Last chance to apply for ALDC internship – a Lib Dem Jobwatch special

The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners, to give it its Sunday name, is recruiting two paid Campaigns and Communications internships based in Manchester from next month to June next year.

From their site:

This is a full-time role, paid at the UK National Minimum Wage (£6.50 per hour for over 21 years olds), based at our Manchester city centre offices.

ALDC is the national organisation for Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners. This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the work of the organisation in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

The successful applicants will be helping us with our campaigns output, our communications and social media, and also helping campaign ‘on the ground’ with one of our partner local parties in Greater Manchester.

Successful candidates must have sympathy with the aims and values of the Liberal Democrats.

The deadline for applications is Monday 22 September 2014.
Interviews will take place in central Manchester on Tuesday 30 September 2014.

You can find out more details, including how to apply, here.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Dorothy Thornhill selected as Liberal Democrat candidate for Watford

Dorothy ThornhillMy co-editor Stephen Tall is incredibly efficient. He’s off on holiday, but he managed to edit his post on where we are with candidates in our held and top target seats to include Dorothy Thornhill’s selection in Watford before he headed to the airport at some ridiculous hour of the night.

Dorothy is currently in her fourth term as Mayor of Watford, elected for the first time in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, 2010 and in May this year. She’s a former teacher.

Party President Tim Farron welcomed her selection on Twitter last night:

Posted in News | 1 Comment

UPDATED: Full list of Lib Dems standing in our held seats and top 50 targets

We’re less than 8 months away from the May 2015 election so here’s my latest running check on how candidate selection is going in our held and key target seats…

Lib Dems winning hereI published a first draft of this list a year ago, and asked readers to help me update it. Many thanks to those of you who have helped me keep it updated, including the party’s Candidates Services Office. Here’s the latest version of the list of (re-)selections in our held seats and the top 50 targets for the party.

It’s a snapshot of how the party’s doing in getting people in place in the battleground seats that will determine the extent of Lib Dem influence in the next parliament:

Posted in News and Selection news | Tagged | 17 Comments

Meanwhile, in Clacton… Meet the Lib Dems’ by-election candidate, Andy Graham

andy-graham-at-clacton-lib-dem-officeEvents in Scotland have rather dominated these past few weeks, but we shouldn’t forget there’s another election soon to take place: the by-election in Clacton triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip.

Early polls shows Carswell is the front-runner to retain the seat in his new colours. The local Lib Dems have selected a candidate to fly the party’s colours: Andy Graham, “a former teacher in Clacton has performed in shows at the Clacton’s West Cliff Theatre”.

Details of how you can help Andy in Clacton are as follows:

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Paul Tyler writes… Pledge in haste, repent at leisure

Union FlagHaving the scars on my back from attempts to reform the Lords, I know how inclined people are to declare constitutional reform ‘not thought through’. In the case of Lords Reform, this was patently ridiculous since introducing elections to the House has been the subject of more self-interested cogitation and political procrastination than just about any other subject.

Proposals for “devo-max” to Scotland are not ill-considered either. Our own redoubtable Menzies Campbell has produced two formidable reports on “Home Rule All Round”, setting out a federal future for the UK. Lord Strathclyde has produced a not dissimilar report on the subject for the Conservatives. Labour have their own similar (though moderately less ambitious) proposals. Even arch anti-devolutionist Michael Forsyth told the BBC he favours a federal solution now!

photo by: mrs.timpers
Posted in Op-eds | 49 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 4

Congratulations to George Murray, whose Marauding Fullbacks lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 4 with an impressive 264 points. That puts him in 4,909th place in the global league of more than 3.2 million players.

Just three points then separate the next four players and fewer than 20 points the entire top 10. For the record, I’m languishing at 29th, not helped by my insane decision not to make Diego Costa my team captain in the week he scored a hat-trick. Ah well. At the other end of the table, by the way, Ceredigion Premier is ranked last, with 53 points. Still, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

fantasy football wk 4

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Catherine Bearder writes… Now the referendum is over, we need a unifying vision for Britain

Now that the people of Scotland have voted to remain a part of the UK, discussions over what further devolution of powers for Scotland will take place – as well as for the other British nations and regions – will inevitably dominate public debate. However, a big risk facing us as a country is that we become too introspective, turning in on ourselves rather than looking at the wider picture.

That’s because as well as a new constitutional arrangement, we desperately need a unifying vision of Britain and its place in the world. Indeed, it’s the lack of such a vision that has been one of the key factors fuelling Scottish separatism and the nationalism that feeds UKIP.

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

++Breaking news: Alex Salmond resigns as First Minister of Scotland

As I write Alex Salmond is holding a press conference where he is announcing his resignation as First Minister of Scotland and (again) as leader of the Scottish National Party.

While his cause is not one that is endorsed much here on Liberal Democrat Voice, he has clearly brought his party and the independence movement a very long way indeed. That is an achievement to give credit for, even if we rather wish he hadn’t.

So the thread below is open for your comments on Salmond’s contribution to politics, and it wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate to lean more towards tributes than we …

Posted in News | 18 Comments

Opinion: Reaching out to young people

I’ve just submitted an article for the ‘Youth 100’ for this year. I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute to the publication, still regarded as a national expert on youth issues. Having spent most of my career working with or on behalf of young people I am constantly exercised about how we as a party connect with them. Post tuition fees – how do we once again become the party of choice for young people?

It’s not easy, but I think the popular brands I’ve been reflecting on this week have some lessons for us. Among other things, …

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Opinion: The West Lothian Question has left Ed Miliband in a deep hole

Ed Miliband has to concede that home rule for Scotland must mean that Scottish MP’s should no longer vote on English only matters. Not to do so would be unreasonable, unfair, and also deeply unpopular in England. It would give the Tories the biggest stick they could wish for to beat Labour with up and down England in May next year.

If Ed does agree to withdraw Scottish (and Welsh) Mp’s from English legislation though, any future non Conservative UK government might be paralysed by a Conservative majority of English MP’s elected on a minority of the English vote. Labour would be unable to deliver on the NHS, on Education, on welfare and on a whole host of key priorities. Worse, without an English executive there would be gridlock. Labour, even with Lib Dem support, wouldn’t even be able to deliver devolution to English Regions with an English Tory veto.

Posted in Op-eds | 65 Comments

The post-independence referendum to do list

I am so relieved this morning. I don’t think I have ever been as scared and anxious about any political event in my life as I was about the result of the referendum on independence. I really do think that a win for Yes would not have brought the help for the most vulnerable in society that was promised.

I don’t feel any great sense of victory. I know that many of my friends, who have the same values and want the same things for our society as I do, are feeling distraught this morning. I’ve been on the receiving end of defeat enough times to know its pain. These are good people and I feel for them.

I need desperately to sleep but before I do, and while I wait for Salmond to make his statement at 10 am, I thought I’d jot down a bit of a to do list for a whole variety of people. It’s ambitious.

1. Deliver on the more powers pledge – putting something like Liberal Democrat policy into practice.

The result was not a massive vote of confidence in the UK as it stands. The union has been put on probation. If people are not given signifiant new powers that make a difference, we’ll be back here in 5 years’ time. Do it quickly and inclusively.

2. Develop a strategy for tackling poverty and inequality at UK and Scottish level

In some ways the “more powers” thing was a bit of a red herring. People wanted more powers but they also wanted to make life better for the most vulnerable people in society. We need a bit of vision on delivering better housing and getting people out of poverty. That will really give the 84% of people who turned out yesterday a reason to do so again.

3. No excuses, no delay: we need votes at 16 now

One of the best sight of yesterday was seeing 16 and 17 year olds heading to the polling station for the first time in a UK election. It worked. They shouldn’t have that vote taken away from them now. Is it possible to implement it for the General Election next May? There is no reason it couldn’t be rushed through Parliament, surely. No taxation without representation, after all.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Opinion: Federation is necessary

I think we Lib Dems can all be happy about the turnout in the referendum, and the result it gave us. It truly showed that if you give people the democratic opportunity to have a voice, they will seize it. While that very specific question is answered there are many more that remain.

While it’s early days yet, all it seems we’ve been offered by Cameron is English votes on English issues within the present structure. At the risk of being cynical, the simple barring of non-English MPs seems to serve to retain FPTP in a legislature that will serve both the union and England. It would lend the Tories a permanent electoral advantage in the English sub-section of Westminister. One must also consider the impracticality of operating a Parliament within a Parliament, and particularly sharing an executive. How can (assuming the vast majority of issues are now devolved) a government that exists because of a majority in the union Parliament decide the ministerial positions that exercise power only over England? This is not an acceptable option.

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Scotland says no to independence: here’s my first thoughts the morning after

The people of Scotland have spoken. As that sound echoes, here’s what I think its rejection of independence means…

The SNP are strengthened:

45% of the Scottish electorate voted Yes. That’s a far higher figure than many of us would have predicted even a few weeks ago. Yes Scotland’s campaigning, driven by the SNP, has proved far superior to Better Together’s, driven by Labour. If the Nationalists resist the temptation to turn in on themselves they can expect to reap the electoral rewards of their grassroots activity next May. The Scots, by decisively rejecting independence, have lost their negotiating leverage: I expect them to turn to the SNP as an insurance policy against being forgotten about by Westminster. That poses a big threat to Labour, but also to the Lib Dems — after all, one-fifth of our MPs sit for Scottish seats.

The Tories are weakened…

Did Cameron panic or was it one of those things that seemed a good idea at the time? I’m referring to the ‘vow’ he co-signed with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, published in the Daily Record, promising more powers for Scotland and the safeguarding of the Barnett Formula financial settlement for Scotland. This opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of constitutional questions which are likely to dominate debate at least until Christmas. That part of it won’t bother Cameron: the irresistible logic of devo-max for Scotland is de facto home rule also for England – in other words, English votes deciding English laws – which, given the Tories’ strength in England, boosts their prospects of remaining in power, at least in the short-term. However, the promise to retain the Barnett Formula is another matter altogether. It offers an obvious opportunity to Nigel Farage to exploit: “It’s right that Scotland should have more powers,” he’ll say, “but it’s also right that there’s a fair financial settlement for the English, too. Public money should be allocated according to need.” And the worst of it is he’s 100% right on this, and he’ll now be the lone voice among the four main party leaders able to make that compelling case to the voters in the lead-up to the next general election. The Tories (as well as the Lib Dems and Labour) have placed ourselves on the wrong side of this issue.

Posted in News | 26 Comments

Senior Liberal Democrats react as Scots vote to stay in UK

The sovereign will of the Scottish people, by a margin of, give or take a bit, 55%-45 %, is to stay in the UK. In voting No, they put their trust in David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to deliver more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Here’s how senior Liberal Democrats reacted. First,  Nick Clegg:

I’m absolutely delighted the Scottish people have taken this momentous decision to safeguard our family of nations for future generations.

In a dangerous and uncertain world I have no doubt we are stronger, safer, and more prosperous together than we ever could be apart.

But a vote against independence was clearly not a vote against change and we must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland.

At the same time, this referendum north of the border has led to a demand for constitutional reform across the United Kingdom as people south of the border also want more control and freedom in their own hands rather than power being hoarded in Westminster.

So this referendum marks not only a new chapter for Scotland within the UK but also a new chapter of constitutional renewal across the UK.

Willie Rennie:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , and | 12 Comments

Must do better, UK

Whatever the outcome of Scotland’s independence referendum, we should all be shocked at the magnitude of the Yes vote. Surely we should never expect more than a few percent of any population to wish to renounce their citizenship due to dissatisfaction with their government and country, and opt instead for some smaller, weaker, largely untested and unknown alternative. That around half of a population may wish to do this might be expected in Iraq or Syria, but not in one of the more stable, peaceful, prosperous and free parts of the world.

How, then, has it come to this? Yes, there …

Posted in News and Op-eds | 24 Comments

++ Mike Hancock MP quits Lib Dems

mike hancockMike Hancock, elected as Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South in 2010 but suspended from the party following allegations of sexual harassment made by a constituent, has resigned from the party, according to the Independent:

(Hancock) spent almost five years denying that he had sexually harassed a vulnerable constituent until eventually he admitted in court that he had behaved in a way that made her “feel deeply uncomfortable and discriminated against”.

He was suspended from the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary group and lost his seat on Portsmouth Council. The party has

Posted in News | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Scottish independence referendum: open thread…

No yes scotland photo by kyoshi masamunePolls closed at 10pm in the referendum which will decide if Scotland remains within the United Kingdom. The final opinion poll of the campaign – YouGov’s, released an hour ago – points to a 54% No, 46% Yes result. Within a few hours we’ll know how accurate that forecast is.

Certainly those involved in the Better Together camp seem confident of victory. After all the tension of the last fortnight, it might all prove to be something of an anti-climax: a narrow but decisive confirmation …

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Opinion: What to do in the event of Scottish independence

At the time of writing people across Scotland are voting in the independence referendum to decide whether to stay in the UK or leave. The polls all seem to indicate a narrow lead for a No vote to independence and I personally expect that will be the outcome as well.

However, in the event of a Yes vote then practically everything in politics will change as Scotland and the rest of the UK are committed to (at least) two years of negotiations followed by independence. So, here’s a handy guide on what Liberal Democrats should do in the event of a …

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Anti-politics: the Lib Dem problem

A very interesting blog-post from two Southampton academics, Will Jennings and Jerry Stoker – Parties and anti-politics – examines the problems each of the four parties has with the current mood of anti-politics (hat-tip John Rentoul). Its introduction summarises its argument:

How and why do political parties struggle to ‘get’ anti-politics? They all nod in speeches and policy statements in the direction of public disenchantment with politics but fail to take tackling its causes seriously. UKIP seek to exploit it, the Tories want to wish it away, Labour under Miliband claim innocence and ineptness in their defence, while the Liberal Democrats misread it and think constitutional change is the answer.

The section on the Lib Dems is especially worth highlighting:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 28 Comments

Opinion: Getting serious about localism

Local growth deals are a good thing. Of course they are. How could they not be? Now what are they again?

The mechanics of government finance never cease to amaze or bore. But we do need to care because when it comes to devolution, it’s a question of ‘follow the money’.

There are in fact, according to a Local Government Association report last week, 124 funding streams for local growth and regeneration. These are spread across 20 Government departments and agencies and account for a total of £22 billion, all to be spent in your local area on your local things.

So when the Government announces it is devolving £2 billion on LGFs, context becomes rather significant. As does the essentially pointless complexity, worthy of an abbey full of medieval theologians.

Those in the know are fully on top of the difference between the Custom Build fund, the Community Right to Build fund, the Beds in Sheds fund, the New Homes Bonus and the Decent Homes fund. And the difference between the Linking Places fund, the Local Pinch Point fund, the Local Sustainable Transport fund and the Better Bus Areas fund. I could go on. But I promise I won’t.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

Scotland votes today: 8 things that have struck me about the independence campaign

My own position remains unchanged from February:

“If I were a Scot with a vote in September, I’m not sure which side I would favour. I see no reason why an independent Scotland wouldn’t do quite well out of new arrangements, but it would of course be a risky venture into the unknown (which is why I don’t think the SNP’s bid will succeed). As that great liberal Ludovic Kennedy once rhetorically asked, “I still believe that if Denmark can run its own affairs, why can’t Scotland?””

The debate has been depressing:

I don’t actually mean the acrimony between the …

Posted in Op-eds | 31 Comments

What do you think will be the result of the Scottish independence referendum? Your predictions, please…

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TAlmost all the polls have now been published and election day is tomorrow – so the time has come to put your pundit’s reputation on the line and say what you think will be the result of the Scottish independence referendum.

A quick reminder for those who’ve been fogged by the blizzard of polls in the last couple of days:

    Ipsos MORI: Yes 49%, No 51%
    Panelbase: Yes 48%, No 52%
    ICM: Yes 48%, No 52%
    Opinium: Yes 48%, No 52%
    Survation: Yes 48%, No 52%
Posted in News | 68 Comments

Opinion: More powers are not on the ballot paper

Scottish Parliament 23 May 06 067The three unionist parties – and, yes, that seems to include us – have united to promise more powers if Scotland votes No tomorrow.

But what are they offering, and is it “guaranteed”? I don’t question Ming’s sincerity when he claims that federalism is within touching distance but I seriously question his optimism.

Our own party has its plans for fairly radical change (though calling it federalism is stretching a point, and our policy is now entangled with plans for devolution on demand in the rest of the UK). Two and a half years ago we had the opportunity to have our version of federalism on the ballot paper. While not constitutionally definitive, the likely large majority this option could have won would have given it strong political traction.  But our Inverness conference rejected it in a nasty wave of anti-SNP rhetoric.

photo by: Martin Pettitt
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 30 Comments

Labour to cut short their party conference?

Manchester Town Hall ClockThe Labour party is planning to cut short their party conference if Scotland votes Yes, according to leaks to Huffington Post.

The conference is due to run in Manchester from this Sunday through to next Wednesday, but they are assuming that Parliament would be recalled on Monday if Yes wins. In that event, it seems all ministerial speeches and fringe meetings will be cancelled, “with the exception of the keynote address from Labour leader Ed Miliband next Tuesday” .  That does not leave much, and delegates who are not MPs will be left to create their own entertainment in Manchester.

photo by:
Posted in News | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: I sat on the fence for a long time

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshIn history independence (or partition) often leads to a rise in racism, disaffection, poverty, hatred and instability.  I was looking for evidence that Scottish independence wouldn’t do that.

I was looking for intelligent leadership with a coherent vision which would unite Scotland to reassure me that the positives of independence (which would include faster and more sensitive feedback loops for Scottish policy) would outweigh the negatives.  In the early stages of the campaign I saw signs of what I was looking for.

My first …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 29 Comments

LibLink: Shirley Williams: How Scotland could lead the way towards a federal UK

Shirley WilliamsThe Guardian posted an article by Shirley Williams yesterday, in which she writes:

The referendum decision will come at the culmination of a long period of disillusionment with politicians. The SNP, like the other mainstream parties, has attracted its own share of public frustration about centralisation and the excessive rule of Edinburgh over other regions of Scotland. Nationally, the disillusionment began with the poll tax, the decline of manufacturing in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the north of England during the Thatcher years, the failure of our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis in 2008 which loaded on taxpayers the huge costs of bailing out the banks.

Posted in LibLink | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

Race equality survey of presidential candidates

Forms Diversity / SML.20121107.IPH5 / @lifecelebrates #diversityWhat do the candidates to be president of the Lib Dems think should be done to make the party more racially-diverse? I sent them a short six-question survey to find out.

The full survey results can be found on my blog here. Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne all agreed on many issues, with Sal and Linda proving the boldest in embracing new solutions to increase BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) diversity, Liz being the most cautious and Daisy somewhere in between. But there wasn’t a whole lot to pick between them.

photo by:
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 25 Comments

Decentralisation decade – Nick Clegg responds

Last Friday Nick Clegg was speaking about devolution at an event organisation by the Institute for Public Policy Research. It marked the launch of their publication entitled ‘Decentralisation decade: A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England‘.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Scotland’s independence referendum: here’s what our survey says Lib Dem members think

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Scotland votes this Thursday in its independence referendum. We asked our sample of Lib Dem members for their views and here’s what we found…

62% of Lib Dem members say we’re Better Together

Do you support or oppose Scotland becoming a country independent from the rest of the United Kingdom?

Posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged | 7 Comments

Is Mike Crockart voting Yes to Independence?

You might think so from these photos of his office in the heart of Edinburgh West

Crockart yes 1

Crockart Yes 2

Not for the first time, his staff have had to take down Yes posters which had been glued on to the office windows.

Yesterday a cavalcade of Yes cars parked outside the office and played loud music next to Mike’s No Thanks street stall. Why do they bother with nonsense like that.

This, sadly, is one of the milder incidents of intimidatory behaviour which are becoming commonplace across Scotland.  I have lost count of the number of committed and passionate No voters who have very politely declined to take a poster because they are worried that their windows would be knocked in if they display it. It shouldn’t be like this. 

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 34 Comments



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