Tag Archives: phil woolas

Meet the Lib Dem bloggers: Nick Thornsby

Welcome to the latest in our series giving the human face behind some of the blogs you can find on the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator.

Today it is Nick Thornsby who blogs at http://nickthornsby.wordpress.com.

1. What’s your formative political memory?
The 2005 election was the one I was probably first properly aware of as a 15/16 year-old. I remember reading the Liberal Democrat manifesto and seeing posters up in my area (mainly Labour, though I’m pleased to say that’s no longer true, and orange diamonds are now far more pervasive during election campaigns).

2. When did you start blogging?
September 2009.

3. Why did you start blogging?
I’d been reading various blogs for a while, and had previously thought about starting my own, but the catalyst was probably chatting to a number of bloggers at Lib Dem Voice’s BOTY awards at the 2009 conference.

4. What five words would you use to describe your blog?
Straightforward, rational and occasionally random.

5. What five words would you use to describe your political views?
In every possible way: liberal.

6. Which post have you most liked writing in the last year (and why)?
Attending and blogging about the court case which ultimately led to Phil Woolas being kicked out of Parliament was obviously quite an experience, and I also particularly liked writing this post on a rather daft claim by Ed Balls, which was very short and simple but which, I think, demonstrates the value of blogging as a medium.

7. Which post have you most liked reading in the last year (and why)?
I hope the rules can be bent, as this was just over a year ago, but I found this post by Stephen here on Lib Dem Voice on why Clegg should rule out a coalition (!) extremely compelling. It was faultless in its logic, and I agreed with Stephen at the time, but its arguments were based on a number of assumptions which we all made but which ultimately proved to be false (particularly that the Conservatives would never give enough ground, including on electoral reform, to ever make a coalition even remotely possible). Speculating on what might have been had the Lib Dem leadership followed Stephen’s advice is an interesting game, and I can’t help coming to the conclusion that we would now be in a (perhaps significantly) worse position than that which we are currently in.

8. What’s your favourite YouTube clip?
My Twitter followers won’t be surprised that I’ve picked this clip from the magnificent West Wing, the script-writing and acting in which demonstrate just why the show is so brilliant.

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , , , , and | 1 Comment

Mike Hancock wins courts case over paedophile allegation

The BBC reports:

A rival who falsely claimed a Liberal Democrat MP was a paedophile has been convicted of attempting to affect a result in the general election.

Les Cummings, 66, made the false statement about Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock.

Mr Hancock had strenuously denied the allegations made in an election leaflet pamphlet.

Cummings, who stood for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, was fined £500 at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

He had falsely written on the flyer: “Mike Hancock is a paedophile.”

It then showed a picture of Mr Hancock with children and the words: “Would you let him get this close to your children?”

This …

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

The final Phil Woolas judgement: its legal implications

Although the BBC got rather excitable in its coverage of Friday’s legal defeat for ex-Labour MP Phil Woolas, talking about how the ruling was set to have a major impact on how elections are run in the UK, the reality is rather more prosaic. The law which Woolas broke isn’t new and nor has the case thrown up significant precedent or previously overlooked aspects to it.

There probably will be some candidates and agents whose eyes have previously skipped over the part of the guidance from their local returning officer, the Electoral Commission or their political party which makes reference to this law and who next time round will pay a little more attention to what the guidance says. But there will not be any rapid major rewriting of any of those sources of information – as warnings about this part of the law have regularly featured in all of them.

That said, there are some legal points which the Woolas case has addressed and on which the High Court’s ruling gives clarity.

The most important is on whether or not the High Court can judicially review a determination made on a point of law by an election court for a Parliamentary election. Points of fact are settled by the election court, but in other cases where the facts are settled in one court, points of law can still be challenged in another court.

The High Court decided that it does have the power to do this, even though – as the ruling points out – there is already a process to refer points of law from the election court to the High Court (see paragraphs 59-62 of the ruling). This extension of the ability to query points of law with a body other than the election court itself is a welcome one as it provides a strengthened safeguard against the law being wrongly applied.

The other point on which this case may well be cited in future is its refinement of the law’s wording on what is banned. As the ruling says, “There is in our judgement a very significant difference between a statement that goes to the political conduct of a candidate and one that goes beyond it and says something personal about his personal character … Freedom of political debate must allow for the fact that statements are made which attack the political character of a candidate”.

If anything, the ruling widens the grounds for defence under this law rather than narrowing them.

Phil Woolas Judgement

Posted in Election law | 4 Comments

Now is the time to help in Oldham East and Saddleworth

As you may have heard on the news, High Court judges have dismissed the appeal by former Labour MP, Phil Woolas, against his conviction for illegal practices in the General Election.

There will now be a by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth with a likely polling day of January 13th.

Last May, Elwyn Watkins lost by just 103 votes because of the lies told by Phil Woolas that have been condemned by the Court.  A couple of days ago I canvassed one couple who told me: “We we’re going to vote Liberal Democrat, but when we read what Labour were saying about your …

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

BREAKING: Phil Woolas loses bid to overturn election court ban

The BBC reports:

Phil Woolas has lost his bid to overturn an election court’s ruling that stripped him of his Commons seat and barred him from politics.

He narrowly won his Oldham East and Saddleworth seat in May but the result was declared void by an election court over his conduct in the campaign.

He argued that the election court’s interpretation of the law was flawed.

But three High Court judges upheld the election court’s decision. If he does not appeal there will be a by-election.

Lord Justice Thomas, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said that, although Mr Woolas was entitled

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

Help early in Oldham East and Saddleworth, regardless of when it’s called

Unexpected by-election HQ poster!
There’s been a lot of speculation about the possible date of the Oldham East and Saddleworth election rerun. Three High Court judges are considering Phil Woolas’ request for a judicial review of the ruling that voided the election result in the constituency.

Today there have been reports that there may not be a court judgement this week, which would delay an election until after Christmas.

Lib Dem Voice understands that the situation isn’t quite so clear cut and there is still the …

Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Tim Farron asks Labour where they stand on Phil Woolas

From a party news release:

Liberal Democrat Party President-Elect Tim Farron has written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Ray Collins, asking him to clarify the Labour Party’s position on Phil Woolas following criticism of Harriet Harman’s decision to suspend him by a number of backbench MPs.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear General Secretary,

Firstly may I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on the news of your elevation to the House of Lords.

However, I am writing to you to raise the matter of the judgement of the Election Court in Oldham East and Saddleworth on November 5th and

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

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