Thursday, 27 January 2011


There are many cliches in politics but sometimes a cliche is what is needed. Government plans for reforming control orders mean the end of curfews and their replacement with 'overnight residence requirements'. They will also no longer be unlimited, instead they will have a two year duration. So that's all right then. The new rules will be similar to the old control orders in that they continue to ride roughshod over existing legal standards in this country, like the right to trial, the presumption that someone is innocent until proven guilty and, dare I say it in my humble lay position, even habeas corpus (with apologies if that is misspelt).

I realise Nick's in an impossible position on this, so why not just say so. And here's that cliche: if it looks like a repressive throwback to the bad old days of Labour's assault on civil liberties and sounds like a a repressive throwback to the bad old days of Labour's assault on civil liberties, its a repressive throwback to the bad old days of Labour's assault on civil liberties.

Come on Lib Dems, this is a cornerstone of our beliefs being assailed here. Must do better on such a fundamental issue.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


So you think the Lib Dems have lost their way? The Independent reports today that the government will announce plans to reform the daft control orders and that it will cut the time terror suspects can be kept in custody without charge from 28 to 14 days.

Before the bluster starts about woolly minded Liberalism, in the so-called 'Land of the Free' (where guns don't killl people, people kill people - but that's another story...) terror suspects have to be charged within 24 hours - unless, of course, they are hauled off to Cuba to ensure they are beyond the USA's very strict constitution.

The plain fact which demolishes Labour's anti-freedom policies assembled in the wake of the so-called 'war on terror' is that if the police or the security series suspect someone of wrongdoing they must assemble evidence and charge them. This is still a free society, after all and that's the way the law works.

What is often forgotten is that freedom isn't easy: its a daily struggle but reducing freedom doesn't protect it. Comedian Patrick Kielty made the point very well when he contrasted the scare tactics of the previous government with 30 years of living with almost daily violence in Northern Ireland. He dismissed the current fear - not by saying there wasn't a problem but by making it clear that life must go on. Shopping must be done, kids must go to school, meals must be cooked and if something dreadful happens it must be dealt with but life cannot stop and everyone can't be locked up for their own safety. That isn't freedom.

Is it just my fervent prayer that Tony Blair is one day forced to atone for his crimes against us all..?

If you've made it this far, my apologies that this has become a bit of a rant but this announcement is at the heart of what the Lib Dems are for. Lib Dems in government are making a difference and they are working to improve your lives. If you don't believe me, drown your sorrows in April with the extra £200 in tax you will receive over the coming year.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Nickers was on the radio this morning and he's finding his stride more and more. What is encouraging is that the media has reduced its bleating ('Politician "unpopular" shock') and is increasingly listening to his measured comments about where we are. Headlines included the very pertinent point that we came third in the last election so of course we can't call the shots but we can achieve a lot in coalition.

On tuition fees, Nickers made the once again excellent points that Labour introduced them and Labour commissioned the Browne Report which recommended unlimited fees. I haven't heard the Labour leader giving his view on these facts. Nickers could also have pointed out that Labour introduced upfront fees for students - opposed by the Lib Dems, not the Tories - putting a tax at the front door of higher education. They also never removed the upfront requirement to pay fees for part-time students, which these new proposals do.

If you're a student reading this, remember that you would have been paying substantially higher fees under Labour and if they say otherwise they are lying. What the coalition has done is to be honest with you and make it clear that students have to pay for their education these days and this is the least painful way to do it. There is no question that a bill of £27,000+ is a horrible thing to start work but that is unfortunately the world we live in.

I hope the next LD manifesto outlines plans to cut or reduce these fees, as the last one did - uniquely for any party. I'd love to see a LD government elected so that it could reduce or abolish fees. If you think that's a daft idea, remember that a vote for the Tories or Labour is categorically a vote for fees. A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a party which wants to abolish fees and which hopefully will in future, even if we couldn't this time round.

Friday, 7 January 2011


Here's to England's cricketers who stuffed the Aussies in the Ashes. Our cricketers played with style and passion and smashed Australia with three innings defeats.

What do you call an Australian with a bottle of Champagne?
A waiter.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


So Lib Dem support is down to 11 per cent. That's what you get from going into coalition with a 'marmite' party which divides people between slavish loyalty and outright hatred. I know what my view is...That's also what you get when you start to do stuff in government, rather than spending 90 years carping on the sidelines.

This rating is apparently the lowest it has ever been for the LDs but my mildly ossifying brain can recall a rating back in the bad old days of the 1980s of just 2% - surely the political equivalent of flatlining. This is the reason many of us still idolise St Paddy, because he was the one to pick us up out of the gutter we had been wrestled into by the execrable and utterly selfish David Owen (pauses to spit on the ground) and set us off on the long path to where we are now.

If you are in your 20s, ambitious and zealous about Lib Demmery, don't lose heart. In politics a long view can be very reassuring. There's a by-election next week, which is our game on our terms.