Tag Archives: Nick Clegg

Clegg is on message but is anyone listening?

Earlier today, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was read, by a former member of his party, what is written on the back of every Lib Dem membership card.

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”

Specifically he was asked, live on LBC radio, how he can reconcile this government’s attacks on the poorest within society with these stated aims of the Lib Dems.

Clegg responded that he was ‘immensely proud’ and drew listeners’ attention to the changes in income tax. A policy which the party claims will cut “£600 from your income tax bill”.

Clegg’s claim misses the wider picture and flies in face of the TUC’s suggestion that the UK’s poorest families are facing a 30% reduction in income by 2017. It ignores evidence put forward recently by the Charted Institute of Housing that says 400,000 of the poorest families are losing out because of the government’s new benefits system.

Indeed, I am sure that these facts and figures go some way to explain why ‘John’ – the former Lib Dem County Councillor who rang LBC this morning – said he was ‘ashamed’ of the party.

Clearly on this answer, John and I disagreed with Clegg. Did we expect anything else though? Did we expect Clegg to suddenly condemn the coalition? Of course not. Clegg is in this coalition for the long haul.

Was there anything in the Q & A that I agreed with? Well, there was one answer.

Q: If you had to take one [Tory] for a drink?

A: Ken Clarke

Nick and Ken could talk about what it feels like to be ignored at Cabinet meetings…

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House of Lords Reform? Meh

This is a guest article written by Eugene Grant (of Dead Letter Drop fame)

Earlier this week, The Guardian splashed on the results of a new YouGov poll, which showed that 69% of voters support a reformed House of Lords – a key policy favoured by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister. The poll, commissioned by Unlock Democracy, revealed that just 5% of the public favour the status quo – a fully appointed second chamber.

The Guardian hailed the results as a ‘boost’ (and a much-needed one; Clegg’s party is polling at a woeful 9% – neck and neck with the UK Independence Party) for the Lib Dem leader. For many Lib Dems, battered from the rise in tuition fees for university students, bruised from losing a previous referendum on changing the voting system in the UK, reform of the House of Lords is one of the few flagship Lib Dem policies remaining intact, if not yet realised.

However, scratch beneath the surface and this ‘boost’ is more of a bump, if that; the key difference being not how many people support reform, but how much do they care? In an article for The Observer, Nadhim Zahawi, who co-founded and is a former CEO of YouGov, drew attention to private polling that the number of people who thought House of Lords should the main priority for this government over the next year: 0.

The president of the Lib Dems, Tim Farron, has acknowledged that House of Lords reform isn’t seen by voters as a” top campaigning issue”. Elsewhere, respected commentators like John Humphrys have flagged the dangers of the Government being seen as spending considerable effort on something many people feel doesn’t actually matter. At a time when over two and a half million people are unemployed and with Britain in a double-dip recession, which economists warn could last until summer, the prospect of spending £100 million on a referendum – and even more if actual reform is to be brought about – won’t have people rushing to the ballot box or picking up placards.

There are good arguments for and against reforming the upper chamber. Many are opposed to the very principle of an unelected House of Parliament – a practice present in only 15 other countries worldwide. Others are concerned that an elected second house would result in US senate-style gridlock, and highlight the good – if mostly invisible – work of peers like Jane Campell and Dee Doocey in opposing the Government’s regressive welfare and legal aid cuts. Some like Polly Toynbee have called for the abolition of the House altogether.

Now is certainly not a good time to press on with a reform that is not a priority for voters. But, as Steve Richards rightly points out, ‘now’ is no better or worse than any other. With the public behind him (if not very strongly), Nick Clegg has a chance to push through on a reform that will change the very make up of British democracy. Considering that so many people support the policy, but so few (9%) support his party, it is a chance he will almost certainly never have again.

What do you think? Should the House of Lords be reformed? Is it a priority for Government? Join the debate and leave your comments below.

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Electoral reform – this is our one chance

This is our one chance to be counted! For years we have had to put up with an unfair, unrepresentative voting system.  It is a system that disproportionately benefits those who hold power.  There has never been such incentive for the political classes to reform this.  Now is maybe the one time in your entire lifetime that we have a chance to change this voting system.  WE MUST SIEZE IT!!!

Let me reiterate that most MP’s do not want proportional representation.  We will only get this because we want it, not because they will give it to us.  Not only must we urge Nick Clegg to send the Tories packing with their laughable offer of a referendum on AV (FPTP with a few extra bits), but we must demand that any government (what ever its composition) give us nothing less than a direct say on proportional representation. Nothing less will do. 

There have already been rallies across the country, in Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol and London.  NGO’s and pressure groups have come together under the banner of “Take Back Parliament“.  This group is calling for a complete change to our voting system, stating that the current parliament one does not represent us. We must take the initiative. In 1997, New Labour promised us PR.  We stood back, feeling rather pleased with ourselves as we watched the London Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament the European elections all transform to various forms of PR.  And then we waited…and waited…and then silence.  The self-serving MP’s managed to bring about electoral reform to almost every institution apart from their own.  Well, I say not this time.  We must not let them get away with this injustice again.

In the past millions have taken to the streets to try to influence governmental decisions from trying to stop the illegal invasion of Iraq through to preventing the Fox Hunting Bill.  This can revolutionise the way we do politics in this country.  This is our time, for all people, from all political backgrounds, to demand that we have a say and that our votes count! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to demand change, to be counted! Do not waste it.

Protests are happening at the following locations.  More information can be found at the Take back Parliament web-site.

15 May – York
15 May – Edinburgh
15 May – Leicester
16 May – Glasgow
22 May – Southampton
22 May – Paisley, Renfrewshire
22 May – Bradley Stoke, Bristol
19 June – Cardiff


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