Political

Liberal Democrat Newswire #64 is out: Two more red lines unveiled by Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat Newswire logoLiberal Democrat Newswire #64 came out on Sunday, including a look at the Liberal Democrat red lines for a hung Parliament.

You can also read it below, but if you’d like the convenience of getting it direct by email in future, just sign up here. It’s free!

 

Welcome to the 64th edition of Liberal Democrat Newswire, the final weekly special of the 2015 general election campaign.

Statistic of the week: 2,700 – the number of new members the Liberal Democrats are set to have recruited in March and April.

Thank you as ever to the generous readers who make a small monthly donation to help cover the costs of Liberal Democrat NewswireYou too can join them at www.patreon.com/markpack.

Best wishes,

Mark

P.S. You don’t have to wait for the next edition of Liberal Democrat Newswire to keep up with news. My site is regularly updated with stories such as 10 tweets for retweeting: some online campaign material for the last few days and How much influence have the Lib Dems had in the coalition?.

In this edition:

Red lines, with an added twist

A red line in the making

If there was a tax on red lines, the budget deficit would quickly disappear going by the frequency with which Liberal Democrats have been talking about manifesto red lines in the last few days.

The red lines the Liberal Democrats have been unveiling this week are all from the front page of the manifesto. It’s a cunning way of rebadging and splitting up into several stories the front page to get another several rounds of media coverage – and fully consistent with what was agreed for the front page.

Or as I put it in Liberal Democrat Newswire #62:

The front page priorities really are the party’s priorities.

Sounds obvious, and yet if you read the many pieces in the media about how the party has done in implementing its 2010 manifesto you find something curious. They don’t start with the front page priorities from 2010. Nor do they end with or pass through them.

In fact, the existence of 2010 front page priorities frequently doesn’t even get a mention, and I’ve not found during this campaign any media evaluation of the party’s record in government that actually goes through them all.

Rather you get a semi-random selection of different policies examined, always leaving out from consideration some of the front page (which is not without consequences for the political verdict given how good the record on the front page is).

There has, however, been an added twist with the Sunday morning red lines, both of which (on the environment and on public sector pay) depart from the exact wording on the manifesto front page.

On the environment it is simple enough, taking the wording about green laws and protecting nature and giving it a slightly more specific slant, which is what a red line needs.

On public sector pay, however, it is territory not mentioned specifically on the front page. However, it is a move to flesh out in more eye-catching ways what balancing the budget fairly means – in this case, ending the public sector pay squeeze when the deficit is clear and raising pay subsequently in line with growth in the economy.

It’s in line with the text in the manifesto (and in line with the more detailed discussion the Federal Policy Committee had ahead of agreeing the manifesto) and was first aired last month. Making it a red line now is both an attempt to attract a second round of media attention for the policy and also an attempt to appeal to a key group of public sector workers.

Lib Dem red line: protecting public sector workers

Note that all this means an EU referendum is not a red line for the party – officially at least, although there are some in the party who would find it hard to stomach. There are quite a few sweeteners that could be offered in a deal to make it palatable but it wouldn’t have an easy ride through the party’s triple lock procedures.

Win dinner with Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

Following the success of the Liberal Democrat fundraising drive where donors were entered in a prize draw to win dinner with John Cleese, now Hugh Grant has offered himself up too. It’s all part of an online Liberal Democrat fundraising machine which has raised treble what it raised in 2010, even without Cleggmania.

Hugh Grant says:

I am not a Lib Dem, a Tory a Labourite or anything in particular but I recognise political guts when I see it. And I know Nick Clegg was prepared to stand up to the Tories when they wanted to ignore or water down the Leveson Report. For that he gets a lot of abuse in the Tory press. But he was right to do it. And the manifesto is very clear, not only that Leveson should be delivered, but that it should be done while boosting investigative journalism with more protections.

So I am happy to help make this election a fairer fight.

I can bore to death any lucky winner of this draw on the detail of the Leveson Report and effect of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Or we can just talk about me and all my problems.

You can donate and enter the prize draw here [now closed].

Final TV ‘debate’ gives Lib Dems another boost

It’s not exactly a case of momentum being with the Liberal Democrats. More a case of a series of twitches upwards in the polls combined, more importantly, with a significant improvement in the party’s overall image and reputation – as I’ve covered in previous Liberal Democrat Newswires. The latter on its own isn’t enough to win over many extra votes in most seats, but it does make the party’s aims much easier in the target Parliamentary seats.

The back-to-back Question Time appearances gave that process another boost with a larger improvement in sentiment about the Liberal Democrats than for the other parties:

Online sentiment boost for Nick Clegg and Lib Dems

That improvement in the party’s fortunes is also mirrored in the party’s own polling and canvassing data, as a result of which the party has been putting extra effort into Scottish seats which it now looks possible to hold after all.

Meanwhile, the data I’ve published from the party’s polling in Maidstone shows that it is one of the select group of seats the party can plausibly gain on Thursday, taking some off the edge off losses elsewhere.

The big question in seat numbers is whether the Ashcroft constituency polling – especially with his insistence on not naming the candidates in the polling question (although Ashcroft does do this in Parliamentary by-election polling) – is accurate. The gap between Ashcroft polls and Lib Dem constituency polls which name candidates is consistently so large that if the latter are right, there is still a clear path to the Liberal Democrats winning as many as 40+ seats. If, on the other hand, Ashcroft’s emphasis on asking people to think about how they’re going to vote in their seat (but without names) is too generous to the Lib Dems, then there’s also a route to less than 20 seats.

Voting Lib Dem? Three simple things to do

  1. Green tickSign up to show your support on Facebook by attending the ‘I’m voting Lib Dem’ Facebook event.
  2. Sign up to this Thunderclap to share a message about voting Lib Dem on the eve of poll.
  3. Join the fantastic Team 2015 group of volunteers here.

Financial Times and Guardian back voting Lib Dem (in some places)

The Financial Times:

Financial Times backs voting Lib Dem in some seats

The Guardian:

Guardian backs voting Lib Dem in some seats

Don’t miss out on new Lib Dem stories

Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg read the newspapersAs well as Liberal Democrat Newswire, you can also get:

  • a daily round up of the new stories posted up on the official Liberal Democrat website, and
  • a daily round-up of the new posts on my blog.

The latter features more chocolate and less Nick Clegg than the former.

If one or both take your fancy, just sign up here.

A tax break for political donors

Reuters reports:

Reuters graph on donations to parties from companiesSome of Britain’s biggest political donors, including a dozen senior lawmakers, have benefited from a little-noticed loophole that lets them avoid tax on millions of pounds in donations to political parties, a Reuters analysis has found.

Reuters is the first to measure the loophole, which offers political parties – and in some cases, individual politicians or their families – an unintended gift from the taxpayer.

Political donations made by individuals are not tax-deductible in Britain. If a donor makes money as salary or dividend and then donates it, they have to pay income tax. But giving from a company that they control lets the donor avoid paying income tax, accountants say. The mechanism enables donors to give more than they otherwise might…

Donations made through companies are perfectly legal, and some of those contacted said they were not aware of the savings they had made. The British tax authority simply does not tax donations made in this way, six tax accountants said. The tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said it had the legal right to tax such gifts but would not say why it did not use this right.

Christopher Grove, partner with law firm Withers LLP, said the benefit was the result of a “grey area” in tax law. “It’s a quirk of the way the system works at the edges, rather than something more deliberate,” he said…

The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties said they did not encourage donors to give in tax-efficient ways, and the donations complied with electoral laws. A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said its policy of capping donations at 10,000 pounds would minimise the gain to business owners.

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News in brief…

 

Best appearance at a hustings meeting

Roman fancy dress at a Berwickshire hustings meeting

Best use of a pink handbag in a leaflet

Thanks to Nick Barlow for spotting this on ElectionLeaflets.org:

Russell Shaw Higgs leaflet - Hackney South and Shoreditch

&nbsnbsp;

What would be the most embarrassing election result?

D'oh! Man slaps face

Saving a sudden invasion of elastic eating alien microbes which cause an outbreak of wardrobe malfunctions during Returning Officer results announcements, the most embarrassing result – for the media and most political pundits – will be if the pollster who is usually right at election time is right again.

ICM, the pollster with consistent form over multiple general elections, has painted a pretty clear and consistent picture: the Conservatives ahead in the polls by a few points since mid-February. Nor are they they only pollster to have painted such a picture of a Conservative lead: four pollsters have over the last two months (ICM, Ashcroft, ComRes phone and Opinium).

That’s very different from the media’s narrative of the campaign. Yet if ICM and the supporting trio turn out to be right, why would it be a surprise that the pollster with form was right again? With hindsight everyone will say it was obvious and wonder why they didn’t think it before.

A constituent pays tribute to Lib Dem campaigning in an unusual way

One constituent of Stephen Lloyd MP in Eastbourne has paid tribute to the extremely effective Liberal Democrat poster display in the constituency by creating the Lloyd Alert! computer game. How many points can you score? [Game, alas, since removed.]

Lloyd Alert! screenshot

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I hope you’re found this edition of Liberal Democrat Newswire interesting, informative, useful – or all three!

Best wishes and thank you for reading,

Mark

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