'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Slightly mixed messages on The Falklands from the Daily Telegraph

29th January. We couldn't defend the Falklands if we tried...

31 January. We can destroy every fighter aircraft in South America, let alone Argentina

It's like The Telegraph has hired Ed Miliband's speechwriter with all these u turns...

Caption Competition

On the off chance everyone's bored and wondering how to fill their day - what is this woman looking at David Cameron thinking?

(Picture from the Telegraph)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Taxing US Presidents...

Here's a brilliant graphic showing what tax rate various US Presidents - and Presidential candidates - paid in tax compared to Mitt Romney.And also how much they earn. Blimey. No paupers there...

Here's a link to the full article . Hat tip to @245 days for the link.

I shall be posting a run down of my own less than satisfactory HMRC experience this year at some point shortly...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Birthday Blog

This blog is one today. Can hardly believe it. What a year it's been - a win at the LVD awards for best new blog, an interview with Nick Clegg, and a regular slot on The Staggers in the New Statesman. And of course I'm most proud of the campaign to have Mohamed al Bouazizi named as 'Person the Year' in time Magazine - which resulted in 'The Protestor' winning, with Mohammad featured very heavily.

So here are a few highlights from the last 12 months

1. My first proper post

(was actually the second post, but this one didn't count...)

2. My most read post

3. My favourite and most discussed headline

4. Probably my favourite post

5. My best story

Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog, commented, and for all the support and encouragement. Here's to Year two...

I will be pontificating...

....at the University College, London Economics and Finance Society at 7pm on the 7th Feb. If you fancy it.

Here's how they are billing me.

Makes you wonder who this person is on the following night...

It's probably Charlotte Henry...

Friday, 27 January 2012

One of those headlines that you simply couldn't make up

"Clear Yellow Water". Me in the New Statesman yesterday

Do click here to read the piece and the fairly strident comments that followed! Or if you can't be bothered to click on the link, here's the piece on its own...

I'd be the first to admit that it's not the best catch phrase ever invented. It may be the worst. But clear yellow water is what the party grass roots has been begging for ever since we entered government. And it's a lot better than the sentiment of "not a cigarette paper between us" that we all so disliked for the first 12 months of coalition government.
And while there have been tentative steps in that direction for a while, today it's been delivered. The Lib Dems find themselves standing on the high ground of tax reform for the lowest paid and middle income families. Today is the best day since May 2010 to be a Lib Dem.
Nick Clegg's speech today is being painted as a gamble. "If Osborne says no, Clegg looks impotent", goes the mantra. That's simply not right. If Osborne says no, the Tories look like right wing zealots hammering the poor while letting their mates in the City get away with millions in bonuses. Go on George, I dare you...
However, I wonder who has the real political problem today?
It is something of a paradox that we have ended up differentiating ourselves from the Tories by advocating tax cuts that they are not keen on. The irony of a Conservative chancellor not acquiescing to a request to cut taxes will not be lost on the electorate.
But surely more ironic is the lengths Labour have gone to in the last ten days to demonstrate fiscal prudence -- the iron fist keeping the cuts, freezing the pay for the public sector -- only to see the Lib Dems step into the void they have left and champion the poor. Oh Mr Miliband, where to now? Are you going to say these tax cuts would be too far and too fast?
Before you know it we'll be ditching the second worst political catch phrase ever invented ("Alarm Clock Britain" -- give it up, Nick) and start talking about the squeezed middle...
While the Tories now have a short term political quandary to solve, it's Labour who find themselves standing in a great pool of clear yellow water. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Let's start with an apology to @charlotteahenry...

...who thinks the Lib Dem blogosphere has been slightly too 'ra ra party policy' and not enough ' are you mad?' in recent weeks. And she's probably right. What's the point of being an unelected foot soldier pushing endless focus envelopes through doors if you can't point the finger at the leadership and say 'oi' every now and again?

So sorry Charlotte. Because for me, today is the best day to be a Lib Dem since May 2010, with Nick's speech today marking out a clear, unequivocal and just plain right stand on tax policy, and a drive to taking the poorest paid workers out of income tax sooner rather than later.

So I'm saying hip hip hooray, and shamelessly posting our approach to tax that I've nicked off the party website.

Sorry Charlotte :-)

Thu, 26 Jan 2012
The Liberal Democrats believe you should keep more money that you earn. That is why we believe the tax-free threshold should raise to £10,000, saving working people £700 a year and making sure millions of the lowest paid workers don’t have to pay any income tax at all.
Between now and the Budget, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats in Government will be arguing for faster tax cuts for hard-working families, promoting work and growth, and rewarding innovation, paid for by increasing the amount paid by the richest.

And the Liberal Democrats in Coalition are already making the difference:
  • More than 800,000 working people no longer paying income tax
  • 23 million working people have been given a £200 tax cut
  • In April this year every worker will be given a further income tax cut of £130
  • And by the local elections in May this year, 1.1 million of the lowest paid workers, will no longer be burdened by income tax

Imagine a mum who works 3 days a week as a teaching assistant - earning £10,000 a year or just over £190 a week. Under Labour she paid more than £1,000 in income tax and national insurance. Although she wanted to work more days a week she knew it was not financially worth it. Under Labour; once tax, tax credits and housing benefit has been deducted, for every extra pound she earned she was able to keep just 10.5p.
Under our plan she would see her income tax bill cut to zero making her £700 a year better off.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to delivering a fairer economy, turning our tax promise into cash in your pocket. It was on the front page of our manifesto and is being implemented because of Liberal Democrats in Government.

As part of this Coalition, Liberal Democrats are calling time on our unfair and out-of-whack tax system.
  • We’ve clamped down on tax avoiders – targeting an extra £7bn every year
  • We’re taxing the banks by an extra £2.5bn every year
  • We’ve stopped inheritance tax cuts for millionaires
  • We’ve put up Capital Gains Tax
  • We’re ending the scandal, under Labour, of a hedge-fund manager paying less tax on their shares than their cleaner paid on their wages
  • We’ve reduced tax breaks on pension funds for the super-rich
  • We have retained the 50p rate
  • And our overall priority is freeing the lowest-paid from income tax altogether and cutting income tax for millions of ordinary workers

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

State of the Union Address

For some reason The Guardian won't let you embed their highlights of the State of the Union but you can link to it here.

I have three observations.

1. The moment Obama meets Gifford's is genuinely moving.
2. The claiming of the removal of Gadaffi and the strong threat to Iran is genuinely chilling.
3. What is a suntanned Liam Fox doing sitting right behind Obama's left shoulder (our right) :-)

Everything that's wrong with The City in one sentence...

Here's the opening sentence of the Telegraph story on the proposed bonus for Stephen Hester, CEO of state owned, loss making RBS


I also don't quite understand how MP's have such a huge problem giving themselves any sort of payrise on the grounds that it looks bad, yet seem powerless to stop all this. I know the arguments - it's an independent pay committee who decide blah blah blah. I just happen to think, it's nonsense.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

It's good to know that some people will never forget Ed Miliband

Yes. It is another funny Ed Miliband picture.

Yes. That is a commemorative mug of his wedding to Justine Thornton.

No. I don't understand either...

h/t to @sarahbrown1984 (no, not that Sarah Brown...)



Just in case you missed the Telegraph apology to Chris Huhne today...

...I thought that I'd try and make sure  everyone knew that they'd printed it. As it's not exactly prominent...

Friday, 20 January 2012

Hung Parliament in 2015? What are the chances...

H/T to @duncanstott for tweeting the brilliant infographic below, showing how Political Betting see the chances of a hung parliament emerging in 2015.

(Click to enlarge)

Its a fascinating ponder, as is the great commentary they've added

It's all poised very delicately...

Thursday, 19 January 2012

I told you the Iowa result could change..

...because they were still counting votes. Here's my piece  saying so


(click to enlarge)

So, one win for Santorum, one for Romney, if S. Carolina goes to Gingrich then it's all to play for again. And suddenly the dullest primary race I can remember is off and running...

Update - 21 Jan

Now apparently it's officially confirmed.

Blimey. Labour members really really really wanted the other Miliband to win...

As this rather brilliant picture of which candidate won the most votes in the leadership election demonstrates...

Just click to enlarge.

Hat tip to Edward Mayes (@eljmayes) for the link

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wohoo - Tim Farron comes out fighting...

Am I very shallow for rather loving Tim Farron's latest missive to the troops? Here it is...

Dear Richard, Are two Eds better than one? I’m not sure - but the two Eds said something very interesting over the weekend: apparently they don’t have a ‘Plan B’ for the economy after all.

You’ll have heard Simon Hughes and I over the weekend rightly calling on the two Eds to apologise. We want them to apologise to the British public for deceiving them for 18 months. However, there is one apology we didn’t call for publicly, but which they still should make – that’s an apology to you.

Last May across the country, from Lancaster to Sheffield and Manchester to Newcastle, many of you lost your council seats to undeserving Labour candidates who were fighting their elections on a false platform with dishonest messages. They stood on a platform that the Eds now admit was wrong. Shame on them – but I’m proud of you.

In addition, Nick Clegg deserves an apology. Nick has been berated and abused by the Labour leadership for having the guts to stand up and work as part of the Coalition in the best interest of the country. Now Labour have admitted that their attacks were inaccurate - but there’s no hint of apology.

They have gone from being in the wrong place, to all over the place. That leaves the Liberal Democrats as the only political party with the backbone to tackle the country’s problems, but with the heart to do everything to ensure that fairness, compassion and justice are written through everything we do.

As this article from The Times recognises, the Liberal Democrats are a progressive force in Government. We are the Party delivering tax cuts for working people, we are the party investing in the poorest school pupils, we are the party delivering the largest ever state pension rise and importantly, we are the party prepared to take the tough decisions needed to get this country back on track.

So don’t hold your breath waiting for an apology from Labour – but rest assured you are most definitely owed one! I have written more about this on Lib Dem Voice, and you can see my full article here.

Best wishes,

Tim Farron

 President of the Liberal Democrats

Ed Miliband's position is perfectly clear. What's the big problem?

Having watched 3 Ed Miliband interviews last night, Labour's economic policy seems perfectly coherent, logical and straight forward to me. So as a public service for the greater good, let me clarify, for example, the Miliband position on public sector pay. I am paraphrasing his words here...

 "The public sector pay freeze is an assault on the worthiest and often most poorly paid sectors of society, driven not by economic necessity but by political philosophy and general spite. It is nothing less than a disgrace. I have therefore decided to embrace it for the good of the economy and the nation. For by freezing pay, I safeguard jobs and that is my priority. But be clear. I am only supporting this freeze because it represents a 1% rise in pay. This rise is the minimum freeze we can accept. My own council in Doncaster has actually started to cut pay amongst local public sector employees and I am convinced they are right to do so. They have my total support. And so would any other council who thinks cutting pay is the right alternative to the 1% rise (or 'payfreeze') being introduced elsewhere."
There now. How much clearer can he be?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ed Miliband C4 Interview tonight.

Oh dear. He wouldn't make a great PM would he? And according to @mshapland, he even gets the share of funding Labour receives from the Unions wrong. Crumbs

This doesn't sound like it went too well either...

Louise Mensch: you need to read this

After I highlighted Louise Mensch's ill judged dismissal of every female leader in the world bar lady Thatcher, the New Statesman has helpfully today published a full list of the 18 current female world leaders.

I trust Louise finds it a useful  and informative read...

Don't underestimate Ed Balls...

My piece from the New Statesman yesterday (click on the link to see the comments, which seem strangely obsessed with Ed Balls degree...)

Here's the piece:

It's seldom a good idea to underestimate your opponent, so when I'd stopped hugging myself at what Twitter was telling me Ed Balls was saying over the weekend, I reasoned he isn't a fool and so there must be method to his apparent madness. Which of course, there is.
And so picture if you will the shadow chancellor luxuriating in a large armchair and stroking a white cat as I take you through his dastardly scheme...
There has of course been some misrepresentation of the facts. Ed Ball's speech actually positions him as the irritating local, replying to a request for directions with a lopsided grin and a sarcastic "I wouldn't have started from here'. This promise to map out a course from wherever he finds himself in 2015 conveniently saves him coming up with any solutions of his own for a while and at the same time allowing him all the wriggle room he needs over coming months.
And it's a trick he's seen pulled off before. It's from the Gordon Brown school of 'how to demonstrate economic competence if you're Labour' that played so well pre the 1997 election. Accept Osborne's sums, say you'll spend the money they leave you more wisely - spending is an area the electorate believes Labour does know something about -and you win. It's worked once before...
And it needs to work again. Because for all the distinctiveness of the shadow chancellor's Keynesian approach, the country seems more inclined to support the notion of belt tightening and austerity to dig us out of the economic mess we find ourselves mired in
There are also tactical advantages to all this. It's been Balls over the last few months who's been leading the doe-eyed flirting with us Lib Dems. What better way to lay the groundwork for a future potential pact, than to accept that all that has gone before cannot be undone? It's like the shadow chancellor is gearing himself up to come over, give us a big hug and say 'what's past is past'.
Of course, some people within the Labour movement are going to be upset by all this - especially the unions when they read about accepting the need for public sector pay freezes. But the unions weren't exactly supportive of Ed Balls during the leadership campaign were they? So not much to lose there. The only one who's going to suffer in that camp is poor Ed Miliband. As some idiot pointed out on Friday, Miliband is safe enough in the leadership while he's seen as playing the game by the rules of the party - but as soon as he starts going anywhere near the centre, the gloves are off, and he's in trouble. And that opens all sorts of doors.
Of course, I hear you cry, the man wielding the knife never gets to lead - Balls wouldn't be so obvious. Except of course, in the Balls household, it's not Ed's turn to go for the leadership - and Yvette is untouched by all this. Isn't it better when you sort out these potential family disputes about whose turn it is to be leader in a mature fashion behind closed doors? If only everyone took the same approach.
So all in all, the latest front in the battle for the economic high ground opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for the Balls camp.
He's not stupid, is he....

Monday, 16 January 2012

Liberal Voice of the Year - Mark Littlewood

Many congratulations to Mark Littlewood, a very clear winner of the Liberal Voice of the Year over at Lib Dem Voice.

This website championed Mohamed al Bouazizi who didn't quite make the top of the list - but many thanks to all who supported him.

Andrew Emmerson has pointed out that the vote was of course run on First Past the Post - and is running preferential vote as a trial to see if that changes things - so do pop over and see at his blog.

But no bad grace - Mark Littlewood was a clear and worthy winner so many congrats to him.

America will never make a man who straps his dog to the roof of his car, President.

Further to my earlier post on reasons Mitt Romney will lose in November, I missed this...

I would say that's probably that for Mitt....

Friday, 13 January 2012

Hmm. Have I been just a bit too kind to Labour?

My latest piece on the New Statesman has just gone up - and I wonder if I've been just a bit too kind to the Labour party and their unswerving support for what they regard as the 'right' sort of leaders...

Anyway, make your own minds up and let me know


If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination he will most likely lose. Here are a few reasons why...

A slightly unfortunate photo that's been released of Mitt hard it it on the campaign trail...

The latest Newt Gingrich attack ad. Ouchio (probably worth saying I don't agree with much of it - but it will be a huge problem for Romney...)


 An early promotional photo from Bain...

And of course, this:


 He's almost making it too easy...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Blimey. Now that's a political ad and a half.

I've blogged before how about how I think we need, as a party, to get better at  understanding the 30 sec political ad. Because like it or not, that's where a lot of great campaigning is going to head to

Today I was sent this ad.

I don't agree with it's message.

I wouldn't vote for the candidate.

But you know who it's for.

You know what he believes

You know what he's going to do if he wins.

And if you're in any way inclined to support him - this will probably push you into the polling station on the day.

All in 30 seconds

Ron Paul knows a hell of a lot about communications.

We should take note.

h/t to @stuartbonar for sending me the ad.


Goodness. My friend Chris (@cmlowe_NYC )just sent me this ad. That Ron Paul really doesn't pull his punches does he?


HS2. Right Idea. Wrong project

The always entertaining Rory Sutherland gave a Ted Talk in 2009 about his concerns over the £6 billion being spent on the High Speed upgrade between London and The Tunnel (or HS1 as we must now call it). As he said at the time…

“It strikes me as a slightly unimaginative way of improving a train journey, merely to make it shorter. What you should in fact do is employ all of the world’s top male and female supermodels and get them to walk the length of the train handing out free Chateau Petrus for the entire duration of the journey. You’ll still have £3billion in change and people will ask for the trains to be slowed down…”

And that’s what makes me uneasy about HS2. It’s solving the wrong problem.

I’m a big fan of capital projects when they move on the human experience. I don’t care if the actual Channel Tunnel (as opposed to HS1) will never pay for itself in capital outlay, it’s a testament to human achievement, it makes access to the continent easier for all, it’s greener than flying – I think the world’s a better place for its existence.

Knocking 20 minutes of the journey time to Birmingham doesn’t improve the human condition. Free wi-fi for all, roomier carriages, more trains, guaranteeing everyone a seat – they’d all make the journey better and more productive than 20 minutes less travel. You’ll probably get lots of those with the new line – but you could have it anyway, without ploughing a new furrow…

While the argument will continue to rage over whether HS2 is an economic investment that will make the country billions or an engineering white elephant that will lose money hand over fist, I prefer to think of it in human terms – will people’s lives be most enhanced by spending £33 billion on this, or something else?

Polling. It does take the fun out of elections, doesn't it...

Yesterday I published the final poll of polls for the New Hampshire Primary. Here's what it said:

Mitt Romney 38%
Ron Paul 18%
Jon Huntsman 14%
Rick Santorum 11%
Newt Gingrich 10%

And here's the result (as it stands)

Some variation from the prediction - Romney did slightly better, Paul broke through the 20% 'barrier', marginal shift between Gingrich and Santorum. But in a nutshell - just what everyone predicted.

Oh, for a surprise in an election...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Long View of Democracy

'The Long View' on Radio 4 today discussed how different the world is in 2012 to the last time we celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch, in 1897.

Jonathan Freedland pointed out in a tweet that last time, the Queen ruled over 25% of the world's total population.

This reminded me of a similar tweet from a couple of weeks ago, which I've copied below.

When I followed the link I found a wonderful piece about the number and type of elections going on around the world in 2012 - perhaps best illustrated by the quote below:

59 countries will be tallying up votes - local, state or national. There are 193 countries in the world so that's about a third of the world's nations. 26 of these may see a change in national leadership. Together, these changes could affect 53% of the world's population, representing half of the world's GDP. And a lot of the change is concentrated in the world's most powerful countries.

Quite a change from the days of Empire ( and the 53% figure is even more amazing than the 25% figure I'd misremembered originally :-).)

The result of the New Hampshire primary is...

...going to be as follows, according to According to the RealClearPolitics average poll of polls in the Guardian:

Mitt Romney 38%
Ron Paul 18%
Jon Huntsman 14%
Rick Santorum 11%
Newt Gingrich 10%

Which will be a slightly dull result (and might finish Newt off. Perry by the way is skipping NH). Still - at least we've now got a reference point for when we wake up tomorrow to see if the polls got it right.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New piece on Mohamed Al Bouazizi for Liberal Voice of the Year 2011

The good folk at Liberal Democrat Voice have been kind enough to post a piece by yours truly explaining why we should name Mohammad al Bouazizi as the 'Liberal Voice of the Year' for 2011.

If you have 30 seconds to pop over there, read the piece and them vote for Mohamed - you'd have my thanks!

Much appreciated.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Iowa: they're still counting votes....

After the Iowa caucus last month resulted in a win for Mitt Romney by just 8 votes, the world has moved on to New Hampshire and what happens next.

But it's probably worth remembering that the results of the Iowa caucus are not finalised until some 2 weeks after the polls close. And they are still finding errors in the count. Which, with a majority of 8, could make a difference.

It won't change the number of Iowa delegates Romney and Santorum take to the convention, when the GOP pick their candidate. But if it turns out Romney has the Iowa win taken away - them it could make a big change to the momentum of the campaign generally.

Quite a thought....

Friday, 6 January 2012

Trigger Happy?


I have been having a think...

I wonder if I'm a bit trigger happy on the old 'he/she should be sacked/resign' malarky?

First off, I have been interested to see the reaction to the Diane Abbott furore. I thought that she should resign - on the basis that if a white politician made the same remark about a different ethnic group it would be completely unacceptable, so why shouldn't the reverse be true?

But while everyone agrees (including Diane) that the tweet was wrong - it strikes me that the majority of people think an apology was enough, and we should all move on - including lots of people I really respect like Caron Lindsay. Indeed, David Allen Green even had me in the 'idiot' camp...

...though to be fair (to him and me) I wasn't really outraged - just thought that Diane had really overstepped the mark this time (whereas in the past, I have observed she can be spot on).

Anyway, House of Twits on line survey similarly came down on the side of 'not a resigning offence'

So while there is a case for calling on her to resign - that doesn't seem to be the majority view.

Which makes me wonder if I don't resort to the 'resign' solution a bit too often.

In the past year I have called on one other person to resign (Jane Collins), wished 1 other had resigned (Sharon Shoesmith), endorsed the resignation of 2 others (Rebekah Brooks and Sir Paul Stephenson) and wondered why Aidan Burley doesn't think he should go.

I haven't changed my mind at all, about Collins, Brooks and Shoesmith. And I applauded Paul Stephenson as doing the honourable thing - and thus set the bar a little lower for when others might think resigning is the honourable thing to do.

But as for the others - I wonder if I shouldn't be more forgiving? Or at least ponder a little more in the future, before I pull the trigger...


Since posting this, I have read this article from Stephen Baxter. And on the whole, he's probably right...so I'll hold my hand up

I've also read this by Sunny Hundal. Which is about as wrongheaded as you can get. He doesn't even know what the expression 'Jumps the shark' actually means...

One last Update

Can Ed Miliband do nothing right this week (click to enlarge)?

Top 100

Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog, which has finally crawled into the Wikio Top 100 political blogs for the first time. Very excited to be in such illustrious company.

Here's what their analysis looks like - and hopefully I'll continue to climb ever upward...

Meantime, I do need to work out how to make the wikio icon on the right update...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diane Abbott. You can't generalise about people's views according to their skin colour.

I quite like Diane Abbott - plain speaking and I think generally straightforward, you know what she thinks. I've found her a touch hypocritical on the subject of private vs. state education, but still...

Which is why, when she's said stupid things on Twitter in the past, I've called on her to amend the tweet - but not to resign.

However, this time, this tweet (now deleted from her time line) does seem to have gone too far.

Firstly, you can't generalise about a persons views according to their skin colour. As Toby Young (Lordy, I'm agreeing with Toby Young now) has pointed out in the Telegraph...

According to the OED, racism is defined as "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races". By that definition, Abbott was being racist. She was attributing a characteristic – loving to play divide and rule – to a race – white people – and it's plainly an unattractive quality, i.e. intended to distinguish the race in question as morally inferior to the people they're guilty of oppressing.

Neither have I found her excuse particularly credible - that she was talking about 19th century white colonials - because she quite clearly wasn't. Here's the tweet from before the offensive missive:

I'm glad Labour have given her a strong rebuke (here's the moment on Sky news when Ed Miliband called her live to tell her what she did was wrong...)

But I do wonder if it was enough. Because if a white MP made a remark about another ethnic group, they'd be fired. Or at the very least, they should be.

As I say, I like Diane Abbott - and I don't think she's a racist. But I think she has written something racist. So, while it gives me no pleasure to say it - I think she should go.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Iowa: A totally amazing infographic, 2 totally amazing facts, and how the convention delegates get split.

1. New York Times has an amazing graphic of the vehicles and personnel used by each candidate in Iowa. Full graphic can be found here, but for a taster, compare the rather different resources of the two 'winners'...(click to enlarge)

(H/t to @sunny_hundal who tweeted this out earlier).

2. The two candidates spent very different sums as well...

...but as my good friend @tommorton pointed out earlier - the Iowa election overall makes us all look like electoral paupers...

3. While Iowa operates a proportional system for dividing delegates to the electoral convention, things are not exactly straightforward from here on in....

Here's what happens next (h/t to the Huffington post here)

The results of the caucus voting, however, do not directly determine which candidate will win the support of Iowa's voters for the presidential nomination. In fact, the caucuses are just first step in the process. Each caucus selects delegates to send to each of the 99 county conventions, which are held in March. At the county conventions, Democrats select delegates to district conventions where delegates to the state convention are chosen. Republicans bypass the district convention stage, choosing delegates to their state convention at the county conventions. Both party's state conventions are held in June. Only then, when state convention delegates cast their votes for delegates to the national party conventions, that Iowa's preferred presidential candidate's in each major party will be determined.

Clear? Excellent....

My most commented post on New Statesman ever. And what comments. Blimey

Yesterday's post on The New Statesman has already proved the most commented on I've ever achieved, and the comments are coming thick and fast. Do click on the link above and go and see the fun for yourself. Also, do feel free to add a comment there (good or bad) , here, and (if you are so inclined) click the 'like' post at the bottom of the piece on the NS site.

Thanks for all the supportive comments from within the party, both on the article and directly on Twitter - much appreciated, as I wrote the piece with a little trepidation. But, it is what I think so...

I will be posting a reply to comments at a later date. Meantime, if you can't be bothered to nip over to the NS to see the comments but want to read the article anyway, here goes...

There is a great (though sadly, totally erroneous) quote attributed to Catherine the Great, which says:

You can be a murderous tyrant and the world will remember you fondly, but f*ck one horse and you will be a horse f*cker for all eternity.

It strikes me that there's a lesson in there for us Lib Dems.

There's an increasing tendency within the party to accept that our languishing in the polls is a natural price for being in government, especially during the worst economic maelstrom for 80 years. In such circumstances you do all sorts of unpopular things you'd rather not do -- and no-one likes the person administering the nasty medicine.

To adopt such an attitude ignores the fact that the other party in government is riding high in the polls regardless of the treatment they're doling out, while the Prime Minster remains the only national party leader with positive approval ratings.

So how come David Cameron gets to play the role of beloved tyrant, while Nick Clegg...?

It is because the nasty medicine is not at the forefront of people's minds when they think of the Liberal Democrats. It is lack of trust. Betrayal. An inability to keep a promise. It is still tuition fees.

Most people in the party are pretty bored talking about this now -- which is fine. But the country isn't. Is there a pantomime in the land that didn't feature a "Nick Clegg breaking a promise" joke this Christmas? I suspect not.

We can write a long list of positive, liberal achievements in government -- the pupil premium, lifting nearly a million low paid workers out of income tax, restoring the pensions to earnings link. Next year there'll be a load more -- like the Green Investment Bank.

But no-one will really be listening or giving us any credit. Because we still haven't put the original sin to rights yet. We could stand on a street corner throwing out £50 notes to strangers, and everyone would look at us quizzically before holding them up to the light to see if they're fake.

Of course, we must still carry on delivering on our manifesto and championing liberal causes in government. But we shouldn't expect the polls to change one iota when we do -- just as they didn't change last year. Because we'll get no credit for anything unless we resolve the tuition fees debacle.

Nick needs to say sorry. And sort it. Because until then, everyone has us marked down as horse f*ckers.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mohamed Al Bouazizi nominated as 'Liberal Voice of the Year 2011' Please vote!

Lib Dem Voice are running their annual poll to find their 'Liberal Voice of the Year 2011' and (in an eclectic field) have nominated Mohamed Al Bouazizi.

Here is the full list....

If you click on the link you can find the full list (voting buttons can be found on the right of the page) and a few reasons why each has been nominated - and of course I'm actively encouraging a vote for Mohamed Al Bouaizi.

Here you can read about Mohamed And below you can find a short video from C4 news as to why he has been so influential.

Thanks for voting.

Olympic Numbers Infographics - beautiful AND geeky...

Just found this video on The Guardian website. Everything you could want to know, numbers wise, about The 2012 Olympics. In beautiful animated infographics. Lovely.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Mohamed Al Bouazizi voted person who most changed the world in Channel Four News poll

Thank you so much to everyone who voted. Full details can be found on the C4 News website here, including a quote from me.

Thanks Everyone. It's good to know Mohamed Al Bouazizi is not forgotten.


Here's a video of why Mohammed Al Bouazizi has been so influential from C4