'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

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Lonseome George. New picture

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

The tuition fees system. Should we really be trying to 'own' it?

There's  an interesting piece up on LDV pointing out that the latest IFS report has said that the new system of Tuition Fees is more progressive than that introduced by Labour. They've also added some 'interesting' comments from the Guardian on their original story.

But I'd add two more points

There is a perfectly valid argument that the new system is fairer than the old -  and we have singularly failed to get this point across. But I think we should be saying 'it's better than the old system but not as good as our preferred option - and still party policy - of abolition of fees altogether. This is just a halfway house'.

I know many in the party don't agree with this, but that's my view. Trying to own, or even boast about the new policy, just makes things worse.

And secondly, as I've asked before, if tuition fees work, but keep us out of government for 80 years, is that a price worth paying?

The British Bankers Association reminds us all once again what seems to be the hardest word.

Here's the statement put out by the BBA on the Libor scandal. Can you spot anything missing?

BBA statement on FSA LIBOR investigation

27 Jun 2012
The BBA said:

"This is an announcement with extremely serious implications which need to be carefully considered and the investigation findings will be fully included in the current review of Libor. This review was announced earlier this year and the authorities are fully engaged with it. Today's statement by the Financial Services Authority is the strongest possible confirmation that the LIBOR contributions and processes followed by the contributor banks must meet the necessary regulatory obligations and observe the highest standards in ensuring the accuracy of the rate."

Oh. That's right. It's 'sorry'.

h/t to Dr Eoin Clarke (twitter @Dreoinclarke)


I should have said that the Chairman of the BBA Libor, who were responsible for the statement,  is also...the Chairman of Barclays. You couldn't make it up!!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The results of my leadership poll...

...were published earlier and can be found here, with a short commentary.

Go on. You know you want to.

Yes. It's the moment Nick Clegg's been waiting for ALL WEEK

The results are in from my Leadership Poll.

First a reminder why this poll ran. Given the kerfuffle over  the Peter Kelner/You Gov piece advocating a change of leader one way or another, Stephen Tall's analysis of that piece, and of course the recent Lib Dem Voice survey of party members, it seemed reasonable to ask the question about how people felt about the future of Nick's leadership.

I was keen to ask as straightforward a question as possible - so I asked

"Should the Lib Dems go into the next General Election with a new leader?"

…which I don't think left much room for debate. No nuance there.

Now, a couple of cautions.  This is not a poll of Lib Dem members. This is a poll of folk who read my blog. A large percentage will be either members of the party or at least supporters, but many will not be. This is at best, a toe in the water of public opinion.

Secondly, this is a small sample. A small percentage of people who read either of the two posts promoting this poll actually went on to vote – which may indicate a general non interest in the issue (telling in itself) or a caution that their preference would be revealed (which it won’t).

Anyway, on to the poll result itself. Here it is:

A few observations.

Firstly and most obviously, there is a (small) majority who believe we should have a new leader installed at some point before the next General Election. Nick does not, on the basis of this poll, command overwhelming support within the party, and indeed this result is worse for him than the recent Lib Dem Voice poll. There is food for thought there in the DPMs office.

However – and I suspect many outside of the party will be surprised by this, given recent leadership ratings published (see below) – there is not a huge commanding majority calling for Nick’s head. Quite the opposite – votes are relatively close to 50:50. While he may have ‘lost’ this particular vote, Nick clearly still has a large base of support in the party.

Indeed, even some of those who voted ‘Yes’ were happy to say that they did so more because they felt the weight of public opinion was irreparably against Nick, than because they themselves felt he was doing a bad job.

"Quite unfairly, Nick Clegg has become the media's whipping boy and this seems unlikely to change. Before a new leader can be selected, however,the Party needs to decide whether it wants to reflect public opinion or ignore it. The latter hardly seems sensible if we want to remain a party of government"

"It pains me to say but yes. I'm a big supporter of Nick's but his (unfair) negative image will be too much of a hindrance."

This 50:50 schism – which many will interpret as typical of the Social Liberal/Orange Book debate that dominates much of the chat in the party at the moment – is a huge issue for the party, perhaps the huge issue - for until we resolve this, we cannot address the matter of gathering support from outside the traditional core base.

I imagine this is what is also motivating calls in the party to start sorting out our longer term policy agenda going forward. - and of course Nick telling people what that agenda is.

I suspect there will be plenty of debate around the leadership in the coming 18 months. There is often talk of the 'wisdom of the masses'. But on the back of this poll - it seems the party is split over whether to stick - or twist.

What Vince said last year about the appointment of Bob Diamond...

Vince would appear to have been on the money on this one...

(click to enlarge)

h/t to Kevin Peters (Twitter @Big_Kev)


I have now written a more detailed account of Vince's prescience post over at The New Statesman

The end of the coalition has already begun

Here's my piece in the New Statesman this week. Spookily Peter Oborne has written a piece in The Telegraph saying almost exactly the same thing, from a Tory point of view. Which makes you think there may be something to it :-)

Anyway, would value all thoughts...

Forget all this talk of Cameron’s welfare speech yesterday beginning the longest election campaign in history. We’ll now get there sooner than you think
Last week, in just four words, Nick Clegg sounded the starting gun on the end of the coalition. He did it on Thursday. You may have missed it - most people have. But it happened, none the less.
And what were those 4 little words? They were the very unexciting…
"nor the prime minister"
…when telling reporters that neither he nor David Cameron were aware of the education secretary’s plans to bring back the CSE.
Picture the scene in Downing Street when Nick’s words filtered back. They had two options. Back the DPM and confirm that, yes indeed, these were rogue plans, that the Secretary of State for Education had been plotting behind everyone’s back, that he was out of control, challenging the authority of the prime minister, that it was all madness…
Or they could adopt Plan B. And confirm that they knew all about the scheme, and that it was just the poor DPM (and Sarah Teather) who were completely out of the loop. Which is what they did.
Forget all this talk of these ideas being vague notions that were being kicked out about as potential manifesto material in 2015. These were firm plans with definite implementation dates. There was plenty of talk about how Michael Gove didn’t require any new legislation to introduce these changes, that he already had the legal authority to do so.
Now there have been lots of rows in government (Jeremy Hunt being just the latest) but they have been open, frank exchanges of views. What’s more, they have generally been about legislation that first has to go under the full scrutiny of Parliament. This was different. This was secret plotting behind closed doors to make a fundamental change to the education system without consultation. Imagine just now what it’s like in the Department of Education. Meetings behind closed doors and knowing looks from those civil servants ‘in the loop' while everyone else wanders around wondering what they don’t know.
Of course, everyone will try and make out everything’s alright. But like in any relationship, it’s seldom the blazing rows round the kitchen table that signal the end - it’s when the trust goes and the secret trysts are arranged, that’s when things are really over. We’re already sending a chaperon with Cameron when he goes on his jaunt later this week. We can’t let him out of our sight.
I’ve always said that a combination of the current parliamentary arithmetic and last year’s Fixed-term Parliaments Act will cement the government in place until 2015. Now I’m not so sure.
Of course adopting Plan B was designed to prevent the PM looking weak, to confirm that he had firm control over his cabinet. But ironically, his action means Lib Dems must now presume that Tories are constantly plotting behind our backs and this will make the day to day running of government very difficult and will ultimately end the coalition. And within the Tory Party, it’s probably the Secretary of State for Education who will get the credit for that.
It’s almost like Michael Gove was planning it all along….

Guess who benefits directly from the FSA fine on Barclays? Yes, its all the other banks...

The news that Barclays has been fined £290m by US and UK financial authorities for manipulating Libor rates is of course totally shocking.

But here's the thing.

The UK part of the fine, levied by the FSA, is some £59.5m. When this fine is paid, it will go directly to the FSA and will go towards their annual running costs.

The FSA is funded by a levy from the banks. So anything that goes towards defraying FSA costs just reduces the levy paid by all the other banks. So as a result of this manipulation - all the other banks are better off.

Plus ca change there

Here are a few other questions I don't have answers to (though I see others are now asking similar questions).

1. This manipulation took place between banks. Other financial institutions must have been involved. who are they and when will they be similarly fined.

2. Barclays may well have cost its own customers millions of pounds through this manipulation. Will they be compensating customers for this loss?

3. Does the sum fined reflect the profit made on the deals? If not, will there be further sanctions - or else Barclays will benefit from its actions. Should they not be returning all profits made as well as being fined?

4. If these transactions were illegal, will criminal charges be brought?

And that's just for starters...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

According to CCHQ, Chloe Smith's appearance on Newsnight last night was a Tory win.

Hat tip to PaulWaugh (again) at Politics Home for this extraordinary piece of information from the official CCHQ media log

I wonder if Chloe filled in the log herself? Or maybe that's what George Osborne was busy doing so he doesn't get told to show up next time?

Remembering Miles Amos

I think today is an important day for Northern Ireland and I welcome the Queen's visit and the handshake she has shared with Martin McGuinness

On days like this I remember Miles Amos. Miles was the son of family friends, I often played with him growing up, and I remember my mother telling me about his death very vividly, and reading a copy of the valediction my father gave at his funeral. He was killed by an IRA landmine. It was a very sad time and I still think about Miles, his sister Naomi and his parents Di and Geoff every time I hear about the troubles.

So on days like this, I choose to remember Miles Amos.

The Lords Reform Bill - Here's a summary of what's in it.

Via the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

The Deputy Prime Minister today published the House of Lords Reform Bill which would  lead to 80 per cent of House of Lords members being elected by the public and the number of members being reduced by nearly half from 826 to 450.
Voters would  be able to elect members of the reformed House of Lords for the first time in May 2015. One-third of the elected members would be chosen at the General Election in 2015, another third in 2020 and the final third in 2025 – 120 members in each election. Existing Peers would be ‘phased’ out as elected members are brought in.
In total, 80 per cent (360 members) of the total of 450 members, would  be elected. The remaining 20 per cent (90 members) would  be appointed by a statutory Appointments Commission on a non-party basis. There would  also be 12 Church of England bishops, a reduction from the current 26 church representatives, reflecting the smaller overall size of the Chamber.
Under the Bill, members of the reformed House would  serve for 15-year terms of office, and they would only be allowed to serve for one term. Elected members would  be picked using a Semi-Open List electoral system, giving voters the choice of voting for a party or for an individual in their region.
The Government is committed to ensuring that the cost of running Parliament does not rise significantly. The salary, staffing and administration costs of the new look House are not forecast to rise substantially and are expected to be offset by savings from reducing the size of the House of Commons. There will be a net saving between 2015-2025; once the reforms are completed the real terms cost of Parliament is anticipated to be broadly the same as it is now.
The reformed House of Lords would  not challenge the historical primacy of the House of Commons. The new Bill specifically states that the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, which define the relationship between the Houses, remain in force. The Government listened to recommendations on this issue from the Joint Committee on the draft House of Lords Reform Bill and made changes to the draft legislation published last year. The Government’s response to the Joint Committee’s report is also published today.
The Deputy Prime Minister said:
The coalition stands on the brink of an historic achievement.  After more than a hundred years of debates, cross-party talks, Green Papers, White Papers, Command Papers and a Royal Commission, we are finally introducing a Bill to create a democratic and legitimate House of Lords.
“It cannot be right that ordinary, hardworking people are expected to obey laws that are created by people appointed entirely by birth or patronage, who have a generous pay packet and a job for life. The time for idle talk is finished. Now is the time for action.”
Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:
Everyone in government is very grateful to the cross-party Joint Committee of MPs and peers for the hard work and detailed scrutiny they gave to our proposals. This legislation would not have been possible without their commitment. I very much look forward to working with members who served on the Committee to ensure that the Bill they helped to shape is passed into law.

Notes to Editors

1. The House of Lords Reform Bill was introduced and received First Reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday 27 June 2012.
2. The Bill and supporting documents are available to download from official-documents.gov.uk.

Stop patronising Chloe Smith. She is a Minister of the Crown and she was awful.

Lots and lots of talk about how terrible Chloe Smith was on Newsnight last night. I watched it and she was utterly appalling. And indeed, I tweeted as I watched, that I felt sorry for her.

I now regret that. It was patronising and condescending and we should all stop it.

Yes, George Osborne is a wimp. No wonder he's called 'Submarine' behind his back, only surfacing when the coast is clear (Gordon Brown was was known as MaCavity after the TS Elliott poem - "MaCavity's not there" - for similar reasons)

But that's no reason to forgive Chloe Smith though. If she's going to be a Minister of the Crown, she needs to be able to handle interviews like that with rather more aplomb.

Lets not forget:

1. She was defending the suspension of a rise in fuel duty (not quite a tax cut but near as damnit). That shouldn't be hard

2. She should have known the obvious questions she would be asked - and had her answers prepared. She had clearly done no prep. This is especially strange considering....

3. I'm told she had been through this exact same interview on C4 News at 7pm. Twitter told me this was a similar car crash. Did she learn no lessons? And after the 7pm shambles, why didn't Tory HQ prep her?

There's no doubt this whole episode has been a shambles from start to finish. From the U turn itself, Tory Whips briefing against the policy just 2 hours before it was announced (hat tip to Paul Waugh who got hold of the briefing notes Tory Whips were giving out) and the failure to offer any explanation of how it is to be paid for, #omnishambles doesn't come close.

Anyway, here's the interview. And after that, the 'The Thick of it' version. Weirdly similar you have to agree...



Ha. Nadine Dorries has now weighed in to defend 'poor' Chloe. With friends like this eh...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Is this interview the best case ever for Lords Reform

Have a listen to this brilliant interview from the World at One, where Lord Trefgarne - while trying to do the opposite - does what Andrew Sparrow calls  'the best propaganda for an elected Lords that I've heard for ages'

listen to ‘Becky Milligan speaks to Lord Trefgarne and Lord Redesdale about House of Lords Reform - The World at One, BBC Radio 4’ on Audioboo

To quote Lord Trefgarne...

"The Almighty decided that I was to have a certain duty imposed upon me"

Oh dear...

Justine Greening is now talking about a FOURTH runway at Heathrow

I don't know. Maybe its a bluff, in order to try and bounce a third runway at Heathrow onto the plates of the good folk of Ham Common and the rest of South West London.

But the Secretary of State for Transport  - and MP for Putney don't forget - Justine Greening yesterday intimated she's happy to consider proposals for a FOURTH runway at Heathrow.

Click on the link above the full story but here are a few 'highlights' from the Standard.

 Miss Greening told the Standard that a fourth runway may be needed and called on Heathrow’s operators to explain where they would put it.

She refused to rule out resigning if the Government’s opposition to a third runway softened.

“My job is to say, ‘What do we need for the next 20, 30, 40 or 50 years?’ What if we realise we need a fourth runway? Where would that go at Heathrow?

To be fair - she also said..

Ms Greening today made clear that she is unmoved by the renewed campaign for Heathrow expansion, stressing that all three main political parties are opposed to the third runway.

But given the mealy mouthed words of the Prime Minister just two weeks ago, when he refused at PMQs to rule out a U turn on the third runway, and reports that George Osborne is actively pushing for that U turn, I think we can take little comfort from those latter words. Presumably post 2015, all bets are off.

Ms. Greening has shown her true colours.


Just saw this excellent Tweet

Lords Reform Bill due to be published at 9am tomorrow.


Woo hoo!

Also heard Parliamantary Labour Party is meeting at 2 pm to discuss whether to support.



This is also interesting. Apparently across Cabinet support for Lords Reform.

Monday, 25 June 2012

We've extended the hand of friendship to one half of Labour...

Yes, it's true.

Tim Farron has written to Lord Adonis, Chairman of Progress, inviting Progress to attend Lib Dem conference in May. The text of the letter is at the bottom of this post.

It will be interesting to see Andrew Adonis' reply - given that, while he is often seen as an 'honest broker' between Labour and the Lib Dems, having been selected as a Lib Dem PPC in 1994, his review of David Laws '22 Days in May' was a less than flattering review of the party. For example here is his conclusion...

'As for the future, Laws does not rule out a Lib-Con electoral pact for the next election. While he describes this as "highly unlikely", he stresses that "it will take many years to deliver on the programme and the aspirations which the coalition has set out so far". "This is a coalition formed in the tough times of fiscal retrenchment, one which has the potential to be a partnership for the good times, too," he writes. Behold a marriage of true minds'

Perhaps no great surprise that Andrew is less than enamoured with the David Laws wing of the party, especially given David's pronouncements over the weekend. But it will be interesting to see how he responds to the overtures from the wing of the party more ideologically in tune with himself...

And I wonder how Ed Miliband will respond. Will he see it as the hand of friendship - or an attack on Labour? After all, it only takes one evening of Glee Club to convert many folk for life

Here's Tim's letter

Dear Andrew,

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I would like to invite Progress and its members to attend Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Brighton.

I have noted the moves from the GMB and others within the Labour Party to sideline Progress and force its members out of the party. This is a great shame. I do not mean to patronise you or your members by suggesting your response should be to join the Liberal Democrats. I know that you very much consider yourselves a part of the Labour movement. But you are modern, progressive reformers and you deserve to be a part of the political debate in this country. In the Liberal Democrats we pride ourselves not only on being a modern, progressive reforming party, but also as an open democratic one that never shies away from debate. We are also a party that is prepared to work with others for the good of the country.

Whether it is the economy, political reform, climate change, health, education or any of the other major issues facing us as a country, we will be debating them at our conference. You and your members are welcome to join us and I’m sure the debate will be all the richer for it.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Farron

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Downing Street confirms the Tories are plotting policy in secret. That's not good...

Todays' announcement (leak, whatever), that Nick has persuaded David Cameron that it really isn't worth spending £100m on a referendum on Lords Reform when it appeared in all 3 main parties manifestos, is drawing a typical response. Here's Roger Helmer this morning...

And while Helmer is no longer a Tory (having jumped ship to UKIP earlier this year) we all know there are many in the Tory party who feel like this (hence this rather excellent piece in The Telegraph, pointing out to many of them that they need to remember, they didn't win...)

And so Cameron does have a real problem controlling his party - and it's best exemplified by the Michael Gove 'O' level' debacle.

Now the problem for Cameron is not there has been a leak on this policy - but that Nick has said that neither he nor Cameron knew anything about these plans. At which point the Downing Street spin machine found itself in a right old cleft stick. Did they:

1. Agree with Nick - in which case they would have to confirm that Tory Ministers are free to enact major policy changes without any reference to the PM. So that's not an option. Or..

2. Contradict Nick and say that they knew ALL about it. Which means the Tories are about to bring the whole basis of the coalition government down. I mean it's one thing discussing stuff and agreeing to disagree. But carrying on in secret behind your partners back? And what about every Tory MP who's ever bleated about collective responsibility (which, to be fair, I question in a coalition government, but still...).

Of course, it's possible this tweeter actually has it right when he says...

...but I doubt it.

So, the question is what other secret plans don't we know about?

Or is it that David Cameron actually has no idea what's going on?

I don't know which I find more worrying.


Probably worth saying that while I remain a passionate supporter of Lords Reform, like Paddy Ashdown I don't believe a referendum would be wrong - and I also think we'd win it.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Save Sunshine Ward in Kingston Hospital

Sunshine Ward - or to give it its more formal name, the in-patient paedriatric facilities - at Kingston Hospital has been put under threat of closure in the NHS Better Services Better Value review.

I know from personal experience the wonderful work done by the staff at Sunshine Ward. Moreover the alternative is to take children's Hospital Care to St. Georges, another wonderful hospital but some 50 minutes away by public transport - as this screen grab demonstrates.

I wouldn't want to have my sick child in hospital almost an hour away from where I live - and that's from Kingston Hospital itself. The journey from its catchment area - for example, Ham Common - is even further (well over an hour).

So please click on this link to sign the petition to save Sunshine Ward and if you would like to help Kingston Lib Dems in their campaign to keep Sunshine Ward open, details can be found on their campaign page.

Thanks all

Alastair Campbell, Peter Hitchens, Dan Hodges, Martin Belam and me.

Yes. My piece yesterday in the New Statesman on why Cameron may have been politically inept about Jimmy Carr, but actually right, made the Politics Home 5 at 5.

Thanks V Flattered - what company!

The Leadership of the Lib Dem Poll...

...is still running on this blog. Just click one of the buttons on the right to register your vote. And when you've voted, you get to see how the poll is currently faring...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

William Hague answering, not asking, the questions at PMQs today

And rather nicely, he seems to be genuinely excited about it.

Poll: Should the Lib Dems go into the next General Election with a new leader?

Why is there a poll button on the top column on the right?

There seems more than a whiff of leadership debate in the air just now, what with the Peter Kelner/You Gov piece advocating a change of leader one way or another, Stephen Tall's analysis of that piece, and of course the recent Lib Dem Voice survey of party members.

But that latter vote has been criticised for not putting a straightforward enough question - mentioning that Lembit called for a change in leadership and essentially asking, 'is he right'?. This is tantamount, it has been suggested, to asking for people to endorse Lembit - which may have affected how people voted, just a tad.

So I thought I'd launch my own poll. It's over on the right and it is easy to vote. I have tried to put as straightforward a question as I can think of. And of course it's secret.

Of course, it's not in any way perfect - this is a survey of readers of this blog, open to all, not only Lib Dem members (although Lib Dem supporters undoubtably make up a lot of the readership). And it's a snapshot.

But anyway, could be fun...

Although, if I'm really honest, I'm not sure if its in any way helpful.

Ho hum

Also, do send your  Lib Dem friends a link to this post and ask them to vote. Be good to get a broad response.


As Trailed....It's Nick's transcript of his pre record for the Today programme this morning on the Rio summit

You do have to play 'Guess the question he's answering' though...

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister):  Well I think the first thing to, to stress is this is not going to be like the original Rio Summit.  The original Rio Summit was, you know, truly revolutionary and, and led to the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, to the Nagoya agreement on bio divers, which spawned the whole sort of outburst if you like of international agreements which really have served the world very well over the last twenty years.  This will be in many respects a, a less spectacular occasion, but nonetheless a summit where over a hundred and seventy countries come together to say look we need to, we need to renew our ambition to pursue sustainable development, what in a nutshell does sustainable development mean?  It means that we, we shouldn’t just sort of grow first and then clean up later.  We have to make sure that the resources which are used for growth and development and prosperity are used sustainably – water, energy, food and so on.  But, you know, I, I’m the first to admit that this, this whole process is a lot more cumbersome than probably you or I would, would like and no doubt the result is going to be not quite as ambitious as, as many people including myself would like because you have to get consensus amongst so many different countries from so many different parts of the world.
I don’t think you should measure our commitment simply by who’s at a particular summit.  I think if you look at the fact that at this summit I will be leading the debate globally on new ways of measuring nations’ prosperity, what, what I call GDP+ so we don’t just measure growth in, in a, in a sort of narrow economic sense, but also look at the natural resources available to economies.  We are moving as a country to measuring our own prosperity in those terms from 2020 onwards.  I’ll be working with the World Bank and others at the summit to encourage other countries to do it.  I’m announcing later today that we’ll be the first country anywhere in the developed world certainly that’s asking businesses, in this case listed on the London Stock Exchange, to report for the first time ever in a mandatory fashion on their greenhouse gas emissions.  And of course we’ve led the world in, in meeting and, and pursuing our target of point seven per cent of GDP allocated to development assistance.  So I think on all of these areas it shows real commitment from the United Kingdom.  I of course will be pressing other countries to follow our lead, but I’m entirely realistic that getting a whole convoy of over a hundred and seventy countries moving in exactly the same direction is a pretty painstaking business.
My own view is that I don’t think anyone should sort of be fetishistic about subsidies.  If you can, if you can support industries like offshore, indeed offshore, onshore offshore wind and other renewable forms of energy without any start up subsidy all the better, so I don’t think subsidies are something which are sort of chiselled in stone.  We all accept that over time we want to move to an environment where lots of different ways of producing energy clean, in a, in a clean non carbon way do not rely on tax payer subsidies, but equally it’s obvious it seems to me that in the early stages of these, of these technologies, a bit of support from the tax payer goes a long way and let’s remember there’s a lot of people’s jobs at stake.  I mean the, the green alliance has, has estimated that in the, in the green economy in our country almost nine hundred and forty thousand people across over fifty thousand companies are reliant on our success as one of the world’s leading green economies.  So, you know, this is not some sort of flight of fancy.  The green economy is, is, is a really powerful engine for creating jobs and, and I think everybody accepts that creating jobs is one of the most important challenges we face as a country.
Oh yes I do, I mean I’m not, I’m not addicted to the subsidy, far from it.  If we can’t, if we can somehow promote a diverse, clean energy mix without asking tax payers to subsidise it on a temporary basis then all the better.  But all, all the evidence shows that if you want to get these new renewable technologies going they need a little bit of support in their sort of early, early years. And that’s was this was always designed to be.  But the key thing is are we prepared as a, as a Government and a country to really commit ourselves to being a, a powerhouse in the race to become a clean, sustainable, green economy and we’ve already, we’re already the sixth largest green economy in the world.  We already trade in, in low carbon environmental goods and services in a very big way.  It’s worth about eight per cent of our national wealth.  And we, and we actually run a trade surplus in our, in our green economy which is not the case in many other sectors of the economy.  So I just think we should regard this not as a problem, not as a threat, but as real opportunity as we rebalance the economy away from the unsustainable mistakes of the past.
Well let, well let, let’s, let’s just confront some facts.  By 2030 our world will need at least fifty per cent more food, forty five per cent more energy and thirty per cent more water and today forty, well, can I, if I can, if I can just, if I can just finish, if I, no, no, no, it’s not, it’s not Armageddon.  No, no, let, again, fact, forty per cent of the world’s population right now, two and a half billion people, still lack basic sanitation.  Seven hundred and thirty eight million people remain, you know, don’t have access to clean drinking water.  These are facts and I’ll say that to a child on the other side of the world who, who hasn’t got access to, to clean drinking water.  Say that to the child whose mother has just died because that woman didn’t have access to basic sanitation.  To somehow say that we can wish this away by not coming together and trying to do something about it, I think is, is, is, is complacency of, of almost criminal nature.  Of course we need to deal with this.  We are growing in a way that is quite literally not sustainable, ‘cause we’re not producing the food, the energy and the clean water and the sanitation necessary to sustain many, many millions of people round the world.  So I think it is exactly right that we meet as a, as an international community, frustrating and slow moving though these summits might be, much though I might like to get my pen out and simply unilaterally write the conclusion, there is no escape.  We have to deal with this globally and therefore it’s right that the summit brings together countries from across the globe.
The Prime Minister remains the Prime Minister, I remain the Deputy Prime Minister and William Hague will be doing Prime Minister’s Questions today and I’m sure he’ll do it magisterially as ever.  Thank you.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

"That really must be the daftest political blogpost ever written...."

.... wrote David Allen Green earlier today. What could have prompted such a remark?

Well, it was this extraordinary blogpost in the Telegraph by Donata Huggins, criticising what appears to be a perfectly well intentioned campaign by Owen Jones to raise awareness of call centre workers not being allowed, ahem, comfort breaks.

But I think I know why Donata wrote her piece.

It's orders from the top I reckon.

Don't you?


Isn't this the perfect put down of Donata mind you...


Lordy, I didn't think it was possible, but it's got more ludicrous. Now Eoin Clarke has reported the article to the PCC

Seriously everyone, calm down!

Update 2

This >>>

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Why we can't keep saying 'Hunt should have referred himself...'...

There seems a bit of a trend at the moment for 'un named but senior' Lib Dems to keep telling the press off-the-record that they really did want Jeremy Hunt investigated by the Standards Commissioner. The latest piece appears in The Observer, where it seems Nick personally told Jeremy Hunt he should refer himself.

The trouble is - we had a chance to make our position on this completely clear. There was a vote in the House of Commons which allowed our MPs to tell the world what they thought. I believe they should have taken that opportunity and voted for the Labour motion, or put forward an amendment that they could support.

But they didn't. They chose to abstain.

This is the worst of both worlds annoying both Labour and of course winding up our Conservative 'partners'. One Lib Dem councillor told me on Twitter that any suggestion we should support Labours motion demonstrated I didn't understand how Parliament works. The latest news suggests I understand rather too well...

But in many ways this is irrelevant. The real point is, if Nick or anyone else in the party wanted Hunt referred, they had the opportunity to say so on Wednesday. They turned that chance down.

It's no good moaning about it now. It just reminds people once again of another bad judgement call..

The BBC needs a visionary director general, not a political placeman.

My latest piece from the New Statesman...

"Our vision – to be the most creative organisation in the world".
That’s quite a bold and imaginative goal, I would venture. What sort of qualities would you look for in a potential leader of such an organisation?
May I suggest that such a leader would be a visionary. Like some modern day soothsayer, they would understand what we want before we know we want it – a Steve Jobs-type character. They would understand every aspect of how we experience creativity in a digital age, as Larry Page and Sergey Brin so clearly do. And they would deliver creativity for all from the cradle to the grave – perhaps a little like Bob Iger does at Disney.
Now if I was searching for some sort of human chimera that delivers all those qualities, I wouldn’t spend an inordinate amount of time searching for them in and around the Palace of Westminster.
Yet apparently there are a lot of folk who seem to think that’s exactly where the best head of the BBC – for it is the Beeb's official vision that kick-starts this piece - will be found.  And put in those terms, doesn’t that seem frankly ludicrous?
Stuck in the Westminster bubble, politicians on all sides expound the merits of appointing a new director general from one side of the political divide or the other, on the basis that unless a political appointee is made, the corporation will remain hopelessly biased in the opposite direction from that of whichever commentator happens to be writing at the time. I’ve even been told today that the less-than-diamond jubilee coverage is the result of political bias  - "only something run by a lefty could have covered Jubilee celebrations so badly". Oh, come on.
Of course, covering politics is an important cog in the workings of the BBC. And dealing with politicians, in terms of both the BBC Trust (current chairman anex-chairman of the Conservative Party) and the ultimate arbiter on the licence fee (currently one Jeremy Hunt, at least as I type) is a key aspect of the role.
But is that really what we want in a leader of the BBC – someone who’s good at chewing the fat with the men and women in grey suits? That’s not who’s going to deliver me, as a licence fee payer, the most creative organisation in the world.
As Caitlin Moran rather neatly put it on Twitter this morning: "the BBC should be run by some sexy rogue pirate who's really the fuck into public remit broadcasting".
You are unlikely to find one of those in SW1.

Friday, 15 June 2012

BBC bans promotion of Martha Payne's 'Just Giving' page from her 'Never Seconds' Blog

Anyone who follows my Twitter feed will know that, like hundreds and thousands of others,  I've been furiously trying to get Argylle and Butes decision to ban 9 year old Martha Payne from taking photographs for her wonderful blog ridiculed and overturned.

I'm delighted that they've seen sense.

But now the BBC have written to me informing me that I have had a post I put up on their news story removed - because I linked to the Just Giving page of the children's charity Martha supports.

I have pasted the full e mail below.

I am sure this is just an over zealous interpretation of the rules - but come on BBC, do you really want to prevent people helping Martha's charity?

Dear BBC Visitor,

Thank you for contributing to the BBC web site.  Unfortunately we've had to remove the content below because it contravened one of our House Rules.

Your comment was considered to have broken the following House Rule:

"We reserve the right to fail comments which...

Advertise products or services for profit or gain."

For more information about the House Rule your comment broke, please visit -

You can read the House Rules in full here -

Please do not reply to this email. If you wish to appeal against a moderation decision, please visit -

Please note that anyone who seriously or repeatedly breaks the House Rules may have action taken against their account without further warning.

BBC Moderation Team.

URL of content (now removed):



NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne 'banned' from taking school dinner photos


When you've finished telling@argyllandbute council exactly what you think of them, why not go to the Childrens Charity page Martha set up and donate. At least they can benefit from this ludicrous decision by the council.



BBC team have come back to me - and sadly have confirmed that decision

Thank you for your email.

Unfortunately we are unable to post messages that solicit money from
other users, even if for a charity.  The only exception to this rule is
the BBC sponsored Children In Need.

Kind regards,
Central Communities Team.

At least they were prompt!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

We all need to help Julian Huppert

So the draft snooping bill has been published and now the fight really starts.

Many thanks to Julian Huppert who took part in a conference call with Lib Dem bloggers tonight. In the few minutes I was on it (before I realised that the mute button on my phone didn't work and everyone else was being treated to the sound effects of the 18:20 from Waterloo) I learnt that:

1. The cross party committee who will report on the draft will consist of 6 members each of the House of Lords & Commons. One representative from each house will be a Lib Dem - Julian for the Lib Dems from the Commons.

2. Julian has sought and been given reassurances from the DPM's office that if the bill is not changed to reflect something that is acceptable to the Lib Dems, then there will be no bill - we will block it. This isn' the preferred option - we would like a bill that is in line with the motion passed at Spring Conference. But if that cannot be agreed we retain the right of (effective) veto (unless Labour vote with the Tories of course!).

3. The committee will report back by end of November and will be inviting submissions to be made over the summer.

Time to get writing!