Posts Tagged ‘Nick Clegg’

Your opinion on a Lib Lab coalition doesn’t matter. Labour are going for one anyway.

17/02/2014, 06:59:20 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Quite a little kerfuffle today as various Labour voices have sounded dissonant notes on the desirability of a coalition with the Lib Dems. The spark to ignite the Lib-Lab tinder was Nick Clegg’s open discussion about the possibility of a future coalition with Labour. The internal Labour discussion has been earnest and heartfelt, but above all, entirely pointless.

Labour activists and commentators can talk about the pros and cons of a coalition with the Lib Dems ad infinitum, but the decision has already been made. The opinions do not matter, Labour is going for a coalition with the Lib Dems come what may.

The evidence is apparent in the reprioritisation of Labour’s 106 key seats.

A month ago Uncut reported that Labour had significantly scaled back its key seat ambitions. This was always going to happen – there was no way a constituency on the list like Bermondsey and Southwark, held comfortably by Simon Hughes since 1983, was going to receive the same level of support as a seat like Stockton South where the Tories only have a majority of 332 and that Labour held solidly in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

But it is the scale of reprioritisation which effectively means Labour has abandoned thoughts of governing alone and is now aiming for coalition with Lib Dems.

Labour’s struggle in the south in particular is crippling the party’s ability to push for a clear majority. Party sources suggest that doubts among southern voters on Labour’s economic credibility and Ed Miliband’s leadership are making comparatively small Conservative majorities difficult to overturn.

One seasoned campaign professional with knowledge of the resources being allocated to key seats has indicated to Uncut that the high command now views majorities of over 2,400 in the south as increasingly beyond Labour’s reach.

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In defence of political fixing

23/01/2014, 07:00:27 AM

by Kevin Meagher

If the glamorous world of political power is an aphrodisiac, the grubby underbelly of politics is probably something like a retching motion. That’s to say, it isn’t pretty, as a cast load of dubious characters are coughed forward into our midst. A few crooks. Quite a few oddballs. Plenty of lechers. Mostly, they are men (although there are a few are women too). They are all part and parcel of our political life.

So nothing about the allegations swirling around Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard is particularly unusual or new and no-one, in any party, should react too smugly as this sorry state of affairs unfurls.

And I say that from the start, allegations. I don’t know what Rennard did or didn’t do. Neither does the police, it seems, who found there was no case to answer after investigating complaints from several women Lib Dem activists about unwanted moves they say he made on them.

Neither, did the party’s internal investigation, conducted by Alistair Webster QC, which has triggered this latest crisis. That’s because while he concurs with the earlier police investigation, Webster concludes, in a frankly brilliant circumlocution, that Rennard should still apologise:

“I viewed Lord Rennard, from the weight of the evidence submitted, as being someone who would wish to apologise to those whom he had made to feel uncomfortable, even if he had done so inadvertently.”

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Jim Dowd. Not so relished in South Yorkshire.

21/01/2014, 05:11:34 PM

Pity poor Jim Dowd. A Londoner to his boots and scourge of cheap knock-offs of quality brands. He led the way in the debate on intellectual property in the chamber yesterday, castigating “parasitic” copies of established products.

Tears were welling-up among fellow MPs and onlookers as he laid out the foul calumny that he himself had suffered, just the previous weekend,

“I was in the Hare and Billet pub in Blackheath (in London). And I was having lunch, and I asked if they had any Worcestershire Sauce – everybody knows the famous manufacturers of Worcestershire Sauce.

Now, I’m a simple soul from south-east London, and I thought there was only one Worcestershire Sauce. And the very nice chap who was serving us went away and said ‘certainly’, and he came back with a bottle, and it was shaped like the bottle which I always remembered containing, I think it’s Lea and Perrins, Worcestershire Sauce and their marvellous concoction: same shape, same size, the label was amazingly enough orange with black lettering.

But it was something from Sheffield, from somewhere called Henderson’s – whoever they were.

Now, I’m sure Mr Henderson and his company is a perfectly estimable organisation and I’m sure they pursue an entirely legitimate business, but I couldn’t help feeling at the time that this, of all the colours they could choose for their label, of all the shapes they could have for their bottle, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Sheffield sauce until then, but I thought this is an ideal example of just how easy these things are to do (to copy).”

Damn straight Jim. Who the hell is Mr.Henderson anyway?

What’s that? Henderson’s is a brand that has been established for over 100 years? Really? A great British export, shipped all round the world, you say? 750,000 bottles sold each year?

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, rode to the rescue earlier today to set Jim straight, writing him an open letter on Facebook.

But it was already too late.

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16 government policies the Lib Dems didn’t stop

19/09/2013, 10:06:57 AM

by Michael Dugher

Nick Clegg looked awfully pleased with himself yesterday.  I think he very much enjoys being deputy prime minister.  His message to the party faithful yesterday was “I’ll be in government with anyone”, which roughly translates as “I don’t believe in anything”.  And though Clegg had a carefully choreographed pop at the Tories yesterday, the truth is the Lib Dems vote with the Tories day after day.

Despite the huge cost of living crisis engulfing most families, with people on average nearly £1,500 worse off a year under this Government, Clegg told the Lib Dems yesterday that they should “feel proud that country’s fortunes are turning”.  He also listed 16 policies that he had apparently blocked the Tories from introducing.

Well, just for the record Nick, here’s 16 things the Lib Dems didn’t block:

1.      A tax cut for millionaires – cutting the 50p top rate of tax, giving 13,000 millionaires a handout worth on average £100,000 each.

2.      Trebling tuition fees. Nick Clegg promised to vote against any rise in tuition fees. He didn’t.

3.      Increasing VAT to 20 per cent. The Lib Dems warned before the election of a “TORY VAT BOMBSHELL”.  Then he helped them introduce it.

4.      An economic policy that choked off the recovery – which is now the slowest for 100 years.  Vince Cable warned before the election that “the danger of drastic cuts in public spending right now is that it would make the recession worse and it would make the deficit worse” – but he signed up to them.

5.      A £3 billion top-down NHS reorganisation, while queues grow in A&E and over 5,000 nurses are cut.

6.      Cutting 15,000 police officers – even though the Lib Dem manifesto promised an extra 3,000 police officers.

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Clegg’s pitch for the centre falling flat as exclusive Uncut poll reveals 60% of voters think Lib Dem’s headed in wrong direction

15/09/2013, 10:06:57 PM

by Jonathan Todd

There are two core dimensions to the Nick Clegg project. To make the Liberal Democrats both a party of government and of the centre. His external critics probably struggle most with the latter, seeing him as a Conservative in all but name, and his internal ones the former, uncomfortable with the compromises of power.

These loud complaints shouldn’t distract from how close he is to completing his project. The chances of another hung parliament are non-trivial. In anticipation of this, Conservatives and Labourites are keen to be on good terms with him.

How would we regard Clegg if he were to serve in government until 2020? And with which party would he prefer the second half of this period to be served?

After a decade in government, there would be voters who wouldn’t be able to remember the Liberal Democrats in opposition. To serve half of this time with the Conservatives and half with Labour would reinforce their centrist claims. Which is why, if we take these claims seriously, Clegg may favour changing governing partners in two years.

One Liberal Democrat minister has, though, recently claimed: “A Miliband government would be catastrophic.” But his party’s president, Tim Farron, is clearly keener. The ambitious Farron might feel that his own leadership ambitions are assisted by a change in coalition partner.

Labour have synchronised policies with Clegg’s party on a mansion tax, votes at 16 and a 2030 decarbonisation target for electricity, which makes it easier than otherwise for him to make this transition. But Labour should reflect on the polling that YouGov have done for Labour Uncut.

While government with the Liberal Democrats was thought to help detoxify the Tory brand, we find no evidence that government with the Liberal Democrats would strengthen the Labour brand. 37 per cent of voters would trust a majority Labour government to take the right decisions on the economy – 8 per cent more than would trust a Labour-Lib Dem one, as the polls below show.

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How does Ed deliver his vision for union link reform? Step one, call Clegg

10/07/2013, 11:27:03 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Nick Clegg? Yes, Nick Clegg. Yesterday Ed Miliband gave a landmark speech about Labour’s relationship with the union movement, but it is Nick Clegg who will determine whether this boldest of gambles pays off for Labour’s leader.

To understand why a call to Clegg is so important, we need to be clear on the purpose of yesterday’s speech.

For all the talk of democracy and the new politics, this was only ever about dealing with the fall-out from Falkirk.  David Cameron’s recent barrage at PMQs defined the immediacy of Ed Miliband’s task: to demonstrate Labour is not in the pockets of the unions and can govern in the interests of the whole country.

Yesterday’s address was a visionary response that has the potential to transform what has been an unmitigated disaster, into defining moment for Ed Miliband.

But now comes’ the hard work. Turning aspiration into reality will be difficult and the path to success is both narrow and parlous.

Based on the details we have about the proposals, we know the arrangements for the political levy will remain the same.

Trade unionists will still contribute to their union’s political fund, unless they expressly opt out. Just as they do now.

What will change is how the political fund is distributed by the unions.

Under Ed Miliband’s plan, trade unionists will now have to “opt-in” to pay a portion of their political levy to the Labour party as an affiliation fee.

At the moment, the union leadership decide the number of members it will affiliate (for example, the GMB affiliates 400,000 of its 600,000 members) and the fees are paid in bulk, by the union, to the party.

The likelihood is that no matter how successful Labour is at encouraging union members to contribute to the party, there will be a major shortfall in affiliation fees.

Unions have estimated a potential 90% drop in affiliations. This isn’t even a particularly pessimistic assessment. Let’s not forget, the majority of trade unionists didn’t even vote Labour at the last election, let alone want to fund the party.

As the level of affiliations fall, so the portion of the union’s political fund that can be used for discretionary donations increases. The overall total in the political fund remains the same; it’s the split between affiliation fees and donations that will change.

In a scenario, where affiliation fees drop significantly, union leaders could end up with greater powers of patronage from the increased sums available for donation.

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We can topple Clegg in Sheffield Hallam

01/07/2013, 12:57:18 PM

by Oliver Coppard

Last Monday I was selected as Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Hallam. As you may know, our current MP is the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who holds the seat with a 19,000 vote margin over Labour. The Labour party has never won in Sheffield Hallam and I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me I’m crazy for believing we can win here. The question I was most frequently asked in the round of interviews that followed on Tuesday was ‘but can you really win it? But, really?’.

As I write this we have 677 days to overcome that 19,000 vote deficit, but I wouldn’t have taken the challenge on if I didn’t think it could be done.

Nick Clegg has been a disaster for Sheffield. He doesn’t live here or even spend very much time here. He broadcasts his weekly radio show on LBC in London. His government has cut the city’s budget by £50 million just this year, and last week they have announced yet more real terms cuts to the pay of public sector workers who make up 20% of the city’s workforce. Nick Clegg is an absentee landlord who has done nothing for the people who live in this constituency or this city.

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Short queue of applicants looking to take on Clegg

06/06/2013, 01:00:09 PM

Just twelve hopefuls applied to stand against Nick Clegg at the 2015 general election as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Sheffield Hallam.

Party officials have whittled this down to a shortlist of four comprising of Mark Gill, Mark Russell, Oliver Coppard and Martin Mayer. All have local roots.

Gill is a pollster and a former Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI.

Russell is chief executive of the Church Army charity which is based in Sheffield.

Coppard is a former partnership manager for Barnsley Council and headed an innovative Olympics partnership between Barnsley and Newham.

Meanwhile Martin Mayer is a Unite branch secretary and a working bus driver from Sheffield. He is backed by shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett and Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.

The hustings takes place on June 24.

Clegg has a 15,284 majority, although the seat includes a high number of public sector managers and students from the city’s two universities and three teaching hospitals. In fact, it is said the Hallam constituency has the highest number of people with a PhD degree in the country.

What of Clegg, is he beatable? The backlash from the student fees debacle will still do him harm, as will the impact of local spending cuts and public sector job losses.

However a recent by-election in the Fulwood ward in the heart of the constituency actually saw the Lib Dems increase their majority, with a four per cent swing away from Labour. They have a formidable local campaigning organisation with most of their city councillors clustered in the constituency.

Worth remembering too that a third of families here live in detached houses, with nearly a fifth of these having five or more bedrooms (the national average is less than 5%).

This is not, it is fair to say, the Sheffield of The Full Monty.

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Clegg not Cable would make the best coalition partner for Labour

07/05/2013, 11:06:09 AM

by Dan McCurry

If Labour are to form a coalition government with the Lib Dems following the next election, then I would rather deal with Clegg than Cable.

I think Vince Cable is trouble. I’m not talking about the right sort of trouble, such as a deep sense of conviction for the need of justice. I mean the wrong sort of trouble, such as being unpredictable, or so anti-capitalist as to be both divisive and ineffective.

What we want from the Lib Dems is to agree on what our policies are and then for both parties to stick to the common line. With Nick Clegg it’s easy to imagine this happening, but with Cable I wonder if it would be so easy.

Maybe it’s that Telegraph sting that bothers me. The one where the journalists flirted with Vince and got him to speak about the “nuclear option”. We greatly enjoyed reading that story at the time, but now I can’t help feeling uncomfortable about the sheer arrogance of someone who fantasises about destroying the government.

Or maybe it’s banking that bothers me? The reason the share price of these banks has stayed so low is due to the fiddling-about of government policy. Mostly quite pointless stuff. This “ring fence” between retail and investment banking has little consensus to it. Besides, it was mortgage lending that caused the crisis not casino stock markets.

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And the real winner of yesterday’s budget is…Nick Clegg

21/03/2013, 07:00:58 AM

by Peter Watt

For many in the Labour party one of the few pleasures of opposition has been that they have been able to indulge in a much loved pastime – Lib Dem hating.  It is a visceral thing that stems from the scars of countless bloody local election battles.  “They don’t fight fair and once you’ve got them they’re bloody hard to get rid of,” as one hardened Labour activist from a marginal seat said to me a few weeks ago.  Their ranks are seen by many in Labour as a cynical but ragbag mix of the politically directionless, the anarchic and a sizeable chunk that are basically Labour or should be.  Oh, and of course the odd orange Tory!   Lib Dem politics is dismissed as opportunistic as opposed to Labour’s politics of principled idealism.

So the anger and betrayal was very real for many on the left when Clegg took the Tory shilling.  Indeed according to the polls, many formerly Lib Dem voters felt the same as they quickly switched to Labour.  Clegg went from hero-to-zero in weeks as he became Cameron’s Poodle and was widely ridiculed for having sold out his and his Parties principles for a stint in a Ministerial car.  My particular favourite Calamity Clegg joke is:

“Q. What does Nick Clegg stand for?

“A. When David Cameron walks in the room.”

It may be cruel but it sums up the view of Labour party activists across the country.  And to be fair, he did seem pretty determined to confirm this view as he was outmanoeuvred on the AV referendum and then clumsily supported the increasing of tuition fees allowing himself to be branded a hypocrite.

His party’s polling numbers went into free fall and Clegg’s personal ratings fell further still.  He and his party often looked a bit amateurish and they were blamed over and over by Labour politicians for propping up Cameron’s cuts.  The possibility of House of Lords reform came and went as once again the Tories scuppered a favourite Lib Dem policy.   And then UKIP started occasionally, and then consistently, pipping the Lib Dems for third place in the polls.  The consensus within the Labour Party has been that Nick Clegg lacks principle, is a busted flush, a bit of a joke and that his party should and will dump him before the next election.

But I think that this view is wrong and that Labour has let its own prejudice cloud its strategic judgement.  Nick Clegg entered government with two very clear aims.  Firstly to prove that the Lib Dems could be a responsible party of government prepared to take tough decisions.  And secondly to deliver as much of the Lib Dem manifesto as possible.

And on both he has succeeded.

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