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David Laws: first comments on education

By Editor
October 25th, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Comments Off on David Laws: first comments on education | Posted in education

H/T We note via The Telegraph that David Laws has made his first comments on education.

Teachers, colleges, careers advisers have a role and a responsibility to aim for the stars and to encourage people to believe they can reach the top in education and employment,”

That’s not happening as much as it should do at the moment

We have not read the full piece yet – just the political editor’s spin. Still from what we have read so far, we reckon that David is just saying what a lot of us are thinking.

Its nice to have him back.

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Mark Littlewood is the extra guest on QT tonight

By Editor
October 25th, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Comments Off on Mark Littlewood is the extra guest on QT tonight | Posted in Uncategorized

Former Lib Dem spin doctor (and founder of LV) Mark Littlewood is the extra guest on BBC Question Time tonight. According to QT , using the account @bbcextraguest on Twitter – and available on the BBC Question Time website homepage each Thursday evening – the guest is allowed to take part in the interactive debate.

The programme has already tweeted

“Please do send any questions you have for @MarkJLittlewood through. They won’t get used until #bbcqt but it’d be good to hear thoughts now.”

That has the potential to make the twitter discussion more entertaining than the show.

Lib Dems “promotion” of British business is a joke

By Editor
October 24th, 2012 at 8:23 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Policy

One of our readers forwarded an email they received from Lorely Burt MP today. It reads

 Dear             ,

 The Liberal Democrats are a party of business. Tonight Nick Clegg is giving a speech to a group of business leaders, to highlight just that.

 Nick will say that the Liberal Democrats are determined to put the private sector at the heart of a strong, rebalanced economy.

 As a former entrepreneur myself, this rings true with me – because since coming into Government, our party has been promoting British business in lots of ways:

  •  giving shareholders new powers
  • pushing employee ownership
  • taking action to open up more boardrooms to more women

Good grief. If the party big-wigs really think that any of the above measures have helped “promote” British business, then we are in serious, serious trouble.  We hope Nick’s speechwriters are more in tune with what business actually wants (rather than forced upon them) than this email seems to suggest.

Laughingly the email invites business people to answer a survey “Listening to Business”. Having read the above email and been reminded of the new regulations that the Liberal Democrats have played a significant hand in forcing upon business it seems unlikely that many will actually feel minded to complete the survey.

So to let you know, the survey consists of asking the following: name, email, phone number, address, business sector, turnover  – oh plus one question “If there were one thing the Government could do the help your Business, what would it be“.

How about delivering on the coalition promises of 2010? A “bonfire of red tape”; Removing existing regulation that unnecessarily impedes growth;  Introducing new regulation only as a last resort; Reducing the overall volume of new regulation; Improving the quality of the design of new regulation; Reducing the regulatory cost to business and civil society groups;  Moving to a risk-based enforcement regime where inspections are minimised etc

So far the Lib Dem’s promotion of UK business has been lamentable. Nothing here suggests it is going to get any better, any time soon.

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A short conversation that says so much

By Angela Harbutt
October 23rd, 2012 at 9:53 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in BBC

My eye was drawn to the most bizarre exchange between Lord Patten, (BBC Trust chairman), and Maria Miller (Culture Secretary) today, that just makes you wonder what planet politicians (and the BBC Trust) are actually living on these days.

Miller is reported to have contacted Patten following George Entwistle’s less than impressive performance in front of MPs today. She said that full public trust in the BBC’s inquiries into the Savile affair was of “paramount importance“.

Er no. Finding out what actually happened; who knew; who covered it up; whether others were also abusing children in the BBC; & why the BBC decided not to broadcast what they knew… these questions and others are of  paramount importance. Not public trust in the BBC or its well crafted internal inquiries.

Pattern then effectively tells Miller to back off.

I know that you will not want to give the impression that you are questioning the independence of the BBC.

The sheer nerve of the guy … sorry Mr Patten, I don’t know where you’ve been these past few weeks since this story was broken (by ITV!) the BBC has done nothing but drag its feet, obfuscate and lie. You are in no position to start talking about “the independence of the BBC”. I certainly hope expect Miller to  question the Beebs independence on this matter. To allow them to run their own inquiry is an outrage. It  lost its right to run its own inquiry a long time ago.

I am not quite sure when the BBC and politicians will wake up to the level of public outrage felt by the public on this one. But this bizarre conversation between two of them suggests that it may well be a while yet.

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The Littlewood Plan: An interesting piece of kite flying?

By Angela Harbutt
October 23rd, 2012 at 2:30 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Conservatives, Election, Liberal Democrats


Conservative home has got hold the November issue of Standpoint magazine, (released on Thursday), which, they say, carries an article by Mark Littlewood, (formerly of this Parish) advocating a pact between free market Lib Dems and Conservatives after the next election.

The Littlewood Plan would see Conservatives stand down in a Lib Dem seat where the Lib Dem MP agrees to pursue deficit reduction and free market policies, and signs up for a new coalition. He says (presumably addressing Mr Cameron) :

“The arrangement he should seek with free market-leaning (“Orange Book”) Lib Dem MPs should be unilateral but not universal. It would essentially amount to an offer to withdraw the Conservative candidate from those seats in which an incumbent Liberal was willing publicly to take a pledge to continue the work of the coalition beyond 2015, specifically in regard to swiftly completing the process of fiscal consolidation, preferably at a rather more rapid pace than at present.”

Con Home reports that Mark Littlewood argues this arrangement would particularly suit those Lib Dems in ministerial office since they will find it harder to distinguish themselves politically from their Coalition partners, and also have less time to spend campaigning out and about in the constituency. He also suggests that such a scheme would benefit the Conservatives – allowing them to focus their firepower on target Labour seats.

This idea has clearly caught Con Home on the hop. Unsurprisingly they dismiss the suggestion (as do those commenting on the blog) in quick order. Yet they can’t quite articulate a reason why they are against the idea, beyond the fact that any Lib Dem seat in electoral peril should be seized by the Conservatives at all costs. That’s it so far. Hardly a compelling reason to dismiss out of hand. Maybe they will have a bit of a think about it and come up with a somewhat more robust set of reasons to say no.

For our  part we like this out-of-the-box thinking. This far out from an election, it is little more than a  fascinating piece of kite-flying. But there is plenty of time for variations on the Littlewood Plan to be kicked about and mulled over.

Of course what we really want to see is Ministers on both sides knuckling down to the job of getting growth going with some thoughtful ideas that will actually work. But if Vince can engage in cross bench flirting with Ed Miliband, via text or behind closed doors, we should expect, nay demand, a little flirting within the coalition too, surely?

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