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The Uber free market

By Alex Chatham
May 28th, 2015 at 2:30 pm | No Comments | Posted in Conservatives, Economics, freedom, Nannying

For some in the Conservative party, Boris Johnson is the libertarian saviour waiting in the wings to take power and reshape Britain. After all, the London Mayor recently told licenced Black Cab drivers that they had to accept the success of Uber because that is how a free market works. Liberals should applaud this championing of the market. For those who don’t much like markets, remember people collectively send price signals that tells suppliers what is and isn’t wanted.

Odd then that the same Boris Johnson has decided to put a cap on how many mini cabs operate in London. He has decided, no doubt based on expert advice, that we have too many. It might be worth reminding Boris that this is a free market and it is the people who should decide how many cabs offer their services to Londoners.

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“You’re not going that way, fascist”

By Alex Chatham
May 27th, 2015 at 8:32 pm | No Comments | Posted in The Human Condition

The UKIP MP and libertarian, Douglas Carswell got caught up in an anti-austerity demonstration earlier this evening. The mob, and that is the only way to describe the deal marathons, were verbally violent and threatened physical violence. The police had to rescue Carswell from their clutches.

When Police officers tried to take Carswell through St James’s Park tube station, one demonstrator is filmed saying, “you’re not going that way fascist”.

For decades those on the  centre right have been labelled as fascists by the Left. What the proponents of State control, and at times violent destruction of their opponents, have forgotten is that fascism had its origins in socialism. It is about time that the Left admitted the connection. It is wrong to call someone a fascist whose beliefs are the exact opposite. It is worse to use the term when you are adopting the very tactics that fascists would happily embrace.

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A General Election fought on fear

By Alex Chatham
May 27th, 2015 at 6:25 pm | No Comments | Posted in Labour

It is clear that many in the Labour Party, and some Liberal Democrats, believe that the Conservative waged a fear campaign during the General Election. Putting to one side the accuracy of this view, and whether one should have been scared of a SNP supported Labour government, something has been missing from the discussion.

Fear was used in the General Election campaign and it was used by the Labour Party. Ed Miliband repeatedly told the voters that they had days to save the NHS. Coming from the party that introduced more private suppliers to the public service this is perverse at best and downright misleading at worse. The fear tactic didn’t work and we still have a National Health Service. No doubt when the Tories leave office we still will.

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A Memo On Memogate

By Editor
May 26th, 2015 at 9:47 am | 4 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Malcolm Bruce has commented in a 20 minute Today programme segment on Memogate. This following a long weekend of coverage. I note the following. The Liberal Democrat Party remains quite the most hopeless stewards of their own reputation of any of the major parties. Showing no sign whatsoever of seeing themselves as others see them. Let alone addressing the issues that arise from that. Regardless of the long-term damage it does them collectively.

Memogate itself is relatively simple. Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, and then Scottish Secretary, was made aware (in that capacity) of a civil service memo that suggested the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP (SNP) had made politically unwise remarks to a French diplomat. Carmichael authorised his special adviser to release the remarks to the media with the intent of causing the SNP political damage during an election campaign. When approached about the matter by the press, he lied about his involvement. A Cabinet leak inquiry followed, in which these facts came to light. It was agreed between the inquiry and Carmichael (no longer a Minister) that he would issue a fulsome apology and forgo his Ministerial severance pay.

Misconduct in public office and dishonesty was then admitted. A not insignificant degree of mitigation and apology was offered. The Ministerial portion of the scandal was settled. To Carmichael’s credit he did not attempt to bluff it out beyond this point.

The matter more generally though has not been settled. Carmichael remains an MP, one whose electoral mandate is self-evidently open to question having won his seat narrowly on a false prospectus about his own character and judgement.

He remains an MP in a political climate that does not tolerate misconduct in public life, and where Recall was a position supported by his Party (however anaemic the eventual legislation). It is perfectly reasonable, in these circumstances for his opponents to call for him to step down and fight a by-election. Putting his redoubtable record of public service to islanders and sincere apology up for public affirmation or not.

The problem is that he would probably lose such an election.

And that is the lens through which the Liberal Democrat Party is looking at the matter. They have only 1 MP left in Scotland, they are decimated, demoralised, and aggrieved, and do not wish to risk losing what it is they have left. They reasonably look at a man who has served them and his constituents well. To whom they owe favours, and have worked hard to support in turn. In short a friend and until this point a huge political asset who has managed to play something of the Prescott role in the Party, supporting an orange-book leadership while holding on to his social liberal principles and canny local campaigning instincts.

That matters internally. A lot.

Consequently the Scottish Liberal Democrat Executive has met, decided there is nothing to see here… it’s all settled… and would the public and SNP mind going away please… and frankly grow up… and learn to forgive people. What! what is their problem! I mean really. It’s not as if they’re purer than the driven snow… look at their lies that they got away with… we all make mistakes… etc.

That is the line.

It is self-serving crap.

The public can see it’s self-serving crap.

It will not help Alistair Carmichael’s reputation or future re-election prospects a jot. Quite the reverse. If not defenestrated by pressure or process, he’s probably out voluntarily or otherwise by 2020. This will not have gone away or been forgotten in 5 years.

As to the Liberal Democrat process… it looks like what it is – a group of Ally’s pally’s gathering together to agree he’s a terrible nice chap and sticking their heads in the sand about the wider implications of the scandal or their own long-term interests.

The BBC shrewdly asked Bruce this morning whether they would regret their approach if they lost MSPs in the 2016 Scottish election. He of coursed ducked the question; but that is what is likely to happen. The Party having already lost seats UK-wise over their casual indifference to matters of integrity and trust, has now started the next election cycle demonstrating it has learnt nothing. Nothing at all.

They could have acted more wisely.

What they could and should have done is take the matter seriously. Alistair Carmichael’s membership should have been suspended. His disreputable conduct properly considered by someone not connected with the tight-knit clan that run his Party machine, and their recommendations taken seriously. That should have taken at least a month and taken some of the oxygen out of the current media frenzy.

We cannot pre-judge, but it is not at all clear such a process would have recommended his expulsion. That disrepute has taken place is admitted. Sanctions to the same are not unipolar. They can be discrete, and a sensible one in this instance might have included a 3-6 month suspension.

That would be proportionate to the offence, demonstrate the Party takes such things seriously, and allow Carmichael to get on with his job, which right now involves a lot of apologising to islanders, in person, and demonstrating all the other reasons why he’s held the seat so long.

If during that suspension the SNP somehow succeed in getting a process going that forces him out, the Liberal Democrat Party would at least have had some moral high ground, having acted properly and seriously. That would count for something for his successor and the Party’s wider prospects in other Scottish elections.

But that opportunity has gone, and it’s heads in the sand and hope time.

In conclusion that after Thorpe, Smith, Rennard, Hancock etc. the Liberal Democrat Party still think the way to deal with unethical conduct and serious reputation issues is either denial, or denial followed by parish council procedures and bureaucratic excuses is extraordinary. That is follows an election where the same has severely damaged them shows a lack of survival instincts.

The next Leader will have to deal with this shower and their naval-gazing self-regard, or that survival is in doubt.

Ryan Coetzee: Also Deluded…

By Sara Scarlett
May 23rd, 2015 at 3:26 pm | No Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Just when I thought Vince Cable’s post mortem of the 2015 Election was the worst thing I could possibly read, enter Ryan Coetzee stage left. In a self-pitying article, seemingly designed solely to absolve himself from any responsibility, he says that it was all the big, bad Tory’s fault:

In Tory-facing seats we got routed by what I call the Fear. We presumed from the beginning that the Conservatives would try to scare voters with the prospect of a Miliband government that would risk the economy. But in the event the polls and the SNP conspired to ratchet up the Fear to Terror levels, because they showed Labour’s only path to power would be via the SNP.

About four weeks from election day it became clear that The Fear was hurting us. We tried everything we could to counter it: fear of a Tory minority government in hock to its own right wing, Ukip and the DUP; fear of Tory cuts to welfare, schools and other unprotected departments; ruling out participation in any government that relied on SNP support; offering ourselves as the only guarantors of a stable coalition. All of it was trumped by The Fear, and on a scale we didn’t see coming.

Am I alone in having missed the mass hysteria of the Middle Classes? David Cameron is a moderately appealing character to Middle England with a track record of modest success. Ed Miliband is an unappealing individual with a track record of gimmicks and Shadow Ministers who insult people who drive white vans. Nick Clegg’s that other guy who goes back and forth on tuition fees and something. Did voters pick up their pens  in the voting booths shaking in fear? I really don’t think so.

Should we have run the campaign differently, given what we knew? I don’t think so. We correctly identified the threats facing us on each front, and did our best to counter them. We made a coherent, liberal case to the voters, offering both a strong economy and a fair society.

Unsuprising that he thinks this but the opposite is true. The Liberal Democrat GE2015 Campaign was easily the worst I’ve ever seen. It effectively convinced voters that there were no positive reasons for the LibDems to exist. We’re the political equivalent of the colour beige – we go with everything. In who’s mind is that a great campaign?

The rest of the article can be summed up as this: everything bad that happened to the LibDems was the fault of someone else or forces beyond our control. This is not even taking responsibility for a badly run campaign. This man was paid six figures and this is the quality of his analysis. If the LibDems have any sense (humour me) they’ll hand him his P45.