Category Archives: Liberal Democrats

Lord Rennard gets Lib Dem apology for botched disciplinary process

Lib Dems drop investigation into whether his failure to apologise for sex harassment claims brought party into disrepute The Liberal Democrats have apologised to Lord Rennard for mishandling part of his disciplinary process and dropped their investigat…
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Student loans: not even Cameron could privatise the unprivatisable

The student loan sale plan was never going to work now all were left with is a vision of chaos at the top of governmentPolicy usually comes to us in beautiful choreography. Kites are flown by tame thinktanks, lobby briefings dispensed by Westminsters f…
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Posted in Conservative and Liberal Democrat cabinet, Conservatives, Higher education, Liberal Democrats, Liberal-Conservative coalition, Money, Politics, Student finance, Vince Cable, World news | Comments Off

Tony Blair’s speech marking 20th anniversary of his election as Labour leader: Politics live blog

Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including Tony Blair’s speech marking the 20th anniversary of his election as Labour leader and David Cameron’s statement to the Commons on the shooting down of flight MH17

1.17pm BST

Q: You didn’t mention Sure Start?

Blair says he is proud of Sure Start.

I’m not big on tribal politics. But they are Tories.

1.04pm BST

Q: [From the BBC] What would your message be to Putin? And what further action should be taken?

Blair says if, as most people think, the pro-Russian separatists were to blame, Putin has to take responsibility. It is more likely that will happen if the US and the EU stick together.

12.59pm BST

Q: What is the way forward for Russia and Ukraine to resolve their differences? Should the international community be involved?

Blair says it is important for the US and Europe to stand together. Russia must get a united message.

12.50pm BST

Blair is now taking questions from Progress members.

Q: [From someone from Afghanistan] A woman from my country said to me: If you ever meet Tony, thank him. What is your assessment of what is happening there?

12.43pm BST

In Britain recent years have been “grinding and harsh”, he says.

But Britain has many advantages.

Around the world today this philosophy of progressive politics is not losing ground. It is still the surest route to electoral success. It is about the future. Though guided by an old compass, it is ready to steer a new path. Its temperament chimes with that of the 21st C. It takes courage the sort that Philip had but it works.

12.41pm BST

Blair says many of the Millennium Development Goals will be met, but it will largely be because of what has happened in China.

12.39pm BST

Blair says Labour should welcome the fact the coalition is following its academy programme.

12.39pm BST

Blair says we should be the radicals.

But not radicals playing to the gallery of ghosts from the past; playing to the gallery of today’s stadium.

12.37pm BST

Blair says, in the battle between open-minded and closed-minded, Labour (or “we”) should be open-minded.

And that is why the EU is so important.

12.36pm BST

Blair says Labour should be uncomfortable in the comfort zone, because the only comfort there is for the privileged.

12.36pm BST

Blair says Labour should support changing education policy if it is not working.

(I say Labour, because that is what he means, but he is talking about “our job” and “our role” etc.)

12.35pm BST

Blair says the challenge for Labour, since it is linked to the collective side of things, is to show that government can be effective.

12.34pm BST

Blair says the prime ministers he works with around the world struggle with the same problems.

They don’t wants answers based on ideology.

12.32pm BST

Blair says in government he realised there was no point advocating policies that relied on more state control, or that did not empower individuals.

The same applies today, he argues.

12.32pm BST

Blair says, looking at the world after the crisis, you have to be careful.

Governments did not spot it coming, he says.

12.30pm BST

Blair says most of what he achieved came through policies that were innovative, that were not dominated by traditional thinking, and that often cut across political divides.

And they were influenced by how you interact with people – real people, he says, not the ones you meet in committee rooms.

12.26pm BST

Blair rattles through a list of New Labour achievements.

And he turns to foreign policy.

12.25pm BST

Blair says he is still advocating Third Way solutions when he advises governments around the world.

The Third Way is not a set of policies; it is an attitude, he says.

12.23pm BST

Blair says he is still motivated by social justice.

Last week he was in the Middle East.

12.22pm BST

Blair says he wanted to win for a purpose.

He says he wanted Labour to govern not just for one term, but for an era.

12.19pm BST

Tony Blair starts with a tribute to Philip Gould.

He was not just an inventor of New Labour and the Third Way. He personified it, Blair says.

Philip only ever wanted Labour to win. And I only ever want Labour to win.

12.15pm BST

Tony Blair is delivering the Philip Gould lecture.

Gould’s daughter Georgia is introducing Blair.

12.12pm BST

Channel 4 News has a live feed of the speech.

It’s due to start any minute now.

12.08pm BST

Waiting for Tony Blair’s arrival at @ProgressOnline event – awful background ‘hold’ music driving me nuts

11.52am BST

According to Huffington Post, Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, thinks there will be a Labour/Lib Dem coalition after the next election. This is what he told a conference at the weekend.

If we were negotiating again and I hope we will be, but probably with the Labour Party this time … that would be my prediction, I think because we are used to coalition politics, we would negotiate even better.

With Tony Blair’s election as Labour leader in 1994, I decided to rejoin Labour, though it may surprise some to learn that Blair himself for a while tried to dissuade me on the grounds he wanted people inside the Liberal Democrats keen to argue for Lib-Lab cooperation!

Europe, I began, was central to the strategic objectives of New Labour: at this there was a lot of smirking and some titters around the table. I then argued that the politics of the first term would need to be dominated by building support for British entry to the single currency. At this point the room broke into ‘you must be joking’ laughter. I was taken aback. Clearly the people who had worked with Blair most closely on a day-to-day basis were at best cynical about New Labour’s European commitment.

11.31am BST

They’re not happy at the Blair event.

Ugly rumours spreading that Blair not speaking until 12.

11.20am BST

Labour MPs at Blair speech: Flint, McFadden, Blears, Kendall.

11.20am BST

My colleague Michael White has written an assessment of Tony Blair 20 years after his election as Labour leader. Here’s an extract.

An un-neurotic British relationship with Europe was another Blair project that taxied on the runway and stalled. But even that failure looks magnificent compared with David Cameron‘s out-of-touch EU blunders. In many ways Cameron models his leadership style on Blair’s, but seems to lack his flair, energy and possibly his brains.

None of which will make any difference to tribal Blair haters of left or right, for both of whom his electoral successes, the unavoidable errors and controversies of the power victory delivers remain an affront to comfortable certainties. But the rest of us, less tied to rigidity, should be more discriminating.

11.14am BST

Tony Blair is due to be starting his speech now.

Uncharacteristically for a New Labour event, it has not been briefed in advance.

Labour’s lost tribe of Blairites gathering for his spch to mark 20 yrs since he became leader. Ed Miliband has left the country to avoid it

Typical Blair media manipulation, making the 3 people who have turned up queue for ages so it looks popular

10.52am BST

You can read all todays Guardian politics stories here. And all the politics stories filed yesterday, including some in todays paper, are here.

As for the rest of the papers, heres the PoliticsHome list of top 10 must-reads, and heres the ConservativeHome round-up of political stories in today’s papers.

Ideally, a serious-faced Miliband will be pictured in intense discussion with the president; in a lighter week, he would aim for a big shared guffaw. As long as he doesnt mix the two up, hell be fine, and the pictures will slot into Miliband: The Movie, coming to a TV screen near you in May.

But is this what weve come to: Mr Miliband rightly criticising Mr Camerons cabinet changes for putting image above substance, then shuffling off to Washington for what is essentially a photo opportunity, just because focus groups say he doesnt look prime ministerial?

He [Mr Miliband] should have a reshuffle. Id bring Alan Johnson back into the shadow cabinet … in a role where he could play a big part, Mr McCluskey told the Financial Times.

The comments came days after David Cameron carried out his most ruthless cabinet reshuffle yet, with the demotion of William Hague, Michael Gove and Owen Paterson, and the promotion of new talent into senior roles.

[Green] told The Telegraph that he will enlist the support of fellow MPs in the run up to the General Election as he makes the case for building a new generation of grammar schools across Britain.

Mr Green said: “One of the things I intend is to make the case for grammar schools. I went to a grammar school, I am in favour of them, but they have become a taboo.

Further scope for a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats emerged yesterday after Ed Milibands party backed proposals for free school meals for all primary school pupils.

The Labour leadership agreed to endorse the policy, announced by Nick Clegg last year, after pressure from the partys grass roots. It means that a raft of measures have now been jointly endorsed by the two parties.

10.26am BST

Here are the Twitter highlights from Nick Clegg’s press conference.

Clegg says EU is economic superpower in this part of world and can send powerful message to Russia

Britain is to push for “Level 3″ sanctions at EU level against Moscow (trade restrictions, capital flows) says Nick Clegg, Deputy PM

The biggest question for Tony Blair is his role in Iraq war, says Clegg, calling Tories cheerleaders for the conflict

On Blair in Middle East, Clegg says no individual can persuade 2 sides what needs doing. Says it has to come from Israel /Gaza themselves

On bedroom tax- Clegg says he wouldn’t ‘begrudge’ the Tories any similar decisions… What lib dem policies might Tories want to disown?

Clegg says Putin is the only individual who can change the parameters of this conflict. Says will argue remorselessly for stronger action

Clegg says u turn on bedroom tax one tiny bit of jigsaw in mass of welfare reform that has taken place. Says I am no slouch on welfare

Clegg on Gove – ‘fair or unfair’ there was feeling even among ‘Gove-esque’ teachers that they were being denigrated.

10.02am BST

We were expecting the Metropolitan police to publish their Operation Alice report into the plebgate affair this morning. But a colleague tells me that has been postponed.

9.26am BST

George Osborne, the chancellor, has been giving interviews this morning to ITV’s Good Morning Britain and to the Today programme.

This is about living in a world where international borders are respected, where commercial airlines are not shot down, and its absolutely in Britains national economic interest that that is the case. And when it comes to things like sanctions, of course they can have an impact on your own economy. But the economic impact of not acting in a situation like this could be very much worse.

Weve reached a major milestone today in these reforms which are going to come in and give people who have worked hard and saved hard all their lives greater access to their pensions and their pension pots in retirement.

I dont accept that. This is going to be free and impartial guidance for millions of people who for the first time are going to have access to the money that they have saved through their life.

We dont have any plans to do that. There are these ideas out there but we dont have any plans, I havent got any plans in the Treasury to do that.

8.56am BST

It’s busy at Westminster, where we’ve got a major speech from a former prime minister and an important statement in the Commons from the current one, as well as quite a lot else. Here’s the agenda.

9.15am: Nick Clegg holds his monthly press conference.

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