Yesterday, during Prime Minister Questions, Cameron said something stupid.
At the end of PMQS, Peter Hain asked a question about renewable energy specifically on the Severn Barrage project in Wales.
The Prime Minister replied with this answer:
I heard the right hon. Gentleman on “Farming Today” waxing eloquent on this project. I think that it has many advantages. A huge amount of renewable energy could be delivered through a barrage of this kind. He knows that there are lots of problems and that the environmental groups have been divided over it, but I am very happy to listen to his views as he takes forward this important piece of work. I think that there are many opportunities in a challenging European economy, as he says, to look at energy connectors and energy co-operation, particularly between England, France and other northern European countries.
Read that last bit again. Yes, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland confused the UK with England when talking to a man from Wales not greater England.
Thats either supreme arrogance or supreme ignorance. Or he is practicing for when Scotland leaves the UK & he is left with England, Wales & NI & just like before Scotland joined the union will be known as the Kingdom of England.
Cameron has said he doesn’t want to be Prime Minister of England so why is he practicing?
If Cameron wants the UK to survive, going around pretending to be PM of England isn’t going to help matters if we Scots feel he isn’t sticking up for us as well especially in an industry where Scotland is leading the way in the UK and in Europe. The PM demoting us to another “northern European country” he’d liked to work with just isn’t going to do the trick.
Today the Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced the Scottish Governments plan to introduce minimum pricing at 50p per unit.
This amounts to an attack on the still fragile Scottish economy as many people will go south of the border for cheap booze or order booze online further challenging our pubs, our off-licences and our supermarkets.
Are the supermarkets online stores going to have a special Scottish section where alcohol is set at 50p per unit?
Will Scottish companies with online stores as well have to comply with the Scottish minimum pricing but UK companies with online stores, like Tesco sell at rest of UK prices?
Minimum pricing within one state of a nation in the age of the internet is going to be impossible to properly enforce.
The SNP Government are introducing minimum pricing in order to deal with Scotland’s drinking problem. As i’ve blogged before, minimum pricing will do little if anything to help with problem drinkers.
No matter how you look at this policy, this is bad policy which will have a negative effect on Scotland.
What’s worse of all is that Willie Rennie in his first conference as leader got the Scottish Liberal Democrats to sign up to this policy, when we should be speaking up for Scotland against this bad SNP policy.
Nick Clegg, was in New North Academy today giving a speech about the pupil premium, the title of which on the cabinet office site is entitled “Delivering Educations Progressive Promise: Using the Pupil Premium to Change Lives”
Nick Clegg’s passion for education and social mobility comes through even with some rather stilted speechwriting.
The pupil premium this year will be worth £1.25bn but that wasn’t the main message of Clegg’s speech, the main message followed all that boring but important number stuff.
One of the important passages to me, was this bit:
Because we now have a once in a generation chance: get this right and we make good on education’s progressive promise: to give every child the chance to go as far as their abilities and effort can carry them. And we’ll achieve something else of lasting importance: we’ll prove that teachers do best when Whitehall steps out of the way.
To that end, I want to strike a deal between the Coalition government and our schools and teachers: we’ll give you the cash; we’ll give you the freedom; we’ll reward and celebrate your success. But in return, we want you to redouble your efforts to close the gap between your poorer pupils and everyone else. We won’t be telling you what to do, but we will be watching what you achieve.
Clegg mentions the liberal believe of giving every child an equal opportunity in life and he talks about that other liberal belief giving teachers freedom to teach, not Whitehall diktat that strangles and kills creativity and innovation.
With the teaming up with the Times Supplement to reward schools and teachers who close the gap between rich and poor kids, he is also increasing the incentive for teachers and schools to succeed and spread best practice around the country.
So Clegg didn’t paraphrase Churchill in the #Clegginar but it would have been good if he had.
There were so many good questions that I can only summarize the best before getting on to the meat of this post which was my question.
Stephen Tall of Lib Dem Voice asked about the Pupil Premium and social mobility. Nick told us that he was going to do a speech on Monday on education and how we can best use the pupil premium and other potential methods we could use to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds the same kind of chance to succeed as those from better off backgrounds.
Alex White of Liberal Youth asked about how we connect with young people. Nick simply answered by talking to them on issues that matter to them.
Callum Leslie asked about the snooping charter. Nick said it was important that we get the principles behind the #ccdd right. He also seemed not to get why us as members were so against it. Jonathan Calder & Zoe O’Connell being two of the many bloggers campaigning against this breach in our civil liberties.
I want to deal with Tracy Connell’s question with mine because they touch on the same point.
My question was in typical communication fashion cut short. The full question was:
Is our strategy of keeping our heads down and getting on with it working? Why don’t we and our comms team go out, make history and get the papers to write about it. To quote Churchill “History will be kind to me for I will write it” Our problem seems to be to let everyone else write it for us.
Yes, badly phrased, I know. Helen Duffet, Head of Internal Comms chose the bit which was phrased the worst and asked Nick this bit:
Why don’t we and our comms team go out, make history and get the papers to write about it.
That is very badly worded. I hate my phrasing sometimes.
Even though it was badly phrased, Nick’s answer was bad. There was an element in there that was good but the overall message was bad. The good element of the answer was using social media and the internet including things like webinars and bypass conventional media because they hate us. Yes, papers on the left and the right hate us but its not a case of “Haters are gonna hate” and lets not bother about them. Lets just keep our head down and get on with the job and prove ourselves which was the message in Tracy Connell’s question about local vs national politics.
Its also not about “shouting louder” which was Clegg’s last words in response to my question. Its about shouting better or better yet communicating better without the shouting.
Its about acting in a way and communicating in a way that the papers on the left and right can only come up with praise. Matthew Gibson over at Solution Focused Politics has an In Praise of … Series, praising papers who find strengths in the LibDems.
History is never kind to those who keep their head down and get on with the job in hand. History is kind to those who go out and write history and make papers, broadcasters, bloggers like them.
Zuckerberg was hated in Uni for facemash but then he wrote history in creating the biggest social networking sites ever. Yes, facebook has issues over privacy & Zuckerberg is written up horribly by some people but that will be a sidenote in history. You’ll see that throughout history.
It may well be that Clegg and our time in government will be seen a century down the line as the guys who did the right thing in despite media pressure but don’t count on it.
We need to be clever in how we deal with the Tories, we need to be clever in how we deal with Labour and we need to be clever in how we communicate that in whatever medium we choose.
Saying “Tell Labour they are liars” even in a LibDem only environment is not the way to communicate, if we ever want to gain a majority.
I’ve learnt in my brief time in this life that sometimes calling a “spade, a spade” is not the most effective way of communicating.
Today, the Queen gave her speech opening parliament and describing her governments legislative programme for this session. The good things in the speech from a Lib Dem perspective are:
- Green Investment Bank
- Banking Reform
- Bringing Fair Trade to domestic UK products so Supermarkets don’t give a bad deal to British Farmers
- Reforming the electricity market
- Reforming pensions (Steve Webb has been at the front leading on this)
- Libel Reform (something that Julian Huppert has been leading on in parliament)
- House of Lords reform
- Meeting the 0.7% in International Aid
- Shared Parental Leave
The Bad thing for LibDems in particular is the online snooping draft bill. It has been demoted to draft bill but I simply don’t believe it should pass in any form coz its not possible and currently goes against LibDem policy.
I only saw a fraction of Ed’s reply to the Queen’s speech but it was so funny and irritating at the same time that I had to stop watching.
Ed was claiming a number of the policies announced in the Queen’s speech as Labour ideas. If Labour & in particular Ed Miliband’s Labour could come up with a sensible idea that wasn’t nicked from the LibDems well I’d eat my hat and join the Labour party. On second thought, I could never join Labour, all those drones, donkeys and deadweights over there would seriously cramp my style. I value originality & creativity far too much to join Labour.
Overall, the Queen’s speech was fairly good, a fair number of LibDem policies. I’ll watch the main speeches of the debate later and blog my thoughts and opinions, if I’m not comatose from rofl from Ed Miliband’s speech.
As a result of last week local elections, there has been lots of talk within the party and outside the party as to the future of Nick Clegg as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
I’ll outline the reasons to Stay and to Go then point out what Nick or any replacement would have to do to revive the party.
- Brand Clegg is outpolling Brand Miliband. As can be seen here – http://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-clegg-poll-ratings-ed-miliband-28315.html Nick Clegg still has better approval ratings than Miliband so come a general election campaign when voters are voting for party and leader this will only help us and hinder Labour.
- Clegg is the ONLY leader to have passed the blink test. This is a critically important test as first impressions matter. When the country first caught a glimpse of Cameron, we laughed at the idea of making this guy PM. When Ed M was elected we decided that Labour had picked the wrong brother. When we first realised who Nick Clegg was i.e. in the Leader debates, we fell in love with him. That matters. See here - http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2011/09/behavioural-economics-0
- TV Debates. Like it or not Nick Clegg is an asset when it comes to the TV debates in 2015. Ed Miliband will look dorky, out of touch and un prime ministerial. David Cameron will again look like a rich posh boy who thinks he’s born to rule and that he & his Bullingdon class mates are out of touch. Nick can but only shine.
- Damage Limitation. If we dump Clegg and get a new leader and stay in the coalition, we risk tainting the whole party if it isn’t already with the Tories. If we leave, people will wonder why at the Special Conference we voted to join the coalition. What was it for?
- Replacement? With 57MPs who do we see as the next leader? Jo Swinson, Vince Cable, Ed Davey, Norman Lamb, Danny Alexander, David Laws, Tim Farron?
- Bad Public Perception. Its true Nick isn’t very popular at the moment. People LOVE to HATE him.
- Bad Election Results Since ’10 True. That doesn’t mean #itsallnickcleggsfault
- Replacement after 2015? If we do suffer at the GE in 2015 like people are predicting then we’ll have even less of a talent pool to select a leader from.
- Pull out/Stay In? Will be the next question and whatever we do we’ll be stained by the Tories & difficult decisions that we have to make. We may as well make sure that by 2015 we have the most liberal Britain we can achieve whilst being in coalition with the Tories.
Personally, I think Nick should stay until after the General Election in 2015.
This is what I think Nick & his staff need to do between now & the General Election.
- Acknowledge not necessarily apologise but acknowledge why people feel betrayed, why people felt let down by this government and provide solutions that are radical.
- Stop with the evolutionary change to the various departments. We voted for change. If we wanted evolution, we would have voted for Labour in 2010 but we didn’t.
- Show Clegg taking on Cameron & the Tory right-wing. I know its hard coz we’re in government but still we need to show that we can take them on and win preferably with something that the electorate are passionate about. We need to show we’re not going native. Lets show that at least we, the Liberal Democrats aren’t the Jim Hackers of Whitehall.
- To paraphrase the West Wing: Let Clegg be Clegg. I know we’re in coalition with the Tories but we’ve got to show that we’re not them. We have to take Cameron & the Tories on. Clegg has got far too uptight and worried about what everybody thinks including the opinion polls and what his coalition partners care about. Let Clegg be himself, stop worrying about re-election, stop worrying about the Tories & Labour.
- Last but not least. Stop being passive and get aggressive. To quote Winston Churchill “History will be kind to me for I will write it” Lets go and write it rather than letting other people write it for us.
I stood in Ayr West for the LibDems on Thursday. This was the first time the LibDems had stood in the local area since 1992 so there was no pressure.
All my opponents were incredibly nice and we all got on well. In fact, one of my fellow defeated opponents emailed me last night saying that he hoped I would keep going in politics.
I certainly will.
I may have only achieved 2% this time around but that far from sending me packing is making me wanna fight all the more.
I didn’t do nearly enough doorknocking as I would have liked. I managed to do a leaflet drop of 4 of the 6 polling districts with the highest predicted turnouts.
The hustings were a brand new experience and one thing I noticed is that my confidence levels need to increase dramatically if I’m ever to be good at speaking in front of people. I found the hustings very draining but interesting and exciting as well. I met new people and particularly in the Arts & Culture hustings met a group of people who I really want to get more involved with in the future.
I was disappointed with the 127 votes that I received particularly because it was such a long way behind the Independent in 2nd to last place by 422 votes but I live to fight another campaign.
In the run up to the election, Alex Salmond made a pledge, similar to Nick Clegg’s ill-fated tuition fees pledge, to continue no tuition fees north of the border, improve student support and to protect college places.
This is something that once elected, the SNP went back on announcing a £40 million cut to college funding, losing approximately 9000 places as a result. It was only because of relentless campaigning by Willie Rennie, the Liberal Democrats and NUS Scotland, that the SNP made an eleventh hour u-turn and reversed some of the cuts in this year’s budget.
Now the Daily Record has this story, SNP plans to close 1/3rd of Scots Colleges could have “huge cost to society” warn opponents. This is deeply worrying. If 12 of our colleges or closed, that will dramatically affect the number of college places and courses available to prospective students at a time when Scotland desperately need colleges to allow people to retrain & improve their skills to help get us out of this recession.
Why would a party that claims to be progressive, to be social democratic remove places, courses and funding to institutions that help people move up the social ladder and improve their lives?
I hope Rennie and the Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to save our colleges which are more vital now than before the financial crisis.
This was first published on LibDemVoice on 4th April at 2.05pm.
On Monday, Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition, launched the Labour Party’s local election campaign.
Ed proclaimed that the government is “out of touch”, and challenged us on growth, fairer taxes and a stronger society.
On growth, he claimed that we need to deal with the deficit otherwise we won’t have growth in the future.
On fairer taxes, Ed said we “are raising taxes for pensioners but cutting them for millionaires”.
Actually, this month has seen the personal tax allowance for pensioners increase, and from next year they are frozen until the personal tax allowance catches up. Or does Ed believe that pensioners should get a bigger tax break than working people?
A stronger society can only be achieved by local people and government, local and national, working together. That is something that the Labour party seems to be incapable of doing. Instead, Labour wants to tell local people what they can and cannot do.
Ed calls this government out of touch; this is coming from a man who thinks being in touch means a photo opportunity in Greggs.
On policy, Ed showed it was the same old authoritarian Labour. Instead of finding innovative ways to solve the roots of the problem, he simply wants to tell companies how to run their business.
On jobs, Ed said that if he was Prime Minister he would guarantee jobs for young people. How out of touch with reality can you be? Nobody can guarantee jobs unless Ed thinks that jobs grows on trees.
On crime, Ed talked about restorative justice, which is something that Brian Paddick has been campaigning on in London with the fantastic “You break it, You fix it” posters. Last September, Nick Clegg told conference in Birmingham:
“So we have to push ahead with the Government’s rehabilitation revolution: Punishment that sticks, that changes behaviour. An end to the corrosive cycle of crime. And I want the criminal to look their victims in the eye to see the consequences of their actions, and to put it right. That’s why there will be community payback projects in every city affected. Why we are investing in drug recovery wings in our prisons. Tackling gang culture. Tougher community penalties. Effective justice. Restorative justice. Liberal justice.”
The Labour party and Ed Miliband are either in fantasyland or they are nicking Liberal Democrat ideas.
Labour is the party that ran out of money in government, and in opposition ran out of ideas. What’s worse is that they are incapable of being innovative, so are incapable of getting us out of the hole that they helped to create.
Lynne Featherstone emailed the LibDem leadership yesterday evening trying to reassure us that they haven’t gone over to the Dark Side.
Lynne or whoever wrote the email in LDHQ said this:
Liberal Democrats have always been, and will continue to be, opposed to a centralised database that allows government to monitor your internet activity at will.
That is not going to happen under these proposals and never will happen in a government that includes me and the Liberal Democrats.
This is the same line that Nick Clegg used yesterday in this clip.
The party membership understand that you’re not going to have a centralised government database instead you are going to ask ISPs to collect data from third parties like Skype and Facebook, which under current rules they are not allowed to do unless they use the data for business reasons. Not to mention Conference voted on this a couple of weeks ago and part d) of the LibDem requirements says:
ensuring that service providers are not mandated by law to collect third-party communications data for non-business purposes by any method;
This is exactly what the proposals do as service providers don’t hold data about Skype and Facebook usage or any other third-party software used by users to communicate with one another.
Instead of creating one database you’re creating several databases. Then under the next Labour government the data will be centralised because we know how Labour love to centralise data and then lose data.
When the LibDems campaigned against Labour’s centralised database, I nor anyone else thought it was purely because the data was centralised. It was because that the specific data being collected shouldn’t be collected unless the police have evidence to suspect someone of serious crime. It didn’t matter whether it was centralised or there were several companies who kept different bits of the database.
I understand the data is there with all the different companies at any rate although not in the form that makes it easy to only see the communications data of the message without the content. The companies themselves are under strict rules of how to deal with this data. In order for you to allow ISPs to collect this data, you would have to relax those rules surely. Again, not good.
The reason I and many other LibDems oppose is:
a) This is an extensions of powers, powers which shouldn’t have been enacted in the first place.
b) You are creating infrastructure that doesn’t exist currently in order to spy on us. It doesn’t matter whether government has the data or private companies has the data. I’m a liberal and I’m suspicious of everyone whether it be government or private companies. You’re asking private companies to collect the data so that you can ask them “willy-nilly” about specific people. How is that significantly different to Labour’s plan of a centralised database?
This is considering that getting the Header information on the time, sender and receiver data away from the content of the message which many people do not believe to be possible. That goes against the briefing that says you are not after the content data just the communications data.
Please before the party gets into another tuition fees or NHS, and this is worse because its going against our party name, stop this in its tracks.