Monday 15th October 2007

11:45 pm

Ramesh Kallidai - The Hindu Forum of Britain

Gravatar A few days ago I received a phone call from Ramesh Kallidai who is the driving force behind the Hindu Forum of Britain. A charismatic and driven individual, he has single handedly helped to form and create the Forum and has recently been appointed onto the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights. Ramesh had called to inform me that there was a young man of Muslim origin who had been robbed of his life savings and who was now desitute. The young man was sleeping on the streets and was living off charity. Yet, Ramesh had taken it upon himself ...
11:38 pm

New poll: who gave Ming the final push?

Gravatar Well, the newspaper front pages assert there’s no doubt who is responsible for the downfall of Ming Campbell: Lib Dem ‘plotters’. Which coming from newspapers which have constantly pilloried Ming simply for being in his 60s, and have blown up his light-hearted asides as gaffes, seems to me like breathtaking hypocrisy. But over to [...]
11:29 pm

Trapped on the Piccadilly Line, and another Leadership election.

Gravatar Who would have predicted that after I wrote my last blog on Friday asking if the 'knives were being sharpened', that by Monday Ming would have gone? Listening to the World at One on Radio 4, and hearing quotes from Lib Dem Voice, including, weirdly, my own contribution, I felt that Ming's leadership was not going to be allowed by the media to go away. The sharks had indeed circled once they sensed blood. Setting off to Westminster for the the Federal Executive meeting, annoyingly, I was stuck on the Piccadilly line for an hour and a half, and walked ...
11:13 pm

Shock candidate for Lib Dem leader

Gravatar Well, he is at a loose end at the moment.
11:06 pm

Shirley Williams then and now

Gravatar Over the next few weeks you will receive e-mails and letters from all sorts of Important People telling you to vote for one candidate or another. Take my advice: ignore them and make up your own mind. Here, for instance, is Shirley Williams commenting on Ming's resignation today: The original expectation was that there was going to be an election probably last month.Gordon Brown had indicated that, Ming was prepared and ready to lead into that fray, but I think now that the election is not likely to be before 2009 or maybe even 2010, Ming feels that he ought ...
11:04 pm

Blog Action Day

Gravatar Two posts in one day can only mean one thing - two important things on one day. Today is Blog Action Day, on which bloggers across the world write about one issue. As the website says: One issue. One day. Thousands of voices. So, what should I say about the environment? Well, I can't say anything profound that hasn't been said better by someone else somewhere else. But it so happens that
11:02 pm

An honourable man

Gravatar Well, I wasn't expecting that! Liberal Democrat bloggers actually featured in the news headlines at 1pm today, although the references to the blogosphere bursting with questions about Ming's leadership sent me clicking through to LibDem Blogs to check. I counted 9 blogs on that topic over the weekend out of a total of 108; not all were anti-Ming and some of those were by the same...
10:49 pm

And the next leader goes

Gravatar On the way home tonight the radio was teasing with breaking news, what could they mean? I was sure I knew the answer but they weren’t going to tell me until the newsreader got to her piece. It must be that someone was either pushed or jumped. Then at 17.06 it was announced that John Schofield had gone.
10:47 pm

The End of a (very short) Era

Gravatar This evening Ming Campbell resigned as party leader. He's suffered an awful lot of ageism over the two years of his leadership, particularly from some elements of the media but also it's true from some elements of this party. During our conference last month I had the interesting experience of being in the hall while Ming answered questions from delegates and supplementaries from Sandi Toksvig
10:37 pm

Thank You Sir Ming.

Gravatar {ming.jpeg} Wycombe Liberal Democrats would like to place on record our thanks to Ming Campbell for his service to our party. Ming has led the party with great dignity and carried out many internal reforms for which we are grateful. The party is now the professional  & credible alternative to the cosy Labour/Conservative consensus that the public has been crying out for. In the recent local elections Wycombe Liberal Democrats under Ming’s leadership gained seats from the Conservatives. We believe that a new leader will build upon this success and help us in our aim of electing a Liberal Democrat ...
10:31 pm

A rather silly Mike Hancock on BBC Five Live

Gravatar I've just heard Mike Hancock on Radio Five Live debating the Ming resignation with Shirley Williams and boy did he make himself sound silly. He referred to people who opposed Ming as "A shower of cowards", made clear that "the electorate will never forgive us" and repeated ad nauseum that he "despaired", but worse was the way he treated Shirley Williams. He constantly interrupted her, didn't listen to the points she made and lacked an ability to listen in a respectful and thoughtful way. I just hope the people of Portsmouth South were not listening as it was all rather ...
10:29 pm

Stabbing Ming in the back.......or front?

Gravatar Interestingly I just received this anonymous comment on my blog - Well, you must be satisfied about yourself now. I just hope, that you won't be stabbing also the next leader, if s/he won't be your first choice Firstly, Mr, Mrs or Ms Anonymous, at least I have the dangly bits (I wish there was a female alternative!) to speak out and own what I say, unlike you. And, unlike those frontbenchers who also spoke out against Ming anonymously. Frankly, if you think what you are saying is right why hide? As for stabbing in the back................I take you back ...
10:07 pm

Liberal Democrat News - too dull or too interesting?

Gravatar Jonathan Calder takes John Pugh MP to task for an article on Lib Dem Voice in which the MP for Southport describes the party newspaper Liberal Democrat News as ‘tribal, patronising, [and] horribly on message’, but offers no suggestions for improvement. While agreeing that Mr Pugh’s intervention is a bit gratuitous, perhaps I can expand the critique a bit, in a constructive sort of way. First, it has to be said that producing in-house media (of which LDN is an example) is always a difficult job. Having at one stage in my working life edited a magazine (well, glorified newsletter ...
10:05 pm

Let’s remember Ming

Gravatar I’m suggesting a DVD of the speech he gave at Conference as a money raiser for the party. We will have to spend some on another leadership election so let’s use Ming’s speech to rouse ourselves and test his ideas with those that are putting themselves forward.
10:05 pm

The Dangers of Talking Amongst Yourselves

Gravatar The other very interesting news story today, from my point of view, was Hu Jintao's speech at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of China. Jonathan Watts made yet another excellent analysis in The Guardian. If only all of the reporting in that paper was up to his high standards! Unfortunately El Presidente appeared on the one hand to recognise that increasing democracy is important but then fluffed it by making it quite clear that "We must uphold the party's role as the core of leadership in directing the overall situation and coordinating the efforts of all quarters," and ...
10:00 pm

Vote Nick Clegg

Gravatar Sad to see Ming step down but I think it was pretty inevitable. The King is dead, long live the King. I hope Nick Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, will put his name in the hat and if so he'll get my vote for leader. Nick is a former Euro-MP for the East Midlands and I have now doubt could lead us onward to victory.
9:54 pm

Ming resigns

Gravatar When I wrote back in July last year that it was 'Time for Ming to shape up' I did so because I genuinely felt that a thoroughly decent and honourable man was struggling with the role that he had taken on. I was honestly stating what I felt at the time and perhaps I was being a bit unfair, but in the end I was impressed at the way that he slowly pulled himself into the role, took charge of the party and projected an essentially liberal outlook. By the end of that year I was able to write that ...
9:52 pm

What you miss when you’re in meetings

Gravatar So, we had a Group meeting this evening, which was interrupted by someone turning up late and telling us that Ming had resigned. Still, it showed that we do have some discipline as we all looked to our switched-to-silent phones and discovered the messages and missed calls telling us that. Looks like I have got an election campaign to deal with this autumn after all, then…
9:43 pm

No, didn't the Federal Executive learn from our last leadership contest?

Gravatar Apparently, we are to have a new leader by 17 December. After our last contest, I noted that the process was somewhat limited, and prevented a proper dialogue between the candidates and the members. Now I may be being unduly pessimistic here, but how in the name of God are candidates going to be able to organise campaign teams and really reach out to the members in a period of, effectively, six
9:35 pm

My amendment to Bristol’s Licensing Policy to protect children and cut down on crime

Gravatar Tomorrow at Full Council I will propose an amendment to Bristol's Licensing Policy. The rise in underage drinking in Britain has been dramatic and this is having an effect upon our society. Brist...
9:20 pm

Liberal Democrat leadership

Gravatar Development Quality Committee tonight went on for around two and a half hours (ok, I contributed to a fair bit of that so I won't complain about the length of the meeting...) but early on I received a text to advise of Sir Menzies Campbell's resignation as federal party leader.I am personally extremely sad at Ming's decision to stand down as leader. He's a genuine statesman of the highest calibre and I was proud to support his nomination for leader. The national media, so transfixed on a politics being a beauty contest, has been unfairly negative about an able, thoroughly ...
9:18 pm

Reflecting on Ming… 2

Gravatar It seems a slight over-reaction to endure a second-rate Sinatra impersonator on Friday, then resign the leadership of the Liberal Democrats on Monday. But that, unfortunately, is what Sir Menzies Campbell has done. And the Rochdale dinner at which we were both present a few days ago has turned out to be just about his last such engagement as leader. The question as to whether the ear-shattering crooning of our dinnertime entertainer is the sole cause of his departure, or whether there were other, less obvious, reasons, is obviously one which will vex commentators for days to come. But regardless of the ...
9:15 pm

Hughes rules himself out of contention

Gravatar Simon Hughes, Lib Dem party president and unsuccessful leadership candidate in 1999 and 2006, has just ruled himself out of contention in an interview on BBC News 24. It was, he said, a decision he took last year.
9:10 pm

However inevitable Ming's decision may appear, I think he was wrong to go

Gravatar For once I may get my blog post in within hours rather than days or weeks of the breaking news, although I see that are plenty of Lib Dem bloggers have beaten me to it. The general tenor of comments from Lib Dems has seemed to be that this was inevitable. Apparently, however, honourable, liberal and intelligent Ming may be, his leadership has not connected with the public and he just had to go. It isn’t clear at this stage how far this was a personal choice and how far it reflected the groundswell of opinion among Westminster village Lib ...
9:08 pm

Andrew Gimson on the fall of Ming

Gravatar The Telegraph sketchwriter observes: The Lib Dem way of running things appears to consist of whole-hearted support tempered by assassination.
9:07 pm

Comment is Free again!

Gravatar Twice in one day, this is getting to be a habit. And I hate the headline for this one even more than the last one! We’ve had the ’safe pair of hands’. What must follow Ming is a leader bold enough to redefine what the Liberal Democrats stand for. Share This
8:59 pm

Setting the election timetable

Gravatar Tonight, I think most of us are catching our breaths following the resignation of Ming Campbell as Lib Dem leader. Though there had been a growing inevitability about it all in the last few days, the speed with which his resignation was brought about was surprising. It’s entirely to Ming’s credit that he foreclosed on [...]
8:29 pm

The Harborough Bank

Gravatar The Harborough Mail reports that a £10 banknote issued by Harborough Bank in 1841 has been sold at auction for £1056. There was more about the Bank in an earlier report from the same paper: The banknote features the names of Inkersole, Goddard and Goddard, the Harborough businessmen who owned the bank. Barnaby Faull, head of the banknotes department at Spink, added: “All towns and cities in England used to issue their own banknotes. Merchants would get together in the town and start up their own banks but their notes – which were like IOUs – could only be used ...
8:23 pm

Miss you Ming

Gravatar I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit of a lemon after comments a few days ago calling for the Liberal Democrats to get behind Sir Ming and support him as party leader. This is what I posted: I think I’m proud to say that I’m for Ming. But he does need to try and do something about the fact that there WILL be constant press speculation over the party leadership - and that can only be damaging. So I came out fairly strongly, but with a caveat and said that I think Ming should stick to his guns ...
8:10 pm

Where next for the Liberal Democrats

Gravatar After Charles Kennedy resigned at the beginning of 2006, CentreForum published a briefing note entitled 'The battle for liberalism: ten key questions for the next Lib Dem leader'As the Liberal Democrats head into a new leadership election, many people will be pondering a similar set of questions.  What are the new questions that the party now faces? And which of the old questions still need to be addressed?
8:03 pm

Resignation Media Strategy

Gravatar Sigh. OK, Ming has done the right thing, and stepped aside. Just one thing to note here. The other parties are already spinning like mad on this one, and we need to be ready to rebut them. According to Iain Dale "It is clear that Vince Cable was the man who wielded [the dagger]." Really? Because to me, he looked like a man quite genuinely surprised and shocked by the whole affair, both in his
7:58 pm

Bassetsbury Allotments or Homes - Cllr Trevor Snaith - Oct 2007

Gravatar {dscf0004-comp.jpg} Ryemead Councillors Trevor Snaith and Ray Farmer have been fighting to stop the development of Bassetsbury Allotments. As the picture shows the allotments are being well used by local residents. Your Conservative controlled council and Cabinet want to conduct research to look at feasibility of access onto allotment with an agenda to build Homes on the site. Your local councillors are asking why Bassetsbury Allotments out of all the allotments in Wycombe town and rural villages are being singled out for this? The Imagine the Future consultation earlier this year resulted in 43 residents opposing development of the allotments ...
7:58 pm

And the muddying of the waters begins

Gravatar No sooner is a leadership election announced that people start trying to smear candidates or put false labels on to people in order to confuse the situation. The first signs of this are Iain Dale, who is claiming that Charles Kennedy is the only person who can save the Lib Dems. Iain knows as well as I do that many Tories are fearful of the damage that Nick Clegg could have on them. This is just a case of Iain trying to be political rather than objective, in my opinion. Then we have Lib Dems, apparently concerned about integrity in ...
7:50 pm

Ming has gone....

Gravatar and its time to look to the future. and i beleive it isnt Chris Hugne or Nick Clegg, and it deffinetly isnt Simon (please please dont run again simon). the future of our party is Millenium Elephant!!!!! Millenium will make the perfect leader, hes young, fit, agile, will always remember everything (so he wouldn't need notes during speeches and PMQ's) and most important of all the other party leaders will have no idea how to attack him :) So lets start the campaign now, and get Millenium Elephant to be the first elephant to lead a british political party. Also ...
7:50 pm

Thank you, Sir Menzies

Gravatar Ming Campbell has done the right thing by resigning as leader of the Liberal Democrats. It had become clear that, fairly or not - and politics often has little to do with fairness - his leadership had failed to fire the imagination of the press, the public or his own party. As Iain Duncan Smith remarked, and then proved, a new leader has own a short time before his image becomes fixed in the public mind for better or worse. Having lived through the decline and fall of Charles Kennedy, his colleagues would probably not have had the stomach to ...
7:44 pm

BritBog Roundup 139

Gravatar You can find this week's selection of the best in British blogging at Redemption Blues.
7:43 pm

A way to help the Lib Dems make money and take money from the Tories

Gravatar Am I the only person fed up with seeing on Google ads the advert on the right of this page placed by a Tory PPC ? Now if my limited understanding of Google adsense is correct, Chris Philp, the Tory who placed the advert, pays Google to have the ad placed on peoples blogs. He also has to pay more if the advert unit is clicked on. So by clicking on the advert he is forced to pay more to Google but, most importantly, the person whose blog the advert appeared on receives in some cases a payment from Google. ...
7:41 pm

Ming Campbell resigns - our view

Gravatar Once again we have allowed the two-party obsessed media to call the shots and the panicky minority in the party have got their own way again. We did not vote for Ming but we accepted that he had won the leadership fair and square and by a large majority. We have given him our 100% support. He was up against it from the start but it was not just him who needed to raise his game. We all did. We can do well in elections against all the odds but we cannot sustain the interest of the media in between. ...
7:37 pm

"I believe that I have fulfilled my objectives"

Gravatar Earlier today, Ming Campbell stepped down as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Here is his letter of resignation, addressed to party president Simon Hughes MP. The President The Liberal Democrats 15th October 2007 When I was elected Leader of the Party in March 2006 I had three objectives. First, to restore stability and purpose in the party following my predecessor’s resignation and the leadership campaign itself, second to make the internal operations of the party more professional, and third to prepare the party for a General Election. With the help of others, I believe that I have fulfilled these objectives, ...
7:33 pm

Ming Campbell's resignation letter

Gravatar The text of Sir Ming Campbell's letter of resignation as Leader of the Liberal Democrats has been circulated to Party members.
7:32 pm

On 18 DS at 9p.m.

Gravatar I will be on 18 DS at 9p.m. reflecting on this evening's events. I suspect this resignation cannot be attributed to Sunday's analysis piece... but I do believe Sir Menzies Campbell has made the right decision and done so with dignity, putting his party before personal position.
7:32 pm

Thank you Ming

Gravatar Well, three days ago I said that Ming had to do something, and do it quickly. All credit to Ming that he has acted decisively and quickly. Ming is a great Liberal Democrat, but the public are ageist and he really was the right person in the right job at the wrong time. For your decisive action Ming, when it could have been all so messy for a long period of public speculation, I salute you. Now
7:29 pm

Ming's Resignation

Gravatar Events this afternoon have moved very quickly and at 6:30 Sir Ming Campbell resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Ming's legacy is that he has made the internal operations of the party more professional. I have personally seen much of this and am sure it will put us on a strong footing long into the future. For the moment though there will be a leadership election which is a good opportunity to showcase our excellent policies. We have strong talent in the party and I look forward to seeing who will throw their hat into the ring.
7:25 pm

Ming has gone...

Gravatar ...but after the weekend I have wondered what British politics has come to. I am happy and sad that he has gone, happy because we were not beating the press at their own game or fulfilling the enormous need for celebrity in everything we do. Sad because actually do we need celebrities to run our country or policies? Yes, we need to sell ourselves as a party - but it is our policies we need to...
7:24 pm

Ming Campbell: a man who has done a lot to take the Liberal Democrats forward

Gravatar I’m sad to hear that Ming has resigned tonight. As one of his Vice Chairs of the Federal Policy Committee I’ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know him over the last year and a half and have had a chance to see what he has really done for the party. It really is absolutely true that he and his highly impressive personal team have made a complete step-change in the way that we organise and run things at a senior level. By its nature most of this is behind the scenes, but it has made a ...
7:23 pm

Nick Clegg in 'not very liberal, actually' shocker!

Gravatar So Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, has published a 30 page report advocating an end to drug prohibition. It builds on his experience, the experience of medical, police, social and scientific experts including the Royal Socie... Read and post comments | Send to a friend
7:21 pm

Ming falls on his sword

Gravatar So Ming has done the honourable thing - he's fallen on his sword. I think that's the right decision. He was an excellent foreign affairs spokesman, and by all accounts he's done a splendid job of reorganising the party's internal structure, but as party leader in a television/internet age he never really cut the mustard. Ming came across an honourable and kind gentleman from the Edwardian era. At 66 he wasn't particularly old - Ronald Reagan was 70 when he was elected US President - but on TV Ming looked 20 years older than he actually was. There's no doubt ...
7:14 pm

Ming’s resignation letter in full

Gravatar Here’s the text of the letter Ming Campbell earlier today submitted to Simon Hughes, as President of the Liberal Democrats: When I was elected Leader of the Party in March 2006 I had three objectives. First, to restore stability and purpose in the party following my predecessor’s resignation and the leadership campaign itself, second to make [...]
6:49 pm

Statement by the President of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes MP and the acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable MP

Gravatar President of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes MP said today:
6:47 pm

Glass half full part 2

Gravatar So Ming’s gone. We have a lot to thank him for - someone who changed the internal party and progressed policy development. I guess people just thought `now we’ve got that sorted can we find someone to communicate it`. My view of the speech is that it was really good but only aficionados remembered it. We need to do the following: 1. Progress policy further - take more risks and say the unsayable about the localistic devolution new dynamic backed up with a coherent message ie be ahead of the pack 2. Reform our communications - be much more innovative 3. Start ...
6:47 pm

Ming's resignation is certainly not news to revel in, but it is cause for relief

Gravatar I am sorry it has come to this point, but Ming Campbell's resignation as leader was required if the party was not to suffer a dreadful fate at the next election. It is clear that Ming himself knew that he could not brazen things out until 2009 and has accepted the inevitable that a new leader is needed to ensure the party makes progress. He should be thanked for showing that wisdom. As someone who had met Ming, supported him in his leadership campaign and rather likes him as a person and spokesman for the party, I am very relieved ...
6:43 pm

Nick Clegg - Stand Up Please

Gravatar I'm saddened to see the resignation of Ming Campbell but not completely surprised. He did do a great deal to strengthen the internal party organisation but unfortunately there was an image issue. I hope that whoever succeeds him in the forthcoming leadership election will have the wisdom to give Ming the Foreign Affairs brief in which he clearly has always excelled. I'm going to declare my support for Nick Clegg who I think had what it took 18 months ago and I believe even more strongly has what it takes to lead our Party. Go, Nick, go!
6:41 pm

Ming Campbell resigns

Gravatar STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS, SIMON HUGHES MP AND THE ACTING LEADER OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS, VINCE CABLE MP President of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes MP said today: “Ming Campbell has this evening submitted his resignation as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats with immediate effect. “Over the past two years, Ming has given stability and purpose to our Party. He has hugely professionalised the working of our Party and led its very successful preparations for the next general election. “Ming has made this decision - as all his political decisions - in the interest of ...
6:40 pm

Breaking Down Ming's Blogosphere Support

Gravatar I'm posting this for posterity's sake - I was writing this as Ming resigned, apologies to those bloggers I missed, it was going to be longer. Something rather odd has happened in the Liberal Democrats since Brown decided not to hold an election this year - we've realised that there's probably 18 months (at least) until the next election and now might be a good time to get rid of our leader, if we
6:39 pm

My lips are sealed

Gravatar As you might know, I work in Cowley Street. Part of my job is communicating with members during a leadership election. Because of this, my comments about the leadership election are limited to the below: ... ..... ... .... That is all. Omerta.
6:38 pm

Don't do it Simon!

Gravatar So Sir Menzies Campbell has resigned. Just one request, Simon Hughes please do not stand. All you have ever done, when things have got tough, is to undermine the leadership. Therefore, you can not expect and should not expect anyone to stand by you. Update- Just seen Lembit Opik on BBC News 24... your sincerity is just too cheeky. Update 2- Now David Steel is turning the knife. Why can't our
6:33 pm

Ming quits

Gravatar According to Sky News Ming has quit as party leader. The announcement was made by Simon Hughes and Vince Cable. Vince takes over as acting leader pending the election of a new leader. Good news indeed. Ming was always a great foreign affairs spokesman but never made his mark as leader. Let us hope that we can now elect a leader capable of connecting with the electorate without references to things such as the "motor car"!
6:33 pm

Ming Campbell resigns as Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Gravatar Sir Menzies Campbell has resigned as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. The news came in a statement issued jointly by the Party President, Simon Hughes, and Deputy Leader Vince Cable. Simon Hughes said that Ming Campbell had resigned as Leader with immediate effect in the interests of the Party. Vince Cable has taken over as acting Leader with immediate effect. There will now be a leadership election and the timetable will be published tomorrow. Ming Campbell did not make any immediate statement.
6:31 pm

Ming Resigns

Gravatar In August I was vilified for saying what so many were thinking. That doesn't make me happy it is a sad day that it had to come to this. As I said yesterday, Ming is an honourable man and I expected he would do the honourable thing. I hope he will go back to his old job and regain the gravitas he had as our shadow Foreign Secretary. The most important thing is that we get the right leader this time. Whilst I do accept what lots of fellow Lib Demmers have said that our problems are not just about ...
6:29 pm

It’s over: Ming quits

Gravatar Here’s the BBC report. More soon… 6.32 pm… It’s official: Simon Hughes and Vince Cable made the announcement at 6.30 pm. Where was Ming? Did he resign, or was he ‘resigned’? 6.46 pm… This quote from The Guardian: A friend of Sir Menzies told Guardian Unlimited: “This was a very personal decision taken after much reflection. He has [...]
6:16 pm

Ming: apparently, it's all over...

Gravatar News has reached me, from a range of sources, that Ming will announce his resignation very shortly. Let the contest begin? UPDATE: 18.19 - BBC have confirmed that Vince Cable and Simon Hughes will be making an announcement at 18.30... UPDATE (2): 18.39 - BBC announce that he has resigned, with immediate effect...
6:04 pm

Is it all down to the leader?

Gravatar Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog, Lib Dem blogger of the year, James Graham, analyses the problems facing the party in The fight for survival. It’s well worth reading in full, but here’s an extract: … the fact [is] that Ming is not the problem. Rather, what we’re seeing is the consequence of a [...]
5:52 pm

The end of social democracy or just the honeymoon?

Gravatar The reaction to the Government's Set piece announcements is still astonishing a week on. At the beginning of the new week, it seems churlish to look back at the previous one, but we can indulge as it was such a significant story. Most notable was Polly Toynbee's reaction on Friday in The Guardian ('This was the week that Labour's leaders left social democracy for dead'). The bitterness is palpable:The comprehensive spending review every three years is mightily important. There is no company, arts organisation, charity or function of the state that does not hang upon its judgment. It was even ...
5:52 pm

Polling Day Today!

Gravatar After weeks of preparation today was Polling Day. The nominations had been received accompanied by a proposer and seconder, manifestos written and the hustings had taken place. The only thing left was to see whether many voters would take part in the process. Today was the election for representation to our School Council. After training from School Councils UK, it was decided that the
5:33 pm

Over on Comment is Free…

Gravatar My take on the Ides of Ming… Gordon Brown last week perfectly demonstrated the dangers of letting tactical considerations dominate policy. The Liberal Democrats have been doing the same thing for years, largely out of the media glare. The truth is it has served us well, leading us to triple our MPs in 15 years. But with both Labour and the Conservatives now resurgent, its limitations are all too clear to see. I can’t help but suspect that the same obsession with tactics, and dismissal of strategy, is what is largely behind this scapegoating of Ming. I wish they’d used ...
5:01 pm

Condoleezza Rice supports a 2 state solution

Gravatar US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has said that the Palestinians should have their own state in the Middle East. While visiting the region for the 17th time this year, and before yet another summit takes place to try and sole the decades long conflict, Secretary Rice said; "We frankly have better things to do than invite people to Annapolis for a photo op," (any suggestions of what these better things are would be greatly welcomed). She went on to say "Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state". Now Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that ...
4:43 pm

Out of here

Gravatar So, after waxing lyrical about I’m A Councillor, Get Me Out Of Here! the other week, I’m the first councillor to be voted out… I’m sure it’s because of the nature of the voting system, and all those who would have supported me have tactically switched to back Mark so he wins. Yes, that must be it - it’s irony at work and I’m the victim of a tactical squeeze {:)}
4:16 pm

Top half and unbeaten

Gravatar 11 Games into the season and we are sitting in 12th place in the top half of the table and unbeaten so far. We are a mere 4 points off the playoff places and 6 points away from the automatic promotion spots. I have to say having seen the highlights of the 1-1 draw with Orient we are very lucky to be on 14 points although we missed a penalty they should certainly have won the game with a disallowed goal which clearly crossed the line. perhaps our luck has changed at last
4:06 pm

Voting Against Motherhood And Apple Pie

Gravatar This week's example of being wrong politically but right electorally is Adam Price's 'Misrepresentation of the People Bill'.  The nationalist MPs attempt to make lying to the electorate an offenc...
3:55 pm

EXCLUSIVE: The shortlist for the next leader of the Liberal Democrats

Gravatar They probably wouldn’t be very good at giving speeches, but they’re soooo cute; who could resist voting for them and their widdle nosey-woses? {mini pigs} Share This
3:46 pm

So much to little time

Gravatar As a new week begins, I see many things that I ought to be writing a bit about- I have begun to draft a list of the top 100 most influential Liberal Democrats- but now realise why Iain Dale gets paid (some) money to do these lists: though will try to get that particular story out before too long. Meanwhile there have been a series of potential international crises that paint a very worrying picture for future global economic security. Although Ambrose Evans Pritchard's "We're all doomed" pieces can make him seem like the boy who cried wolf, there is ...
3:31 pm

...As the burnished chariot of fate is wheel-clamped by the traffic warden of eternity....

Gravatar (Humphrey Lyttelton, 26 Nov 1994 "I'm sorry I haven't a clue") Today I have sent this open letter to Ming. Dear Ming Following my private note to you on Friday, I am writing this open letter to you, after much reflection and listening. I believe it is time for you to stand down as Liberal Democrat leader and allow a calm handover to a new leader. To explain this, it is best to borrow an
3:25 pm

Conspiring Spouses and Civil Partners

Gravatar Under the current law, a married couple or a couple who have entered a civil partnership are immune if they conspire with each other (and only with each other) to commit a criminal offence. This is a hangover from the old doctrine of unity, i.e. that a husband and wife are one person in law. Logically, then, it was considered impossible to conspire with oneself. The Law Commission, in its consultation paper on conspiracy and attempts, has recommended the abolition of the immunity, branding it "a conspicuous anomaly" (para 1.42) and "an embarrassment to a civilised system of law" (para ...
2:55 pm

Children and citizenship

Gravatar I decided to wimp no longer, take some Beechams, and throw myself into local democracy again. So we welcomed a group of Kingston University students, who are all training to be primary school teachers, to the Guildhall to talk about citizenship. I think they were pretty surprised to learn from Andrew Bessant just how many services are provided by the council. My...
2:25 pm

Menezes and Menzies

Gravatar Via the BBC comes details on the bullets used to shoot Jean Charles De Menezes: "The bullet flattens on impact and immediately incapacitates the target ... This is a more effective bullet in the context of dealing with a suicide bomber as there is more chance of incapacitating a subject with a single shot. "A direct to brain stem shot is the only way to incapacitate a subject. You need a
2:00 pm

You don’t have to be mad to support the Tories, but it helps

Gravatar A judge today called a man who left £8.7m to the Conservative Party in his will mad. Handing down his judgement, Mr Justice Henderson, said Mr Kostic would not have left the money to the Tories if he had been "of sound mind". He said the decision to leave the whole of the estate to the party was "in part the product of the state of his mind". One wonders why it takes a court case to figure that out. I would have thought that wanting to bequeath your money to the Tories was in itself evidence that one was ...
1:33 pm

Increase in child maintenance "bonus" for single parents on benefits

Gravatar As things stand, a single parent on benefits is forced to declare who the father of the child is and apply for child support from them. If he or she does this and the support is paid, the parent with care and child only receive £10 more per week than if they had just been on benefits. This led to allegations that child support legislation really aimed to save money for the Treasury rather than to ensure absent parents (usually fathers) took responsibility for their children, and that children were properly provided for. The situation has been improved by the ...
1:27 pm

Opportunity for Young Authors

Gravatar Budding young authors are being given the chance to spend four days of their half term holiday working with professional writers at the inaugural Redcar Young Writers' Festival. A total of 15 free places are available for the festival, organised by Redcar and Cleveland Council's Libraries and Arts Development, with the Tees Valley Writers & Publishers Project. There will be three authors working with the group - poet Bob Beagrie, experienced script and screenwriter Fiona Birkbeck and poet and playwright Andy Willougby. Anyone aged 11-14 interested in writing scripts, stories and poems of any sort is encouraged can join the ...
1:17 pm

Your chance to have your say

Gravatar A series of consultation events starting next week will give the public a chance to have their say in helping to develop the Borough's first Sustainable Community Strategy. Members of the Redcar and Cleveland Partnership and Redcar and Cleveland Council are drawing up the strategy which will set the vision for what the Borough will look like in the future and shape the work and priorities of all the Borough's public service providers. Partnership Chair Professor Brian Footitt explained: "As well as consultation with stakeholders in the voluntary, community and private sector, there will also be opportunities to find out ...
1:17 pm

What do you think of John Pugh?

Gravatar John Pugh, the Lib Dem MP for Southport, has a short article on Lib Dem Voice about the party's newspaper Liberal Democrat News. The article has provoked some discussion, though I have not joined in. I have to declare an interest as the paper's (albeit unpaid) weekly columnist. What I will says is that the useful debate that has followed is despite the article, not because of it. Pugh writes: In current circumstance the party needs to do some serious soul searching and balanced stock taking and reflect the sceptical, mature rationalism that is so much part of Liberalism. I ...
1:10 pm

In Praise of Local Tradesmen

Gravatar A few weeks ago a bit fell of my TV aerial and so eventually I got around to doing something about it and upgrade to a new digital aerial at the same time. I call a national installation company who give me what I consider to be a reasonable quote and I book them for this morning. The installer turned up at about 10am and tells me that the work will cost more than twice what I had been quoted on the phone. He tries to blind me with science, which is never a good idea with me as I ...
1:03 pm

The Tories and money

Gravatar There is general hilarity in the Lib Dem blogosphere this morning at the ruling that Branislav Kostic would not have left £8.3m to the Conservative Party if he had been of sound mind. The Tories will have to return the money to Kostic's son. Well, if you can't laugh when your opponents are deprived of millions of pounds of funds, when can you laugh? Of greater importance, however, may be the story that the government is planning to control parties' spending between elections. As the Daily Mail says: At present, spending on seats between general elections is not covered by ...
12:58 pm

Donating to the Tories - you must be bonkers

Gravatar Posted by Glynis: I heard on the news this morning that a Judge has ruled that an £8million donation to the Conservative Party must be paid back because the man who left it to them, in his will, was not of sound mind. Hmm I should say so!
12:38 pm

Blog Action Day:

Gravatar It seems the powers that be (in Brussels this time) want us bloggers to blog about environmental matters. Apart from my irritation at anyone suggesting that we should have such ‘blog action days’ this is incredibly hypocritical of the planners that run much of the EU. Tim Worstall has a good summary of the idiocy of [...]
12:38 pm

Chance for youngsters to be creative

Gravatar Young people get the chance to have starring roles in an innovative year-long arts and drama project that starts at Freebrough Community College at Brotton on Tuesday, October 16. Independent film director Ronak Singh will co-ordinate regular Tuesday after school sessions, entitled Act On It!, to create short films based on issues and topics chosen by the students. It will be the first project in a packed Creative Links programme, devised by Redcar and Cleveland Council's Arts Development and Extended Schools units for young people who have a creative dream but don't know where to make it a reality. Students ...
12:35 pm

Regional praise for Council's Traffic Management

Gravatar The Department of Transport rates Redcar and Cleveland Council's arrangements for the management of road traffic as the best in the North East. An assessment of network management duties by the Department has given the Council the highest score, 73%, of any of the eight local highway authorities in the region. The Council has a duty to manage planned roadworks and prepare for any unplanned incidents in order to limit the impact of congestion on traffic flow across 90 miles of main roads and 330 miles of minor roads. The Council was praised for the level of liaison undertaken with ...
12:34 pm


Gravatar They do have electricity up there, but the very expensive hotel wanted £10 a day for internet access. Anyway we were to busy to blog, being dragged around Newcastle from 9 in the morning until 10 at night by the inspirational leader of Newcastle Council, John Shipley, and his team of talented Councillors, especially Nick Cott, Gareth Kane, Gregg and young Harry and thanks also to the Officers. I'm occasionally accused of being a little parochial, and I admit, you'll never hear any criticism of Truro here, but what those guys are achieving up there is fantastic, and I'm more ...
12:33 pm

‘Star Wars’ base demo - over the top police presence but excellent soup

Gravatar I was delighted to be able to give my support to the demonstration at the US spy base in Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire on Saturday.The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) who organised the demonstration objects to the base’s links to the so-called “Star Wars” programme. I read out a statement (below) from the Liberal Democrat MEP as one of many speeches and chatted to several people there including Lindis Percy, a leading member of CAAB, who has been steadfastly campaigning on this issue for many years. Also spoke to Joyce Wainwright, the widow of former Liberal MP, ...
11:59 am

Reflecting on Ming…

Gravatar Friday night in Rochdale with Ming was fun. Bury Lib Dems took a couple of tables-worth of people to the dinner, at which Ming’s speech was the undoubted high-point. I do think the decision to accompany our main course with a Frank Sinatra impersonator singing at the volume of a jet engine was unwise, but other than that it was an enjoyable evening. Ming spoke with passion and conviction about Lib Dem strengths in local government - how in places like Rochdale we’ve come from nowhere to lead the Council and return an MP in the past few years. The same ...
11:42 am

Lobby your MEP over pesticide usage

Gravatar The Soil Association is asking people to urgently to email or write to your MEP about some European legislation on pesticides that the European Parliament will vote on in a plenary session on around 23 October. I am also asking people to do so.
11:37 am

Tories miss out on £8m bonanza

Gravatar The Conservatives are being forced to hand back £8.3m to the family of a man who died in 2005. Drugs mogul Branislav Kostic, who died in 2005, wrote his will in the 1980s after saying Margaret Thatcher would save the world from “satanic monsters”. What has made me chuckle though, is the comments made by Mr Justice Henderson when announcing his judgement: “Mr Kostic would not have left the money to the Tories if he had been “of sound mind”.” I could not agree more!
11:35 am

The Tories and a sound man

Gravatar This story sounds like a pretty ugly tale of family feuds and mental breakdowns, but it’s hard not raise a smile at this line: Handing down his judgement, Mr Justice Henderson, said Mr Kostic would not have left the money to the Tories if he had been “of sound mind”.
11:24 am

Tories have to give back £8.3M

Gravatar Oh dear. Poor Tories! They have to give back a £8.3M donation after a judge ruled that the donor would not have given the donation had he been "of sound mind". I suppose it is not the first time that someone who gives money to the Conservative party has been accused of being "deluded and insane". Warf! Warf!
11:23 am

Blair: Statesman or Poodle?

Gravatar Every so often a little voice emerges speaking what seems to be overwhelming common sense. John Dugard, UN Human Rights envoy in the Palestinian territories, was on Today this morning. He was basically saying that the UN's independence is being compromised by its membership of the Middle East "Quartet". This is due, he says, to the Quartet not sufficiently condemning the building of the Israeli
10:19 am

Fighting elitism

Gravatar If you are outraged by MPs demanding that all staff give way to them in the queue for coffee and a whole range of other services then you can now do something about it. There is a petition, which is only available in pdf format but I have put it on-line, and you can download it, sign it and return it to Lembit Öpik's office at the House of Commons here.
9:26 am

Is Rugby the new national sport?

Gravatar No chance! It’s not going to happen. Victoria Derbyshire’s phone-in this morning on Five Live is all about that question.  It’s probably one worth asking, but not one we need to discuss for too long. Here’s my pitch for football: Football is easy to play. All a group of kids need is a football and away they go. They can play Wembley singles, Wembley doubles, keepy-uppies, penalties, the list is almost endless. That’s down to the pure simplicity of football. Football is easier to watch. Again, it’s down to simplicity. The only confusing aspect of football is the offside rule. ...
8:56 am

A polite letter to my Labour opposite number

Gravatar I dropped off a letter at the home of Peter de Vere this morning. He is the Labour candidate in my ward. I haven't spoken to him before. He didn't bother turning up for the local election count this year so I didn't get to speak to him then. Maybe he was totally confident of winning, or maybe he was totally confident of losing. Not sure what his motives for not turning up were but he got 20
8:30 am

Fixed-term Parliaments

Gravatar Well - it seems to be the coming thing! There's now a cross-party campaign to introduce fixed-term Parliaments: If you've read my blog before - you won't be surprised to know I think this is a very good idea! And of course it's always nice to see people from other parties - and none - take up a long-standing Lib Dem policy and suddenly say how wonderful it is! But in the spirit of cross-party campaigning I promise not to tease some of the recent converts too often when they forget to mention it was a Lib Dem policy ...
6:19 am

Speech on the BNP

Gravatar This was my speech moving the motion on multi-culturalism and the BNP at last weekend's Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference.
2:08 am

If all this talk of a Conservative revival is getting you down...

Gravatar Election Results: Thursday 11th October 2007. Horsham DC, Holbrook West LD Belinda Walters 602 (43.9; +11.1), Con 554 (40.4; -6.5), BNP 163 (11.9; +11.9), Lab 52 (3.8; +0.2), [Ind (0.0; -16.6)]. Majority 48. Turnout 32.2%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2007. Chippenham TC, Pewsham LD Mark Packard 493 (58.8), Con 346 (41.2). Majority 147. Turnout 19.5%. LD gain from Con. I think these speak for themselves :o)A site for political analysis and opinion of an avowedly liberal view. It's all about freedom.
12:21 am

Despite all the hot air

Gravatar I attribute the phrase "idle chatter of the occasional dissident" used on Saturday last to an over-zealous speechwriter, but it troubles me for several reasons. First, it is a misdescription, because the concerns I expressed were of the utmost seriousness and purpose. Second, the term "dissident" is inaccurate because the current controversy is not over substantive issues. Third, "occasional" is unduly dismissive, as other activists have told me they agree with my last blog, although I only speak for myself. More importantly though, the phrase implies a mindset that perceives the leadership and "occasional dissidents" as on opposing sides. But ...
12:00 am

Graham's blog entry Sunday 14th October


Previous days:

Sunday 14th October 2007, Saturday 13th October 2007, Friday 12th October 2007, Thursday 11th October 2007, Wednesday 10th October 2007, Tuesday 9th October 2007