Liberal Democrat Newswire #2 went out earlier this week. Fingers crossed, but the early feedback and click through rates look good, as does the bump in people on the email list. So it looks like the newsletter is starting to meet an interest many people have. You can read #2 in full below.
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News about the Liberal Democrats…
Thursday 3 February 2011
Welcome to the second edition of my new monthly email newsletter. Many thanks for all the responses to the first one, which confirmed my belief that there is a gap in the sources of information which this newsletter can try to fill. Welcome also to the many new subscribers over the last few weeks; please do also let me know your views.
The AV referendum
The No campaign has also been hit by a series of basic blunders, claiming that various Labour MPs were backing it who in fact have come out in the last few weeks as being Yes supporters.
At times it seems as if Labour supporters of electoral reform have spent the last two decades always coming up with an excuse at the last moment to walk away from actually backing electoral reform. From John Smith’s talk of a referendum in the early 1990s through to Tony Blair’s manifesto promises that were never kept and on to the current Labour Party’s sudden hostility to having a referendum on the same day as other elections (even though that’s just what Labour did for the London Mayor referendum), it’s always been a case of “Yes, but…”. However, the Labour Yes campaign is also making good progress, with a big majority of Shadow Cabinet members likely to say Yes and even Labour MPs more generally may well split 50/50.
A detailed study by the IPPR published in January showed how badly first past the post is now performing in Britain even when judged by the yardsticks of its supporters, whilst Chris Rennard and Paul Tyler have detailed the absurd lengths Labour’s filibustering has got to. You can follow the progress of the efforts to improve our voting systems via Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform.
The economic outlook
One part of the economy that has done consistently well in the last few months is the manufacturing sector, with strong growth, fast rising exports and healthy bank balances across the sector. Ironically after years of Labour talking about the importance of manufacturing, it is the recovery from the recession since the last election which is seeing the economy be rebalanced.
A set of figures that have been consistently poor is real wage growth – or rather the lack of it – and it does not look like that pattern will alter in 2011, even if growth returns. That is likely to keep any political benefits from the government’s economic policies to a minimum for a long time yet.
The next scheduled big economic event is the Budget, where we will see what further progress can be made on core Lib Dem policies such as raising the basic income tax allowance to £10,000. As part of the run-up, the IFS has reviewed the impact of the tax changes due to come in for April and concluded that the richest will lose out the most.
Realignment to left, realignment to the right…
Looking further into the future, some Conservatives – such as Nick Boles MP – have been assiduously pushing the idea of future Conservative / Lib Dem agreements, including electoral pacts. He’s received an almost universally frosty response from Liberal Democrat ranks, though the policy ideas he laid out in his book last summer indicate many areas of possible future agreement. However, those areas – such as civil liberties and the environment – are also the very ones that are often talked about as grounds for possibly future Lib Dem / Labour agreement, as you can read about in more detail in my review of his book.
So far, in other words, all options look to be very open, though the party’s triple lock mechanism for decisions such as the one to go into coalition is in need of updating for the party’s changing circumstances.
And in other big stories…
Meanwhile, Elwyn Watkins slightly increased the Lib Dem vote in the Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election Tim Farron has reported the Daily Telegraph to the Press Complaints Commission for its sting operation on Lib Dem MPs, the Liberal Democrats are looking to move out of 4 Cowley Street to a large open plan office in the vicinity, there was also good news on libel law reform and expanding freedom of information and there was a very mixed reception from Lib Dems to the government’s anti-terrorism review, with much support for changes such as cutting back on the power of councils to spy on people and reducing the maximum period of detention without charge, but controversy over the new Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures.
Nick Clegg also gave a major speech on civil liberties, promising “the restoration of every day liberties; counterterrorism measures that uphold liberty while protecting security; free citizens able to see into, and speak out about, the organisations that affect their lives. It is a liberal approach to freedom; a British approach to freedom. It forms an important part of our programme to rebalance the relationship between the state and its citizens. Our Labour predecessors will be remembered as the government who took your freedoms away. We want to be remembered as the ones who gave them back”.
Which ministers to Lib Dem members rate best?
Forgotten liberal heroes
Meet the blogger: Caron Lindsay
Lembit Opik, as was
Simon Wright becomes 31st Liberal Democrat MP on Twitter
Best wishes and thank you for reading,