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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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Vince Cable – Player or Prima Donna ?

By Angela Harbutt
December 21st, 2010 at 1:09 am | 6 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats

The accusation of Anne Widdicombe pre-Strictly-Come Dancing …was that she would lose herself to the giddy world of fame (and presumably fortune) and be led like a donkey down the route of becoming some mad media tart..  She didn’t… She consistently and eloquently explained that she understood perfectly the difference between being a serious politician in her hey day – and a dancing anachronism in her twilight years.

With really heavy heart (witness my tribute to him ), I have to say that it looks like  Vince  seems unable to do the same.Vince is acting out the role of the love-child  of Nick Clegg and Pamela Stephenson. Bright-Politician-come-OAP-media-ballroom-star.

Well my friend – You are not . And it’s time  for your to choose. You are either a serious politician who is signed up to the coalition..playing by the coalition rules  – as the Tory boys have to -and is willing to take on the responsibilities of that job….

Or you are a retired old has-been looking for a way to fund your retirement years with a bit of a reputation, a couple of books – and a nearly successful Strictly-Come-Dancing career.

Which is it ? A player ? or a Prima Donna ?

You are one man – who apparently thinks he is so big and so clever  – that YOU can bring down the government…  Is that really the Vince Cable I saw in action just a few years ago ? Has power really gone to your head that much ?…

…  Put another way. In footballing terms… Are you a Beckham – rooting for the team that you are playing for and  the country that you love …  or you are Tevez /Rooney – looking for the next big chance for yourself?

If I were Nick I would tell you to sling your hook. I doubt he will. Not because he is weak. But because I think he knows your value. Do you ? Or have your forgotten ? I am guessing that Nick will tell you that this is your “AABF” ( absolutely absolutely bloody final) warning. 

On balance he may be right, but it is “too close to call”. Your Ego seems to be taking hold.

If Mr Ego hasn’t seized control ..and you simply can’t stomach the necessary cuts that you yourself said were necessary… then retire gracefully – with your dignity intact. Write your books, do your cruises and Waltz your way around the country.

If you are are not yet ready for the sell out. Prove it. Stand by your colleagues and the Coalition Agreement.

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Vince the invincible..

By Angela Harbutt
April 17th, 2010 at 1:31 am | Comments Off on Vince the invincible.. | Posted in Election, Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

Ok. In the past 24 hours (since the Leaders Debate as it happens ) we  have received dozens of emails asking us to reinstate the link to the “Vince video” . To my knowledge the link was always there….and anyway I think that Nick has proven he is “de man” but hey… here is the link again

(ps.. it is a year out of date….but you know that ….right  ??)


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Thatcher’s think tank slams Tory policies..

By Angela Harbutt
April 12th, 2010 at 12:02 am | 2 Comments | Posted in Election, Liberal Democrats, Policy

Mark Littlewood and Vince CableA week or two ago I thought the Tories had it….They were the ones who were talking about the need for spending cuts… And the need for them NOW…. That seemed credible to me and I thought they were on to something.

Ok Ok the liberals were talking about cuts … and we had been more specific about where the cuts would come from….and Vince is …well Vince…. but we seemed reluctant to commit to them anytime soon  – and that worried me. I could not (still dont) get why we weren’t the “totally honest party” that actually said it as it was…we’re f*cked.. the cuts need to be bigger than anyone has told you, and by the way we can’ actually carry on with more people working on the “spending wealth” side of the scales, than the “creating wealth” side…  

The Tories on the other hand seemed to be grasping that spending cuts nettle with a vengence. Whoa I thought…these cats have got it. Any day now, the Tory’s will deliver the coup de gras and “come clean” with the voters about the future we must all face up to. And the liberals at that point might as well pack up and go home….

But no such thing.  The Tories look to me like they are determined to screw this thing up. No sooner have they marched down the spending cuts route like a well-drilled army …then they swerve off down some blind alley to have a some silly punch up with the Government about National Insurance and then stagger around blurting out some ill-conceived bribe for the “poorly weds“. Confused? You betcha…. 

Tough on debt, tough on the causes of debt one week…err….its a freebie giveaway ..the next week…. oh please someone get some sanity back into the debate..

..Ah, the big daddy of all Think Tanks – the IEA – enters (stage right obviously) to bring us back to the real world…. It blasts, all over the front page of the Business section of the Sunday Telegraph today , both main parties….

Labour and the Conservatives both stand guilty of presenting vastly under-ambitious economic plans which fail to address the dire state of the public finance“….

and…..”The National Insurance row, which has dominated the headlines this week, disguises the fact that none of the parties have offered the scale of spending cuts necessary to heal the economy“.

The Telegraph goes onto report that the IEA “will this week launch a campaign urging the winner of the election to reconsider the entire edifice of public spending“.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

And why not start by getting the IEA and Vince Cable together? The IEA sits within 20 yards of Lib Dem HQ. And surely Vince has the number of the DG over there – afterall one of them used to work for the other.Then perhaps we stand a chance of getting this election debate on track……

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Vince the invincible….

By Angela Harbutt
March 30th, 2010 at 1:53 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in UK Politics

ask-the-chancellors-image-2-5493365971Vince has got his mojo back, and some…..


OK, lets be honest, “Ask The Chancellors“, was little more than a supporting bout ahead of the main show – the leaders debate. A useful rehearsal for all three parties and a way for Channel 4 to get a slice of the TV political debate “action”.


But given all that,  it is hard to see how Vince could have done much better…

Am I the only one who thinks that this ups the pressure on Nick for “the main event”?


It seems pretty clear that Vince was THE man last night. I say that not as a Lib Dem. That seems to be the consensus. New Statesmen “Cable Triumphs” , Channel 4 “Cable wins” and “Cable impresses” and “Cable is public’s choice for chancellor” , Guardian “Vince Cable draws first blood in battle of the chancellors”  , Reuters “”Third man” stars in TV election debate” , and so on…..

Of course there were dissenters – e.g. Quentin Letts over at the Daily Mail tells us “I resist the cult of Vince the wizened seer”  – but as Daisy McAndrew tweeted at the time “Audience pretty much unanimous cable won, hacks too privately, but many sticking to party lines in their copy“.

And Vince had some things in his favour. Was it accident or design that as we looked at the screen, Darling was on the left, Osborne on the right and, well Vince in the middle (always the best place to be).

He is also built for this kind of show. He is has a confident, school masterly air about him, is always across his facts and has, as he shows at his occasional appearances on PMQ’s an undeniable gift for witty one liners – which endears him to any audience no matter how cynical.  

People can, and have said, that Vince can say what he likes as the Lib Dems don’t have any chance of getting into power. That might have been an easy stick to beat the Lib Dems with before, but with the polls refusing to shift far away from “hung parliament” territory, that’s an argument that’s much harder to make right now. I very much doubt that Vince will actually end up in no11 – but how much money would I give to hear Cameron try to rationalise to the public why Osborne should have the keys over Cable….

No. Vince did not win last night because his policies don’t stand a chance of being implemented. Vince won because he is clearly a man who knows what he is talking about, he was more honest about the cuts, more specific about where they will come from, more direct in answering the questions, and more authoritative whilst being warmer and funnier than the other two (you gotta feel for the other two guys really). 

But what can we learn from this that will inform the leaders debates? Much will be outside of the leaders control – the order in which you stand, how much public interaction there will be etc…

But some things are clearly in your gift…e.g. Get your make up sorted.George Osborne looked pale bordering on vampiric. Try very hard not to nod all the time when your opposite number is speaking. George (again!) was like a nodding dog most of the time – nerves maybe – but do try to keep the head still. Oh and answer the damned question!! You might think you got away with it on the night. But I have spent a morning listening to various phone-ins observe the fact that Vince seemed much more willing than the other two to address the question put – not some question they might have liked to have been asked.  

We can’t and shouldn’t expect Nick to mimic Vince’s naturally comedic timing or instinctive turn of phrase. You either got it or you ain’t – and there is nothing worse than a joke falling flat, or a one liner – that you then have to explain……oh dear no.

But Nick CAN do the honest thing. He can do the “sound of reason” thing. He can do the passionate thing. And he can answer the questions. He can and must be prescriptive in his recipe for change, he can and must be bold about the need for cuts, he can and must speak with authority on parliamentary reform…

Vince will be a hard act to follow…It’s do-able …but my word it wont be easy.

Get thee to rehearsal Nick – the bar has been set pretty high.

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