Tag Archives: steve richards

Review: Turning Point: Unscripted Reflections by Steve Richards – The formation of the SDP

Thanks to my friend Neil for drawing this one to my attention. Steve Richards has done a series of reflections on the big turning points in our politics over the last 40 years, from the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister to the 2017 election.

The second in the series concerns the formation of the SDP, when 4 former Labour Cabinet ministers left Labour over that party’s adoption of an anti European, pro nuclear disarmament platform along with internal reforms that gave more power to members and trade unions.

Richards makes the important point that if you are going to form a new party, you can’t just be against stuff. You have to have an agenda. He points out that the SDP had a definite left of centre vision that involved redistribution of wealth, high public spending  and definitely internationalist.

He observed that the party got masses of media coverage because they had credibility as well as novelty.

David Steel’s role in encouraging the formation of a new party rather than just having Labour people joining the Liberals was also highlighted as an early positive.

Richards says despite all of this, there were “impossible hurdles” for the party to overcome.

First of all, the Labour Party was never going to disappear. They were too well resourced.

Secondly, they didn’t attract those on the left of the Conservatives.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

The dance of coalition

Nick Clegg and David CameronSteve Richards, writing in the Independent, has a thoughtful analysis of the three main parties and their level of unity. He claims that the Liberal Democrats display “the greatest sense of unity and discipline” and yet they have the greatest level of internal differences. I like to think that is because we are a broad church that tolerates and even celebrates differences, because we do unite around the fundamental principles of fairness, liberty and equality.

But, according to Richards, those differences make it unlikely that the party will agree to another coalition with the Conservatives, hence his headline: “There will be no Con/Lib coalition after the next election”.

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A personal guide to the 13 most essential political podcasts

podcastsCommuting is a major part of my daily life, so I find podcasts are an essential way to make use of time I’d otherwise spend staring vacantly out the window or idly refreshing and re-refreshing Twitter. Here, in order of where they appear in my iTunes directory, are the podcasts I listen to most frequently…

The Economist’s podcasts – a good mix of audio recordings of selected articles from the print edition together with brief discussions involving the Economist’s expert correspondents. Slightly irritatingly the sound can vary between recordings, so you …

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Last reminder! LibDemVoice Xmas Drinks, Monday 17th December

Christmas treeA final reminder that tomorrow, Monday 17th December, all LibDemVoice readers are invited to join us for festive drinks at 5pm in London, followed by (for those who’re able) Steve Richards’ Rock ‘n Roll Politics Christmas Special.

You can sign up for drinks on our Facebook page here, or via FlockTogether here — you’ll find the venue of the pub there.

There are a handful of tickets still left for Steve’s show — you can buy them here. Premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where it …

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Diary reminder: LibDemVoice Xmas Drinks, 17th December

Here’s a date for your diary… On 17th December, all LibDemVoice readers are invited to join us for festive drinks at 5pm in London, followed by (for those who wish) seeing Steve Richards’ Rock ‘n Roll Politics Christmas Special.

You can sign up for drinks on our Facebook page here, or via FlockTogether here.

Premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where it earned rave reviews, here’s how Steve’s show is billed:

Award winning BBC broadcaster and columnist, Steve Richards, takes you behind the scenes of British Politics and the media,

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Date for your diary – 17th December: LibDemVoice Xmas drinks, followed by Steve Richards’ Rock ‘n Roll Politics

Here’s a date for your diary… On 17th December, The Independent’s Steve Richards will bring his Rock ‘n Roll Politics to London for a Christmas special. Premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where it earned rave reviews, here’s how the show is billed:

Award winning BBC broadcaster and columnist, Steve Richards, takes you behind the scenes of British Politics and the media, the characters, the absurdities, the tragedies. Laugh and cry as you are taken on a whirlwind tour from Harold Wilson and David Bowie in the 1970s to David

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Your essential weekend reader — 8 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Why don’t we trust politicians? – The BBC’s Nick Robinson takes politicians to task, doesn’t let the media off the hook either… while Labour’s Rachel Reeves mouths platitudes.

The BBC regains its honour – Nick Cohen links the Beeb’s problems with Newsnight and Jimmy Savile to the wider question of institutional trust: ‘We ought to be extending anti-managerialism into every private and public hierarchy.’

The Savile inquiries: giving truth a

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Daily Mirror: ‘Time for Plan V’ (aka ‘Vince for Chancellor’)

The front page of this morning’s Mirror newspaper may bring a smile to the face even of that most sober of politicians, Vince Cable:

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“In government, a thorn in the Tories’ side” – James Landale’s alternative Lib Dem conference slogan

‘In Government On Your Side’ is the official slogan of the Lib Dems’ autumn conference, which officially starts today. But the BBC’s James Landale has proposed an alternative – and I’m rather taken with it:

In government, a thorn in the Tories’ side

The suggestion comes in his pre-conference assessment here. It’s a fair-minded take that recognises the bruising year the Lib Dems have endured, but also acknowledges why the mood in Birmingham will be more upbeat than much of the media was probably expecting (or hoping). And for two …

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Opinion: Nick Clegg didn’t suck up to Murdoch – that’s why his minions tried to destroy him

There was a moment during the election campaign last year when many Liberal Democrats realised we had passed through the looking glass.

Nick Clegg’s performance in the first leaders’ debate broke the glass ceiling of British politics and, it seems, caused more than one Tory-supporting newspaper editor to wet themselves in fear.

Then, on the eve of the second debate, the right wing press let slip the dogs of war.

It wasn’t just the Murdoch papers that went for Nick, but they did and they did it viciously. The Sun ridiculed him, splashing outrageous and ridiculous headlines on their front page for days …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 28 Comments

Tom Baldwin and the “triple lock”: you could have read it here Tom

Today Tom Baldwin in The Times reports on its exciting persistent investigative journalism into the party’s “triple lock” rule for deals with other parties:

The exact wording of this rule, disclosed only after repeated inquiries to Liberal Democrats headquarters this week, sets a high bar for clearing “any substantial proposal which could affect the party’s independence of political action”.

A pedant would point out that it was “disclosed” here back in November. Then it was Steve Richards I took to task (for calling the rule – which was debated in public at party conference – “secret”).

Perhaps you should add us …

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Is this the laziest piece of political journalism ever?

Well, no, it’s probably not. But it must at least qualify for the laziest piece of journalism this decade. I refer to today’s Independent article, ‘Clegg faces party backlash over Tory alliance’, by Nigel Morris and Michael Savage. Oh, go on, then, here’s a link if you must; though I begrudge handing them the traffic. The opening para gives a flavour of the kite-flying, unsourced speculation:

Nick Clegg faces a backlash from grassroots Liberal Democrats if he moves his party too close to the Conservatives in a hung parliament.

Well, yes, he probably would. Which is why he won’t. Unless the …

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NEW POLL: will the TV debates make any difference to the Lib Dems?

We now know the UK will see its first ever televised debates between the leaders of the three major UK-wide parties in the run-up to the 2010 general election. The consenus is there have been two winners: Sky News, which, with brilliant audacity, put the issue front and centre, and by so doing ensured that (i) the debates will happen, and (ii) it muscled in on the act, instead of being excluded by the BBC and ITV. (There’s a lesson there for Channel 4, which had been comprehensively outmanoeuvred).

The second winner, according to the commentariat, is Nick Clegg. Here’s Andrew …

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Cameron: more Hague than Blair? How the Tory leader has lost sight of his strategy

That’s the question the Indy’s Steve Richards asks in a persuasively argued column today:

David Cameron’s leadership of his party is often compared with Tony Blair’s during the period up to the 1997 election. … The comparison is one of the most misleading in British politics. … for the election leading a party that proposes tax cuts for the well-off and married couples, massive spending cuts whether or not Britain is out of recession, withdrawal from the social chapter and a renegotiation of the Lisbon Treaty. … The trajectory of Cameron’s leadership is much closer to another former leader. He might have tried to learn from the New Labour guidebooks on how to win elections, but inadvertently he has followed more closely the course adopted by one of his own recent predecessors. …

Both Hague and Cameron are outstanding parliamentary performers, witty and quick to exploit the weaknesses of political opponents. Both are calm under fire. Both started to shift their positions when they appointed press secretaries to advise them on the media. Amanda Platell urged Hague to adopt more right-wing and populist policies. Andy Coulson has sometimes advised Cameron to do the same on issues such as immigration, crime and tax cuts.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 26 Comments

Since when is something debated in public, in front of journalists called “hidden”?

Since yesterday, in fact. Because in an otherwise thoughtful piece on hung Parliaments in The Independent, Steve Richards made this comment:

If there is a hung parliament there will almost certainly be no formal coalition government, even if Nick Clegg and Vince Cable would like to join one. Clegg is trapped by what is known as his party’s “triple lock”, a hidden rule that might become of vital relevance. Before entering a coalition he is bound to secure the agreement of his MPs, other national representatives and the membership.

Credit to Steve Richards for knowing about this rule. But “hidden”? It …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Paul Staines: not the Messiah, just a very naughty boy

A week ago, Damian McBride was still the Prime Minister’s chief media advisor, and LabourList’s Derek Draper was attempting to laugh off as blokeish banter the emails which implicated Number 10 in smears against senior Tories. But, then, we know what they say about a week in politics.

Paul Staines, sole author of the Guido Fawkes’ blog, has had a good week, given ample, respectable print space to repeat a central point he’s been making for years: that those political journalists who are part of the ‘lobby’ system have failed democracy:

Though the fourth estate may not have a formal

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 11 Comments

That hoary old Hung Parliament chestnut

There’s an interesting article by The Independent’s Steve Richards today, focusing – as the media does every three months or so – on the prospect of a ‘Hung Parliament’, and what the Lib Dems would do in such an eventuality.

Actually the article’s a bit broader than that, and I can’t let the opportunity pass without briefly digressing to agree wholeheartedly with his snipe at the Tories’ two key initiatives of the past week: David Cameron’s ‘apology’ for failing to anticipate the economic crisis until way too late (Steve accuses the Tories of “still playing student-like games”); and yesterday’s …

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What have James Purnell, Geoffrey Howe and Elvis Presley got in common?

Why, they all feature in the same sentence in the excellent piece from Steve Richards on the Labour leadership rumblings of course.

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Confessions of a ‘Newbie’

I went to the one-day Lib Dem policy conference at the London School of Economics at the weekend. As a fairly new member of the Lib Dems (I joined a few months ago) I was curious to see what happens at these sort of events and was also looking forward to it. I attended with Darren, a fellow member of my local constituency branch in Bracknell, who has been a member for a while longer than myself.

The first thing that struck me was how open everything was. The 300 or so people who were there, who included councillors, …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Our starters for 2008 – how did we do? (Part I)

A year ago, Lib Dem Voice posed 10 questions, the answers to which we believed might shape the Lib Dem year – time to revisit them, wethinks.

1. Will Nick Clegg become as well-known and respected/liked as Paddy and Charles became?

Well, not in his first year, he hasn’t – as Nick himself fully acknowleged yesterday, commenting: “This is my first year in the leadership, I have enjoyed it immensely. I also know that I am in the early stages of my leadership. If you look back in history it takes a while for all Liberal Democrat leaders to get …

Posted in Op-eds and PMQs | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Some serious media coverage of Nick’s speech

Lib Dem Voice has devoted some space this week to our Media Moron Watch – so let’s redress the balance and highlight a handful of articles which have attempted fair analyses of Nick Clegg’s speech and the Liberal Democrat conference. A couple are pretty positive, a couple less so: but they’re all thoughtful:

First up, the Indy’s Steve Richards, who concurs with yesterday’s LDV view that Bournemouth 2008 was a sucessful conference:

Against the odds, the Liberal Democrats have held a successful conference. Tumultuous events elsewhere meant media attention was limited, but they managed still to convey, with some success, a new message. They wish to be seen as Britain’s new radical tax-cutting party, one that is still committed to social justice. The fact that the message got anywhere at all was remarkable, as they have yet to offer any precise details about how they will cut the overall amount paid in tax. Nonetheless, they have conveyed the same message to themselves as well, the equivalent of conjurors falling for their own trick. … needs to send out signals in what for them is a highly complex and changed political situation, needing to defend themselves against a more popular Conservative party while seeking to make the most of a decline in support for Labour. At the broadest strategic level, they have pulled it off, with an offer of tax cuts while retaining a commitment to social justice.
They have done it in such a way to make nonsense of claims that the party is moving rightwards. There were two challenges for Nick Clegg as he delivered his first address to the party conference. One related to a question of style. Could he pull off the daunting task of delivering a big speech at his annual conference? The answer was an unequivocal “Yes”. He looked at ease as he wandered around the stage aided by the invisible autocue.
In terms of substance, he more or less pulled it off as well, stressing that he was as committed to social justice as previous leaders and yet outlining a distinctive pitch far removed from the Conservatives and Labour in its current plight. On the stage, although not in all the interviews he has given this week, he looked entirely comfortable, much more so than his immediate predecessors.

These generally warm words are echoed by the Indy’s editorial:

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Preview of Clegg’s interview with GMTV

Nick Clegg has been interviewed by Steve Richards for this Sunday’s GMTV, as Chris Huhne was last week.

I’ve been sent the full transcript, and it looks, on first reading, like the first real stumble by Nick in his campaign so far. Judge for yourselves below, as I’ve filleted some of the key passages. Of course, what won’t come across when you read it is Nick’s emphasis or body language – which might make his meaning clearer, and his performance more impressive. After all, politicians are judged not just by what they say, but also how they say it.

The real question, as James Graham has already noted in his preview, is why Nick didn’t have a much clearer answer ready for the obvious question, ‘How do you pay for your pupil premium?’ Because ‘Er, yes, there’s a black hole’ just ain’t good enough.

Other issues covered below include:

– whether he was attacking Chris Huhne by saying the party needed to communicate better its ‘green tax switch’ proposals;
– whether the campaign has got nasty; and
– is he going to win the contest?

Also covered in the full interview – this Sunday, 9 am – are questions to Nick about the Government’s proposals for increasing the number of days suspects can be detained without charge, and on a referendum for the European Reform Treaty.

Interview transcript extracts follow:

Posted in Leadership Election | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

Preview of Huhne’s interview with GMTV

An email from GMTV’s Sunday Programme pings into my inbox with the transcript of Steve Richards’ interview with Lib Dem leadership contender, Chris Huhne. Here’s a few snippets to whet your appetites. (The full interview will be broadcast this Sunday morning).

On Chris’s comment that the Lib Dems mustn’t become a third Tory party:

CH: What I see in British politics, which I think is very disappointing to a lot of people, is a sudden Gaderene rush towards the same solutions being offered by all of the different political parties, and there will not be a future for the Liberal Democrats unless we’re prepared to stand outside that consensus and say where it’s failing and why the political process is held in such disrespect and disillusion, frankly, by so many people, and I think we’ve got to re-inject into our message that sense of being the anti-establishment party that actually wants to change the whole system, not just change the ministerial faces on the back seat of the limousine, and if we are there as just seen as another potential participant in another consensus government of blancmange, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, we’re not going to make any progress.

On what distinguishes his candidacy from Nick Clegg’s:

CH: Well, I just think that from that point of view we’re both energetic, we’ve both got a lot of verve and vigour, and I think that if you look at the track record, and I think that many, many people have said that the party could do well with either of us, and I certainly think that Nick would make an excellent leader. My position is simply, not this time. So I think that we’ve got great opportunities, but I think that we need to have clear dividing lines from the Tories, clear dividing lines from Labour, and not get sucked into a cosy consensus on things for example like use of market solutions, where they don’t work in public services.

On whether he’s the ‘left-wing’ leadership candidate:

Posted in Leadership Election | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Tories in a muddle on Europe (plus ça change)

Tory leader David Cameron found himself on slippery terrain today when giving his monthly press conference to journalists. The question repeatedly asked was straightforward enough: the Tories have committed to holding a referendum on the EU reform treaty – will that commitment hold true if the treaty is ratified, and they should find themselves in government?

Mr Cameron’s answer? He had none, pleading the politician’s equivalent of the Fifth Amendment – that he won’t answer hypothetical questions. Here’s how the BBC’s Nick Robinson described Dave’s defence:

What do we want? Power to the people. When do we want it? Now

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments

Video exclusive: Chris & Clegg go head-to-head (Part I)

Stephen and I have been around conference and – armed with his camera and my brazen cheek – managed to put four quick questions to top Lib Dem MPs, Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg.

At last night’s Independent fringe, Steve Richards chaired a meeting at which the pair were the only speakers. While they have spoken from the same fringe platform before, the crafty Indy hacks had asked only the two of them. (Something they seem to have forgotten to mention to either Nick or Chris when inviting them.) This was therefore billed by the paper as the first-ever live …

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