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It’s Nick’s aides that need to up their game

By Angela Harbutt
November 9th, 2011 at 3:51 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Today’s Independent November “Poll of Polls” compiled by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University shows a decline in the Tory share across the range of voting intention polls with both Labour and the Lib Dems moving forward (by one point). The dip in Tory share has widely been put down to in-fighting over Europe, but even assuming that the Tories can bounce back from this with a bit of internal discipline, these figures still see the Labour party in the lead.

Given that we are now nearly one third way through the parliamentary term – and with the economy showing no signs of improvement – surely we really do have to start looking to the next general election and asking ourselves “what now?”. Especially when you take into account the boundary changes – assuming they happen.

Of course this means a damn sight more than the (hardly) brilliant and insightful advise from Nick Clegg’s aides to MPs .. go on TV and declare proudly “I’m a Liberal Democrat” in an effort to improve the party’s poll ratings.

Oh it’s that easy is it? Er hardly. I am not saying that we should not talk up the Lib Dem’s successes (I seem to recall we and others were saying that months ago) – but if we are relying on “aides” who think the solution to this problem is just about getting the words “Lib Dem” and “coalition” into every soundbite (whichresearch finds is popular with voters” !!!) then we have a problem Houston. Have we learned nothing from the Yes to AV debacle? When will Nick get in some communications people with ideas and a bit of media savvy rather than relying on rather worn out (and bloody patronising) cliches? If anyone needs to “up their game” it’s them (and who ever thought it was a good idea to go brief the papers on this piece of “communications genius” should be the first out the door).

The answer is of course to have a plan. We need Lib Dem ministers to deliver something positive (not to mention useful to the economy) from their portfolios. We need principled stances to policies where we have genuine disagreement, not show-boating our muscular liberalism. We need the likes of Farron, Huhne, Cable and Hughes to stop grand-standing at party conference. And we certainly don’t need the likes of Cllr Knight throwing huge great spanners in the works. We need to start now drafting a unique set of policy ideas that define who we are (I have said before that I think we should be the party of “the small and the local“). And we need to start talking to our coalition partners about how we present this partnership at the next general election. Unless of course we do really want Ed Miliband in NO10 come the next general election.

Image courtesy of the wonderful – where more analysis of the poll of polls can be found.


As if the unions weren’t loud enough

By Tom Papworth
November 8th, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Comments Off on As if the unions weren’t loud enough | Posted in Uncategorized

I’m not sure why this makes me smile, but for some reason I received a piece of advertising email (aka. spam) tailored for a very specific audiance:

Special member’s offer – get yourself heard

Having completed the ballot, we have special prices for for affiliated trade unions and their members on our megaphones.

We’ve mmanged to get new stocks of our megaphone range which offers the simplest in operation by being compact & lightweight as well as offering a surprisingly powerful sound. For a small gathering and directing small crowd from a safety point of view, try the ADS 226 at just £29.90. If you are addressing larger crowds or for stewarding at larger marches and rallies the ADS 66 is amazing at ONLY £49.90 + VAT

The prices have been discounted to trade levels and available up to 12 November 2011, just click on the products below and to purchase, just register your details, the discount will be available by using the discount code ‘UNION’ when checking out.

I particulary like “from a safety point of view”, to distinguish the ADS226 from the kind of megaphone that might be used for rabel-rousing.


They call this "meaningful dialogue"

Vote “No” to Straw Men and Tobin Taxes

By Tom Papworth
November 3rd, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Comments Off on Vote “No” to Straw Men and Tobin Taxes | Posted in Uncategorized

Leslie Clark’s article yesterday brought to my attention this irritating video from the pro-Tobin Tax lobby.

(I refuse to call it “The Robin Hood Tax” because, as I keep pointing out, Robin Hood devoted his life to waging a war on tax collectors. He would be turning in his grave if he wasn’t a mythical figure)

What annoys me about the film is that it sets Bill Nighy up as a particularly-corny straw man; a cardboard cut-out of a banker who is utterly unable to explain why a Tobin Tax is a bad idea.

Much like the Make Poverty History movement five years ago, the Tobin Tax people do not seek to inform their audience or to make their case in a serious way. Instead they make simplistic and circular arguments and refuse to address real criticism.

Having watched the video, viewers are invited to vote on whether they support the Tobin Tax. However, having voted, one is not then shown the latest results: usually, once one has voted, one is shown the percentages for and against. I wonder what they’re hiding!

To give credit, however, a negative vote does bring you to a page where those who are skeptical can express their views. These do not appear to have been edited or censored or deliberately trolled. I must admit that this is a first: most single-issue campaigns (and official political party websites) tend either not to invite comments or to not publish/delete critical comment. They do of course patronise the nay-sayer first (“Not convinced by Bill the Banker and the homepage? We understand. It’s a big idea”!), but that’s only to be expected from an organisation that recruits film stars to make highly produced but uninformative propaganda videos.

The good news is that, having sat through 3.25 minutes of this drivil, you too can vote to express your disapproval of the Tobin Tax. Go on! Do it! You can even scroll past the first 3.22 if you like (though don’t undershoot, or you’ll have to listen to Snow Patrol!).


There are better ways to introduce British actors to straw men


A liberal manifesto for 2015

By Simon Goldie
November 3rd, 2011 at 11:00 am | Comments Off on A liberal manifesto for 2015 | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Policy

As Liberal Vision has of late focused on the here and now, perhaps it is time to turn to the vision.

The Liberal Democrats have much to think about between now and the general election. One important element, that can easily get subsumed by being in government, is to develop a manifesto that tells voters what liberalism looks like in the 21st century. Of course, one can argue about what liberalism means. Assuming that the reader broadly accepts the aims of this site, (individual liberty, limited government and a free market) what sort of policies would maximise these?

The party has talked a lot about deregulation. Vince Cable, Secretary of State at BIS, has argued for the abolition of what was the DTI and committed the coalition government to a one in, one out rule for regulation. Deregulation is only part of the story. The party needs to think about lowering barriers to entry for new businesses and ensuring markets are as open as possible.

On limiting government it has policies in place that would bring in checks and balances through constitutional reform. It might want to review these policies given that some have already been introduced. Does it need to make revisions to what has been done or develop a new approach?

Finally, but by no means least, we come to Individual liberty. Policies that put the individual in control of the public services they receive, policies that remove obstacles to plurality in public services and generally increase diversity in how we run things can only add to individual liberty.

No doubt there will be a lot of debate about how you achieve all this but the first step towards producing a liberal manifesto in 2015 is to make clear that it is liberalism that is the lode star.


Occupy London – what are they hiding?

By Angela Harbutt
November 3rd, 2011 at 9:58 am | 18 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Can anyone please explain why we are seeing increasing numbers of Occupy London middle class boys and girls wearing those Guy Fawkes masks? (And before you tell me they are NOT middle class professional complainers explain why the four that got invited into the crypt to have a chat with the clerics were a 40 year old South African with a masters degree, 32 year old actress (with a fancy drama college background),  a 27 year old religious studies graduate , and a 36 year old former PR exec (now running something called “Queer Resistance”)… not a  hairdresser, taxi driver, mechanic or indeed teacher or nurse amongst them)..

But returning to the question of those masks..

Is it that they want to hide their identity ? If so why? (skiving off work ? Embarrassed about being there? waiting for it to kick off?)

Do they wish to intimidate? ( I thought they were the nice guys and gals full of love and peace etc?)

Is it a homage to media guru Guido ? (OK strike that one)

Or is that they are all secret catholic up risers -actually having a pop at the COE and her Majesty. Seeking to reinstate a Catholic monarch to the throne? That might explain why they are actually occupying St Pauls rather than, say, Canary Wharf… and getting random church big wigs to fall on their swords.

We could take the more latter day Guy Fawkes style hero as portrayed in “V for Vendetta”. This film has been seen by many political groups as an allegory of oppression by government… but they actually seem to be railing against capitalism, bankers, and “global business” (Starbucks excluded) rather than an oppressive government stripping them of their right to freedom of speech or access to mutiple news sources..

The best I have heard is they are wearing these masks because “that’s what they did on Occupy Wall Street”  to “symoblise oppostion to tyranny”.. Really is that it? They are doing it because the Yanks did it?

By the day the Occupy Londoners are losing what little sympathy they had. Is it any wonder when they prance about  in fancy dress, claim peace but threaten violence if moved on, go home to their comfortable beds when it gets chilly and seem to spend most of their time occupying Starbucks because it has a good internet connection (um thanks actually to global business) and serves a nice cappuccino.

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