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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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Happy Europe Day, Bill Cash!

By Leslie Clark
May 9th, 2012 at 5:25 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in EU Politics

Bill Cash, the preeminent Tory Eurosceptic MP for Stone, has an article published on ConservativeHome that places the centenary of the creation of the Conservative and Unionist Party within the context of the Liberal-Conservative coalition of 2012. Coincidentally, today is also Europe Day.

Unsurprisingly for the backbencher who likes to see everything to do with Europe in apocalyptic terms, he contends that the pro-growth policies needed in Britain and the EU cannot be achieved without putting an end to legislative burdens and “generating policies that the integrationists in Europe – including the Liberal Democrats – simply refuse to allow.”  He concludes by affirming that the British government “cannot achieve growth because the Liberal Democrats, as part of those arrangements, have silenced the Prime Minister’s promise to repatriate, among other policies, burdens on business. It is called 57 votes and the keys to No. 10.” 

Now I’m sure Mr Cash is a committed subscriber to the Daily Telegraph so I am surprised that he overlooked the wise words of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills a few days ago. The majority of EU states, clubbed together in the Like Minded Group, want to see more deregulation, less red tape and an expanded Single Market (the latter of which was happily signed up to by Margaret Thatcher). For the benefit of those with their fingers in their ears and to separate reality from Mr Cash’s caricature, here’s a snippet of what Vince Cable wrote,

On the Working Time Directive: “I have continued to fight a rearguard action, so far successfully”

On our flexible labour market: “the last thing we need is the imposition of a new set of regulations potentially costing the economy billions a year”

On the ECJ: “I am not just fighting to keep the opt-out. There is also a battle to fend off damaging rulings by the European Court of Justice…I have instructed my officials to roll back these damaging rulings wherever possible…”

On fighting our corner in Europe: “We achieved agreement in Brussels to exempt around 1.4 million UK small businesses from burdensome EU accounting rules. When foolish and costly initiatives come out of Brussels, it is tempting to wave the Union flag and plead British exceptionalism.”

We need to put an end to Cash’s false dichotomy: you can be pro-market and pro-EU. One doesn’t need to unflinchingly subscribe to everything the EU does in order to support our continuing membership. There is, as Vince Cable said, a progressive majority in the EU replacing the dinosaurs of the past – it’s just a shame that some Tory Jurassic Park politicians cannot recognise the facts.

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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 | No Comments | 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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