Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Would it be a tour de force which would put an end to the speculation in the media about his future? Well, we now have much opinion - most of it surprisingly favourable - to draw on.
Few have commented on the substance of the speech. For instance, who contrasted Brown's understanding of the word fairness, with that of Nick Clegg? What sense was there of Brown addressing the widening gap between the richest and poorest in Britain? (See an economist's analysis of negative wages here.)
Or how about his misunderstanding of the metaphor of mending the roof when the sun was shining? The point was not about spending on public services, necessary though that may have been, but about building up reserves.
Finally (for now - I'm sure we'll come back to this), one of his trumpeted initiatives seems to be flawed. I refer to the provision of broadband.
Jim Knight is announcing that we will fund over a million extra families to get online, on the way to our ambition of Britain leading the world with more of our people than any other major economy able to actively participate in our broadband and internet future.
Most of us know that the major factor limiting broadband take-up in the UK is the provision of high-capacity cable. Wales suffers more than England in this respect.
It has been estimated that it will cost almost £30bn to optically-cable every home. There is a cheaper option, of carrying the optical fibre just to the street cabinets, leaving a short length of existing metal to complete the connection. That would cost just over £5bn. BT has committed to a £1.5bn upgrade which will bring the total of homes with access to high band-width to ten million, but there is no indication that they will provide universal access from their own resources.
Look at the official briefing which followed Gordon Brown's speech, and you will see that only £300m is to be allocated to the government initiative (and what's the betting it has been pared from some other programme?). This is enough only to favour a few, unless there has been a surprising change of heart on the part of the telecomms companies.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Gurkhas' legal team urgently (by end of Wednesday 24th September) need to find an example case of a soldier recruited directly to the British Army from a Commonwealth country to disprove statements being made by the Home Office.
Peter Carroll says:
“We need to find a person who joined the British Army between 1962 and 1997 who was a citizen of a Commonwealth Country and joined the Army directly from his own country - that is, they had not entered and settled in the UK before applying to join the Army.
“The reasons behind this requirement are complex. However, our legal team say that the finding of even one such instance would fundamentally improve the chance of victory in this case.”
If you can help, visit Peter’s site for details of how to get in touch.We are grateful to Mark Pack and Liberal Democrat Voice for bringing this to our attention.
Monday, September 22, 2008
"Please sign this petition.
"The current situation is a joke - the Gurkhas (who are some of our best, most loyal and bravest soldiers) are being turned away from British Citizenship.
"It's a disgrace and I feel quite strongly about it, having worked with some superb Officers whilst
"If you too feel strongly, please add your signature to this official Number 10 petition."
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Back in the Assembly next week, Welsh Liberal Democrats have chosen as a motion for debate: "To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:
Notes the current lack of affordable housing in Wales.
Calls on the Welsh Assembly Government to:
1. Develop the HomeBuy scheme into a fully funded key workers' scheme.
2. Begin a limited trial of urban housing enablers"
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Over the coming weeks, we will consult the public to help draw up a comprehensive list of the laws that should be repealed. Today I am launching a website where anyone can submit the details of a law they think should be scrapped – greatrepealact.com
" And then we will bring forward the most comprehensive set of proposals to pare back unnecessary laws and regulations a political party has ever produced. "
The web site is no longer active, but suggestions may still be posted as questions to the leader.
Our approach, as Liberal Democrats, is fundamentally different from that of Labour and the Conservatives. We favour what works. Criminal justice policy has been buffeted by red-top opinion for too long. It is time for hard evidence in cutting crime.
Chris Huhne is leading the debate at our federal conference in Bournemouth next week.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Step 1 of central control: every local council in Scotland was "persuaded" not to increase council tax last April. This had an impact on education budgets across Scotland, and in places like Highland have particularly affected rural schools. This makes nonsense of their proposed Rural Schools Bill.
Step 2: introduce an extension to income tax to replace council tax (one cheer from us), but fix the rate centrally, thus denying local authorities the power to set it according to their individual needs. Call it "Local" Income Tax, in the hope of attracting naive Liberal Democrat votes.