Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Democrats’

Never underestimate the Lib Dems’ capacity for survival

05/11/2010, 12:00:56 PM

by Paul Richards

THERE’S Labour jubilation at the news that the Liberal Democrats have slumped to single figures in the latest opinion polls. Their current nine per cent standing would give them just 11 seats in the Commons – a return to the old jokes about taxicabs and telephone boxes. It reflects the proper sense of outrage at the behaviour of Nick Clegg and his colleagues – ditching any policy necessary to stay in the government, and revelling in the perks and trappings. It reflects too Cameron’s Saddam-like use of the Lib Dems as human shields (‘after you, Danny…’), fronting up every piece of Tory thuggery and vandalism. The unknown perpetrator of what the Wandsworth Guardian calls a ‘campaign of hate’ against the Putney offices of the Liberal Democrats, daubing ‘whores’, ‘fakes’ and latterly ‘Tory Fags’ (no sniggering at the back) on their windows, speaks for tens of thousands of people who voted Lib Dem.

All those students, or well-meaning people in the voluntary sector, or teachers, who voted for the Liberal Democrats have watched their cherished policies torn into little pieces by Huhne, Clegg, Cable, Alexander and the rest. People in independent-minded Lewes, who believed they were voting for a radical maverick, ended up with a junior minister in a government prosecuting a war in Afghanistan, cutting local voluntary groups, and putting rail fares up. Yes, even Norman Baker, the man who believes Dr Kelly was murdered, has swapped his high horse for a ministerial car. (more…)

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Honesty, forensic scrutiny and playing the long game

04/11/2010, 11:30:17 AM

by Angharad Williams

The comprehensive spending review has changed Britain forever. George’s masochistic medicine will prove a bitter pill to swallow. The side-effects may be dramatic: social convulsions, outbreaks of crime and racially charged rioting, feelings of worthlessness and a loss of aspiration.

For the new generation which learnt the human consequences of hard-headed Thatcherism mainly from Brassed Off and The Full Monty, it was the beginning of a practical study in the DNA of the nasty party. It should not have surprised us that a new generation of Conservatives, raised on a rich diet of small state and strong market thinking callously cheered announcements that will devastate lives.

The worst thing about the coming cuts is the sense of powerlessness. We may win the odd skirmish, but the real battle is set for May 2015. Those who decry the “failure” of Labour’s 13 years in power will need to screw their heads back on. (more…)

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Saturday News Review

02/10/2010, 07:56:55 AM

Luring Lib Dems

Mr Miliband is playing a longer game. He criticised the Iraq war not to embarrass his brother but to send a powerful signal to Liberal Democrat voters. It appears to have worked. A poll of 1,023 people by the PoliticsHome website found that 47 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters have more respect for Mr Miliband as a result of his remarks about Iraq (as do 48 per cent of Labour voters). He also talked up his credentials on civil liberties and promised to back the alternative vote in next May’s referendum. – The Independent

Lib Dems were also the only group to favour Ed Miliband over his brother David, with 34% of members thinking him the better leadership candidate. The survey will confirm fears in Lib Dem HQ that Ed Miliband represented the most serious threat to the party. By being sympathetic to Liberal views on civil liberties and foreign policy but against the spending cuts being implemented by the Conservatives, the younger Miliband brother can attract Lib Dem supporters alienated by the deficit reduction plan. –

Strike Breaker

Labour’s new leader had kept quiet over next week’s scheduled walkout. But yesterday, in an effort to rid himself of his ‘Red Ed’ tag, he said Mr Cameron’s address should be broadcast in the “interests of impartiality and fairness”. Mr Miliband, voted leader on the back of union support, stopped short of condemning broadcasting union Bectu’s strike plan. He said: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute between Bectu and the BBC, they should not be blacking out the PM’s speech. “My speech was seen and heard on the BBC … so the Prime Minister’s should be.” – The Sun

Gerry Morrissey, the general secretary of Bectu, expressed the union’s “dissatisfaction” with Miliband’s intervention. “As a Labour party affiliate, Bectu places on record its dissatisfaction with Ed Miliband’s statement today. The leader’s intervention is not helpful and is dismissive of our actions as a responsible trade union which has been negotiating with the employer on this issue for three long months,” Morrissey said. Miliband this week sought to allay fears that he would reward affiliated trade unions for backing him in the leadership race in his first keynote speech since being elected Labour leader. – The Guardian (more…)

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Clegg has betrayed every Lib Dem voter – says Lib Dem Cllr as he joins Labour

17/09/2010, 11:00:36 AM

As the Liberal Democrats head to Liverpool for what is sure to be a difficult conference, Solihull Councillor Simon Slater becomes the latest in a stream of Lib Dems  to leave the party to join Labour.

A Lib Dem Cllr for Shirley West since 2006, and Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Meriden in the general election, Slater accused the party leadership of selling-out their principles to secure “top jobs with their new Tory friends in government.”

On joining the Labour Party Cllr Simon Slater said:

Before the election Nick Clegg talked about not cutting too fast or too deep, he talked about protecting the most vulnerable in society, fairness for students and meaningful constitutional reform, and he fought against a Tory VAT bombshell. But now in government he has betrayed everything he said he believed in and everyone who voted for him.

The national Liberal Democrat leadership seem more interested in securing the top jobs with their new Tory friends in government than any principle.

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As the cold war begins, so do the defections

15/09/2010, 11:45:43 AM

What have Liverpool, Exeter, Hull and Rotherham got in common? Football clubs not playing in the champions league tonight? Too easy. All places that charmless hacks would patronisingly dismiss if any poor lamb from the capital were ever forced to live there ? True, but still not quite right.

Add in the midlands authority of Sandwell and the preposterously well informed among you will have guessed we are in the glamorous world of post-election defections. We’ve all heard about the thousands of new members joining Labour since May, but there is one standout group – local councillors crossing the floor to join the party with no leader.

Observers of British politics see local government in the way casual sport fans view county cricket – it’s an interesting diversion but it’s only really important when it affects the national team. This may well be true, but just like in county cricket, what goes on in the provinces can tell us an awful lot about the direction of travel for the wider game.


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Tuesday News Review

24/08/2010, 08:10:30 AM

Burnham blitz on ‘metropolitan elite’ continues

“Work experience internships, which often serve as a middle-class passport to good jobs, should be restricted to a maximum of three months, be paid the minimum wage and be required by law to be advertised, Andy Burnham says today as he steps up his Labour leadership campaign against self-perpetuating “metropolitan elites”. In his determination to tackle Britain’s stalled social mobility Burnham also promises to explore the options for graduates to get “extended access to student finance” to see them through low-paid work experience that would help them into their chosen careers”. – The Guardian

Ed Miliband doesn’t seem to disagree with Andy

“He also dismisses any suggestion that his backing from the three biggest trade unions risks reviving an impression of a Labour leader in the pocket of Unite. “I’m not defending everything the trade unions do, nor would I as Labour leader. I don’t think we’re about to go back to the 1970s, and I’m not planning to take us there. But I do defend the role of trade unions in our society. And I think it’s surprising that that’s surprising, coming from someone who wants to be leader of the Labour party. Politics has basically become a middle-class pursuit – a London-middle-class pursuit, detached from ordinary people’s lives – and it’s actually the link with the trade unions which helps make us relevant to people’s lives.” – The Guardian

Cameron urged to break holiday to back cup bid

“David Cameron faced calls to return from his holiday today to show the proper level of support for England’s 2018 World Cup bid. Tom Watson, who sits on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee said: “We want to put on a good show for the bid but the government is fielding the B-Team. It’s a very poor show.” – The Daily Mail


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Monday News Review

23/08/2010, 08:08:27 AM

Burnham battles party ‘elite’

“Andy Burnham today launches a scathing attack on the “self-serving elite” running Labour, pitching himself as the “anti-establishment” candidate in the battle for the Labour leadership. He spells out detailed plans for rebuilding the party as the struggle to replace Gordon Brown resumes after a two-week lull in hostilities.” – The Independent

“The shadow health secretary said it would be dangerous for the party if the winner was from the “Londoncentric establishment”. Mr Burnham, who comes from a working class home, believes only someone from a different background could take on David Cameron. His comments will be seen as an attack on leadership favourites David and Ed Miliband, the sons of an academic who grew up in a middle class house.” – The Mirror


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Sunday News Review

22/08/2010, 08:04:11 AM

No defection after all

“Charles Kennedy has described claims he is considering joining the Labour party as “complete rubbish”, following reports that he was about to resign in disgust at the Liberal Democrat pact with the Tories. The former Lib Dem leader emerged from a meeting with constituents in Dingwall to declare he would not be joining Labour.” – The Scotsman

David’s pitch for the middle classes

The Labour leadership front-runner will use a campaign speech to tell activists the party still has much to do to re-establish its electoral appeal after its support “collapsed across social classes” three months ago.

“You just can’t craft an election majority out of a minority. It is dangerous to pretend we don’t need the middle classes – just as it would be to suggest Labour does not need to win back the hope and trust of working-class voters. – David Miliband, The Independent

Little brother targets core support

Ed Miliband steps up his bid for the Labour leadership today by promising substantial tax cuts for any company prepared to guarantee a “living wage” of at least £7.60 an hour. The commitment is designed to appeal to the party’s core supporters who believe New Labour took insufficient measures to combat low pay, despite having introduced a legally binding minimum wage that now stands at £5.83 an hour. – The Guardian

Lib-Lab pact?

The Liberal Democrats will discuss the prospect of “working co-operatively” with Labour before the next election, despite agreeing to form a government with the Tories, it emerged last night. The prospect of closer links with the opposition will be raised at the party’s conference in Liverpool next month.

A consultation document on Party Strategy and Priorities, which will confront Lib Dem activists with the dilemmas raised by the decision to go into government with the Tories, will declare that: “nearer the next election, the Labour leadership will start thinking about how to promote and achieve the idea of working co-operatively with the Liberal Democrats. – The Independent

Haggling for seats down under

Prime minister Julia Gillard has said that no major party had won a majority of parliamentary seats in Australia’s general election and she had started negotiating with independent MPs in an effort to cling to power. – The Press Association

Labor can expect the support of the first-ever Green member, and probably also a former Green turned independent, who seemed likely to win a seat. The Liberal party would have to rely on three other independents, two of whom have had links to the conservative National party, which is part of the opposition coalition. It may be days before the final outcome is known. – The Guardian

Playing games

“Shadow education secretary Ed Balls has called for the return of tax breaks for the games industry following the collapse of Realtime World. “The Tory-Lib Dem government is putting the future of the computer games industry in Scotland at risk,” he wrote. “The terrible news this week about Realtime Worlds could be just the start unless the coalition government rethinks its decisions, which are costing jobs and risking the recovery.” – Digital Spy

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Charm offensives and the future of the Liberal Democrats

11/08/2010, 05:09:44 PM

Jerry Hayes would be amazed if Tories and Liberal Democrats didn’t stand as coalition candidates at the next general election. Would this extend to the formation of a new centre party encompassing elements of both Toryism and Liberalism? Peter Bingle thinks so.

Whether it is something as loose as Tory/Lib Dem understandings in certain seats or as formal as a new centre party, Denis MacShane is convinced that the government’s mishandling of Sheffield Forgemasters means that something will have to give for Nick Clegg to retain his Sheffield Hallam constituency.

Clegg’s desires to remain both on the green benches and in the ministerial Jaguar drive the electoral relationship between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories inexorably closer. Chris Huhne seems as in need of a Tory helping hand as Clegg and Sayeeda Waarsi did nothing today to suggest that this would not be extended.

Neither this prospect nor the realities of the coalition please all Liberal Democrats, though. Lembit Opik’s stand-up comedy, for example, is spiced with anti-Clegg jibes. “I saw him in Portcullis House after the election. It was strange that he didn’t see me, but it was a large lift”.

Opik may well be saying publicly the kinds of things which the Liberal Democrat backbench part of the coalition is saying privately. And this, as Tim Montgomerie observes, is a coalition in three parts: “1) the almost indistinguishable front benches; 2) the Tory right; 3) the left of the Liberal Democrats who, in their hearts, would still have preferred a deal with Labour.”

It is hard to imagine closer electoral relations between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats not producing fireworks unless this changes. Whatever closer electoral relations Cameron and Clegg are aiming for, they will struggle to achieve them unless they can bind their backbenches into the coalition to a greater degree. But the irreconcilables will, by definition, elude the charms of their party leaders. Labour should now be charming those Liberal Democrats who potentially fall into this category.

Simon Hughes is the leading figure in this group and is joined by the likes of John Pugh, Jenny Willott, Tim Farron, Paul Burstow, Norman Baker and David Heath. Whatever happens, gently encouraging Liberal Democrats of this vintage to think ill of Clegg and Cameron and well of Labour is likely to assist Labour’s hopes of returning to government. Perhaps, Labour-Lib Dem bonding over beers at Opik’s next gig would be a logical step.

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Tuesday News Review

10/08/2010, 07:57:14 AM

Lib Dem slump

Liberal Democrat support has slumped to its lowest level since the start of the general election campaign as voters protest that the party has lost its voice in the coalition government.A ComRes poll for The Independent finds that backing for Nick Clegg’s party has fallen to just 16 per cent, its worst showing since early April. It also found that almost three-quarters of the public says it does not know what the Liberal Democrats stand for any longer. The survey puts the Conservatives on 39 per cent, down one point since the last ComRes survey for The Independent on 28 June. – The Independent

What does stand out is the 12 point share for others – SNP/PC/GRN/UKIP/BNP – which is in marked contrast to what YouGov has been reporting. In one recent survey it had the total for the five parties at just five points. It’s having fewer points for others and a much lower LD figure which is behind YouGov’s highish shares for the Tories and Labour. Even though it has the lowest ComRes share for the LDs since early April tonight’s poll will be viewed with a sense of relief by the yellows after watching their YouGov total drop to 12 points at the start of last week. – Political Betting


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