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Tim Farron needs to start closer to home

By Editor
July 17th, 2015 at 1:29 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

The newly elected leader of the Lib Dems, Tim Farron, has already taken to air stating that his ambition is to bring all liberals into the Lib Dem fold.  That would work if the party was actually liberal. Unfortunately it is not.

Mark Littlewood, (formerly of this parish) said what we were all thinking…

ml tweet

Mr Farron is going to have his work cut out keeping the liberals he has inside the party, if he really does intend to move the party massively to the left of where it is now.

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The case for freedom – short & sweet

By Editor
May 13th, 2015 at 10:15 am | Comments Off on The case for freedom – short & sweet | Posted in Uncategorized

HAT TIP:   Following the May 7th General Election results, a timely article on the case for freer markets and a less powerful state has just been published by CentreForum. No surprises that the author of this stellar piece is by none other than IEA Director General, Mark Littlewood.

This short (2 page) article is especially recommended to our liberal-minded Conservative MPs; short, pithy and loaded with Littlewood’s delicious and highly repeatable soundbites.  We reckon these are the choicest themes that will be quoted, expanded upon and otherwise used time and again in the months (possibly years) to come.

“[in the past 40 years] state spending has increased by a factor of about three and half in real terms”.

“Spending on all welfare provision in the UK –including state pension provision – amounts to around £8,000 per household. Twice what it was in nominal terms a decade or so ago. “

“Pretty consistently, in recent decades, governments – again of all political persuasions – have only found it possible to collect around 37% of national income in tax receipts… Given this 37% rule seems to be close to being an iron rule, [Government] spending above this on any consistent basis is a road to ruin.”

“[My educated guess is that] the financial services are the second most regulated sector of our economy. I was disappointed it didn’t come top – I think handling weapons grade plutonium comes top.”
Read the full article here.
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By Editor
May 8th, 2015 at 1:26 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Pretty much everything that can be said, has been said, by Mark Littlewood in the Telegraph today:

Nick Clegg has spent five years trying to appeal to no one. His party has paid the price.

In their worst nightmares, the Liberal Democrats surely never believed they would meet with such total catastrophe at the ballot box. Even as he held his own seat, against the expectations of many, Nick Clegg looked a broken and defeated man.

Results are still trickling in, but the exit poll – ridiculed by Lib Dem high command on Thursday evening – indicating a tally of just ten seats now looks to towards the top end of their expectations. As a national political force, the Liberal Democrats have been eviscerated. Clegg was right to say that the results of this incredible election raise profound questions for the country and for his party. With regard to the latter, one wonders if it can continue to survive at all in its present form. Perhaps Nick Clegg would actually have preferred to have lost his own seat, rather than return as the nominal leader of a microscopic Parliamentary Party.

The central problem for the Lib Dems was that they could never really work out what they were saying and who they were appealing to. There’s nothing wicked about moderation and seeking to position yourselves as equidistant between the two major parties, but it hardly sets the pulse racing. In essence, the Liberal Democrats were saying that they knew the British people would select gin or vodka – but their pitch was to be the tonic water to pour on top. It is, at root, a pretty feeble and uninspiring offer….

…The party faces a further, long term problem. Although swathes of senior Lib Dem politicians – including those who are household names, such as Vince Cable, Simon Hughes and Charles Kennedy, have had their political careers terminated by the electorate, the truth is that the Lib Dems would have fared even more catastrophically in most of their seats if less well known candidates had been bearing the party colours. Having lost these seats, it is hard to imagine how they can ever be won back.

Once the LibD ems had taken the step of entering government, they may have had the opportunity to define themselves as a genuinely classical liberal party, seeking to shift power in every area of life away from the state and towards individual men and women. But they fluffed it. They retreated to their comfort zone of not really saying anything distinguishable. And – as a result – they fell off the edge of an electoral cliff.

The Lib Dems might decide to limp on as a sort of confederation of residents associations. Almost for old times’ sake. As a sort of hobby. They can gather by the seaside at conferences and reminisce about the old days. Such a future might even be just about viable, but it cannot be described as serious politics and it is hard to see how it meaningfully contributes to promoting liberalism. A lot of people will ask whether anyone would bother creating the Liberal Democrats if they didn’t already exist. And the answer to that question, for many, would surely be “no”. 

You can read the full article here.

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What are the Lib Dems for?

By Editor
March 14th, 2015 at 12:12 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in conference, Liberal Democrats

HAT TIP:  In case you missed it Mark Littlewood (former Lib Dem spin doctor and co-founder of Liberal Vision) had an interesting article in the Telegraph yesterday, to coincide with the start of the Lib Dem Spring conference. Kind it is not. Accurate it is undoubtedly is.

The essence of Littlewood’s point is that the Lib Dems have no message to the voter – other than to promise to be less mean that the Conservatives and more financially hard-headed than Labour… “to water down the convictions and ideals of our main political opponents“. This is certainly borne out by speeches being made up and down the country by Lib Dem MPs, highlighting what the Lib Dems have stopped the Tories doing over the past five years and why Labour can be trusted to go it alone for the next five.

And that is the problem, he says, no one knows what the Lib Dems are for.

“Obviously, there is nothing intrinsically immoral or wicked about such a proposition, but it certainly doesn’t get the pulse racing. There simply aren’t going to be millions of voters trooping to polling stations in May because they are passionate about injecting just a dash more moderation into our government. On the big questions facing Britain, the LibDems don’t sound radical at all. Is the overall tax burden too high or too low? Does the state intervene too much or too little in our lives? Is our relationship with the EU too close or too loose? Very often, the Lib Dems seem to believe that we have the balance of everything more or less right and just need a very small tweak here or there.”

[Agreed. Whether you like them or hate them, you have to accept that the parties on the rise, UKIP, Greens, SNP have conviction and passion by the bucket-load and none of them are in any doubt that things need to change for one reason of another].

Littlewood suggests that even if 20 or 30 Liberal Democrat MPs do make it back to Westminster, and by some chance find themselves back in coalition “it is hard to be at all sure what on earth they would do with it”.

Quite. So, what is the point of voting for them? – it’s like ticking the “don’t know” box on a multiple choice question. Perhaps Liverpool will provide some answers.

You can read the full article here.

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Fun, facts and fag-packets at Forest event

By Editor
February 27th, 2015 at 11:21 am | Comments Off on Fun, facts and fag-packets at Forest event | Posted in Personal Freedom, Uncategorized

The Hands Off Our Packs “Stop the Nonsense: Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging” event was held on Tuesday night. What a joy it was.MArk Littlewood southampton FC

All Forest shindigs are must-go-to events as far as we are concerned. They are lively and fun; the speakers are invariably excellent value; the alcohol flows; and the pavements/terraces/balconies are alive with smokers and non-smokers alike celebrating life, the universe and everything else.

This event was no less fun, informative and innovative than we have come to expect. We had intended to write up the event in  more detail, but Dick Puddlecote has pretty much said it all – so just go read his post.

[PS his added note was an eye-rolling moment..

“*An interesting note on David Cameron and his view of plain packs. He came out with a quip during yesterday’s PMQs which went something like this – “Now we are committed to plain paper packaging of cigarettes, it will give more space for the opposition to write their policies on”. Yep, it looks like David Cameron doesn’t have a first clue about the policy he is legislating on! “

Let us just add our salute to Simon Clark (Forest Director) for coming up with such an innovative format (8 or so quick fire speeches- each lasting no more than 2 or 3 minutes).

Hats off to our very own Angela Harbutt who kicked of the formal speeches delivering the plain facts from Australia and ending up with an ask that MPs “consider the facts – not the wishful fiction of state-funded lobby groups and self-serving Whitehall bureaucrats”.

We should also salute Mark Littlewood, formerly of this Parish, and now Director General of the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs. Not only did he deliver a suitably rousing finish to the formal part of the evening, he managed to namecheck (yet again) his much-beloved Southampton Football Club!

Not without merit…(though he rarely needs an excuse in our experience).  He simply pointed out that he had acquired a (very robust and rather snazzy) “SaintsFC cig box” into which he drops his chosen cigarette pack. Given the interest in the room that evening , we suspect many more will be doing likewise (acquiring their own bespoke cig case – not necessarily creating a Saints FC one.)

Forest has promised to put a video of the speeches up on YouTube in the coming days. But here is a close up pic of the much-discussed cig case.

ML cig case

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