Monday News Review

Lib Dems feel the heat

The Liberal Democrats are facing twin electoral assaults from the Green Party and the National Union of Students in the wake of the party’s U-turn on tuition fees. The Independent understands the Greens are drawing up a strategy to target Liberal Democrat MPs in the most marginal seats – a move which could potentially unseat up to 10 per cent of the party’s MPs. The Greens are unlikely to win the seats but they could do what UKip has done to the Conservatives and win enough votes to deprive the Liberal Democrats of a majority in several seats across the country. At the same time the NUS has announced plans to target high profile Liberal Democrat-held constituencies with large student populations including Nick Clegg’s constituency of Sheffield Hallam and Don Foster’s in Bath. They are also considering putting up a candidate in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election – which the Liberal Democrats hope to win from Labour following the ejection of former immigration minister Phil Woolas. The election will be the first big test of the Coalition’s popularity. – The Independent

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was struggling to contain a revolt over tuition fees yesterday as the party’s new president vowed to vote against the rise. Tim Farron MP, elected to the post on Saturday, also said the party would be “stark- raving mad” to deepen its alliance with the Tories. He challenged Mr Clegg by declaring he would oppose raising fees to up to £9,000 and appeared to back last week’s student demo, saying it made him feel “nostalgic” for his radical youth. Mr Farron said: “You would have to be stark-raving mad to think there’s any chance of a merger or closer relationship or a pact.” Shadow Business Secretary John Denham also weighed in with: “Nick Clegg has no credibility on tuition fees.” – The Mirror

Students are angry that the party has failed to stick to its pre-election pledge to oppose charging for university. The NUS claims Lib Dem MPs were elected on that promise and should now be removed from power. The campaign will target Mr Clegg in Sheffield Hallam, Simon Wright in Norwich South, Stephen Williams in Bristol West and Don Foster in Bath. Aaron Porter, president of the NUS, said the aim is to force out Lib Dems who break their pre-election pledge to oppose any rise in tuition fees. Mr Porter has said the NUS will urge a parliamentary recall for MPs who have broken their promises on tuition fees based on a coalition idea for holding MPs to account known as the “right to recall” initiative. – Sky News

Anti coalition Lib Dems elected in to internal positions

Liberal Democrat candidates who called for their party to move away from Tory policies triumphed in internal elections for its two ruling bodies at the weekend. Nick Clegg has been at pains to emphasise the Lib Dem leadership supports all coalition government policies, but the former MP Evan Harris topped the poll, calling for the party to “distance ourselves from Conservative policies that have been imposed on our ministers”. After reports that senior Tories and Lib Dems were working together to develop a longer-term programme, Harris emphasised that if the Lib Dems entered into another coalition at the next election, it didn’t necessarily have to be with the Tories. “Any post-election partnership working should be based purely on the arithmetic and on the policy overlap and that policy work should derived totally independently of the views of our coalition partners,” he said. David Rendel was also returned, coming second in the election to the federal executive, which deals with management and strategy for the party. He is well known for being the only vote against the Lib Dems forming a pact with the Tory party when the executive was asked in May. – The Guardian

Dave will ask: are you happy?

The UK government is poised to start measuring people’s psychological and environmental wellbeing, bidding to be among the first countries to officially monitor happiness. Despite “nervousness” in Downing Street at the prospect of testing the national mood amid deep cuts and last week’s riot in Westminster, the Office of National Statistics will shortly be asked to produce measures to implement David Cameron’s long-stated ambition of gauging “general wellbeing”. Countries such as France and Canada are looking at similar initiatives as governments around the world come under pressure to put less store on conventional economic measures of prosperity such as gross domestic product. British officials say there is still hesitation in some parts of Whitehall over going ahead with the programme during such difficult economic times, but Cameron is said to want to place the eventual results at the heart of future government policy-making. – The Guardian

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