Tag Archives: norman baker

Reshuffle redux: how Lib Dem members rated the ministerial performances of the sacked and the promoted

I posted earlier the most recent ratings by Lib Dem members of the party’s government ministers. Here’s how those affected by the reshuffle have done over the three-plus years we’ve been running our members’ surveys

Sacked

Michael Moore (Secretary of State for Scotland, May 2010 to Oct 2013)

michael moore performance

Jeremy Browne (Minister – Foreign Office, May 2010 to Sept 2012; Minister – Home Office, Sept 2012 to Oct 2013)

jeremy browne performance

David Heath (Deputy Leader – Commons, May 2010 to Sept 2012; Minister

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , , and | 9 Comments

Norman Baker, conspiracy theories and Theresa May

Norman BakerNick Clegg’s decision to reshuffle Jeremy Browne out of the Home Office and Norman Baker in has triggered a mini-furore, with plenty on the authoritarian right outraged at his appointment to the Home Office given he’s the author of a book suggesting MI5 covered up the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly.

The best riposte I’ve seen has been from Jonathan Calder over at Liberal England:

Some will question Norman’s conspiracy theories about the death of David Kelly. To that, I would merely point out that in an

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Today’s Lib Dem reshuffle: 4 thoughts from me on what it means

Four quick thoughts from me on what today’s Lib Dem reshuffle means..

1. Nick feels secure enough to be ruthless.

Sacking both Michael Moore and Jeremy Browne is not something Nick would have been able to contemplate a year ago. Then – with the economy still mired in recession, his apology video still fresh in the memory, and Vince reminding everyone he stood ready, willing and able should the need arise – Nick was vulnerable, in need of allies. Now – with the economy recovering, Eastleigh defended and all key conference votes won – Nick feels able to asset himself.

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Norman Baker: something to get people out of their cars and on their bikes

bicycle route signYesterday the Coalition Government announced a dramatic boost to cycling funding, reaffirming our commitment to promote safer cycling and to get more people to switch from four wheels to two.

As the Lib Dem Transport Minister, I have worked hard to champion cycling within government and to increase investment in its infrastructure. I am delighted that we have now announced the biggest ever single cash injection for cycling funding in England. We are spending nearly £150 million to make cycling easier and safer.

Our party has long recognised the overwhelmingly positive …

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Full steam ahead for high speed rail, say 55% of Lib Dem members

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members back HS2 by 55% to 31%

There are plans to build a new high speed rail link (called HS2) between London and Birmingham, and then on to Manchester and Leeds. This is currently expected to cost around £42 billion. Do you support or oppose these plans?

    55% – Support

    31% – Oppose

    13% – Don’t know

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , and | 53 Comments

Parking and poster vans provoke Coalition differences

There are some open differences of opinion going on in the Coalition Government at the moment. Eric Pickles was taken to task by our Norman Baker over his idea to allow people to park on double yellow lines.

The Guardian says:

Asked about the plan, Baker said on Monday that “both sides of the coalition” wanted high streets to prosper and that he agreed that over-zealous action by traffic wardens could be a problem.

But he also expressed reservations about Pickles’s idea. “The idea of actually having cars parked for a very long period of time on a double yellow line

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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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Duncan Hames MP writes… Must we continue to use food for fuel?

The European Union is currently committed to ensuring that 10% of each Member State’s transport energy will come from biofuels by 2020. This originated as a well-intentioned attempt to combat climate change, but time has shown that using food for fuel can have devastating impacts on hunger and the environment. I’ve come to accept that it is time for a re-think.

In addition to concerns over their green credentials, biofuels are now recognised to be a key cause of hunger, affecting millions of people in developing countries. The World Bank, OECD, WTO, IFPRI, IMF, and five other UN agencies recommended …

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Norman Baker launches his first single

It’s been a long political day, and we have the Budget to look forward to tomorrow. So sit back and enjoy Norman Baker’s first single ‘Piccadilly Circus’, with his band The Reform Club.

The Guardian provides these passnotes:

 Baker fits the rockstar profile perfectly. He has been a troublemaker in the House of Commons, and campaigns for environmental and animal welfare causes.

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MP conference fringe league table 2012: Norman Baker is the new Simon Hughes, but he’s no Vince Cable

Back for its fourth year (see 20092010 and 2011) is my conference fringe meeting league table, showing how many fringes each MP will be speaking at. As ever, this is based on the information from the official fringe listings in the printed conference directory. With the reshuffle, I expect a fair number of fringe organisers are reshuffling their panels too; the table is still however a good indicator of the combination of demand for certain MPs and their enthusiasm for working the fringe.

Trends to note include that Cable topped the table the first two times, then slipped to third …

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LibLink: Tom Papworth – why Norman Baker is my Liberal Hero

Over at liberal think-tank CentreForum’s blog, Tom Papworth has nominated Lib Dem MP and transport minister Norman Baker for the honorary title ‘Liberal Hero of the Week’. The reason? Norman’s libertarian stance on the proposal that wearng cycle helmets should be compulsory:

I think anybody who rides a bike without wearing a helmet is taking an enormous risk. I’ve fallen off my bike in the past and had my helmet (rather than my head) bounce off the tarmac. I also know that cycling can be very dangerous; the chair of one the neighbouring constituency party was killed a few years back

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Which of the five Lib Dem reshuffle options will Nick Clegg pick?

Five scenarios for your delectation:

The Lib Dem night of the long beards

The drastic, dramatic and painful option. Clegg says the Liberal Democrats need David Laws’s expertise and media savvy at the heart of economic decision making, restoring him to Chief Secretary to the Treasury and expressing tearful regret that Danny Alexander is off out of the Cabinet, with a resting place as a new Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Cabinet Office where he will not have to handle quite so many tricky TV interviews.

Education, education, education

Too problematic to bring back Laws in a tax and cut role? Bring him …

Posted in Humour and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , and | 45 Comments

Two anniversaries: Norman Baker and Stephen Williams

From Stephen Williams’s blog:

Twenty years ago today I was a candidate, nervously awaiting the outcome of my first electoral contest …

My campaign in 1992 would have been recognisable to candidates from previous decades.  Our volunteers delivered two leaflets and knocked on every door in the ward.  The leaflet text was composed on a typewriter and the black and white photographs were turned into dots for printing by a photo bureau.  The canvass cards for door knocking were made by me and my agent (Sean Emmett, cllr for

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Norman Baker responds to tar sands campaigns

Over the last week or so, visitors to the Lib Dem Voice may have seen articles purporting to outline my position, and that of the government’s, on the EU Fuel Quality Directive and the treatment of tar sands within it.  These articles have been misleading to say the least.  We in the Lib Dems have a proud history of fighting climate change and campaigning for environmental causes.  This is no different in the coalition and no different to the approach I am taking on the Directive.  I wanted to take this opportunity therefore to provide some facts which

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Opinion: Green light for Light Rail

Six years ago amid a huge amount of controversy, the then Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced the scraping of several “tram schemes” designed to serve Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Hampshire. In doing so he effectively scrapped plans outlined by the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott for a network of 30 Light Rail schemes to serve our major conurbations. The reason – escalating costs.

Light Rail was deemed too expensive in this country compared to costs on the continent.

Despite a subsequent report from the Transport Select Committee on what could be done to reduce costs little was done by the Department …

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Opinion: Saving School Transport

County councils all over England are making deep cuts to school transport that Liberal Democrats are right to fight against. School transport cuts are bad for child safety, bad for working parents and bad for congestion on local roads.

The cuts, which mostly have come into effect this term or will over the next 12 months are, in most cases, to reduce school transport to the very least permitted by statute. That means it is being axed for everyone who is not on free school meals or who lives more than 3 miles (2 for primary children) from their nearest …

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Liberal Democrats Conference round-up and preview: Sunday/Monday

What happened on Sunday in Birmingham at Liberal Democrat conference and what to watch out for today, Monday:

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Julian Huppert MP writes: 20mph – A local say on local safety

Liberal Democrats are passionate about localism. We want decisions on local issues to stay where they belong. Giving towns and villages the ability to establish 20mph speed zones empowers local communities and allows them to set speeds that are best for local people.

Unfortunately, the system in place until recently focused much less on local government than on micromanagement from Westminster. The story of the parish council of Whiteshill & Ruscombe illustrates this well. The council representing these two Gloucestershire villages paid £1000 out of its own budget to have several “20 is plenty” signs set up. But Whitehall, working from …

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LibLink: Norman Baker – Despite the doomsayers’ predictions of failure from Day One, the Coalition has bedded down well

Over at the Mail on Sunday, Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker talks about his own experiences of being on the wrong end of the Telegraph’s ‘sting’ operation, in which the paper targeted MPs’ constituency surgeries to entrap them into confessions of Coalition discord. Here’s an excerpt:

Over the years, I have seen thousands of constituents at my surgeries. Many have had big problems. Many have been in a highly emotional state. Some have even been crying. Every week, up and down the country, constituents like this access their MP for help. They come along because they trust their MP to

Posted in LibLink | 3 Comments

Lib Dems plan rail expansion by cutting road projects

So reports the BBC:

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to reopen thousands of miles of railway tracks and stations.

The scheme would be funded by cutting capital spending on roads by £3bn.

Its new Rail Expansion Fund would lead to the biggest expansion of the rail network since the Victorian era, the party claims.

Motorists’ group the RAC Foundation said it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money when only 7% of UK journeys were made by train, compared to 90% by car.

However, Lib Dem transport spokesman Norman Baker said the plan would “make our railway great again”…

Although exact decisions on

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Baker: time to refund passengers forced on to rail replacement buses

Ah, the joy of train travel – you buy your ticket, possibly costing you a small fortune unless booked in advance, only to discover you’re chucked off the train and onto a bus if there are repairs being made to the line. Well, no more, says Norman Baker, the Lib Dems’ shadow transport secretary.

Stormin’ Norm is proposing that the Lib Dems would radically overhaul Network Rail, replacing its executives with a ‘Public Interest Board’ made up of representatives of customer watchdog Passenger Focus, the Local Government Association and independent experts. They would be charged with putting the interests of passengers …

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LibLink … Norman Baker: Hutton was farcical, feeble and amateurish… so we MUST be told the truth next week

Over at the Mail, Lib Dem MP Norman Baker writes about the imminent appearance of Tony Blair in front of the Chilcot Inquiry into the war in Iraq – and makes a plea for the Hutton Inquiry’s inadequate questioning of how government scientist and former UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly really died. Here’s an excerpt:

… the fact that we, the British people, have had to wait seven long years for justice is a disgrace, and much of the blame can be firmly laid at the door of one man: Lord Brian Hutton. … when Lord Hutton finally reported in

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Telegraph: Dr David Kelly – doctors start legal action for new inquest

Two years ago, Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, in an article published here on Lib Dem Voice, asserted that the questions arising from the death of UN weapons inspector David Kelly – the BBC’s source for the allegations that the Government ‘sexed-up’ its WMD dossier in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq – would not go away because

… the conclusion that the government weapons inspector took his own life cannot be supported by the facts. … The key question was this: why was Dr Kelly’s such a strange death? Nobody would commit suicide that way, but nor can

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Daily View 2×2: 27 November 2009

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:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Hacker Gary McKinnon to appeal after extradition blow
The BBC reports that Gary McKinnon’s lawyers are to make a “last-ditch” attempt to prevent his extradition to the US. They are issuing judicial review proceedings next week after Home Secretary alan Johnson decided not to block his extradition on medical grounds.

Glasgow-born Mr McKinnon, 43, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of breaking into US military computers. He says he was seeking UFO evidence.

Now of Wood Green, London, he faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Follow the yellow brick road? The Liberal Democrats’ general election campaign

Guide to 2010 election book coverHere is my chapter from the Total Politics Guide to the 2010 General Election, looking at the prospects for the Liberal Democrats:

The 1997 general election turned out to be a once in a generation opportunity for many local Liberal Democrat campaign teams to gain a Parliamentary seat from the Conservatives. At the tail end of a by then deeply unpopular Conservative Government, the election saw unprecedented numbers of seats falling to the party. A few seats that were not quite gained from the Conservatives in 1997 did subsequently fall in 2001 and 2005, but it was the 1997 election with the Conservatives in government that was the main opportunity. Nearly every campaign that missed then did not subsequently win.

Posted in Books and General Election | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 7 Comments

The ban on MPs employing their relatives: two Lib Dems protest

The Telegraph reports today that two Lib Dem MPs – Malcolm Bruce and Matthew Taylor – are among the 17 MPs who have protested to Sir Christopher Kelly at the proposed ban on employing relatives:

Malcolm Bruce
Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon
Employs wife, Rosemary Bruce, as Office Manager and Diary Secretary
“Having my wife as office manager, diary secretary and constituency PA operating from an office in our home is invaluable not only to me but, I strongly believe, to constituents and other organisations I deal with as part of my parliamentary and constituency duties.”

Matthew Taylor
Liberal Democrat MP for Truro

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

The cost of pavement politics

What’s cost the taxpayer £82m over the last five years? Answer: compensation claims against county councils and unitary authorities by members of the public who have tripped on pavements. The figures from 90 local authorities were obtained by the Lib Dems under Freedom of Information requests; there are still 10,000 claims unsettled.

Here’s what the Lib Dems’ shadow transport secretary Norman Baker had to say:

With council and household budgets under more pressure than ever, the last thing the local taxpayer needs is to be paying massive compensation claims for injuries caused by dangerous pavements. This is money that could have been spent on improving pavements and preventing these problems in the first place.

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Stormin’ Norm: “One in seven MPs in luxurious Government cars”

Here’s the innocuous-enough sounding press release from the Deprtment of Transport, ‘Cost of Ministerial Cars for 2008’. But look at the bottom-line – well, you could do if they’d published one. What the bottom-line would show is that the cost of ministerial cars has increased to more than £6m, with the number of ministers claiming for cars also increasing.

As you might expect, Lib Dem shadow transport secretary Norman Baker isn’t going to let this one lie:

There are now nearly one in seven MPs enjoying Government largesse at the public expense. Ministers are happy to pump carbon out of their

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Daily View 2×2: 1 July 2009

2 Big Stories


British economy in worst state in over half a century

Perhaps it’s the sweltering weather, perhaps recession fatigue has set in, but there is little reaction to yesterday’s startling news that the British economy contracted by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2009 – the worst decline in more than 50 years. It isn’t the main story for even one of the newspapers, though it led all last night’s TV news programmes. Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable underscored the seriousness of the data:

The biggest three month fall in GDP in more than half a century is a clear

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Adonis declares end of the road for road-pricing

From today’s FT (well worth reading today for other reasons):

The government will “definitely not” proceed with a national road-user charging scheme if it wins the next election, the new transport secretary has said, in the most comprehensive renunciation so far of a policy adopted in 2004. …

In July 2004, Alistair Darling, then transport secretary, committed the government to a national system of pay-per-mile charging . The scheme was intended to replace charging for road use via taxes on fuel. As cars become more fuel-efficient, taxes produce less revenue per mile driven and any deterrent effect of tax

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