Tag Archives: the independent

LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Dark and dangerous threats against MPs like me are a sign that No 10 and Cummings are getting utterly brazen

The Government is reportedly investigating MPs who have had dialogue with representatives of foreign governments. It also intends to introduce legislation to stop MPs talking to foreign governments. In an article for the Independent, Chuka Umunna said that this had a whiff of the 1930s about it.

However, the right-wing nationalists running the government are now taking things to an altogether different level – this is quite frightening, particularly if they were to get a majority at the general election whenever it comes. They are seeking to persecute and harass MPs by falsely accusing them of colluding with EU governments over Brexit. It is an absurd proposition given that the EU27 and the UK government are all working to ensure the withdrawal agreement Johnson has negotiated with the EU is delivered, and he himself wrote to them over the weekend urging them to ignore parliament’s desire for article 50 to be extended.

This, he said, was a brazen attempt to suppress dissent.

These accusations are made to call into question our loyalty and patriotism. Former Conservative backbenchers and ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, and Brexit Select Committee chair and former Labour minister Hilary Benn are reportedly under investigation.

This has a strong whiff of the 1930s about it – it is a brazen attempt to suppress dissent and persecute political opponents in parliament by this right wing, nationalist government.

One foreign office official put it well today when they said: “Threatening MPs with investigation is something you would expect the government to be stopping abroad, not encouraging at home.”

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LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Boris as PM would tell world Britain brazenly tolerates prejudice and hatred

So, it’s Chuka Umunna’s LibLink debut.

And he’s used his Independent column to talk about Boris Johnson’s unsuitability to be Prime Minister.

Chuka contrasts the Tory membership with the population as a whole:

The average age of a UK citizen is 40, over-65s make up around 18 per cent of the population, and those aged between 18 and 24 make up 9 per cent of the population. On this measure, the Tory party is in no way representative. The project found that the average age of a Tory party member is 57, significantly older, with 38 per cent of Tory party members aged 66 and over, and 7 per cent between 18 and 25 years old.

And it doesn’t get better with other diversity characteristics:

The population is split more or less equally between the genders, yet three-quarters of Tory members are men. Whereas around 14 per cent of the population is of an ethnic minority background, just 3 per cent of Tory party members are non-white.

And then we get to Boris and his greatest transgressions:
He has described black people as “piccanninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. Last summer, he compared Muslim women wearing veils to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. And, this weekend, none other than Steve Bannon, right-wing populist and former campaign manager to Donald Trump, revealed that he worked with Johnson on his government resignation speech last year. I don’t know whether Johnson is a racist or not – only he can answer that question definitively. But there is no doubt that the aforementioned comments are racist and, at the very least, they reveal a complete disrespect and condescension towards those of a different ethnicity.

He describes how his fellow panellists on Politics Live last week dismissed Johnson’s remarks:

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Poll gives Remain a 10 point lead over Leave – what does this mean?

A BMG poll for the Independent shows a majority of those asked are now in favour of remaining in the European Union. In fact, Remain has a 10 point lead over leave which widens to 11% when you exclude the don’t knows:

When a weighted sample of some 1,400 people were asked: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union?” – 51 per cent backed Remain, and 41 per cent backed Leave.

7 per cent said “don’t know” and 1 per cent refused to answer.

After “don’t knows” were either pushed for an answer or otherwise excluded, 55.5 per cent backed Remain and 44.5 backed Leave.

Polling since this time last year appears to demonstrate a clear trend; Leave enjoyed a lead last December which gradually shrank, before turning into a lead for Remain in the month of the general election, that has since grown.

So by the time the Government drags us out of the EU, it is likely that a majority of people will be in favour of staying. How can that possibly be legitimate?

This poll does come with a bit of a health warning. The fieldwork was carried out during that week where the deal over the Irish situation was unravelling in slow motion in front of our eyes. However, the deal that was reached on 8th December, the final day of the fieldwork, is simply a bit of fudge covered with sticking plaster resolving none of the key issues. Those problems will loom large in the early months of 2018.

What if the polls turned? Surely the Government would be compelled to test whether their deal has public sympathy.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Politicians aren’t supposed to do it – but I’m marching on the Conservative conference. I have no choice

Writing in the Independent, Vince Cable explains why he’ll be marching on the Tory Party Conference in Manchester this weekend.

He certainly is bringing the anti Brexit fight directly to them.

I believe it would be a healthy exercise in democracy to participate in a peaceful, dignified protest on the big issue of the day by marching. And the issues don’t come any bigger than Brexit – which is why I will be addressing marchers protesting at the Conservative conference in Manchester this weekend.

Brexit changes most things, not least the quaint notion that governments always seek to increase the prosperity and opportunities of their citizens. It is vital ministers in the hall hear thousands of British people demanding an exit from their disastrous Brexit.

Whatever the arguments for or against EU membership in the referendum, the Government has clearly mismanaged the negotiations, and the situation is now so grave that parliamentary niceties suddenly look absurd. Some 15 months on from the original vote, the EU’s Michel Barnier suggests we are still “months” from substantive Brexit negotiations even beginning – because the Government has been so unclear about what it even wants.

And he slates the Government’s irresponsibility:

Ministers are effectively saying “we have absolutely no idea what future Brexit will bring – but we are going to force it upon you anyway.” It is the political equivalent of jumping off a diving board without checking if there is any water in the pool below.

There is a way out, though, as he outlines here:

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LibLink: Layla Moran “You can’t silence me now”

Following the dreadful way she was treated by Tory MPs at PMQs on Wednesday, Layla Moran has written for the Independent in some detail about the Tories’ failures on free childcare which led to her question to Theresa May.

She outlined the basic facts:

The news that parents would get 30 hours a week of free childcare for all three and four year olds came as a relief, as it offered the chance for women to return to work, as a structured and cost-friendly option was being put on the table for them.

This was an extension of policies the Liberal Democrats pushed in the Coalition government and is one of the answers to closing the gender pay gap, as well as allowing parents a real choice about how they want to bring up their families.

But – and it is a big but – it turns out that this childcare isn’t free after all. It all seemed like a great idea until the Government realised they were actually going to have to pay for it.

Quite simply, the Government aren’t giving child minders and nurseries enough money to actually deliver these places for three and four year olds, and make a living at the same time.

The consequences are hurting parents with either no provision being offered or:

Stories I have heard include child minders and nurseries having to increase the cost of childcare for under-threes in order to make up the shortfall. Many more have started charging parents for extras like nappies, baby wipes, lunches and early/late pick-ups that had previously been included.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: The EU is facing a liberal insurgence. Now is not the time for Britain to leave

Nick Clegg has been writing for the Independent in the wake of the Dutch elections in which the racist populist Geert Wilders didn’t do as well as expected. He recounted a family gathering in the Netherlands at Christmas time.

What was striking when we were talking about the Dutch elections, however, was almost everyone around the table wanted to cast a vote that provided the best guarantee of keeping Wilders out of power. For most, that seemed to point towards supporting Mark Rutte, the affable and skilled Dutch PM, even if they’d never voted for him before.

It worked and the lesson, he finds, from D66’s success is not to pander to populism. Be yourself.

The polarisation of politics along new lines – no longer left vs right, but now open vs closed – is mobilising voters against right-wing populism. We are witnessing the beginnings of a liberal backlash against the backlash against liberalism. Of course, it wasn’t just Mark Rutte’s VVD which benefited, but other parties too.

D66, the second Liberal party in the Netherlands (lucky Dutch to have two liberal options) did well, surging to almost level pegging in the polls with Geert Wilders and adding seven seats to their tally in the Dutch Parliament. D66 are, ideologically, most similar to the Liberal Democrats in Britain. Alexander Pechtold, their experienced leader, told me when we met how he was going to run an unapologetically pro-European campaign. He was not going to bend to the populist times. His decision paid off handsomely.

And he sees the chance of reforms that would make British voters want to stay in the EU.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Labour under Corbyn can’t be decent opposition – so it’s up to me

Tim Farron has been writing in the Independent about how the Liberal Democrats are the only party capable of providing decent opposition to the Conservatives following the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn:

If one child was lifted out of poverty by Blair, that would be a progressive legacy. But what will Corbyn’s legacy be? At this rate, to render Labour so unelectable that successive Tories will be able to play pass the parcel with the keys to Number 10.

Perhaps the Corbynistas can afford such generosity to the Tories, but the people I grew up with in towns such as Preston can’t. Self-righteous, ideological purity doesn’t buy food, pay the rent or provide the training that might lead to a better life.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Cameron must veto this poisonous deal with Turkey before our response to the Refugee Crisis becomes immoral

Strong words from Tim Farron in today’s Independent about the proposed EU deal with Turkey which would see refugees returned from Greece to Turkey. Rather than create safe and legal routes for refugees, Tim argues that this deal would violate international conventions.

For instance, collective expulsions of people seeking international protection are condemned by the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights. We know Turkey has failed to fully implement the Geneva Convention on refugees and has no functioning asylum policy. David Cameron would do well to re-read the international human rights agreements and principles Britain has committed to, before he signs on the dotted line in Brussels.

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Farron says there’s “not a lot of truth” in Independent report on secret talks with Corbyn over electoral reform

Today’s Independent has a report that there are secret talks going on between Labour and the Liberal Democrats over a joint platform for electoral reform at the next General Election.

It attributes the following to a “Lib Dem source”:

The Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Greens could also be involved in the talks, the source said. If the  negotiations are successful, up to five left-of-centre parties could stand on an agreed platform of voting reform at the 2020 election – giving them a mandate to scrap Westminster’s first-past- the-post system without a referendum, so long as they are able to secure a majority in the Commons.

It certainly strikes me that if there were successful talks going on, then there would be no reports about them in the press. It also strikes me that the Labour Party is in no position to commit to any deal, given the power struggles that are going on inside it. Another report in the same paper says that there is a plot afoot to move Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the end of Conference to prevent the final day of the event being ruined by the press finding opposition to it from within the Labour Party. Corbyn is fighting so many internal battles, that it’s impossible for him to look outward and work with others, which is a real shame. Actually, I think the sort of alliance that the Independent described on that one issue of electoral reform might not be a bad idea. You might not get a rainbow coalition to work in Government, but you could have one fighting for the Parliament the voters ask for. The Conservatives and SNP are tightening their grips on power on both sides of the border. They are very well resourced and the Tories look set to benefit from boundary changes. These of course would benefit the Tories in two way. Firstly, they benefit the Tories anyway, but   Labour would go nuclear as moderates and Corbynites scrapped over the new seats.

Tim Farron was asked about this on Pienaar’s Politics a few moments go. He said that  there was “not a lot of truth” in the report and that an alliance on electoral reform isn’t his priority at the moment. What matters is rebuilding the Liberal Democrats and effectively opposing the Tories. He said:

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Tim Farron on why he supported air strikes – and other things

 

Yesterday the Independent on Sunday published an interview with Tim Farron under the headline ‘Lib Dem leader on why he went against his party over Syrian air strikes‘.

Tim Farron has argued that the Liberal Democrats are “not a pacifist party”, following grassroots criticism of his decision to back Syrian air-strikes – a move opposed by two-thirds of members.

The Independent on Sunday can reveal that the Lib Dem leader was rebuked at a meeting of a senior party committee this month for failing to consult properly on the controversial vote.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Britain’s economic recovery is precarious and an economic storm is coming

Vince Cable has form for predicting economic disaster, so you take notice when he says that there could be another one on the horizon, even if he qualifies it with an anecdote from his professional life:

I use the word “could”. I am always mindful of the day 20 years ago when I was greeted in my role as chief economist at Shell with a plaque, in Arabic, which translated meant “Those who claim to be able to forecast the future are lying even if, by chance, they are later proved right”. The reputation of economic forecasting as a science, which makes astrology looks respectable, reflects the same scepticism. And that scepticism was greatly reinforced by a total failure of standard economic models based on efficient financial markets to anticipate the last disaster.

Writing in the Independent, he outlines the factors which could indicate that all is not well: the high level of debt, the asset bubbles which have been created particularly in housing and the international economy, particularly any shock waves from a Chinese slowdown.

One side-effect of keeping economies growing through cheap money and credit creation through quantitative easing has been the generation of asset bubbles, especially in property markets. Britain demonstrates the problem in an extreme way, magnifying underlying imbalances between housing demand and supply. Double-digit housing inflation is not merely creating appalling social problems and division between classes and generations but grossly distorting investment from productive activities to property holding. The Bank of England has tools of macro-prudential management to curb this inflation but the extreme timidity in using them reveals the high level of dependence on this precarious and dangerous form of growth.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: When it comes to the EU, we shouldn’t kid ourselves. All forms of “Out” are as bad as each other

Nick Clegg is doing a lot of writing at the moment. Today, he has an article in the Independent busting the myths put about by Leave the EU campaigners that it would all be fine if we left as we could just be like Iceland or Norway and enjoy the benefits of the single market.

Errr, no, actually, we couldn’t says Nick.

The Outers want us to believe we can have our cake and eat it, effortlessly freeing ourselves from the shackles of Brussels while continuing to trade on equal terms with our neighbours across the Channel.

And that last point is the most deceptive of all. There is no access to the single market without adherence to its rules and regulations.

Out campaigners respond by talking misleadingly of a ‘free trade deal’ with our European neighbours – but a free trade agreement is a very different thing to accessing the single market.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The Tory conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our doorstep

Tim Farron has written for the Independent about how the Tory Conference is ignoring the humanitarian crisis. This was written at the same time as Liberal Democrat Chief Whip went to Calais with a car full of items donated by Liberal Democrat staff.

They will say, over and over, that Jeremy Corbyn will bankrupt your country, steal your job and surrender to Britain’s enemies. They might even have a go at him for not singing the national anthem. And while I might agree that the Islington North MP lives in an economic fantasy land – a land far removed from fiscal reality – these Tory tactics are a smokescreen; and not a particularly sophisticated one. You can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be talking about the biggest single issue facing Europe today – the refugee crisis.

They will simply not discuss developing a proper international plan to help the hundreds of thousands of migrants scattered across Europe or the millions of people trapped in Middle Eastern tented camps. But with this help and support must come a diplomatic strategy to deal with nations like Syria whose barbaric civil war is uprooting millions of people.

Diplomacy is not done at the barrel of a gun or from 30,000 feet it is done by supporting moderate opposition and working with regional actors to make sure we do not play into the IS narrative. Together with a humanitarian response must come a diplomatic strategy. One strand cannot work without the other.

He outlined the action he wants to see:

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – While Russia launches airstrikes Britain’s position on Syria remains an inglorious failure of diplomacy

Paddy Ashdown has been writing in the Independent about this week’s developments and diplomatic stand-offs regarding Syria. He said that the west has allowed its influence to be diminished by successive failures:

We bluster in the UN, Washington and London about willing the ends, but we have nothing left but bombs to will the means. The levers to make things happen in Syria now lie in Moscow and Tehran – all we are left with is a bomb-release button at 30,000ft.

This is a diplomatic failure of inglorious proportions. Historic proportions, too, since the result will inevitably be another ratchet down in the West’s influence, already grievously diminished by our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. One would have thought that we would have learnt the lessons of those defeats. But, still – sadly, stupidly – when the West sees a problem in the world its first instinct is to bomb it.

He asks what some great foreign secretaries of the past would have done:

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Diplomacy, not bombs will defeat ISIS. The west is being sucked into a sectarian conflict

So, David Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, pledges to help the US in the Middle East. We know that that sort of intervention is unlikely to end well. It would also be unlikely that the UN would ever agree to sanction any military action. Russia and China would just block it. So the option would be to have another Iraq, without properly defined objectives and potentially make a horrendous situation even worse.

I don’t always agree with Paddy, but he’s always my first port of call on foreign affairs. He’s been writing for the Independent about what should happen next and what is the best way to tackle the growing ISIS problem. And if you are under any illusion about life under ISIS, have a look at how they treat women and gay people.

Paddy reckons we’ve been too careless, too quick to grab the guns instead of quietly building international coalitions to tackle the major problems faced in the region.

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On Farron’s lurch to the left…

If you read some commentators, you’d think that in less than a week of leadership, Tim Farron had virtually turned us all into revolutionary socialists.

Matt Dahan wrote a story for the Independent which suggested that Nick Clegg would be “shaking his head” in “uncomfortable dismay” at Tim Farron’s bid to “form a Lib/Lab pact” to oppose welfare cuts.

The former deputy prime minister has been left sitting on the backbenches in the House of Commons, where he is forced to choose between toeing the party line or causing what would be a major rebellion in a party of just eight MPs.

It seems Mr Farron is leading the Lib Dems further to the left than Labour, even sending a letter to interim Labour leader Harriet Harman telling her to form a Lib-Lab alliance to fight the Government’s spending cuts.

Except Tim’s stance on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill is entirely consistent with the stance Nick Clegg took in Government. He stopped all this nonsense about taking Housing Benefit off young people and limiting tax credits to two children and further reducing the benefits cap. If Tim had supported them, it would have been a massive story.

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What does the Twitter “sarcasm detector” tell us?

They Say sarcasm detectorJohn Rentoul told us in yesterday’s Independent that he had found a tool which analysed what was being said about party leaders on Twitter, taking into account whether the comment was sarcastic or not.

I spoke to Karo Moilanen at the company about how “sentiment analysis” works. He told me the algorithm detects positive and negative sentiments associated with the leaders, and can even recognise a double negative as a positive, for example, “kill bacteria”.

What about sarcasm, I asked, thinking about how Twitter works. “We have a rudimentary sarcasm detector,” he said. “There are patterns which tend to correlate with sarcasm.” But how accurate is it? “Sarcasm is hard for people to detect. Human accuracy can be as low as 40 per cent.”

TheySay “trains” its computer programme by feeding it texts that humans have marked as being sarcastic. “Algorithms can hence learn that sarcasm tends to involve cases in which someone likes something negative,” said Moilanen, “or conflicting or abrupt changes of sentiment between strongly positive and negative words and phrases.” He said that computer algorithms can detect sarcasm between 55 and 95 per cent of the time, depending on the study, with an average of 77 per cent.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: A defence of our role in Coalition, whatever Jeremy Browne thinks

Danny Alexander takes to the pages of the Independent to challenge the points made by Jeremy Browne in his critical interview in that paper yesterday.

He looks back at the recessions of the 80s with their mass unemployment and misery and highlights the differences in approach brought into government by the Liberal Democrats. This, he says, has brought about a quicker, fairer end to the economic downturn:

Liberalism is about individual freedom, fairness and opportunity. And freedom, fairness and opportunity cannot flourish without a strong economy.

Today, Britain has the strongest growth and fastest job creation of any advanced economy. Inflation is benign, business investment is rising and we have record numbers in work. By any measure, Britain is making strong progress and opportunity is increasing.

This recovery has not come about by accident. It has been hard earned by millions of people and businesses. But we needed the right economic climate for the recovery. That climate is the direct result of liberal values in the recovery plan – fairness and opportunity. Delivered in the Coalition by Liberal Democrat policies – a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit; raising the income tax personal allowance to make work more attractive; creating apprenticeships to give people the skills they need; and the priority we have given to boosting investment in regional and local businesses, innovation and infrastructure. This is not “splitting the difference” between the other parties. It’s doing things in a distinctly different way, the liberal way.

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Jeremy Browne isn’t going quietly…

Jeremy Browne has used an interview with the Independent to continue his love-in with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. The headline says he called Nick Clegg “insipid” but he didn’t use that word directly about the leader. However, he did say something that will probably find some sympathy across the whole party. I’ve often said that we need to be passionate about who we are and not define ourselves by who we are not so that we’re just pushing ourselves as moderating influence on the other parties. I don’t like it when a speech is memorable for its mention of which body parts we share out. I do like it when we say what we are about.

Browne makes a similar point:

We are defining liberalism as the precise mid‑point between conservatism and socialism. Whatever liberalism is, it is not defined by where the other parties choose to pitch themselves or by measuring the distance between them and splitting it in half.

All we offer is a desire to water down their strong views. We offer an insipid moderation. Whichever party is the biggest one, we will stop them implementing a large number of their ideas. It is entirely negative. It is a deeply conservative position. We have become the most small-‘c’ conservative party.

Where I part company with Browne is his assertion is that this makes us more conservative than the two parties who have resolutely junked political reform whether it be electoral, party funding or to the House of Lords, throughout this Parliament. On devolution, it’s our party which has driven more powers for Scotland and Wales. You don’t find a conservative party creating opportunities for disadvantaged kids in school or transforming the way we deal with mental health.

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LibLink: Julian Huppert: Politicians can’t afford to look tough any more. We need to embrace drugs reform

Writing in the Independent, Julian Huppert makes the case for drugs reform in the wake of the Parliamentary debate brought by he and Caroline Lucas. They were debating the Home Office report instigated by Liberal Democrat ministers which provided evidence that the prohibitionist approach simply doesn’t work. Unsurprisingly, the Tories did everything they could to suppress it. Julian writes about the debate and the Liberal Democrat perspective:

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Independent: “Lib Dems fall out over who should take on George Osborne in election debate”

Cable alexander clegg some rights reserved by liberal democratsStephen Tall’s article here yesterday – Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election – has been picked up by today’s Independent:

As the minority coalition partner, the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Nick Clegg must choose between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who represented the Lib Dems in the 2010 debate.

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Independent: Liberal Democrats’ “major and under-rated contribution” to Budget success

Budget 2010 photocallYesterday’s Independent editorial had some very complimentary things to say about the Liberal Democrats’ influence on the Budget:

It is widely said that George Osborne had a decent Budget this week, aided in no small part by Ed Miliband’s curiously weak response. But the Liberal Democrats, as has frequently been the case during this parliament, made a major and underrated contribution to its success.

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Lib Dems on the front page. Don’t worry, this time it’s for our tax policies

“Lib Dems declare war on rich” is the hyperbolic front page of today’s Independent.

indy lib dem tax jan 2014

It’s tagged ‘exclusive’ though the article – which you can read here – seems to be reporting Lib Dem policy as approved by the party’s September 2013 conference – namely: (1) Introduce a Mansion Tax, applicable at 1% on the value of a residential property in excess of £2 million; and (2) Cap the lifetime limit for which tax relief is available on pension contributions at £1 million. (Flick to page …

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“Osborne’s waving an enormous red flag” – Social Liberal Forum’s warning to Lib Dems over Autumn Statement

Prateek Buch, director of the Social Liberal Forum, has an article in today’s Independent – The Lib Dems should not sign up to Osborne’s austerity straitjacket – issuing a stark warning to his fellow Lib Dems to take note of the “enormous red flag” he says was waved by George Osborne in last week’s Autumn Statement.

That flag was the Chancellor’s pledge for the economy to move into surplus by 2018/19, within the course of the next parliament. To achieve that – what, in effect, was the original Alistair Darling plan to eliminate the deficit over two parliaments …

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Is Nick Clegg looking at all-women shortlists for 2020?

From today’s Independent:

Nick Clegg is planning to introduce all-women shortlists for the Liberal Democrats if not enough female candidates are selected in winnable seats in 2015.

The radical policy change, which will upset many activists who believe it would go against the party’s constitution, would be introduced in the next Parliament as many candidates have already been selected for the election in 18 months’ time.

Only 12 per cent of Lib Dem MPs are women, and there are none at all from ethnic minorities. Lib Dem sources said a number of “excellent” female and ethnic minority candidates have already been selected

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LDVideo: Vince Cable praises Royal Mail’s “very good launch” onto the stock market

Royal Mail shares soared on their first day’s floatation yesterday, prompting inevitable accusations that the company had been priced too low. Here’s Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable explaining his aim to assure long-term investment irrespective of the froth of the “spivs and speculators”:

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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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ATOS lose monopoly on work capability assessments after audit shows up “unacceptable” standards

Those of us who are concerned about the fairness of the welfare system often cite the Work Capability Assessment, which claimants of Employment and Support Allowance are required to take. It seems that every few days there’s a story in the press reporting how someone has been marked fit for work when it is clearly inappropriate to do so. Yesterday the Daily Record carried the story of a woman who lived just a couple of miles away from me who was told she was fit for work weeks before she died of a brain tumour.

Concerns about the WCA appear …

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‘Red lines’ v ‘a long shopping list’: Clegg sets out plan for slimline 2015 manifesto

Nick Clegg will be speaking today at the party’s local government conference in Manchester (Nick Thornsby will be covering it throughout the day here on LDV) and The Independent is one of the newspapers which trails what he’ll say.

Here’s my quick take on the top lines on which they’ve been pre-briefed…

The Deputy Prime Minister will take on his internal party critics by demanding a slimline manifesto at the 2015 election setting out the Lib Dems’ non-negotiable “red lines” in another coalition rather than a long shopping list of policies.

There’s been much discussion recently about ‘red lines’ in …

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LibLink…Fiona Hall MEP: Lawson’s EU lunacy is a recipe for economic disaster

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament Fiona Hall has responded to former Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s call for Britain to leave the EU.

Writing in the Independent, she spelled out some of the economic consequences of such a move:

We are currently on the cusp of a game-changing trade deal between the EU and the US, which will bring billions of pounds to the British economy and create tens of thousands of jobs. The US has also made it quite clear that our ‘special relationship’ would cease to be special were the UK outside the EU. Major trade agreements with India and

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments
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  • User AvatarRossMcL 12th Nov - 6:55pm
    @David Evans - "I really hope our leaders have a cunning plan which will turn this all around in the next few weeks, because to...
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 12th Nov - 6:46pm
    Hard to argue with the IMF-analysis, and the only logical explanation: Brexit. I would not linearly extrapolate this trend: so far, private investment has been...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 12th Nov - 6:22pm
    - Jo Swinson should react as quickly as Corbyn in visiting flood areas etc AS QUICK AS CORBYN. She has to have a childcarer in...
  • User Avatartheakes 12th Nov - 5:59pm
    Received emails from ITV and BBC this afternoon. The former still exclude Jo but of course there is the court hearing. The BBC are seemingl;y...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 12th Nov - 5:57pm
    A timely reminder of how quickly politicians forget and sacrifice allies for a quick short term fix on the road to long term disaster. Thank...
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 12th Nov - 5:48pm
    Christine is right, Brexit trumps every issue. Here is Prof Chris Grey, from his blog, 'The Brexit Blog, "As prefigured in my previous post, this...