Political

Liberal Democrat Newswire #17: what have the Liberal Democrats achieved in government?

If you are on my email newsletter list, earlier today you’ll have received Liberal Democrat Newswire #17, including a specially commissioned infographic setting out the Liberal Democrat achievements in government. You can now also read it in full below.

To make sure you don’t miss out on future email newsletters, sign up here. The next one will be a post-conference special with news and analysis of Nick Clegg’s conference speech.

Conservative blogger Tim Montgomerie has an interesting take on the infograhic, which you can read here.

My infograhpic is, however, not quite so good as THE BEST INFOGRAPHIC EVER:

Mark Pack

Newsletter #17
Me

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Dear Friend

Welcome to the latest edition of my monthly newsletter, containing an exclusive infographic about the main achievements of the Liberal Democrats in coalition government. As that’s a major production, the rest of the newsletter is shorter than usual, previewing the Liberal Democrat spring conference.

The next edition will be my now nearly traditional post-conference special, containing analysis and background on Nick Clegg’s keynote speech. Expect it in your inboxes on Sunday.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

+++ INFOGRAPHIC +++

Lib Dem infographicAt times I’ve been frustrated at the varying and even inconsistent messages put out by Liberal Democrat ministers about what the party is achieving in government. So I’ve put together an exclusive infographic setting out the main Liberal Democrat achievements in government.

You can view it online at https://www.markpack.org.uk/libdem-infographic/ and by all means make use of it in print or online elsewhere if you wish. I just ask that if you do, you include a link back to the original source for the infographic. (Details are at its foot.)

Thank you to the party’s Policy Unit for helping with my research and to Kath Harding for the design. The responsibility for what to list and how to describe it rests with myself however.

Liberal Democrat spring conference

The weekend of 9-11 March sees the Liberal Democrats gather for the Spring 2012 conference, this time in Gateshead. As is becoming traditional for the party’s spring conferences, the NHS is likely to be top of the list of controversies.

There isn’t a motion already on the agenda on the NHS but there is a slot for a topical or emergency motion on the Sunday morning. The most likely outcome is that a motion on the Health and Social Care Bill gets debated in that slot. Unlike the autumn 2011 Liberal Democrat conference, the development of events in Parliament means submitting a motion that gets ruled in order should be straight-forward.

The other major issue jostling for a slot will be welfare reform. If, as I expect, it loses out in the ballot, it can still be raised at several other points over the weekend – including the Nick Clegg Q&A session and the reports from the Parliamentary Parties. With the latter also scheduled for the Sunday morning, an earlier rise than many are used to on the Sunday of conference may be wise!

Amongst the other items up for debate is the long-running question of what sort of extra wealth taxation the Liberal Democrats should support. The choice of which wealth taxes to support has been a matter of some controversy in the party, and conference gives a chance to settle that with a proposal for a 1% annual levy on the value of a property that exceeds £2m. The motion rather anxiously proclaims that this would only hit 0.1% of people. It would hit rather more headlines however and would stake out a clearly different approach from that of Conservatives.

Also of note is the proposal to change the party’s “triple lock” procedure for deciding what to do in circumstances such as a hung Parliament.  Although seen to have generally worked well in May 2010, it was not a perfect mechanism for party democracy and an updated version to account for those lessons and a ruling of the party’s Federal Appeals Panel is being presented to conference.

Superficially the proposals retain the key elements of party consultation culminating with a vote at a special conference before the leader can take the party into coalition. However, all is not quite as it seems – as evidenced by a rather mild comment from myself about it resulting in an amusing mini-blizzard of communications from party officials and staffers to me, offering to talk about it. All just to provide helpful background, you understand.

The proposal expands the number of people to be consulted or involved in future hung Parliament negotiations, but removes the possibility of balloting all party members, removes the Federal Executive’s veto and reduces the size of majorities required.

The case for the change is that if you involve more people it becomes impractical to have all of them retain the same sorts of vetoes as under the old system, and there is still a binding vote at party conference. The case against is two-fold – first, that it is removing or weakening several parts of the lock and, second, in so doing may also undermine the hand of party negotiators. The more steps they can honestly say they have to get their party to agree to, the stronger their position when arguing, “Look, we really need just one more concession if we’re going to get this through…”.

A two-thirds majority is needed for the change, making it potentially a close vote if there are strong speeches made against the change.

Further conference information

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Thank you for reading

I hope you’re found this newsletter interesting, informative, useful – or all three!

If you have enjoyed reading it, why not share it with others?

Best wishes,

Mark

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