomed wig when appearing before the judicial committee in the Chamber. Notwithstanding that ordeal, worse was to be suffered. I spent a whole day being eviscerated by Lord Bridge of Harwich, whom some of your Lordships will remember for his robust interventions on the judicial committee. It is only very recently, and reluctantly, that I have come to the view that perhaps he did not care for my argument.

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Two Lib Dems standing down: Ming on competitiveness, Iraq and backing Clegg, Teather on “political self harm”

The Observer is interviewing some MPs who have stood down from Parliament. Ming Campbell and Sarah Teather are featured today.

Ming says his proudest moment in his 28 years in Parliament was deciding not to support the war in Iraq:

The second Gulf war, that’s the most significant political thing I’ve been engaged with. We took the decision – not an easy decision – that we were going to thoroughly oppose it, and there were some sleepless nights for me and for Charles . All it needed was a company of American marines to discover two tanks of anthrax – our position would have been wholly undermined. So it was a big risk, but we thought it was right and we thought wasn’t legal.

Ming comes from a different place politically than Nick Clegg, and he hasn’t had a government job. What does he make of our leader?

I’m a great admirer of Clegg, he was my pick and he’s astonishingly resilient when you consider some of the stuff that’s written about him. Forming the coalition was a very brave thing to do – it’s no secret I had some reservations – but if you’re in the ex-leaders club your duty is to follow your leader. If you’ve been through the fire and brimstone yourself, then you really have a duty to ensure that your successor is not subject to that.

Sarah had some pretty astute observations about modern politics which should make us all think about why it’s so deeply unsatisfying. She had been asked if we should worry about the number of women standing down:

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Well, I’d never have guessed THAT about Ming Campbell

Those Buzzfeed UK politics people noticed this today. A definite contender for unfortunate headline of the week.

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Ming Campbell’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings worries me

I was more than a little perturbed when I saw Ming Campbell on the BBC News Channel this morning. He was talking about yesterday’s atrocity at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

He started well enough, saying that this was not just an attack on France but on our values, Then he worried me by asking that we now need to ask ourselves how much we need to curb freedom in order to protect it, adding that the bigger the threat, the greater the precautions you need to take.

He brought it back a little by saying that you can’t protect everyone from everything, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Then came the killer punch: he said that we may have to consider things that would be unacceptable at other times in order to deal with the extremists.

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LibLink: Ming Campbell: I will vote no to independence because I love Scotland

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWillie Rennie’s “sunshine strategy”, talking up the positive side of Scotland staying in the UK even got a mention on the Andrew Marr Show during our Scottish Conference. The independence referendum is sorely needing a lift, and on the rare occasion it gets it, it is usually down to a Liberal Democrat, it has to be said. Charles Kennedy, Mike Moore, Willie Rennie and Alistair Carmichael have all added some much-needed appreciation of the UK and thoughtful consideration of the arguments. …

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Charles Kennedy: Pro UK campaign needs to be more positive

Charles KennedyCharles Kennedy has made a welcome intervention in the debate on Scottish independence. As far as the Better Together campaign is concerned, he’s quite off message. I suspect Liberal Democrats will feel that his comments needed saying and deliver a much-needed kick up the backside to the pro-UK organisation.

I very rarely share Better Together social media stuff because it’s only rarely that I see something that my friends will actually appreciate. The campaign generally gives off an air of dourness that doesn’t even connect with its own activists. They might well have bought into the idea that negative campaigning is effective, and while the polls are still in their favour, they will see no reason to change.

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Sir Ming Campbell MP writes…Britain has the power to shape the EU

A report on the successes and failures in Britain’s Europe policy, published today by British Influence shows that we have the power to shape the EU, if we wield it correctly. The report, by a cross-party panel of EU experts on which I served, shows that Britain has either achieved its objectives or is on track to achieve them in nine out of ten of the policy areas, but it makes clear that we will only be able to achieve more if we lead in a cooperative manner.

There are parts of the EU which need to be reformed. There …

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Ming Campbell says Coalition should be broken up “without recrimination” ahead of the 2015 election

mingSir Menzies Campbell MP has given a wide-ranging interview to Total Politics magazine in which he says some pretty controversial stuff.

A civilised dissolution

The first is that he wants to see the Coalition break up in a civilised manner ahead of the 2015 election to avoid acrimony and recrimination:

The ministers will have to keep going to the very end. Why? Because the country has to be governed. But I think we should accept that the point’s going to come at which politically we may be together governmentally, but politically we’re going to start – well it’s started with differentiation – moving away from each other. And we should do that without recrimination or acrimony or intimidation or anything of that kind. Why? Because it is very damaging for both parties if it breaks up in a row, or a series of rows.

But more to the point, it would have a considerable impact on the creditability of coalition. If people enter into it and then by the end of it get at each other’s throats, that would be the worst possible outcome, in my view. So I adhere to my view, six wise men and women, in a closed room, with instructions not to come out until they have a solution.

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Ming Campbell announces he’s to retire as MP in 2015

Ming Campbell, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife since 1987, has today announced his decision to retire from the House of Commons at the next election.

It’s been an enormous privilege to have been an MP for 26 years and to represent such a wonderful constituency as North East Fife. My wife and I have made many friends and have been supported by constituents of all political persuasions and none.

It is always a regret to begin the process of retiring from the House of Commons but I believe now is the time to start. I have written to

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Lib Dems reject 50p top-rate of tax by just 4 votes, 224 to 220

How many times have Lib Dems knocked on doors at 9.55pm to get out the last remaining identified voters because “your vote really could make a difference” in this election?

Today’s vote on whether to keep the top-rate of tax levied on those earning £150k or more at 45p, or to pledge to raise it to 50p was much, much, much closer: conference narrowly voted for the leadership’s preferred policy – 45p – by a wafer thin majority of just 4 votes, 224 to 220.

The closest previous conference vote I can recall was in spring 2007 when representatives voted …

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What has my marriage got to do with the Liberal Democrats?

More than you would think, I guess. My long-suffering husband at least went into our union with his eyes open. If there wasn’t actually a large bird of liberty in the room at the registry office, he knew that the party would play a large part in our lives together. And even then, I think it’s played an even bigger part than he anticipated and he’s dealt with it with patience, fortitude and humour. Most of the time, anyway.

Why is this even relevant? Well, it’s a Summer of 25th anniversaries. Next month, we will have been married for 25 years. Yesterday, it was 25 years since Paddy Ashdown was elected as leader and this video was released by the Party to celebrate.

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The flagrant consistency of the Lib Dems’ position on an in/out EU referendum

EU flag - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentAs a follow-up to my post The surprising truth about that Lib Dem in/out EU referendum leaflet — and as a handy guide for journalists in the future — I thought I’d piece together the timeline of the recent history of the Lib Dems’ position on holding a referendum to give the British people a say on our future relationship with the European Union.

As you can see, it’s a picture of quite shocking, erm, consistency…

2007:

Lib Dems (under Ming Campbell) …

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LibLink: Ming Campbell – Europe offers the best deal for Britain

Menzies CampbellFormer Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell has called on David Cameron to put the national interest ahead of his party’s interest as he prepares for his major speech on Europe:

Those who argue for disengagement in whole or even part have a duty to tell us what the consequences would be. So far they have failed to do so. We need to be rational, not emotional. The issue must be about the essential nature of the relationship, not about squashing the ambitions of Ukip. The EU offers the best deal for Britain.The

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A snapshot of Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

Scottish Liberal Democrats met for a busy annual Autumn conference in Dunfermline last Saturday. The day started with the most delicious sliced sausage ever. Subjects debated by members (all of whom have a vote), include reverse vending machines, honest lets, cuts to student funding, affordable childcare and the Home Rule Commission chaired by Sir Menzies Campbell.  Charles Kennedy also took part in that debate.

There were keynote speeches from Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore, new Business and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson and leader Willie Rennie. Danny Alexander did a question and answer session on the Mid Term Review and …

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Opinion: Four point plan for a liberal, democratic Europe

Europe is rising up the political agenda. It’s an issue that could bring down David Cameron or break-up the coalition. Yet the Liberal Democrats are strangely silent. The EU didn’t appear on the Brighton conference agenda and we no longer have a Minister in the Foreign Office. We need to develop a vision for a liberal, democratic EU and get smart about fighting for it.

Here’s my four point plan:

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LibLink: Ming Campbell – Afghanistan: We have to see it through till 2014

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Ming Campbell has taken to the pages of the Independent to set out his views on British troop involvement in Afghanistan, and the need to be realistic about the speed at which British troops can be withdrawn from Helmand. Here’s an excerpt:

It is naive to suggest that, even if we began today, we could be out by Christmas. Withdrawal of nearly 10,000 troops and their equipment is not achieved by waving a wand. During any withdrawal, forces are at their most vulnerable. What additional protection measures would be required? What equipment would we be able

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Menzies Campbell in celebration of Olympians in Parliament

BBC Parliament has shown a documentary, “First past the post”, which celebrates parliamentarians who are Olympians. Needless to say, our own Sir Menzies Campbell, once one of the fastest men on the planet, is featured liberally in the programme.

Menzies reveals the exotic mixture which his mother used to feed him on race days, and shows viewers his old team blazer. He tells us he can still get into it, but the buttons don’t do up.

Until the end of …

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Lib Dems push Coalition to abandon ‘Moscow criterion’ in latest anti-Trident move

Writing in the Financial Times, former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell has urged Britain to drop the so-called ‘Moscow criterion’ — which commits us to maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent capable of obliterating the Russian capital — in order to open up the possibilities of a more targeted, and cheaper, nuclear alternative to the renewal of Trident:

Nuclear weapons have no intrinsic merit. Their significance is in deterrence. If you ever have to use them it can only be because they have failed in their primary purpose. But nuclear policy ought always to be assessed in its political context. It is

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Lib Dems fight to halt extradition of Richard O’Dwyer

The Guardian reports:

The government is coming under cross-party pressure from within the coalition to stay the extradition of a Sheffield student who founded a website sharing links to TV shows, and to review the US extradition treaty in the wake of the case.

The home secretary Theresa May signed an extradition order last month for Richard O’Dwyer, 23, to be sent to the US, where he faces 10 years in high-security prison.

O’Dwyer founded a website, tvshack.net, in 2007, which acted as a search engine for people to find out where they could watch and in some cases download popular TV shows, typically programmes

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Labour’s not-so-very-local election broadcast shows how unimportant local decision-making is to Ed Miliband’s party

Tonight’s Labour local election broadcast, starring telly’s very own Lord (Robert) Winston, climaxes with the rallying cry:

On Thursday May 3rd, vote NHS, vote Labour

Exactly how voting Labour then will help the NHS isn’t explored — not surprisingly, because it won’t. There’s a reason these elections are called local elections, after all.

Before highlighting Labour’s misleading tactics I thought I should first check out the Lib Dem record on fighting local elections. I have to say I was expecting to find comparable examples, times when the party leadership had called …

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Nick Clegg and Ming Campbell add their tributes to David Walter

From Nick Clegg:

 This is such sad news. I knew David for years and he was widely loved and admired in the party. He was a gentle and patient man with great integrity and an impressive career in journalism. 

I will always remember him for his great sense of humour at the most difficult or challenging times. He will be hugely missed by all of us in the party and our thoughts are with his family.

From Ming Campbell:

David Walter was a professional to his fingertips. He was universally respected and admired by his fellow journalists and held in great affection by the Liberal

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LDVideo: Ming Campbell – House of Lords reform part of Lib Dem DNA

Here’s a clip of former Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Menzies Campbell declaring reform of the unelected upper house — that century-old piece of ‘unfinished business’ — is an innate part of what defines Liberal Democrats:

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  • User AvatarPaul Reynolds 17th Jul - 12:09am
    This is an interesting debate, intended as exoteric but veering towards esoteric ! Some comments reflect quite a popular view in the Lib Dems, which...
  • User AvatarZak 16th Jul - 11:41pm
    @David Raw I'd recommend you check out the Adam Smith Institute policy page. There's honestly some of the best liberal policies on there. @Fraser I...
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Jul - 11:34pm
    In all, 14 Tories rebelled against the government’s adopted ERG amendment (new clause 36): Heidi Allen Guto Bebb Rochard Benyon Ken Clarke Jonathan Djanogly Domonic...
  • User AvatarFraser Coppin 16th Jul - 11:08pm
    @Paul Walter - It's fine, I fully expected that this article would ruffle a few feathers, and that's fine. We're having a conservation about one...
  • User AvatarAlan Greenfield 16th Jul - 10:43pm
    A week is a long time in politics - things can change really quickly - keep going - we know we are right on this...
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Jul - 10:18pm
    Jennie, i suspect that the majority of "those who want to get into parliament, and who will give up their liberal ideals to get there"...