Tuesday, 23 November 2010

In Government for all the right reasons: the David Laws interview

Yesterday I interviewed David Laws, on the day his book 22 Days in May was published. I asked him about the book, his views on the Coalition Government, as well as about the focus of his current work, plus his thoughts on the Ireland bailout.

In the introduction to the book, David Laws writes that its purpose is to “inform those who are interested in this important period of British politics, and to make sure that an accurate account is left of what really happened in May 2010, before memories fade, myths grow and evidence is lost.”

Why have you published this book now? You said you wanted to get matters on the record, but why not write it now and publish it in ten years? That’s the way memoirs used to work, so why so keen to publish after only six months? Isn’t history better judged from a distance?

I think it’s important for us now that people in the country understand how we made the decisions we made in May 2010, and what factors were uppermost in our minds. And also that we nail some of the misrepresentations that have come out from some of the others involved in the talks, particularly on the Labour side, where people have attempted to claim that we went into the negotiations with some sort of preconception about what type of deal we wanted. And actually what the book shows is that if we went in with any preconceptions at all, it was that a coalition with Labour would be considerably easier to deliver if the electoral maths enabled it, than a coalition with the Conservative party.

So I think that the book demonstrates that we went in without some sort of pre-agenda of who we would and who we wouldn’t deal with, and it’s very clear that we were putting the policies in our manifesto and what was right for the country as the key determinants of what we were going to do once we had discovered there was a hung Parliament.

Firstly it's important to get down a historic record, given that this was a very important period in British politics, and having got the time to do it imposed on me in some ways, I have that opportunity.

And I think it’s also important for where we are now in politics, given how controversial the coalition has been with some people that people should understand the decision-making process, and should understand why we did what we did in May.

With cuts on the way, is this an expectation-management exercise, then?

I don’t think it’s expectation-management, but I think it’s fact-management in the sense that some people in the Labour party have claimed that we weren’t serious about the option of negotiating with Labour and I think that what this makes clear is that we did engage in a very serious way over that, and actually if there are any problems in terms of trying to get an agreement or make an agreement with Labour viable, it was really because of the lack of willingness of the Labour party rather than the Lib Dems to engage seriously in a negotiation; their lack of preparedness, the fact that their negotiating team was almost certainly split in their attitudes towards us. And the fact that on the main economic tack, the economic policy issues, that they didn’t make any of the concessions that would have been necessary in order to make coalition a viable option for us.

So the book performs two functions: it can inform the general public about the Lib Dems’ and Tories’ intentions, but it can also rebut the things that Labour are saying about us...

That’s right.

Was it your idea to write the book, or were you getting offers from publishers and newspapers?

No, it was entirely my idea, and I thought from the very earliest time, even while I was still in Government that it was important for us to get our version of this factually on the record. I clearly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do that if I had been in Government, given how long it takes to do something like this. And I thought about it when I left the Government.

I originally decided that it probably wasn’t the right time, and then, in July when I thought about it again, people said “Yes, this would be useful from the party, and useful to make sure that the public record of all these events is correct.” And so I just used the time that I had, particularly in August, to get the account down.

The coalition negotiations were gruelling. Wouldn’t you have rather had a break before diving in? Many, including the media, were pushing for a quick resolution: what was it like being caught up in the pace of all of that?

I think we were always conscious that there would be a lot of pressure for a quick resolution.

Weren’t you exhausted after the General Election?

I wasn’t, no, because a) the pressures on most MPs are nothing like those on the party leaders – they must have been pretty exhausted, but for the rest of us it’s not the same scale of pressure. And b) undoubtedly there is a bit of an adrenaline rush when you suddenly find yourself pitched into something which is about forming a government and deciding upon which policies should and shouldn’t be implemented.

So I didn’t really find it all that tiring, and I thought that it was inevitable that there would be pressure to do things quickly. I thought that it would be a mistake to drag our heels and insist on doing things very slowly. And while you can’t create a government and sort out a policy agreement overnight, I always thought that if we failed to deliver one by about the Wednesday after the Thursday General Election, then we would begin to face a lot of criticism. And it would be inevitable that we as the third party, and the party with the greater democratic accountability, would be more likely to bear the burden of criticism from the other two parties.

For stalling, perhaps?

Yeah, it was more likely, I thought that we would be the ones blamed for not having a Government, and for any market instability that could follow. And obviously there was a lot of market nervousness and instability around that time, because of what was happening in Greece, Portugal and Spain, so I think we did have to do things quite quickly and not everybody on our negotiating team, as I report in the book, took that view. There were some others who took a different view and thought that we needed to take our time but I don’t think we had that option.

In future, when people get used to the process of coalition-forming it may be that there isn’t the same degree of pressure, but on this occasion, I think it was important to do it quite quickly. And I don’t think that much was sacrificed by doing it in the timescale we did.

You talk about people getting used to the process of coalition-forming – I was interested to read your article in the Telegraph: The Coalition must aim higher than merely balancing the books. I was dissecting it a bit; you keep on dropping in references to judging results over the next ten years: you said that a couple of times, and also talking about “stretching out the era of austerity throughout the entire decade,” I wondered: is that a hint? Are you hoping for or expecting a second term of coalition?

No, I think that’s highly uncertain, but I think that it’s inevitable that the parties will go into the next election fighting as independent parties with candidates in every seat. But my point in the article was firstly that we are doing the process of eliminating the deficit over a reasonably long period. People are saying it’s all rushed, but the fact is we’re taking five years to do it.

It’s hardly a rushed process, and I’m not sure that it would help the country or economic confidence if we were stretching out this process of austerity for 7, 8, 9, 10 years. I mean people want to see some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

So it’s not with the General Election in mind..?

The reason I refer to 10 years on education and welfare reform was they just are very big pieces of work and if you expect to see some big impact on welfare reform and education, you are not going to see it just in one Parliament. I mean some of the welfare reform stuff won’t start until the end of the Parliament because of the cost of delivering, so that all this can only be judged over time and years. Who knows? In the five to ten year period, who will be running the country is highly uncertain and it could either be a coalition or it could be one party.

I know that overnight change can take five, ten years, and more. But I especially saw your article today as putting a Liberal Democrat stamp on what could have been just Conservative policies. Do you think the input on social policies is distinctly Liberal Democrat? Or do you think that actually the Conservatives are just as keen on the social side?

I think there clearly has been a strong strain of commitment to the social recovery, broken society element of policy in Conservative thinking, but it’s then translating that into the decisions that are made, and the hard commitments.

Later on in the Parliament there will be some choices to make when the deficit is brought back under control, about how we’re going to invest some of the proceeds of growth that there then are that don’t need to go to deficit reduction. All I’m trying to signal is that we then have to be ready to take action to make sure that there is enough money going into education, welfare reform, and the NHS, to make sure that those services are improved.

Do you think that there’ll be conflict further down the line if the Tories want to reduce the size of the State, will we be clawing things back for our agenda, or do you think there’s a will there ..?

I think there is the intention, at least the scope for making sure that the Coalition delivers on those priorities jointly, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when it comes, not least because at the moment everybody is focusing simply on the process of deficit reduction and therefore in a sense it’s almost easier to get both parties to agree on the big strategy.

The big strategy is deficit reduction, but we don’t want to lose sight over the Parliament of the fact that we’re not just in politics to reduce the deficit and to restore good economic management, but that we also want the education system to be improved and to see real social mobility in the country. We want the health system to get better and more responsive to consumers. We want a decent pension system and a welfare system that actually assists those people who want to get back into employment.

All those are very strong areas where there are Liberal Democrat commitments and where the policies may be slightly different from those of the Conservative Party.

After the unhappy events in May, are you still fully invested in politics? Do you hope to be more than a backbench MP in the future?

I leave the speculation for another day, really. I’ve had a difficult year, and I’m just focusing on the job I’m doing as a backbench MP, which I am really enjoying, I’ve got plenty of time to focus on lots of policy issues that I’m concerned about , and can lobby my colleagues about .

When you see the work they’re doing, aren’t you dying to get more involved?

My colleagues are doing a damn good job, so I can’t say that I’m sitting there thinking, “Goodness me, they should have done this, that and the other.”

The big judgements that Nick and Danny and the others are making, I think, are the right judgements. So that is a lot easier than it would be if I somehow felt that things were all going wrong.

Like all Lib Dem MPs I’ve got the opportunity to talk to Nick and others and communicate with them and they’re doing a good job of listening to the party.

What do you think of giving all £7bn we’re saving this year to Ireland, to bail them out?

Well, we’re not going to give it to them, we’re going to potentially advance a loan.

At the moment because the coalition has restored confidence in our economic prospects, we’re having no problems at all raising finance. Our interest rates are incredibly low, even though we have a large deficit, we can’t afford to take that for granted, but it does mean that we’re in a stronger position than we might otherwise be. And I think that the biggest threat to our economy at the moment is not the difficult position that we’re having to deal with within the UK – there are problems and pressures there – but that I think is gradually going to work itself out over time. The biggest threat would be if the world economy and the European economy in particular the people we’re trading with, took a big downturn again, and so stopping the financial chaos and contagion from spreading, I think is incredibly important.

Do you think we’ll have to bail out anyone else, in that case?

I don’t think so, but I think what we learnt from 2008 and 2009 is that if you don’t act quickly to protect big organisations - banks, countries - when these things happen, you can pay a very big price down the line. And so this time I think we are being proactive in not allowing countries like Ireland and the banking system to go down the pan.

We’ve got, as you know, a huge economic network of interests with Ireland and the Irish banks, and if that was allowed to topple over I think it would be extremely bad for our economy and it would then lead to people saying, “Well what’s the next target we can go for?” And that then would be the type of environment where we would risk the economic recovery that we’re now seeing. It’s just essential that that doesn’t happen.

So, however frustrating it is, at a time when we’re having to borrow a lot of money, we’re also having to help other countries. I think it is terribly important that we don’t allow any major country or bank to topple over.

There meme is that we’re overly sympathetic [to Ireland] and that charity should begin at home. Is that just a tabloid construct?

Yeah, and probably more over things like overseas development, whereas over Ireland, it’s not as if the Irish have been crying out for the money - for the best part of the last couple of weeks they’ve been resisting taking these loans from the EU and the IMF.

So I think people can see that what’s been done is not just in the Irish interest but it’s actually been done by all these countries because we think it’s in the European interest, including Britain.

Sometimes you get what you want;
Sometimes you get what you need;
Sometimes you get what you get:
What are you overall thoughts on the way the Liberal Democrats entered a coalition with the Conservatives?

The book shows that there was no great plot to go with one party or the other, that we were genuinely making a decision as a party on what was best for the country and what was most likely to advance the prospects of getting the policies that we stood on in the election manifesto into government, and obviously a lot of people will criticise us for the decisions that we made.

The honest truth is that we didn’t have a great deal of choice. A coalition with the Conservatives not only offered us the best prospect of delivering many of the Lib Dem policies that we regarded as important, but it was probably the only prospect of having a stable government that could deliver for Britain and the British economy.

Had we not been willing to go into coalition with the Conservatives I suspect that there would have been a lot of economic instability. There would have been higher interest rates, there would have been more speculation about the UK. And ultimately there would have had to be a second General Election, which I think would have resulted in us doing quite badly if we were seen to be to blame for there being no Government, which I think there probably would have been.

We would then have had an outright Conservative majority with no Lib Dem voice in it. Which I think most people in the country would regard as definitely an inferior option to the one that we’ve got.

So this is the government that we’ve now formed for all the right reasons, and we’ve got to be active in making it as successful as possible and ensuring that it delivers as much Liberal policy as possible. And if you were going to choose your moment to go into government, not having been in for 70 years, you wouldn’t choose a borrowing requirement of £150bn. But we can’t choose our time. These are the circumstances thrown into our lap and we can only do our best for the country and the party with the hand that we’ve been dealt .

People are giving us some credit for having established a coalition which does seem to be able to make decisions, which is so far viewed by many people as quite successful . The opinion polling seems to suggest that people do believe that Lib Dem involvement has made a difference to the nature of the Coalition in the things we’re doing.

You can order 22 Days in May now from Amazon.

View this article at its original location.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Whose party is really over?

That's the subject for discussion at the Coningsby Club this Thursday night (18 November) where I'll be speaking on the coalition and its implications for the parties. My fellow guest speaker is Jonathan Isaby from ConservativeHome.

Here's the blurb - (and no, I didn't write that blushworthy biography!)

"These are fascinating and changeable political times, and the Coningsby Club benefits from, and must occasionally adapt to, Harold Macmillan's oft-quoted "events, dear boy, events."

We are taking bookings up until Tuesday lunchtime for this week's dinner at St Stephen's Club (please disregard the note on the website about booking time).

Whose party is really over?

With Jonathan Isaby of Conservative Home

and Helen Duffett of Lib Dem Voice

This Thursday 18th November 2010 7.30pm onwards, dinner 8pm

Will the coalition run its five year course? What's the inside perspective on how Conservative members (in Parliament and more broadly) are feeling as the coalition heads into turbulent times? With violent demonstrations over tuition fees occurring even as Nick Clegg stands at the dispatch box answering Prime Minister's Questions, how much longer will the Lib Dems withstand the pain of sharing collective coalition responsibility?

And, lest we forget, one Edward Miliband is now in charge of the Labour party. ....whose party is really over?

Joining us to speak and take your questions are the leading lights in blogging from both sides of the coalition.

Jonathan Isaby is co-editor of leading Tory blog Conservative Home, prior to which he was a political diarist at The Daily Telegraph, columnist for GQ magazine and senior political researcher for the BBC. He is an accomplished public speaker, though we shall have to see if we are treated to his talent for mimicry.

Helen Duffett is editor of Lib Dem Voice and the voice of Liberal Democrat opinion in the mainstream media. A former Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, Helen is much in demand for speaking and media engagements, unsurprisingly for someone renowned for knowing everyone "from No.10 Downing Street to No.10 Acacia Avenue."

Come and join us for a lively and insightful discussion. In the confidence of the Coningsby's Super Chatham House Rules, our bloggers will be relaxed enough to share that which they dare not write...

Sign up online here.

Dress code: Lounge suit

Location: St Stephen's Club, 34 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AB

The venue is near St James’ Park tube.

Cost:£39, includes a full three course meal.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Have-a-go Hames

Duncan Hames' hero tweet

Duncan Hames, the new Liberal Democrat MP for Chippenham, has spoken of chasing after a man who snatched a woman's bag in his constituency.

From the BBC:

Liberal Democrat Duncan Hames said he had been sitting in his car at traffic lights on Friday when he saw the theft.

He pulled over, spoke to the woman to make sure she was unhurt and chased after the thief through Monkton Park.

He said a cyclist who also saw what happened managed to retrieve the bag. Mr Hames said he had reported the incident to Wiltshire Police.

"I pulled my car over as quickly as I could, spoke briefly to the lady to make sure she wasn't physically hurt, then ran into the back street's car park to see if I could catch the person who snatched the bag," Mr Hames said.

View this article at its original location.

More results: party committees and interim peers panel

Liberal Democrat Federal Conference representatives have voted for members of party committees for 2011-2012 and members of the panel from which future Liberal Democrat nominees for the House of Lords will be drawn.

The results are as follows:

Lib Dem Presidential Contest: Result

Video also available on YouTube here.

I'm at Cowley Street, at the election count for the next President of the Liberal Democrats.

The count has just been completed and the result is as follows:

Tim Farron: 14,593 votes
Susan Kramer: 12,950 votes

Tim Farron will take up office on 1st January 2011, succeeding Ros Scott.

A total of 65,861 ballot papers were issued and the turnout was 41.9%. 64 ballots were spoiled.

Total ballots returned 27,607.

The outgoing President, Ros Scott, has just emailed party members with this message:

I’m writing to let you know the exciting news that Tim Farron has been elected as the next President of our party. You can find the full result here.

We were incredibly fortunate in this election to have two outstanding candidates for President either of whom would have done a great job. And I’m sure I speak for the whole party when I say that I know Susan will continue to play a huge role in the future of our party.

Tim’s record of campaigning in the party is second to none. The enthusiasm, commitment and dynamism that he will bring to the job will be a huge asset to our party over the coming years. Being in coalition government has brought us huge challenges that we as a party are having to face for the first time in 65 years. And I am certain that Tim – working with Nick Clegg and his Ministerial team – will grab these challenges with both hands.

Being Party President has been both a huge amount of work and an enormous privilege over the last two years and I will certainly never forget the thrilling moments of the closing weeks of the General Election campaign and the days and nights that followed the result. So I’d like to thank everybody who has supported and worked with me over the last two years, especially my family. I could not have done what I have done without them.

I wish Tim all the very best of luck, I know the party will be safe in his hands.

Best wishes,

Ros Scott
Liberal Democrat Party President

View this article at its original location.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Peers call for end of child detention in immigration centres

Following the Home Office's decision to postpone until March the end of child detention in immigration removal centres, a group of peers has written to the Guardian calling for the government to honour their commitment to end the practice.

The group of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Crossbench peers includes Roger Roberts and Navnit Dholakia, as well as Sue Miller, who told Radio 4's Today Programme this morning that the equivalent of four or five primary schools per year are being locked up:

We are really tired of waiting for the end of child detention... We need not to lock up innocent children... it has been about 1000 a year.

[You can listen to the clip here]

The letter in full:

Six months ago today the coalition government promised to end detention of children for immigration purposes. Yet children are still being held in detention, despite clear evidence that this is harmful. We call on the government to fulfil the promise that it made to end the detention of children without further delay and to develop a more humane system for the treatment of families and children who are subject to immigration control.

There is evidence from countries such as Sweden that far fewer families end up facing forced removal if steps are taken throughout the immigration and asylum process to address the barriers that prevent families best presenting their case.

Child welfare and safeguarding must be placed at the heart of any new practice that is developed. We have an opportunity to restore the reputation of this country for keeping our promises and for protecting children from harm. The time for prevarication is over and the time for action has come.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Lord Dubs
Lord Dholakia
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
Lord Hylton
Earl of Sandwich
Bishop Tim Stevens
Baroness Howe of Idlicote
Lord Griffiths
Bishop John Saxbee
Baroness Richardson

View this article at its original location.

LibLink: Tim Farron - Tuition fees are the poll tax of our generation

Over at the Guardian's Comment is Free, Tim Farron MP reiterates his pledge to vote against tuition fees, calling them "the poll tax of our generation" - a reference to the angry scenes at Wednesday's demonstration.

In his article, Tim makes the distinction between the NUS pledge against tuition fees, signed by Parliamentary candidates before the General Election (which he intends to abide by), the Liberal Democrat manifesto (which became a negotiating document) and the Coalition Agreement (which contains 65% of the Liberal Democrat manifesto).

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Liberal Democrat English Party election results 2010

Yesterday the counts took place for the English party elections.

The Acting Returning Officer, David Allworthy, reported the results as follows:

At the close of nominations on 29 September 2010 the following were declared duly elected, unopposed:

Chair of English Party:
Jonathan Davies

Chair of English Candidates’ Committee:
Margaret Joachim

English representative to Federal Conference Committee (1 place):
Geoff Payne

English Candidates Committee (5 places):
Dawn Davidson
Sal Jarvis
Brian Orrell

The following were elected:

English representative to Federal Executive:
Brian Orrell: 46
Michael Wheatley: 32

English representative to Federal Policy Committee:
Dirk Hazell: 10
Geoff Payne: 68

English Executive Committee (12 places):
Nigel Ashton
Stan Collins
Dawn Davidson
Kay Friend
Anders Hanson
Sean Hooker
Sal Jarvis
Steve Jarvis
Brian Orrell
Geoff Payne
Neil Walton
Mike Wheatley

The turnout was 65.5% (higher than the average of recent years).

See here for the breakdown of votes for each stage of the count, courtesy of Colin Rosenstiel.

There will be a ballot in the by-election for the final two places for directly elected places on the ECC. A ballot paper will be included in the EC Final Agenda mailing, which goes out at the end of this week.

View this article at its original location.

Another election in Tower Hamlets: by-election called in Spitalfields and Banglatown

A by-election has been called for 16 December in Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The seat became vacant after the election last month of Lutfur Rahman as the borough's first Mayor. He had been one of the ward's three Labour councillors, until his removal from the party by its National Executive Committee in the run-up to the mayoral election.

Rahman went on to stand as an Independent, beating the Labour candidate by more than 11,000 votes.

Dave Hill reports on his London Blog that there is already infighting within the local Labour party over their choice of candidate: some are urging for the replacement of Abdul Alim, who they say was "imposed" and "has very little connection or knowledge of local politics in this ward let alone the ability to win in this complex ward without their support."

Meanwhile, look out for the announcement of a very promising Liberal Democrat candidate...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Three former Labour MPs face criminal trial over expenses

The Supreme Court has ruled this morning that three former Labour MPs should face criminal trials over their expenses claims.

Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, charged with theft by false accounting, had previously argued at the Court of Appeal that only Parliament could hear their case.

The three have now exhausted their challenge to an original ruling which rejected their claims to Parliamentary privilege, a 300-year-old immunity from legal proceedings arising from actions within Parliament; however the judge ruled in June that individual expense claims are “not covered by parliamentary privilege and… triable in Crown Court”.

From the BBC:

Former Bury North MP Mr Chaytor, 61, of Todmorden, West Yorkshire; former Scunthorpe MP Mr Morley, 58, of Winterton, north Lincolnshire; and former Livingston MP Devine, 57, of Bathgate, West Lothian, are all on unconditional bail and face separate trials.

All were barred by their party from standing again as Labour MPs at the general election.

View this article at its original location.

Last chance to vote in Lib Dem Committee Elections 2010 (online voting closes noon today)

Online voting in this year's Liberal Democrat Committee elections closes at NOON today, so if you're a Federal Conference Rep who hasn't yet returned your vote, there's still time to get online and do so.

To vote by internet, go to:

www.votebyinternet.com/partycommittee2010 and follow the online instructions.

You'll need to enter your security code, which is printed on your ballot paper.

The counts for the Party Committee and Presidential elections will take place this Saturday, 13th November.

To get the results keep an eye on this site, as well as our Twitter feed - I'll be at Cowley Street, to bring you the results as soon as they are announced.

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Setting the Independent straight on candidate's defection

The Independent's Andrew Grice has spiced up the story of a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate's defection to Labour with the help of some figures - which turn out to be incorrect.

Andrew Lewin, who stood in Hertford and Stortford in May, has switched to Labour "in protest at his leader's acceptance of Conservative policies and abandonment of key elements of his party's programme."

The article refers to Lewin:

at 23 the youngest Lib Dem candidate in England at the May election

when in fact the youngest Liberal Democrat candidate was Alan Belmore, who was aged 20 on polling day, when he stood in Hemsworth in West Yorkshire.

Andrew Grice also repeats the claim made by the Labour party -

it has attracted 40,000 new members since the election – a third of them from the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems insist their membership has risen since the election even though their opinion poll rating has slumped.

However, Grice himself wrote at the time of Liberal Democrat conference in September that 4,500 people had joined our party since the General Election.

To have lost 13,000 members to Labour and more than replaced that loss in six months would have been a phenomenal churn! I can confirm that the Liberal Democrats have not lost 13,000 members since May 6; in fact national membership has seen a net rise every month since the General Election.

View this article at its original location.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Nick Clegg's speech on European growth

This morning Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave a speech at the Government Leaders’ Forum Europe 2010 in London.

He called for a united response to "a financial crisis that has changed the world" and proposed "four levers for durable, lasting prosperity":

Openness in trade; more flexible labour markets; greater investment in infrastructure; and a workforce equipped to thrive in the green, digital economy of the future.

Towards the end, he touched on UK university tuition fees and outlined the proposed reforms:

The UK is already blessed with a world-class university sector. But we need to secure it for the future...

Read on:

London Lib Dems Regional Conference: online booking now open

Online booking is now open for London Liberal Democrats Regional Conference on 4 December:

Click here to register; it's £25 for the day, or £12 for concessions.

The conference is open to all members - you don't have to be a conference rep. The day will feature valuable training for your local party plus guest speakers, an update on the campaign for Fairer Votes and the announcement of our candidates for the London Assembly List

See the LibDems4London website for more information on Conference and Lib Dem campaigns around London.

Come to Haverstock School, Haverstock Hill, London NW3 2BQ on Saturday 4 December. Map here.

Doors open from 9:30 am

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cancelled: 3 November hustings with Tim Farron and Susan Kramer‏

Because of the planned 24 hour Tube strike which starts this evening, we've regretfully decided to cancel tomorrow night's hustings with Tim Farron and Susan Kramer.

The event had been due to take place at 7:30pm on 3 November at Woodbridge High School, Woodford Green.

You can still watch last month's online hustings on Youtube here:

Also you can visit the candidates' websites -

Tim Farron
Susan Kramer

Please remember that ballot papers have to be in by 10 November.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes ask: Are you registered to vote?

In the light of today's news that 3.5 million voters are missing from the electoral register, and in view of the forthcoming boundary changes based on the number of voters on the electoral roll as it stands next month, a timely email reminder today to Liberal Democrat members from Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes:
I'm sure you will agree that we as Liberal Democrats need to play our part in helping to ensure that everybody who should have the right to vote is in a position to exercise that right come next May.

Tomorrow we will be debating the third reading of the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill. As part of that debate we will be renewing our commitment to ensuring that all those who are eligible to be registered to vote are.

And this is an important time of year to make that happen, as the annual canvass process is currently ongoing in council across the country. For most councils that process began over the summer and is set to finish on 1st December.

That means that there is now just under one month left until the conclusion of the canvass. So there is plenty of time for electors to return their household forms, or to engage with canvassers who may come knocking at their doors.

We are sure that everybody who is getting this email is registered to vote, but please do just check! Forms will be currently landing on doormats and resting on coffee tables up and down the country and it is vital that they are returned. Once you have made sure your form is safely completed please take a moment to check family and friends have filled out theirs too. Getting half a a dozen of your friends signed up to vote could make the difference in a tight election next May.

Making democracy work is something all politicians should be committed to, and we are proud to encourage Liberal Democrats to play our part.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP and Simon Hughes MP
Leader and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

PS The next big national election will be the Fairer Votes referendum next May; you can join our campaign here.

View this article at its original location.