Diane Abbott condemns “shameful” Labour mug and the policy that goes with it

The controversy over Labour’s “Controls on immigration” mugwhich I wrote about last night, continues. 108 units have been sold since I first looked this morning, netting the party over £500.The goodwill it will have lost Labour is priceless, though.  Seriously, how would you feel if you had gone through hell trying to get into this country, had finally got your visa and been reunited with your spouse whom you hadn’t seen for ages only to be assaulted with headlines demonising immigrants on a  daily basis. How would you feel if you saw someone drinking out of a mug like that?Not very welcome, I can imagine. Maybe a little fearful about what that person thought of you.

Senior MP Diane Abbott is far from impressed. Earlier she tweeted:

Over on LabourList, Maya Goodfellow shares Abbott’s sentiments:

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg speaking in Oxford West and Abingdon today

Thanks to Daisy Benson for putting this on You Tube. If this was the West Wing, it would be Nick’s stump speech and every time he speaks in the next few weeks, it’ll be the “modified stump” that he delivers.

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LDVideo: Naomi Long reads out and responds to mean tweets

Twitter abuse is an occupational hazard for anyone who has an opinion, especially if they happen to be female. If you are a woman, it’s not only what you say but how you look that is fair game for the trolls.

Alliance MP Naomi Long had a bit of Friday fun this week as she read out some of the abuse she’d received over the years and get her own back with some witty retorts. I think my personal favourite was her response to the one about the size of her backside – a subject on which Alistair Carmichael waded in with support for Naomi.

Anyway, watch and enjoy:

You might also be interested in one of Jo Swinson’s favourite antidotes to the haters. Thank you, haters, by Clever Pie and Isabel Fay is very funny.

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Mike Hancock to stand as Independent candidate in Portsmouth South.

The BBC reports that Mike Hancock has announced that he is to stand as an independent candidate in Portsmouth South. Hancock  had the whip withdrawn last year after apologising for inappropriate conduct towards a constituent.

He told BBC News: “I’m going to stand for sure, I’ve made this decision because my health is so much better and I think I owe it to a lot of people who have supported me.

“Once you’ve been an MP for as long as I have it’s hard to just walk away.

“I think if enough people realise that I’m like everyone, I’m a fallible human being who made a mistake but paid a very high price for it… I think I could .”

He will go head-to-head with his former party colleague Gerald Vernon-Jackson who will be standing for the Liberal Democrats.

But Mr Hancock said he felt he “did not owe anything” to his old party and was not concerned about taking their votes.

You have to wonder if the rules on resettlement allowances were a factor in his decision. MPs who lose their seats are entitled to a payment of up to six months salary. The qualifications are thus:

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LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the  17,700 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

We’re heading for a minority Labour government supported by the SNP (101 comments) by Paul Walter

The attacks on Tim Farron need to stop – Vince Cable should know better (50 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Is David Steel right about the Lib Dem attitude to a future coalition (70 comments) by Caron Lindsay

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The first photos of the campaign bus…

It’s yellow, it might just ever so subtly mention the Liberal Democrat Stronger Economy, Fairer Society, Opportunity for Everyone slogan, and those designs from the graphic designers representing our five key manifesto priorities are actually very pretty. And inside there are yellow seats (on reflection probably more orange than yellow), and, I’m told, yellow ambient lighting.

Here is Chipping Barnet candidate Marisha Ray and friends about to board (reproduced from Facebook with her permission).

Lib Dem battle bus maiden voyage

Update: Here’s a picture of the inside, too, with Alex Feakes and his daughter Matilda, who was the youngest person on the bus. 

Alex Feakes and Matilda on battlebus

The bus’s maiden voyage took it from London to Oxford West and Abingdon where Layla Moran hopes to gain the seat from the Conservatives. Here she is introducing Nick:

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Why the Government is spending £2 million to tackle bullying

This week, Lib Dem Equalities Minister Jo Swinson announced the eight organisations who will receive £2 million of government money to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. To accompany that announcement, she wrote an article for Pink News explaining why this money is needed:

Earlier this year singer-songwriter Sam Smith publicly came out and talked openly about being bullied at school. Denying he was gay made the bullying worse and the thing he most hated was how his friends and family heard the names he was called. Fortunately he’s gone on to have a multi-million album selling, Grammy winning career so I think we know who has had the last laugh.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing; bullying can take a terrible toll, have a devastating effect on a young person’s education, isolate them from their peers and damage their self-esteem for life.

How widespread is the problem?

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Telegraph reports Farron email 24 days after we did

Interesting story in today’s Telegraph about a fundraising letter from Tim Farron to combat Tony Blair’s £1000 donations to Labour’s target seats.

Interesting, but old.

We told you about this way back on 5th March.

LDV Blair post

 

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Ed Davey: It would be incredibly difficult to work with the Tories due to their views on the EU and green issues

The Observer reports

The Liberal Democrat energy secretary, Ed Davey, has hinted strongly that he would oppose a second coalition with the Tories because their policy on Europe amounts to “economic and environmental irresponsibility of the highest order”.

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Danny Alexander has a “Beaker” cocktail created in his honour

If you’ve had a busy weekend, you might want to reward yourself with a wee cocktail. There’s a new one on the market. Trouble is, you’d have to go to Inverness to drink it, but that’s no hardship. It is one of the loveliest places on earth, after all and I’m not just saying that because I was born there.

The “Beaker” cocktail, created in Danny Alexander’s honour, is on sale in an Inverness bar for either £4 or £6 depending on the day of the week.

The Press and Journal has the story:

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Call Clegg goes on the road as Nick Clegg launches the Liberal Democrat election campaign

A big day today as Nick Clegg heads to Oxford West and Abingdon to officially launch the Liberal Democrat campaign. As ever there will be a bus to ferry the leader and his team around the country but it will have two particularly interesting features. First of all, it’ll have the tech to enable Nick to do Call Clegg style shows and radio interviews while he travels. Nick has always been the most accessible party leader, doing regular town hall meetings, but this will take it to a new level.

The other feature of the bus is that its livery has been designed by two graphic design students with panels to represent our main priorities.

It’s significant that the launch is taking place in a seat that we hope to gain, sending out the clear message that advancement is on the agenda, even when so many have written us off even more than they usually do.

Ahead of the launch, Nick said some things which should by now be quite tedious to Liberal Democrats but we need to remember that we are not the target audience.

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Wow, Labour really are pandering to UKIP, aren’t they?

Didn’t they once used to be the party that talked about international solidarity amongst workers? Didn’t they once used to at least say they stood for decent, liberal, progressive values?

Those days are gone. Look what you can buy in their shop for £5. 

Labour immigration mug

It’s one of their key pledges in this election. The way to deal with UKIP’s rise is to challenge them with evidence, not pander to them.

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“Charm machine” Paddy Ashdown in Bristol to mark million door landmark

By the end of this weekend, the Liberal Democrats will have knocked on one million doors this year. That’s pretty incredible. Paddy Ashdown has been in Bath today to campaign for Steve Bradley and mark that important milestone.

Liberal Youth members have been out in force too. Bristol students called our election chief a “charm machine” which is a whole load more respectful than he got in Scotland last weekend when Willie Rennie dubbed him Father Jack after his sweary outbursts in press briefings.

Paddy has written to all Liberal Democrat candidates as the short campaign kicks off. This is the Scottish version of his letter:

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The Liberal Democrats who stood up for John Bercow

I asked the other day why on earth the Liberal Democrats had indulged the Tories’ last minute motion on the re-election of the Speaker which brought this Parliament to a rather undignified end.

We still haven’t had any real justification as to why we allowed this to take that leap from William Hague’s head to Commons Order paper, but I thought that you would be interested to read the Liberal Democrat interventions in the debate, both of which were against the motion.

David Heath’s remarks were very brief but to the point:

Further to the point of order, Mr Speaker. There is, of course, another way. The Leader of the House could withdraw the motion— I have to say that although I would always support a secret ballot, I very much dislike the way in which this matter has been brought before the House today.

For Duncan Hames, it was all about the potential consequences of such a rule change and how that would affect the balance of power between Speaker, House and the Executive:

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder MEP et al: Liberalism in Europe is facing its biggest fight

Three current and one (sadly) former liberal MEPs have written for the European Parliament’s Magazine following a Liberal International meeting in Oxford. They argued that liberals must stand together against the far-right and the politics of fear.

Catherine Bearder, Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen, our Graham Watson and Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström show how liberals see the world:

As liberals, we will be standing together against the racists, the xenophobes and those who believe Europe needs to return to its fragmented past.

Liberals are naturally internationalist; it is in our DNA. We view the world as a global stage, not one subdivided by borders. We see friendly cooperation with our neighbours as the very key to unlocking a more secure, sustainable, prosperous and market-oriented future for Europe and the rest of the world.

We need to spread the message that liberalism is a home for people who don’t seek to brand migrants as ‘other’, for people who believe a Europe without the EU would be weaker and for people who see a reversion to separatism as the very worst outcome.

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Alex Salmond postpones US book tour as Christine Jardine’s campaign goes from strength to strength

Salmond New YorkThe Herald reports that Alex Salmond has postponed a trip to the US to promote his book which had, incredibly, been due to take place in just 10 days’ time, after the start of the general election campaign.

His publishers pencilled in signings in New York and Toronto for the week after next, during the annual Scotland Week festivities.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford was also lined up to appear at a hustings in Gordon, where Mr Salmond is the SNP candidate, during his absence.

Jean Marie Kelly of HarperCollins in New York said yesterday: “Unfortunately, we only have him in Toronto for one day and in New York for one day so a very whirlwind trip.

“We are just firming the exact dates and times, but all indications are the week of April 6.”

However after press enquiries to the SNP, Mr Salmond’s plans melted away.

His rival candidates in Gordon said a transatlantic tour mid-election would have demonstrated an ego “spiralling out of control”.

What’s interesting is that there seems to be some new law of the universe that requires every mention of Salmond’s book to be accompanied by Paddy Ashdown’s memorable review of it. The Liberal Democrat election chair said that the book was:

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Cute seals for Earth Hour Day – and some serious points about Liberal Democrat policy

On the day Earth Hour takes place, the Liberal Democrats have released a video with Nick Clegg and Julia Goldsworthy at a Cornish seal sanctuary. They highlight the nature bill that’s part of our 5 green laws in the manifesto. I know this is childish but every time I see that headline, I think of a cartoon David Laws, greened up like Elphaba in Wicked. The party’s video communications are really good at the moment. Enjoy this one.

Our plans for a Nature Bill include removing exemptions from all plastic bag charges to safeguard our environment and protect wildlife.

Posted by Liberal Democrats on Saturday, 28 March 2015

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LibLink: Willie Rennie MSP: Liberal Democrats nail their green credentials to the mast

It’s WWF’s annual Earth Hour tonight, between 8:30 and 9:30. Many of us will be turning our lights off to show that the planet and its environment is a priority and to show that we want our government to take it seriously. I noticed that this year it clashes with Channel 4’s docudrama thingy about the Coalition. When I moaned about it on Twitter, people reminded me about Channel 4 + 1.

WWF Scotland have asked the country’s political leaders to contribute a blog post to explain what Earth Hour means for them. Willie Rennie’s is here. He starts off by saying why Earth Hour matters:

 In our busy day-to-day lives this huge event forces us to stop and think about the future. Raising awareness of the climate challenge we face. Setting out concrete actions we can take to protect our environment. Ensuring that our children live in a fairer, greener society.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have nailed their green credentials to the mast, and set out how our radical agenda will be delivered in a way that is both credible and affordable.

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David Heath’s final speech in the House of Commons

David Heath
On Thursday a valedictory debate for retiring members took place in the House of Commons. Members whose service totalled several hundred years bade farewell to the Commons. Three of them were Liberal Democrats and we’ll be publishing their speeches in full. Today we have David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome for 18 years. You can read the whole debate, with speeches from long-standing and distinguished MPs such as Gordon Brown, Joan Ruddock, Sir George Young and Elfyn Llwyd, here.

 

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Today’s headlines show just how much work is still to do on mental health stigma

All of us have been moved by the Germanwings plane crash, feeling for those who have lost loved ones or colleagues. The circumstances of the crash, caused by what seems to be a deliberate act by the co-pilot, has provoked much comment in the press, much of it deeply irresponsible. Headlines have screamed about Andreas Lubitz’s mental health demanding to know why he was allowed to fly.

Lurid headlines, written by sub-editors who clearly have no clue about mental health, do not help to either tackle the stigma faced by people with mental ill health or encourage those who suffer to seek help. The more open we can be about mental health, the more we understand. That leads to a more comfortable and sympathetic world for those who are suffering.

It’s worth reading this statement from Mind, which acts the media to report the issue responsibly:

The terrible loss of life in the Germanwings plane crash is tragic, and we send our deepest sympathies to the families. Whilst the full facts are still emerging, there has been widespread media reporting speculating about the link with the pilot’s history of depression, which has been overly simplistic.

Clearly assessment of all pilots’ physical and mental health is entirely appropriate – but assumptions about risk shouldn’t be made across the board for people with depression, or any other illness. There will be pilots with experience of depression who have flown safely for decades, and assessments should be made on a case by case basis.

Today’s headlines risk adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems, which millions of people experience each year, and we would encourage the media to report this issue responsibly.

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The Independent View: Incentives matter in our education system

Incentives matter in our education system. The right ones encourage our schools and teachers to deliver the very best education the system has to offer.

Yet in the run up to the general election, politicians would have us think otherwise. Rather than creating the incentives for excellence to spread, they seek to drive performance from the centre. Cross-party support for a new college of teaching illustrates this shift in rhetoric, with politicians trying to magic more high quality teachers without thinking about the underlying incentives. The so-called “Cinderella” teaching profession really has found its fairy godmother.

The academy school programme is all about incentives. By freeing schools from local authority control and management, the aim is to allow innovation to drive better education for pupils.

Yet better incentives are needed if academies are to drive large scale transformation across the country. According to a survey of academy schools Reform published last year, many academies are inhibited from using their freedom to innovate. Two thirds of the 654 academies surveyed had yet to make changes to the curriculum, staff terms and conditions or the school day, despite having the freedom to do so.

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Sir Alan Beith’s final speech to the House of Commons

Alan Beith

Yesterday a valedictory debate for retiring members took place in the House of Commons. Members whose service totalled several hundred years bade farewell to the Commons. Three of them were Liberal Democrats and we’ll be publishing their speeches in full. Today we have Sir Alan Beith, elected in a by-election in 1973 and who faced two defences of his seat in the first year. You can read the whole debate, with speeches from long-standing and distinguished MPs such as Gordon Brown, Joan Ruddock, Sir George Young and Elfyn Llwyd, here.

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Baroness Liz Barker writes… International Office supports the next generation of female leaders from Mouvement Populaire party in Morocco

International officeLiberal Democrats do love a challenge. Not for us the easy life of safe seats and majority governments. Oh no, marginal and year round campaigning is the life for us.  So imagine that this is your task: to inspire women to stand for election to new regional councils, under an alternative list system, to be held in September, probably. The regulations for the new system  have yet to be finalised, but existing laws, under which all meetings of more than ten people have to be licenced and leaflets cannot be distributed without permission,  remain in force.

That is the task which Harakie Women, the women’s group within Mouvement Populaire, our sister party in Morocco, currently face.

Working with colleagues from VVD in the Netherlands and the FDP in Germany, the Liberal Democrat International Office has been supplying strategic and tactical support to the party’s potential candidates, coaching female candidates and providing them with the skills required to run an effective campaign.

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The Independent View: A new report from CentreForum highlights the problems with Labour’s tuition fees policy

A new report entitled “A Labour of Love?”, released today by CentreForum and written by Tom Frostick and Chris Thoung, weighs up the pros and cons of Labour’s recently announced policy on tuition fees, one which revolves mostly around the fees being cut from their current £9k maximum to a £6k ceiling. The report can be read here.

On the plus side, the policy does acknowledge the importance of maintenance grants. It also reopens the discussion that needs to be had regarding the balance between state and individual investment in undergraduate education by lowering the percentage of loans the government estimates will not be repaid. It would also apply to all undergrads, including those currently studying, so would be fair in that regard.

But there is a lot to say about the policy that is negative. If introduced, it would have little to no impact on a staggering lowest 60% of graduate earners and would mostly benefit higher earning graduates only (and even then, up to twenty-eight years after they’ve left university). It is also costed in such a way that could discourage pension saving, and its higher interest rate scheme for wealthier graduates contributes only modestly to the intended progressiveness of the policy. 

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We’re heading for a minority Labour government backed by the SNP

whitehall
The Guardian have a very useful web page called Election 2015: The Guardian poll projection. On it, each day, they update their state-of-the-parties graph with the latest polling data, which then flows into an infographic showing the parliamentary arithmetic and possible government options after May 7th.

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Sir Malcolm Bruce’s final speech in the House of Commons

Malcolm bruce glasgow 2014Today a valedictory debate for retiring members took place in the House of Commons. Members whose service totalled several hundred years bade farewell to the Commons. Three of them were Liberal Democrats and we’ll be publishing their speeches in full. First up is Sir Malcolm Bruce, MP for Gordon for the last 32 years. Today we have David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome for 18 years. You can read the whole debate, with speeches from long-standing and distinguished MPs such as Gordon Brown, Joan Ruddock, Sir George Young and Elfyn Llwyd, here.

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One of the most important acts of this government?

Hidden away in the pages of last week’s budget details was a very significant measure, which has received precious little public attention. The Guardian reports:

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The Independent View: The Liberal case for airport expansion is strong

Centre Forum aviationThe debate over airport expansion, particularly in the South East, has been raging for decades. Later this year, it is due to reach a crucial moment as Howard Davies and the Airports Commission publish their final report. Ahead of this, CentreForum has published a report looking at the liberal case for aviation and explaining how genuine concerns over environmental challenges, noise and regional growth should be addressed.

Though not directly concerned with Liberal Democrat policy, the report does raise questions over the wisdom of the party’s current position.

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+++ Lib Dem PPC arrested on historic child sex abuse allegations +++

According to Mansfield and Ashfield Chad, Jason Zadrozny has been arrested today over historic child sex abuse claims. Jason is a Nottinghamshire county councillor and also serves on Ashfield District Council. He has today withdrawn as the Parliamentary candidate for Ashfield, and has been suspended from the party.

Jason says:

I am in full cooperation with the Police and vehemently refute the allegations.

Comments on this post will be moderated. 

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LDVideo: Jeremy Browne MP’s final Commons speech – politics must seize the opportunities of the future, not preserve the past

Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne, who announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election having served in the House of Commons for nearly 10 years, took the opportunity of the debate following last week’s budget to make what was his final speech in the House. He used it to praise the coalition’s “vision” in its determination to solve the country’s weaknesses and to pay tribute to his constituency. He also returned to the theme of his book, Race Plan, calling for a less timid, more ambitious politics in order to prevent the UK becoming ever more irrelevant on the world stage.

You can watch Jeremy’s speech below or on YouTube here, and the Hansard transcript follows.

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  • User AvatarStevan Rose 29th Mar - 11:14pm
    Someone has stolen the windows. Careless. Why does it have "Stranger Economy" written on the side?
  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 11:04pm
    @Tristan the referendum would be on whether or not to accept the treaty change- quite a different question from the Tories want to pose ("should...
  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 11:01pm
    We're all voters here John :) Yes, there is a big need to invest in additional infrastructure (schools, hospitals, roads, houses) to cope with the...
  • User AvatarMartinB 29th Mar - 11:00pm
    Gosh, two articles on the same ridiculous subject. Are you are aware, the series of mugs are related to the pledge card issued by Labour...
  • User AvatarPhilip Thomas 29th Mar - 10:54pm
    For completeness I should provide the numbers currently on election forecast before I made my swing adjustment Con 290 Lab 272 SNP 42 LD 24...
  • User AvatarTristan 29th Mar - 10:46pm
    So Ed Davey is against the Lib Dem position on the EU, which is that we should have a referendum at the next major treaty...
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