Tuesday 19th September 2006

10:53 pm

Fairer, Simpler, Greener Tax Debate at Brighton

Gravatar Our tax debate at Conference today was a real example of policy making in action. I am proud that unlike the two old parties the Liberal Democrats are still able to have an open and honest debate. It was billed in the media as Mings’ first real test of his leadership. Strange because I thought that the [...]

10:43 pm

No 32 & Worryingly Pleased By It

Gravatar Bit of a catch-up as I've been busy this week. What's happened? Iain Dale has included me at No.32 in his list of LibDem blogs. This is an astonishingly simple marketing trick, and one which I am happy to fall head first into. I guess this counts as the caring face of free enterprise, or at least the caring back-slap of free enterprise. Congratulations are due to Stephen Tall, who won the
10:22 pm

Pyong-Yang Tiddle I Po!

Gravatar Dave, Dave, Dave ... you need to take a few lessons from the expert. I'm afraid to say you've only scored D-minus with your Built to Lose referendum. Any proper referendum would have scored 99% in favour, not a desul-tory 92.7%. And as to a frankly pathetic 26.7% turnout, that leaves far too much speculatory room about the apathy of the party "faithful" .... Let's face it - if you want to be a proper Dear Leader, you've a long way to go.
10:10 pm

Potty Prodi

Gravatar Human rights are moving backwards in China but today I read that Romano Prodi, Italy's Prime Minister, has called for the lifting of the Arms Embargo on China. Where the hell is he looking? This is exactly the worst possible signal we can send to the Chinese Communists. This will tell them that it is fine to lock up your cyber activists, harass journalists (both domestic and foreign), control information flows in everyway, beat, torture and rape prisoners and I could go on.... Prime Minister Prodi will be getting a letter from me this week. I ...
10:06 pm

Trouble in Thailand

Gravatar I'm alarmed to see that a faction of the Thai military have seized power and declared martial law. Although I'm not a big fan of the Thai Prime Minister this is certainly no way to behave. I'm wondering how much of a hand the Thai Royal Family have had in this? Whatever happens, unless democracy is rapidly restored then Thailand will deserve exactly the same treatment as Myanmar as an international pariah.
10:00 pm

Did Kennedy refuse the hand of friendship?

Gravatar Half an hour before Charles’ speech a rumour started to circulate that he had refused to shake Ming Campbell’s hand at the end of his speech. Sure enough, Ming stayed in his seat and Charles stayed on the stage at the end of his speech. Who knows what the truth was. But it’s perhaps not suprising that [...]
9:54 pm

Saving Green Spaces

Gravatar Our Save Heaton Park Action Group (www.saveheatonpark.com) meeting tonight was really positive - lots of help and positive discussions about the importance of parks and public spaces. We're lobbying against plans to build a large primary school in our local park - Heaton Park, one of the UK's top 50 parks and one of the largest municipal parks in Europe. That's why Manchester City Council think
9:54 pm

Quit Strasbourg Update

Gravatar Well, the petition led by Swedish Liberal MEP Cecilia Malmstrom has succeeded in gathering over 1 million signatures and has been presented to the European Commission. Will we finally have a sensible situation with the European Parliament or will the French Government and Mayor of Strasbourg continue to flout the will of European citizens to end the needless waste of the Parliament meeting in both Brussels and Strasbourg? We shall wait and see.....
9:27 pm

Sense and Sensibility

Gravatar Sad to say I wasn't able to be at Conference today however I think that today marked a defining moment for the Liberal Democrats. At last we have finally backed up our rhetoric on the environment with action and we have been sensible in voting down Evan Harris' 50% income tax band amendment. It is no secret that I was scathing about Evan's proposals and am absolutely delighted that they appear to have been overwhelmingly defeated. Well done Chris Huhne, Vince Cable and (another shock for me) Ming Campbell. The key point today is that we can't go ...
8:48 pm

Deadly Earnest

Gravatar I am fed up with the stream of relativist denials, counter attacks and evasions being offered over the recent spat about children and young people. There was good piece in today's Guardian on this issue and recently Simon offered some good concrete stats on various pressures operating on the under 30s. When are people going to stop offering mealy mouthed excuses about how they had to walk to
7:49 pm

Well done Ming !

Gravatar In the leadership election the Lib Dems held earlier in the year, I supported Ming Campbell. I did this on the basis that I had met him a couple of times, and on each occasion he had impressed me. So I was particularly pleased to see that much to the chagrin of the Tory press (the Daily Mail, The Express, The Telegraph) and the BBC, Ming Campbell won the key vote on tax policy at the Lib Dem conference today. The press have done something of a hatchet job on Ming today, claiming he was out of touch, was unable ...
7:24 pm

Local goes belly up

Gravatar Well, we get the tax plans through unamended in the morning and then in the afternoon defeat slips through under the radar screen when the local government paper goes belly up.Well not quite defeat but rather a reference back of the local government paper. So, for all those with other things to do with their time rather than follow the joys of local government policy formulation by the Lib Dems,
7:14 pm

Marching against Trident (by accident)

Gravatar Firstly, BT has acknowledged my complaint about the phone box in Milnbank Road and promises action to improve it.My latest City Centre & Harbour Community Council update for September's meeting (Thursday 6pm at the City Chambers - earlier & a different venue as the Dundee Civic Forum is meeting at 7pm) was published today - click on the headline above to read it!Issues raised include: * Tay Hotel Site Development Brief * Gallacher Retail Park - bus service * Green Circular and Greenways maps * Litter at City Churches * Christmas 2006 in City Square * Recycling in the City ...
7:10 pm

The wrong guy won

Gravatar I now know why I got sky. Being a sad person I have come straight home and began watching recorded coverage from the Liberal Democrat conference which is meeting in Brighton. Chris Humne has just given a speech on the environment and it was truely inspirational. It got me to thinking. Ming looks old and I am sorry to say standing next to Tony Blair and David Cameron. And sorry to say he
6:50 pm

Conference Blog: Observer Event

Gravatar The fringe highlight this evening is the Observer sponsored debate on Cameron's Tories. Andrew Rawnsley hosts (he's sat right in front of me now, surprisingly posh voice, perhaps I should have expected that?) The format of this in unknown, I hear rumour that we're going to be joined by Peter Hain and William Hauge. I'll believe it when I see it, pictures to follow... ___________________________________________________________ Win a BlackBerry device from O2 with Yahoo!. Enter now. http://www.yahoo.co.uk/blackberry
6:41 pm

Afghanistan dimensions not helpful

Gravatar The situation in Afghanistan remains grim and as far as our own party response is concerned we seem more and more bogged down in conventional fogs, unfortunately. At conference today (Tuesday 19th) Tim Garden was having almost to defend the bad intelligence now admitted by the Minister of Defence underlying the UK troops deployment in the Pastun areas of Afghanistan. Incidentially the Polish forces promised for Afghanistan are destined for very peaceful provinces in the North where the Taliban never had any local support even in the days of their power. The recent NATO military success - and lets hope ...
6:37 pm

Voice Podcast: John Hemming MP

Gravatar Alex Foster has interviewed John Hemming MP for Lib Dem Voice John Hemming is one of the few blogging Lib Dem MPs, and you can find his blog at http://johnhemming.blogspot.com/ Download John Hemming MP
6:17 pm

Coup in Thailand

Gravatar See this link from the BBC. Martial Law has been imposed in Thailand and the Prime Ministers office has been surrounded by tanks. All troops have been told to report to barracks and no troop movements are allowed unless they have been authorised by the coup leaders. The armed forces are claiming that the takeover is only temporary and that power will be handed back to the people. The army say that it is necessary because Thaksin Shinawatras government has divided the country and corruption is rife. Elections were due later in the year following the failed elections earlier this ...
6:11 pm

Lunacy at the fringe

Gravatar There's no keeping him down. Not content with besmirching the reputation of the Lib Dems by abusing a constituent (for which he had to resign as leader in Europe) and being unable to discuss Israel without indulging in hateful comparisons, Chris Davies MEP has now called for the Legalisation of All Drugs all over the World! According to the BBC: He argued that legalisation could not just occur
6:10 pm

Huhne the hero

Gravatar Ros Taylor writes on the Guardian site: Make no mistake: Ming Campbell didn't win today's crucial vote on tax; Chris Huhne did. It was Huhne who anchored his leadership campaign around the need for green taxation; it was Huhne who ensured the environment was the keystone of the Liberal Democrats' new tax package, and it was Huhne who wound up the debate and secured the vote after some heartfelt defences of the 50p rate. Today was Huhne's day, and he knows it.
5:56 pm

Who interviews the interviewer?

Gravatar Alex Foster, that’s who! Catch Alex’s Podcats with Nick Robinson, recorded only minutes after Kennedy’s speech, below. Download Standard Podcast
5:55 pm

Charles Kennedy's return

Gravatar Iain Dale has a notably fair-minded posting on this afternoon's speech: I waited in vain for the mea culpa moment when he would apologise to his Lib Dem colleagues for the traumas he'd put them through but the moment never came. At least he can't be accused of trying to eclipse Ming. It's quite a tricky problem for Lib Dems to decide if and when Kennedy should return to the front bench team. It's quite apparent that his popularity extends way beyond Lib Dem supporters and there will be a great temptation to bring him back sooner than might be ...
5:51 pm

Still media tarting

Gravatar If you just can't get enough of my thoughts, there's a few gobbets of mine over at Guardian Unlimited - reflecting, with other Lib Dems, on today's events. I'm also due on Sky News tonight (some time after 8pm, I think). And if anyone wants an insight into the absence of control-freakery in the Lib Dems, I proffer this example. When the party press office called me to ask if I would be free, I
5:36 pm

The taxation debate

Gravatar As every other Lib Dem blogger has already reported, the amendments proposed to the taxation motion were all lost. In particular, Evan Harris's attempt to retain the 50p higher rate was defeated. Given that the two sides agreed on so much, it is hard to see how this ever blew up into the great row that it was widely presented as being. Even so, there are a couple of lessons we should learn from the affair. The first is that Ming's advisers should refrain from David Steel's old tactic of briefing the press that a particular vote is a test ...
5:35 pm

No Ambition Reid

Gravatar Oh dear it looks like John Reid the Home Secretary has followed Jim Hacker and Margaret Thatcher in stating he does not see himself as a future Prime Minster. Following on from the presses obsession with Jim Hacker's department and Administration he famously said as did tow of his rivals that he had no ambition in that direction when asked about becoming Prime Minister. Baroness Thatcher went even further by regularly saying that she did not she there being a women Prime Minister in her lifetime. However, we all know where both of them ended up. Dr Reid has said ...
5:32 pm

Reflecting on Charles's reflections

Gravatar As expected, Charles Kennedy received a generous reception for what was going to be one of the most difficult speeches of his life: a high-wire act on stilts. He knew every dot and comma - every crossed ‘t’ and dotted ‘i’ - would be parsed, scrutinised, and analysed by commentators desperate to put a fag paper between him and the new leadership. (Not least because the resounding acceptance of
5:26 pm

The Ambassador will see you now (includes a Kennedy Voice Podcast)

Gravatar Charles Kennedy got a standing ovation at the start of his speech, and another at the end. But he was denied the special treat Lib Dem activists bestow upon their leader - a round of applause every 15 seconds. Still, the reception was warm, affectionate even. He reminded us of his success - 1 million new [...]
5:01 pm

Have we grown up?

Gravatar Greg Hurst has been making shocking allegations about the Liberal Democrats: WAS this the moment the Liberal Democrats finally grew up? The significance of the conference vote on tax policy goes beyond the fact that Lib Dem delegates managed to curb their perpetual instinct to lob grenades at the party's leadership. Sir Menzies Campbell would, of course, have suffered a blow to his authority had the tax plans he so clearly backed been tinkered with in the way the left-wing MP Evan Harris proposed. A beaming - and clearly relieved - Lady Elspeth Campbell left the conference floor telling companions: ...
4:50 pm

Kennedy's speech

Gravatar As you would expect, the hall was packed. Better still, Kennedy looked fit and well. There is certainly little problem with his stanima - he spoke for a good 45 minutes, and received generous applause. What was the dominat impression? Loyalty, perhaps. Pride in his own achievements as leadership. Pleasure at being among friends. It wasn't his best speech to conference but it was probably the speech he is most pleased to have behind him.
4:48 pm

Radical new tax package will help the poorest and safeguard the environment

Gravatar Today at Conference the Liberal Democrats supported the biggest overhaul to British tax policy in modern times. The unamended motion will make the 'Green Switch', by shifting taxes from positive things such as work onto negative things which damage the environment.
4:42 pm

The tax debate: from the conference floor.

Gravatar It wasn't a great debate, but it was a great result. Vince Cable made the speech of the day, in that familiar low-key, reassuring style. Steve Webb and Paul Holmes contributed greatly to the result, and Malcolm Bruce once more persuaded me that we should be making much more use of his talents. On the 50p side of the debate, Evan Harris stood out. The scale of support for the Tax commission proposals surprised me. Virtually no one voted for the Cantebury amendments, the Harris amendment got the support of about 15~% of the hall as far as I could ...
4:39 pm

Well Done Charles

Gravatar That was great - as was expected really. It can't have been easy for Charles to take that stage again but I am sure the reception he received must have made it worthwhile. Conference Hall was practically full and the atmosphere beforehand was definately quite tense. This speech (rightly or wrongly) was one of the highlights of this conference and everyone had it on their agenda. See here for BBC I thought he was great - perhaps a little less confident than he has been in the past (understandably) but nonetheless a fantastic speaker!
4:24 pm

Former leader speaks

Gravatar Former leader speaks Originally uploaded by nilexuk. CK looks great. Thinner and healthier. No notes? Still an excellent speaker. His speech: Addressing conf not media. Will stay loyal to leadership. Thanks to members and my wife for their support. Think we did well to get more MPs and a million more votes. This at a time when [...]
4:10 pm

I want to pay more tax

Gravatar Now I know you don't hear this often and I suspect that not many people will shout it out, but I am more than willing to pay more tax. I believe in a progressive tax system where higher earners would pay a higher percentage of tax. I also believe that this should not be used by the government to create a larger tax burden. Finally I believe that the 50p rate should be looked at on a regular basis and the level (£100,000 at the last election, Dr Evans now suggest £150,000) should be reviewed on a regular ...
4:04 pm

100% Renewable Energy For Scotland

Gravatar That is the target that Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen has announced as acheiveable by 2050. It is going further than the executives current proposals to reach 40% by 2020 but as Nicol says these plans are 'deliberately bold', adding: 'Apollo to the Moon was a challenge.' Ross Henderson, of the renewable energy company Ocean Power Delivery, backed up the Lib Dem proposal saying: "It's absolutely possible, but it requires a complete change in Scotland's infrastructure. We welcome the pledge, and it's not such a wacky suggestion. The technology is now starting to become available and a ...
3:46 pm

Charles' Speech...

Gravatar {Charles' Speech...} Has just started, the media pack is here, including Nick Robinson himself, front and centre in the pic.
3:43 pm

In real terms

Gravatar I’m pleased that the tax motion passed conference unamended. I’m also glad to see Ming Campbell vidcasting about the tax commission on his website; but did he have to use the trite and hackneyed New Labour cliché “hard working families”? I’m sick to death of hearing about these families - what about a few more breaks for single and relatively idle people like me, who keep the economy stimulated
3:20 pm

Ming Versus Sir Humphrey

Gravatar What is it with the press that they have the obsession with a fictional senior Civil Servant? I was watching with trepidation as the Tax Debate unfolded in Brighton. There were people I would position myself alongside speaking against and for amendment 3 (the retention of the 50p upper tax rate). It was a typical civilised debate by a party that allows its members freedom of expression in policy decision making. You would have thought the media would have got the hang of that with us by now. But no they were still obsessing that accempting any ammendment would be ...
3:19 pm

Conference Blog: Charlie!

Gravatar I'm currently sat in health questions, the session prior to Charles' speech, his first since our little bout of regicide earlier this year. Things we probably won't hear the great man say: - "My friend Sarah Teather..." - "That budget wasn't worth responding to anyway" - "I might have been pissed, but at least I have a pulse" And now, a song (from the Liberator song book): Speed bonnie boat, Like a hack on the make; Back to his seat on Skye. Carry the lad that was born to ...
3:17 pm

The calibre of our politicians

Gravatar Two Assembly Members have spoken out to claim that Wales does not have the calibre of politicians to do justice to the new Government of Wales Act: Alun Ffred Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Caernarfon, said, "Many Assembly Members live in a fool's paradise. "They believe it's like a county council or a community council, where it's all just talk and talk, but there's going to be a revolution in 2007, which will pave the way, hopefully, for a proper parliament in the future." And Glyn Davies, Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, said, "The new ...
3:16 pm

The Conference Animal

Gravatar I always wonder about "conference". Sometime speakers address the delegates as this singular creature: "Conference, we must blah blah blah". Talking about "conference" with no article is a sign of having been around for a while- being inside in the in crowd. But conference is a strange animal. Sometimes, I am sure that the Party leadership must think that, if it is an animal, then it is a rather bad tempered one. In Blackpool, the proposal to inject more commercial disciplines into the post office was embarrassingly rejected by "conference", and this year there was the prospect that Ming Campbell ...
2:50 pm

The Comeback Kid

Gravatar I am told that the lunchtime coverage of the Liberal Democrat Conference included the immortal line that "Charles Kennedy will be speaking from the floor..."
2:23 pm

Ming's daily conference vidcast - September 19th, 2006

Gravatar Ming Campbell reflects on the upcoming ‘Green Tax Switch’ debate:
2:22 pm

Tax Debate: A view from a distance

Gravatar I don't get to go to conference. It's always freshers week here at university and I get to give my one speech of the year to a crowd of a couple of hundred steadily drinking freshers who don't want to hear what I have to say and this year were crushed to hear that the arrivals meeting took up the first half hour of the Arsenal-Man United game. But lame as I am, after a weekend working and with next weekend on duty, I decided my brain felt already a bit like I imagine an egg feels when it ...
2:21 pm

Thank you Brighton!

Gravatar Superb result on the new tax plans today - we've single-handedly outflanked Labour on social justice, outflanked the Tories on tax cuts, and out-greened the Greens. I couldn't be more proud. I think that this result speaks volumes about how well this party's democratic policy-making process works. The media have been going on and on about how David Cameron needs to be seen to take on his party
1:47 pm

Bye bye 50p

Gravatar Brilliant. It got through and amendment 3 defeated. I am personally delighted about the way it all went. Losing the 50p in the pound is a real stride forward for the party and I believe the impact will be significant. I know that some today argued that the "50p" was their real campaigning tool and in fact an iconic policy on which they gained votes. I have to say that my experience is completely different. I have found that the 50p issue has got in the way of the electorate seeing the other things our party has to offer. ...
1:37 pm

Even when Ming wins,

Gravatar Ming can't win. How dare conference delegates go against the media story and support the leadership? Why, the BBC were forced to make this the second paragraph in their report: "The poll prevented an embarrassing defeat for Sir Menzies in the first major test of his authority as leader." There's omniscience, and there's certainty about something that hasn't happened. Turning accepted
1:20 pm

In other good news... Downtown appeal confirmed

Gravatar Southwark Council's Executive has voted to challenge the Labour Secretary of State's dodgy pitch for more loans from developers by seeking an appeal against her decision to wreck the Downtown area of Rotherhithe. From: Stanton, Nicholas Sent: 19 September 2006 11:49 Just to confirm that the Council executive met last night and instructed officers to lodge an appeal against the secretary of state’s decision.
1:17 pm

Phew! (Breathes more easily)

Gravatar Mark the time well... The party just came of age. All kudos to the Lib Dem Tax Commission for a hard job well done - and to the party leadership for putting their necks on the line. Today's tax debate was what party conferences should be about. It was passionate, tense, good humoured, important and well argued. And, most importantly - the right result. PS: I see Mr Cameron's anaemic 'Built to Last' document has been endorsed by 60,000 Tory members (with 5,000 rejecting it - I assume they'd vote against motherhood ...
1:12 pm

Blogs 1 broadcast 0

Gravatar The BBC reports the tax vote, 'more soon'. A quick click onto Lib Dem voice, the outcome is predicted and reported pronto.
1:10 pm

50p rebels defeated

Gravatar The vote in the conference hall was around 2-1 against retaining the 50p tax rate and adopting more redistributive proposals that remove unfair tax reliefs from the current system. We now have a tax package that is more simple, more fair and more green than anything proposed by the other parties. 90% of people would be better off with a Liberal Democrat government and the 10% who would lose out would do so through the removal of tax breaks that shouldn't have been there in the first place, rather than punitive tax bands that act against aspiration and ...
1:07 pm

Liberal Democrat conference

Gravatar My first posting from conference, but as I’m working on registration you just don’t get the time to do as much as you want. As I write, the party’s tax policy is under discussion.  I don’t know what the outcome looks like yet, but it does seem a gamble to put the treasury team and party [...]
1:05 pm

The tax debate

Gravatar Well, it's Tuesday morning and I am in the press office discussing the final arrangements for the tax debate which starts in 5 min.Well, I'm in the conference hall now and ?ince has just spoken. I like the joke about Evan's amendment taking the popular bits out! Good one Vince.And now we have the revolutionary communist party of Canterbury speaking on their amendments and the speaker is as about
12:59 pm

The Liberal Democrats encourage diversity

Gravatar Yesterday Sir Menzies Campbell announced that the party is setting up a fund to encourage women candidates and ethnic minority candidates. Its initial funding of £200,000 has been provided by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. Lord Bonkers writes exclusively for Liberal England: I have always been a supporter of women's suffrage and was the first to applaud the action of Emily Davison in throwing herself under the King's horse at the 1913 Derby (even though I had backed the horse at distinctly favourable odds). It is natural that we should now seek to consolidate the gains made by the ...
12:48 pm

Tuesday conference diary

Gravatar Here's today's conference diary:
12:30 pm

Where’s The Evidence Lait?

Gravatar Tory London Spokesperson Jacqui Lait has told ePolitix.com that she believes “many residents are on the point of “revolt” over mayoral intervention in areas like planning” claiming there is a “general fear that Ken Livingstone, if he’s given these extra powers, will dictate”. I wonder where she gets her facts from? How does she gauge the [...]
11:54 am

A tale of two conferences

Gravatar A combination of factors has forced me to watch this conference through the eyes of the media. Last autumn, in Blackpool, I was struck by the contrast between the conference I experienced, and the one portrayed by the media. Readers will remember that I bemoaned the media obsession with trying (unsuccessfully) to uncover dissatisfaction with [...]
11:45 am

50p on the road to defeat

Gravatar I’m in the hall - the clapometer is clearly going in favour of the motion unamended - if that translates in to votes, the 50p top rate is on the way out. UPDATE: after a series of good temperered speeches for and against, with standing room only in the hall to watch the result (both Ming [...]
11:40 am

The Great Repeal Act

Gravatar Yesterday was Nick Clegg's big moment with his set piece speech (he’s my boss as our Shadow Home Secretary). Targeting Labour's favourite tendency - legislation - Nick went for the 3,000 new criminal offences created by Labour (1,300 under Blunkett alone) with the message 'do less, but do it better'. I guess that's something Labour just don't understand. Less is more! Wave after wave of new laws that have broken the Home Office down into a gibbering form of incompetence as they fail to cope. John Reid blaming the civil service for what has been an intolerable torrent of ineffective ...
11:39 am

Conference, NHS and General Election

Gravatar I am at conference which I am not a "live blogger" for and I will not necessarily blog as much from here. One reason that I think Labour will not go for a snap election is that they will want, where possible, to get over the impact of Hospital Closures before going to the country. The real problem with the issue of hospital closures is that it is the initial strategy decision that forces through
11:21 am

Companies wake up to bloggers barking

Gravatar according to this from the Guardian. Well, if companies like Garmin don't answer the phone (repeated attempts) or reply to emails (two, one to the press office) having sold one a duff product, what can they expect? Gentle applause?
11:14 am

Limping Into Tuesday

Gravatar If you’re at Conference and see me looking more like a zombie than usual this morning, it’s not because too many people have been bending my ear about the tax debate (though a few did. I was called a “right-winger” in the bar at 2am). Despite a breakfast meeting with the inspiring folk of the BBC World Service raising my spirits, I’ve had three hours’ sleep and am in some pain. I woke at five with a very manly shriek of agony as my leg went into cramps, the muscles squirming like live snakes with no prompt from their owner. ...
11:13 am

Blogging in the tax debate

Gravatar I'm sitting in the 'main event' tax debate at the moment. The key elements of the new tax proposals are agreed by everyone - fairer, simpler, greener taxes, not higher tax - making 90% of people better off whilst saving the planet. The need for this has just been emphasised by a power cut that blacked out the lights and blew the the screens of the Conference hall in the Brighton Area with a dramatic thunderclap. The main point of contention is whether to ditch the 50p rate. A totem issue for left-wing activists, pretty irrelevent for the ...
11:11 am

Sticking it to us on paper

Gravatar As David Penhaligon famously said: " If you have something to say, write it on a piece of paper and stick it through a letterbox." Well, the Brighton Centre doesn't do letterboxes. But it does have queues stetching round the block, as Lib Dem members patiently await lengthy security checks. (Who knows what terrorist devices might be concealed within our organic, wheat-free, vegetarian packed lunches?) And into our clammy palms are pressed all manner of fliers, leaflets, and magazines. The Tax Commision supporters have (I'm glad to say) been out in force throughout conference getting their message ...
11:04 am

Of course it’s about the leadership (which is why we can’t say it’s about the leadership)

Gravatar There are times when the truth has to be officially denied by those on opposite sides of the argument. Today’s tax debate is one such occasion. The ‘50p question’ has become a totemic one for the Lib Dems. The Tax Commission is proposing the party abandon its commitment to income tax increases for the richest in favour of income tax cuts for the poorest - to be funded by raising taxes on pollution and wealth. “Tax pollution, not people” is the slogan - and it’s a good ‘un. The so-called ‘rebel amendments’ ...
11:00 am

Conference Blog 1

Gravatar In some ways I pity any community that is invaded by 1500 Liberal Democrats for a week. I suppose its the price of being a conference town but the locals seem bemused to have 15 people in the local Wetherspoons discussing "Green Switch" taxation while eating their post hangover fry ups. And there are a lot of post hang over fry ups. What always takes me aback about conference is both the heavy drinking and the extent to which its a knocking shop. I think the root cause is that Conference is an essentially middle class activity. ...
10:50 am

No 53

Gravatar I didn't get the time to blog yesterday, but should blow my own trumpet by letting you know that this blog is no 53 in Iain Dale's LibDem Blog list!Got to dash as the tax motion is just about to start...PS Photos can be seen here
10:48 am

Paxman's got nothing on me

Gravatar Have just woken up from the oddest dream. For some reason I was on Newsnight opposite Margaret Beckett. I suppose it must have been on the eve of a general election, because the talk was of possible post-election horse trading. Quoth the MP for Derby South: "Everyone knows that the Lib Dems will go into coalition with the Tories if there's a hung parliament - just look at the likes of Birmingham and Burnley." To which I saucily replied, "So what do your constituents think of the Labour-Tory coalition on Derby Council?" So what can it all mean? Why am ...
10:33 am

Could Green behaviour mean lower taxes?

Gravatar It's a small point, but one currently missing from the Green Tax Debate the Liberal Democrats are leading in an effort to incentivise Green behaviour. One of the complaints about Green taxes is that if they work, the revenue they are earmarked to raise will be less than expected. For example if people ditch their gas-guzzling behemoths for Smart cars green tax revenue goes down. If this happens public spending commitments could be under threat or borrowing would need to increase. This is a fair challenge, but only half the picture. At best changes in behaviour are hard ...
10:32 am

Ravishing Phone Intoxication

Gravatar A long, mostly delicious* dinner last night with various other Lib Dem bloggers (note to Polly Toynbee: yes, we really are a secret cabal all plotting to get you) at Brighton’s tapas restaurant Pinxto People, where the staff will be friendly, charming, order for your party and then present the most inflated bill in dining history. Amongst all the intrigue, at one leg of the evening Mark Pack revealed the secret of The Most Exciting Telephone Line In Britain. It’s every bit as addictive as you expect; try 020 7533 5833 any time of day or night. Especially night. Phew. ...
10:31 am

Yet another list of top blogs

Gravatar Spy Blog has got in on the act. He has listed British political blogs in order of the number of people who subscribe to their RSS feed via Bloglines. On this basis the top 5 are: Guido Fawkes Harry's Place Nick Robinson Policeman's Blog Iain Dale Since you ask, Liberal England comes in at no. 36. Later. I have finally managed to add links to all five blogs without Blogger swallowing most of the text each time I try.
10:30 am

Yesterday at conference

Gravatar The big event for me was the interview with Vince. I thought he was very impressive and I hope the tax package, and certainly scrapping the 50p proposals goes through with a big majority. Speaking to journalists around the conference it is obvious that Cable has a lot of credibility. We need to back him up. What else went on yesterday? Michael Moore's speech struck me as a little too strident. Actually it made me think of Gladstone for whom international relations seemed a field for moral eneavour. The following debate on children and Families was such a motherhood and ...
10:29 am

'Liberal Bureaucracy' goes transatlantic!

Gravatar No, I'm not getting on an aeroplane bound for some far flung, exotic location in the Americas, tempting though it might be. It is with great pleasure that I welcome any American readers who might have linked to this via the website of Americans for Democratic Action. I've been a rather distant member of the ADA family for fifteen years now and, whilst I would be considered a mite hawkish by the
10:28 am

The Independent is written by Cretins

Gravatar Cicero is sunning himself in Brighton, attending the Lib Dem annual conference. I quite enjoy Brighton- and I have had a breezy day in a compact and historic city that is without the snootiness of Bournemouth or the squalor of Blackpool. The conference is one of the largest in recent years- I will write a bit more later about the doings of the Party. One of the features of the party conference season is the large number of free newspapers that are given away. At the Lib Dem conference it has usually been The Independent that gives the biggest sponsorship ...
10:28 am

Behind the scenes at Brighton

Gravatar Being one of the party's backroom folk I am spending most of my time at Brighton round the corner at the so-called 'Quality' Hotel. Most of my week is spent running training sessions (I was the lucky one this year and have been lead training on the exciting topic of 'Basic Election Law'!) and having meetings with colleagues and teams from various constituencies. I am always struck by how different the mood at our conferences is from the reports in the mainstream media. Generally people are very positive. Our campaign teams in the ever growing number of key seats ...
10:23 am

Well done Stephen

Gravatar I was delighted to attend the first ever Lib Dem Bloggers Reception on Sunday and to see Stephen Tall win the first Lib Dem Blog of the Year contest. Stephen happens to be sitting next to me blogging away (or perhaps doing hard sums on behalf of the City Council) as I write this. I am very glad I nominated him and his victory is well-deserved. It was nice to meet so many other LD bloggers at the reception and to hear the very interesting contributions from Lynne, Mark, Alex and Rob.
10:15 am

Campbell on Today Programme

Gravatar By chance, I heard the interview given by Ming campbell on Radio 4's Today programme this morning. He sounded relaxed and confident, and he handled both the '50p' and the 'Kennedy' issues openly and without any audible stress. So it appears to me that he has now settled into the role of party leader. Hopefully conference will endorse the new tax policies, to underline this to the media, and give
10:13 am

Sajjad Karim MEP Conference Video Diary

Gravatar Sajjad Karim MEP Conference Video Diary
10:12 am

No morning Podcast today…

Gravatar …am too hung over / alcohol poisoned. Not really sure I could tell a microphone from a Mongoose right now. Where am I? Who are all these people wearing yellow badges?
10:07 am

We Make The List!

Gravatar More alert bloggers will know that Iain Dale has recently published his lists of the top 100 Political Blogs, split between party specific and non-aligned blogs. We’re humbled anf grateful to find ourselves ranked 76 on the non-aligned list. Although that puts us in the bottom quarter of the list we’re in good company with Martin [...]
10:04 am

Children and Technology

Gravatar I have been mulling over the announcement yesterday of ‘an inquiry into the state of childhood’ by the Children’s Society. While we all worry about children’s health and happiness as parents and citizens, I was most taken by Lord Winston’s comment that we need good social science research in this area before we can [...]
10:01 am

A year later, more warm words, but real progress?

Gravatar I've already indicated that I had been unimpressed by the tenor of the motion scheduled for consideration on equality and diversity issues. And now, gentle reader, I have to report that the debate which followed was, frankly, equally unconvincing. We are promised greater resourcing for staff to address these issues, yet the Federal Treasurer had, the previous day, indicated that this would be
9:43 am

Sing it Back

Gravatar Nick Clegg’s proposed Great Repeal Act is an inspired idea.
9:43 am

Ring it, blog it

Gravatar Follow the wise advice on Will Howell's blog and ring this number today: 020 7533 5866
9:40 am

Iain Dale: lettuce man

Gravatar I chewed a bone last night with some other Lib Dem bloggers last night. Iain Dale's appearance at the Lib Dem blog of the year awards came up - and the consensus (amongst the humans present) was that he looked like a man at a lettuce convention. Never having been to a lettuce convention (they don't like dogs 'cos we like to chew them and it ruins the displays), can anyone explain to me what a man at a lettuce convention looks like, other than Iain Dale obviously?
8:54 am

They Say It's My Birthday

Gravatar Last year I spent it campaigning for Charles Dundas in the Livingston by-Election, the year before that I spent most of the day on my way to Conference in Bournemouth. This year I shall have my feet up and watch the Tax debate and Charles Kennedy's speech from my armchair.
7:46 am

Gordon Brown A-Z - brilliant

Gravatar This piece in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday was highly amusing and very appropriate. I particularly liked - C is for Chinese Whispers. People sometimes suggest I don't know how to have fun. But my colleagues and I regularly enjoy a relaxing game of Chinese whispers. It keeps us all highly amused. I might begin a round by saying: "Tony Blair's adored" and it'll somehow end up in the press – don't ask me how – as "Tony Blair's a fraud". D is for Disco Dancing. The electorate has probably come to think of me as ...

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Monday 18th September 2006, Sunday 17th September 2006, Saturday 16th September 2006, Friday 15th September 2006, Thursday 14th September 2006, Wednesday 13th September 2006