Tag Archives: paul holmes

What were you doing 20 years ago today?

Some of you reading this won’t even have been born in 1997, or have been too young to take part in the General Election that year.

20 years ago today was a blistering hot day in Chesterfield. I was knocking up all over town.

I had spent most of the campaign doing front of house in our brilliant little office which was happily situated right next door to a pretty decent Italian restaurant. Several times we ordered food from them and they brought it across on proper plates, with real cutlery. A total luxury for an election office.

We had been working hard to get Tony Rogers elected in Chesterfield. Over the previous few years, we had really been challenging the local Labour hegemony, winning by-election after by-election. While New Labour were very much ahead in the polls, it was very much Old Labour who ran the Derbyshire town.

It was such brilliant fun. Very busy, of course. Paul Holmes as agent is never one to under-estimate anyone’s capacity for work. Legend had it that he took envelopes to stuff to a woman in the early stages of labour. He says he can’t remember doing such a thing, but nobody who knows him seems to have much trouble believing it. There was one time during the European campaign in 1994 when he decided that sorting out a million election addresses wasn’t enough work for us to do and he got us all stuffing envelopes for a by-election in Bradford South too.

He certainly liked to challenge us. You’d be in the middle of doing something and he’d come along with some mailing that needed to go out by the last posting time which was impossibly close. And we always stepped up and did it. We called him lots of names in the process, always to his face and he bore that with good humour.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 37 Comments

Core vote: A dangerous mirage?

Currently the need to establish a core vote seems, akin to motherhood and apple pie, to be so obviously a good thing that it cannot be questioned. However, at the risk of upsetting friends and others alike, let me raise some concerns.

Firstly, there is the simple truism that in a First Past the Post system you cannot win by playing to your core vote, even if you have one. That is a lesson Republicans and Democrats in the USA have to relearn from time to time. It is a lesson the Conservatives had to learn after Thatcher when Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and even William Hague pandered to the right. It is a lesson Labour had to all so painfully learn after the Bennite manifesto of 1983 dubbed the ‘longest suicide note in history’. The Corbynistas may have to learn it all over again.

Secondly, how long does it take to ‘build a core vote’? The affluent Conservative core vote has always existed with the addition of a section of the working class following astute action by Disraeli from his passing of the Second Reform Act of 1867 onwards. Labour’s core vote –primarily lower income, urban and unionised- was uniting behind them over a century ago; especially after the Liberal Party collapse left the field entirely clear after 1922. How long would it take the Liberal Democrats to establish the loyalty of a similar core vote and at what cost? Some have suggested we should pursue our core even if it puts off ‘mainstream’ and/or floating voters. Really? We should fight elections not to try and win but to try and build a long term core vote?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 34 Comments

Lessons for future campaigning from the 2010 election

The Wednesday lunchtime at Liverpool conference saw myself chairing the last of The Voice’s fringe meetings, this one looking at lessons from the 2010 general election.

Our guest speakers were Hilary Stephenson (Director of Campaigns), Duncan Hames (newly elected as MP for Chippenham) and Paul Holmes (former MP for Chesterfield).

Thanks to Alex for sorting out the recording and podcasting wizardry.

Play
Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

LibDemVoice.org at Conference

Once again, Lib Dem Voice have a varied and exciting programme at the Lib Dem federal conference planned for Liverpool next month.

Some of our events are still taking form; others are now so well established they are almost traditional.

And don’t worry if you are unable to join us in person at conference – we will be making recordings of the events and making them available right here on the blog, so that you can get the conference feel coming in your ears wherever you are in the nation.

For your delight and delectation, here are some details.

Blog of the Year Awards

Join …

Posted in Conference and Events | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

DNA profiles removed at rate of only one a day

So the Independent reports figures unearthed by Paul Holmes MP:

Innocent people’s DNA profiles are being removed from the national database at a rate of barely one a day, figures showed today.

Home Office minister Alan Campbell said just 377 profiles were deleted in 2009 after appeals to police chiefs.

Liberal Democrat policing spokesman Paul Holmes, who uncovered the figures through a written parliamentary question, described the situation as a “disgrace”.

Mr Holmes said chief constables were being discouraged from removing the genetic fingerprint of innocent people until new legislation is passed, which he insisted would not happen before the general election.

The DNA

Posted in Big mad database and News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Opinion: A Local Philosophy for the Lib Dems

The message from Paul Holmes MP at Regional Conference was clear. If, perchance, some of us felt that the national Lib Dems were not presenting a very strong narrative these days, then it would be up to us locals to make up for them. We needed to demonstrate a distinctive appeal at local level.

Well, in the course of gaining a 19% swing* from the Tories at a Rushcliffe by-election last month, I think we did just that.

We had all piled in to a small rural ward and put out five leaflets. So we did expect to make progress. However, if our Focuses had simply reported local news, I suspect it wouldn’t have been a 19% swing. Our crucial extra, I believe, was to explain a clear local philosophy and put it into practice. This helped people understand what we are about and why it was worth voting for us.

First, let me say what we didn’t do. We didn’t argue that devolving every decision down to parish level was the answer to life, the universe and everything. We didn’t go in for overblown sixties rhetoric about community politics and how “Focus” was more revolutionary than the Kalashnikov. But equally, we didn’t just limit our vision to street-level drudgery and getting pavements fixed.

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 2 September 2009

Well, that’s it. August is over, nights are drawing in, it’s downhill to Christmas, and LDV’s daily 2×2 slot that’s more-or-less been on hold over the summer returns to its more-or-less 8am schedule to bring you two top news stories and two must-read blog posts from the world of Lib Demmery.

With just 120 days till the end of the year, 2nd September is the day the Great Fire of London broke out in 1666, the day Thomas Telford died in 1834, and Salma Hayek’s birthday. Happy birthday, Miss Hayek!

Two top stories

PM’s role in release of Megrahi

Gordon Brown

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

£853 a night – Lib Dems reveal true cost cost of locking up prisoners in police cells

The BBC reports:

The cost of housing prison inmates in police cells is double the amount previously thought, the Lib Dems claim. The Ministry of Justice says it costs £385 a night to detain an inmate in a police station when prisons are full. But the Lib Dems say the true cost of ‘Operation Safeguard’ is £853 a night – a figure disputed by the government.

The article quotes Lib Dem justice spokesperson Paul Holmes:

For this amount of money, you could stay in the Ritz. … The government’s incompetence in managing our prison system is staggering and has left the

Posted in News | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Opinion: In praise of left and right

One of the interesting features of the debates provoked by last week’s analysis of Liberator’s latest assault on ‘the right’ of the party, and the Social Liberal Forum’s related critique, was the refrain in the comments of an old theme about how unhelpful the labels left and right can be in understanding the viewpoint of the person thus labelled. Indeed it’s a point of view that in part has defined Nick Clegg’s approach to answering questions on which way he is taking the party:

It’s not a matter of left versus right, but what is fair. – Independent, June 2008

There is some truth in this. In this party ‘right’ is often used as a catch-all pejorative meaning ‘they like liberal market economics, I don’t’, whereas ‘left’ occasionally gets the prefix ‘loony’ or ‘extreme’ to mean ‘they think they’re a liberal, I think they’re a socialist’. Externally any media analysis couched in the language of left and right is rarely intended to be helpful to the party, more a dog-whistle to put off supporters of the opposite point of view. The Tories call us ‘lefties’, the Labour party ‘right-wing Orange Tories’.

However in respect of giving some sense of where a Liberal Democrat commentator is coming from, whether their priorities lie more towards redistribution and social justice or towards aspiration and prosperity, these ‘inadequate’ labels are far more descriptive than most of the alternatives.

Take for example David Howarth’s thoughtful attempt to redefine social liberalism in Reinventing the State:

Sometime in the late nineteenth century, liberalism began to divide into two different streams. One stream, which came to be called ‘classical liberalism’… The other stream, which has come to be called ‘social liberalism’.

There are three major problems with his case. The first is that his definition of what social liberalism is, is so broad, that I can see no meaningful difference between it and plain liberalism, it doesn’t need the social tag. Indeed he is forced to develop ‘maximalist’ and ‘minimalist’ tags to show differences of emphasis between social social liberals and economic social liberals.

These all being hopelessly unhelpful and non-descript labels, what is wrong with simply using left and right to show emphasis and liberal to mean… liberal?

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

Jonathan Fryer’s Diary of a Euro-candidate

Saturday
Most of the day is spent at the Keynes Forum Policy Conference at LSE, at which one of the sessions is specifically about the European elections, or at least the interlinked campaign themes of the economy and the environment. Both Sharon Bowles (South East) and Fiona Hall (North East) are MEPs who know their briefs intimately, which is reassuring and underlines the value of electing people willing to specialise in specific fields. But through conversations during coffee breaks it becomes clear to me that local activists are really thirsting for simply-worded, bite-sized Euro-items they can just slot into their Focuses. …

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Where drinking meets thinking…

The Liberal Democrats have recently kickstarted the process for its next general election manifesto – which might be needed at any time between June 2009 and May 2010. Chaired by Danny Alexander MP, the process kicks off formally this weekend with a one day conference taking place at the London School of Economics.

2009 marks the centenary of the People’s Budget and the 101st anniversary of the Pensions Act (effectively the birth of the welfare state). With this in mind, the team behind Reinventing the State, a series of essays published in 2007  are keen …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Holmes re-elected parliamentary party chair

Chesterfield MP Paul Holmes has been re-elected by Liberal Democrat MPs as chair of the parliamentary party. He was challenged by Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott but won by 43 votes to 16.

Evan Harris defeated Chris Huhne to be elected as the English MPs’ representative on the Federal Policy Committee.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments
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