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Party President election – vote Susan Kramer

By admin
October 25th, 2010 at 1:00 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Liberal Vision’s Andy Mayer recently interviewed Tim Farron and Susan Kramer, granting each candidate a chance to explain why they should be elected as the new Liberal Democrat Party President. We would like to thank Tim and Susan for their time in answering Andy’s questions. Liberal Vision has thousands of Lib Dem readers, and it’s heartening to see both candidates communicating openly and honestly with the party’s activists.

Even through print on a screen, Tim’s alacrity comes through, and he certainly appears to be an energetic, charismatic media star in the making. Hopefully these qualities will prove to be a great boon for the party.

However, it is a concern that nearly all of the “good” policies that Tim wishes to promote as core Liberal Democrat beliefs involve even greater government intervention – protecting or increasing state spending (housing benefit), the 50p rate of income tax, state control of areas to provide “free” services (“no tuition fees, free personal care, and free eye and dental tests”) and so on.

Liberal Vision does not believe that tax increases are “about asking people for more money for something they know to be right, buying peace of mind and social equity…” As we state on this website:

“…we [Liberal Vision] believe people should be in control of their own lives, and to do so it is essential that they have more control over how they spend their money. We support a reduction in the overall tax burden. Too much of the wealth we produce is controlled by politicians and bureaucrats and not enough by ordinary men and women.”

It is also unclear whether Tim feels that all individuals and organisations should have the freedom to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality, or whether this is just a freedom that Christian (and perhaps other religious) groups should be granted.

While policy formulation should not be a part of the President’s job, Tim’s examples suggest that the more interventionist policies are those that, typically, would be championed by him as President, in a bid to “articulate what the Lib Dems are for”, as a counter-balance to the policies of the Coalition.

Susan Kramer, meanwhile, presents herself as a different kind of President – a grassroots campaigner, looking to strengthen the relationship between the party’s hierarchy and its support base rather than using the Presidency to publicly counter-balance the Coalition.

This may be a preferable role for President, yet it would be nice to see some stronger ideas on how it can be achieved. Susan, like Tim, seems opposed to any real structural reform in the party. On ideas like giving all members a vote at conference, and reaching out to more Lib Dem supporters (not necessarily members), there is uncertainty and a lack of resolution or solid alternatives.

On policy issues, some of Susan’s record may concern members of Liberal Vision – the stance against lifestyle freedoms such as smoking and hunting, to take two examples. However, she is “comfortable being seen as an Orange Book liberal” and spoke well about the need for pragmatism in party politics while maintaining a principled stance on core civil liberties (90 day detention without trial, for example). Reassuring stuff, and particularly important while in government (last week a Guest Post on this site demonstrated how principles in opposition are often forgotten once in power).

But most importantly, one gets the feeling that Susan’s political views would not influence her performance as President, during which she would hope to inject energy into the party during its time in government, and ensure that the party as a whole doesn’t simply become a back-drop to the Lib Dem Cabinet members at the top of the pyramid.

Tim Farron’s talents are evident, yet would perhaps be suited to a different role in the near future. For now Susan Kramer appears the best candidate for this position. Her commitment to and affection for the party seems genuine, and hopefully she will get the chance to demonstrate her qualities as the next Liberal Democrat Party President.

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Has the coalition ruined my Thursday nights?

By Angela Harbutt
May 28th, 2010 at 12:00 am | 1 Comment | Posted in UK Politics

Did tonight show us the future of UK television political coverage? I sincerely hope not.

First I watched Question Time. No Government minister on the programme..because, the BBC say, Downing Street said it would put up a minister but only if the Labour spokesperson was a serving Labour MP not Alistair Campbell… The BBC told the Government to sod off and it was up to them who they invited onto the show. First signs of BBC/government tensions? It was frankly silly of the Government to big up Campbell like that…but even sillier of the BBC to choose Alistair Campbell in the first place.

The guests were in fact all FORMER SOMETHINGs…. Alistair Campbell (former Labour spin doctor) looking very smug, Piers Morgan (former newspaper editor – and a big Labour supporter), Max Hastings (another former newspaper editor), Susan Kramer (former Lib Dem MP), and John Redwood (former cabinet minister)….Even if some of them have columns,books, or entertainment TV shows on the go these days.

Being brutally honest who cares what a load of former somethings think… It was dull,dull,dull especially when Campbell droned on like a broken record about why Blair took us into Iraq (yawn). The highlight, frankly, was when Susan Kramer described Ming Campbell as the John Redwood of the Lib Dems..(I doubt she meant it to come out quite the way it did).

It is early days of course – so let’s hope they sort out their spat with NO10 and find some panellists who are somewhat more relevant to the issues at hand or at least have something  to say.

I am now watching Andrew Neal’s THIS WEEK as I write. This too has gone a tad off- piste and is NOT working. Although I have always thought Diane Abbott a tad mad, there is undoubtedly a chemistry between the sharp-as-knife Michael Portillo and his giggling sidekick.

Diane Abbott has been replaced by Hazel Blears because, as Abbott is running in the Labour leadership election, the BBC was concerned her continued appearance as a pundit would breach its editorial independence guidelines. (Though rumour has it that Ms Abbott will feature on next week’s Question Time??).

Hazel Blears is deemed a suitable replacement. She is, let’s remember, one of the worst  home flippers there is..which begs the question that of all the MPs to choose to replace Abbott …why her? What can she possibly bring to the piece other than as an expert on tax avoidance?

Hazel Blears and David Davis (their replacements) are pale immitations of the real thing and just too painful to watch –  Ms Blears squeaking and wriggling her way through the show whilst David Davis (Portillo’s replacement) manouvers himself  tight into the corner, as far away from her as he possibly can on such a small piece of furniture. David Davis is not doing a bad job actually- but even he can’t carry the feeble efforts of the mighty midget. I have had to switch off.

I now live in hope that Ms Abbott can return to This Week’s love seat once she fails to get 33 Labour MPs to nominate her for the Leadership election – I never thought I would be writing that particular line ! (Dont even mention Ms Abbott and London Mayoral elections)

When the coaltion was finally agreed , I did wonder whether this would see the end of three-way politics on TV, with the Lib Dems squeezed out of the debate entirely …I never thought it would result in yawn TV. Perhaps the BBC have just been caught on the hop.. and it will get better (it surely can’t get worse) or may be the most radical and exciting government in decades really does make for crap TV. Has the coalition really ruined my Thursday nights? I hope not.

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