Tag Archives: the observer

LibLink: David Laws: It’s time for Theresa May to ditch grammar school plans

David Laws, our former Schools Minister now heading up the Education Policy Institute (which used to be the CentreForum think tank) has been writing for the Observer. He’s driven a coach and horses through the Government’s case for grammar schools, which he says even fails to convince Education Secretary Justine Greening.

It is one of the worst kept secrets in Westminster that education secretary Justine Greening is not the biggest supporter of the policy that is now the social mobility “flagship” of Theresa May’s government – expanding the number of grammar schools.

Greening must be aware of the clear UK and international evidence that selective education both fails to raise overall standards, and undermines the prospects of poor children. Education Policy Institute researchers last year analysed the government’s own schools data and drew two key conclusions. First, that almost no children on free school meals get into grammar schools – a risible 4,000 out of more than eight million pupils in the whole of England. Second, that although there is a small benefit for pupils who are admitted to selective schools, this is offset by the worse results for other pupils in areas with a significant number of grammar places.

He outlines how he poorest children will be the worst affected by the move to grammar schools:

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The Observer agrees with us on a referendum on the Brexit deal

Well, well! The Observer has started agreeing with us again. Here’s what it had to say on this coming week’s Article 50 Bill amendments:

Any MP planning to vote against the amendments to the bill that seek to ensure this – whether or not they supported Brexit – should reflect long and hard on precisely what they think parliament is for, if not to scrutinise the government on this most momentous of decisions. Second, the British people must have the opportunity to accept or reject the deal negotiated by the government. The referendum result provided a democratic mandate for Britain to leave the EU; it did not give permission to the prime minister to negotiate any deal she sees fit.

Voters may choose to ratify the government’s deal in a second referendum or, faced with a concrete set of terms for Britain’s exit, they may choose to reject the deal and deliver a mandate for the government to seek to try to remain in the EU. But the final say should rest with them.

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The Observer’s Barbara Ellen joins the Liberal Democrats

Welcome to one of our newest newbies, Observer columnist Barbara Ellen who outs herself in today’s paper. She left Labour 14 months ago, after Jeremy Corbyn rendered the party unelectable.

On her decision to join the Liberal Democrats she says:

I did it for highly unoriginal Brexit reasons (I’m one of those Remoaners who still think there’s a lot to Remoan about). The Tories are morphing into a cartoon hydra of their own worst impulses. The Labour party seems intent on chewing on sticks of dynamite like they’re delicious lollipops.

Donald Trump is squatting in power like an angry toad stuck

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LibLink: Shirley Williams: Bring all sides together to negotiate our future with Europe

While Tory and Labour parties rip themselves apart, the Liberal Democrats have spent a great deal of time offering ideas and solutions. The latest is Shirley Williams in today’s Observer:

She succinctly sums up the mess we are in:

With every passing day, the problems confronting the new prime minister multiply. The balance of payments worsens, the pound sinks against the dollar, the London property market, no longer attractive to ambitious young bankers and financial experts, declines and Brexit begins to look more and more like snake oil.

How do we face those challenges? Well, it needs strong government and opposition:

To get through the business of negotiating an alternative to membership of the European Union, and to do so without our country falling apart, will require patience, tolerance of different and often strongly held views and good, grown-up government. None of these were evident in the bitter, brutal referendum debate. We need not just good government but a serious, responsible opposition as well.

She draws parallels with the mess of the Labour Party in the 80s.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – The coalition has helped, not hurt the poor

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has an article in today’s Observer rejecting the paper’s front page lead last week headlined ‘Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor’.

I absolutely reject this assertion. Nick Clegg and I led the Liberal Democrats into coalition not just to rescue the British economy from the aftermath of the 2008 crash, but to do so fairly.

He details, with examples, various of the Coalition’s policies which aren’t picked up in the analysis reported by the Observer …

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Liberal Democrats criticise Home Office over deportation flight report which said people were treated like commodities.

UK Border Agency enforcement teamA report in Sunday’s Observer highlighted concerns raised by the Inspector of Prisons over the treatment of people on a deportation flight to Afghanistan.

The Inspector’s full report can be read here and it makes sobering reading for anyone who cares about treating vulnerable people with respect:

Despite impressive care and concern shown by individual escort staff, detainees were not treated with enough decency in the removal process. Generally efficient procedures did not amount to respect for detainees who, it seemed to us, were seen as commodities

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Vince Cable: I don’t understand why bankers need to earn a million quid a year

Vince Cable speaking York Europe Jobs Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsIn an interview for the Observer magazine’s “This much I know” feature, Vince Cable has shared his life lessons.

He shares his incredulity that anyone needs a salary/bonus of over £1 million to live on:

I don’t understand why people need a million quid a year. I’ve asked one or two of the more sympathetic bankers to explain it to me. The response has been: “It’s not that I need the money, it is because others get it so I should, too.”

Posted in News | Also tagged | 37 Comments

Andrew Rawnsley: “The real reasons why Nick threw down the gauntlet to Nigel”

Andrew Rawnsley has made some interesting comments in today’s Observer on Nick Clegg’s debate challenge to Nigel Farage.

He makes the obligatory point that the party’s poor position in the polls and concern over the consequences of a bad result for Clegg’s leadership  but makes the point that it only takes a relatively small shift to protect the position of Liberal Democrat MEPs.

Senior Lib Dems privately confide that their goal is quite modest: to lift their vote share by three to four points above their current poll ratings. When you are bumping along at low levels of support, just a

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Desperately thin stuff – Observer fails to reveal Lib Dem ties with Murdoch

Liberal Democrats’ ties with Murdoch aides revealed to Leveson inquiry shouts The Observer headline today followed by a breathlessly hyped claim:

Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats were sucked deeper into the controversy over News Corp’s planned takeover of BSkyB on Saturday as evidence submitted to the Leveson inquiry revealed close party ties with Murdoch executives.

I then read the story to try and find what amazing revelations backed-up the paper’s confidence. Then I read it again. And again. I’m still none the wiser how “Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats” have been “sucked deeper into the controversy”.

The Observer’s attempt to implicate the Lib …

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News International tried to bully the Lib Dems, says Observer. It didn’t work.

News International ‘bullied Liberal Democrats over BSkyB bid’ is the headline in today’s Observer, with the paper reporting:

Rupert Murdoch’s News International launched a campaign of bullying against senior Liberal Democrats in an attempt to force through the company’s bid for BSkyB, high-level sources have told the Observer.

Lib Dem insiders say NI officials took their lobbying campaign well beyond acceptable limits and even threatened, last autumn, to persecute the party if Vince Cable, the business secretary, did not advance its case.

According to one account from a senior party figure, a cabinet minister was told that, if the government did not

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Interview: Nick Clegg’s year in the eye of the storm

Sunday’s Observer featured a lengthy interview with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg from its chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley. Rawnsley takes a look at what has been a tumultuous year for the deputy PM, covering a whole variety of topics along the way.

Here’s a short extract from the interview:

His very existence as deputy prime minister is a daily reminder to the Conservatives and their tribalist mouthpieces in the media that the Tories failed to achieve a clear election win, even against an opponent as unpopular as Gordon Brown. For many on the left, Clegg is the great betrayer who sold

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LibLink: Chris Huhne – AV referendum: why progressives must unite to vote yes

On Sunday, Liberal Democrat energy secretary Chris Huhne joined the Green’s Caroline Lucas and Labour’s John Denham to pen a piece for the Observer, calling on all progressives in Britain to vote Yes in the Thursday’s referendum on the voting system. It garnered headlines on the day thanks to a paragraph critical of the Tories, but it actually makes some very sound points about why all those who see themselves as on the ‘left’ of British politics should be voting Yes (as, incidentally, did Will Hutton in the same newspaper on the same day).

Here’s a sample of what Huhne, …

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The Observer catches up with the news, two months on

Readers of today’s Observer story by Toby Helm regarding Lib Dem ministers contributing 10% of their salaries to the party may have thought it had a familiar ring to it. That’d be because it was first reported back in December, as we blogged back then. Ah well, nothing like old news 🙂

Posted in News | Also tagged | 3 Comments

How the media loves mixed messages (when they suit their own message)

‘Conservative spending cuts are worse than Thatcher’s, says Alan Johnson’ shouts today’s Observer, reporting the paper’s interview with Labour’s incoming shadow chancellor.

If the election had turned out differently — if Labour had won, rather than suffering one of the worst defeats in its history — the headline could have read a little different… Imagine this headline:

    Alistair Darling: we will cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher

But wait, we don’t have to imagine that headline: it already exists, and was used by the Observer’s stablemate The Guardian back in March when reporting the then Labour chancellor’s realistic appraisal of the …

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Opinion: Observer’s dishonesty doesn’t disguise party challenges

I was out drinking with a couple of Tory councillors the other day. This is not a frequent occurrence and has become no more frequent since the Coalition.

I learned that one of their acquaintance had resigned her Conservative Party membership because of the Coalition. She is a Thatcherite.

The days and weeks after the toughest budget for several decades were bound to be uncomfortable. None of us expected to see our Party lauded by the press.

The Guardian lambasted the budget for its effect on the poor, the Mail for its effect on middle England. I gave up and bought …

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

The Observer endorses the Liberal Democrats

Following on from The Guardian‘s endorsement, The Observer becomes the second newspaper to back the LibDems:

The vital context for this election is the twin crises in our economy and our politics. On both issues most credit accrues to the Liberal Democrats. Their Treasury spokesman Vince Cable was prescient in warning of an unsustainable debt bubble; Nick Clegg pushed for greater openness about expenses long before the scandal erupted.

The Lib Dems have in recent years developed a habit of getting things right. They were first of the big three to embrace environmentalism, first to kick back against the assault on civil

Posted in General Election | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Girls in crisis? Hold on a minute.

…it is becoming increasingly clear that teenage girls are a stand-alone demographic in crisis

So says a report in Sunday’s Observer, looking at the pressures faced by teenage girls and the effects it has on their lives, and it’s far from alone.

As Mark Pack reported here on Sunday, the Evening Standard and Telegraph both reported on concerns of girls becoming sexualised at ever younger ages.

Just hold on a moment, though.

Yes, teenage girls have problems. And it may well be that there are specific measures the State can take to reduce those problems, such as the regulation …

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LibLink … Nick Clegg et al: An appeal for the victims of Gaza

Nick Clegg is a lead signatory for a letter in today’s Observer calling on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to abide by UN security council resolution 1860 and bring an end to the suffering of the people of Gaza. Here’s what it says:

One year on from Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government continues to imprison 1.5 million Palestinians and prevent the rebuilding of its shattered infrastructure.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, described by the UN fact-finding mission as “collective punishment”, stops reconstruction materials and humanitarian aid from reaching those who so desperately require it.

As a result

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Lib Dem PPC Ed Fordham makes Observer’s 2010 Hot List

Lib Dem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, Ed Fordham, is cited by today’s Observer as one of the rising stars of British politics:

“It will be a barometer seat without a doubt,” says Liberal Democrat Ed Fordham of his battle against veteran Labour MP Glenda Jackson in Hampstead and Kilburn. The 38-year-old, a former Lib Dem campaigns officer who is expected to play a major part in shaping the party’s future agenda, needs an estimated gain of 474 votes to be elected, in one of the closest-fought battles of the coming election. Fordham, has already won some influential supporters. Former

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Daily View 2×2: 4 December 2009

It’s December 4th, and 210 years since the day William Pitt the Younger introduced income tax to help pay for the Napoleonic Wars. By that time, The Observer (the world’s first Sunday newspaper) was already celebrating its ninth birthday.

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

MPs to go clubbing to investigate cocaine trade

The Commons home affairs committee, led by Labour’s Keith Vaz, will look at what goes on during “student nights”.

Members will look at the latest cocaine-detecting technology and talk to anti-drugs campaigners.

Labour MP Gwyn Prosser has already spent time outside a nightclub in Maidstone, Kent, as part of the committee’s preliminary research.

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Does it matter if The Observer closes?

Much speculation this week that The Observer, Sunday sister paper of The Guardian (both of which are owned by Guardian News and Media under the beneficent custodianship of The Scott Trust), is on the brink of being closed down, and perhaps converted into a weekly news magazine. This follows some disastrous financial results for the Guardian Media Group, which recorded a pre-tax loss of almost £90m in 2008-09, £37m of which was contributed by GNM. As the Financial Times reported earlier this week:

GNM has started work on a three-year strategic plan, including radical measures aimed at assuring the future of The Guardian, the group’s daily newspaper, a senior figure in the group said.

The plan is aimed not so much at addressing a fall in newspaper advertising revenues caused by the economic downturn but at surviving the effects of a longer-term shift by readers and advertisers to the internet. …
No decisions have been made on the future of The Observer under the strategic plan but closure of the title in its present form has not been ruled out. According to a person close to the management of The Observer, staff became alarmed last week when they discovered a secret “dummy” of a weekly news magazine with their own title’s branding on it.

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Guardian endorses Lib Dems in Euro elections (more or less)

Following the endorsement of its sister paper the Observer and its leading columnist Polly Toynbee, the Guardian editorial today all-but formally recommends its readers vote for the Lib Dems in this Thursday’s Euro polls:

The case for supporting the Liberal Democrats is now very strong. Anyone who believes Britain should be an engaged member of the European Union – who does not believe scare stories about the Lisbon treaty and who wants to back a party that campaigns on this – should vote Lib Dem. So should anyone who cares about constitutional renewal. Nick Clegg’s party has ancestral

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What’s the significance of today’s Observer editorial?

The Observer coming out today and urging a vote for the Liberal Democrats will have put a spring in the step of many deliverers, canvassers and poster teams around the country, especially when combined with the news of the Telegraph ICM poll putting the Liberal Democrats in second place.

In the past both the sister papers – Guardian and Observer – have toyed with urging Liberal Democrat votes, saying nice things about the party and urging tactical voting whilst falling short of the sort of clear support for Lib Dem votes that today’s Observer has. Indeed, it’s easy to joke …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 21 Comments

The Observer says: vote Liberal Democrat

From today’s leader:

Nick Clegg is the most instinctively European leader at Westminster. That is currently a lonely position, but the Lib Dems have a decent record of taking minority stands that are later vindicated. On the environment, on civil liberties and on the mounting debt bubble, the Lib Dems were quietly but consistently ahead of the Westminster curve.

Likewise on transparency. In 2007, they opposed the Conservative move, tacitly encouraged by Labour, to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act. The Lib Dems alone took a party line for openness…

While MPs from all parties are tainted, the parties themselves

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