'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Monday 30 April 2012

Vote for Vince to be chancellor - NOW

Huffington Post is running a survey to see how many people think Vince should replace Osborne as Chancellor.

Do click on this link to express your opinion. Thanks!!


It's going well. When it opened it was 32:67. Now look...

Let's keep up the pressure everyone!!

Obama at White House Correspondents dinner..

The great tradition in the US of the President making a very funny and risque speech at the White House Correspondent's dinner was upheld in fine style on Saturday evening. It's worth watching (embedded below). And the perfect excuse for me to put up my favourite ever such speech - which, unlikely as it may seem, was made from George W Bush... who could certainly laugh at himself.

Obama 2012

Bush 2007 - starts slow, but then from 45 seconds in...

Nick Clegg is Killing the Tory Party

Just in case you missed this brilliant and insightful piece in The Express yesterday...:-)

Hooray for Nick!

Be careful what you wish for...

Here's my piece from Lib dem Voice yesterday. The headline on the piece isn't mine ('I don't think Jeremy Hunt should resign') - the above headline reflects more what I think. I was a little worried that the post would be misunderstood as an attack on Vince, when I intended the opposite, to defend his position - but in fact most people seem to have understood my point of view (although many are disagreeing - it's a cracking comments thread). Anyway, here's the piece or pop over to LDV to see the comments...
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a post I really wanted to write. But I don’t think Jeremy Hunt should resign over the Murdoch affair. Lord, I hate myself.
Anyway, ‘why so?’, you’re all bellowing at the screen. Let me explain
As of now, Jeremy Hunt has not been shown to have done anything wrong, and he maintains he has been whiter than white. The blame has been laid firmly at the door of his SpAd, Adam Smith, who has dutifully fallen his sword. Innocent until proven guilty and all that, so no reason for Hunt to go as yet.
Hence the calls for an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of all this. Leveson doesn’t have the mandate to judge if Ministerial conduct has been appropriate or not – as Tory Minsters who said there was no need for separate investigation knew full well (and Leveson himself has now made clear). So moves are afoot to get the full facts from a proper inquiry– and deal a knockout blow to Hunt’s position.
But here’s the rub. Lets presume for a moment that we get an independent inquiry. That it rules that Hunt has behaved inappropriately, and concludes that rather than adopting an independent quasi judicial role, he is seen to have done all he can to swing things in the Murdoch’s favour.
Well, there is a tariff in place for the appropriate punishment for a Minister seen to have been less than impartial on a matter like this. And strangely, it’s been established over the same case – the proposed News Corp takeover of BSkyB.
Because as we all know, Vince was shown to perhaps be less than impartial in this matter. And he wasn’t asked to resign, nor was he fired. He had responsibility for the deal taken away from him. Nothing more.
Now, I’m pretty sure we all see Vince has being firmly on the side of the angels in all this – as the unfolding events of the last 18 months have so clearly demonstrated.
But – and I take no pleasure in this – the issue here is not whether the Minister’s personal judgement is seen to be right or not, it’s not ‘which side of the fence did he jump to?’ It’s jumping off the fence at all that’s the problem – and the punishment isn’t resignation. It’s a minor reduction in your workload.
‘Aha’, others have cried when I have ventured this view, ‘there is a difference. Vince merely expressed an opinion about the Murdoch’s – he didn’t actually do anything. Hunt is alleged to have actively aided and abetted the News Corp bid – that’s much more serious.’
Which may be so. But I suspect politically it won’t be seen to be so. I can almost see Cameron now sorrowfully shaking his head as he announces that ‘ every aspect of and every Minister involved in this whole sorry affair will be investigated.’
I suspect Vince knows this. Which is why he said of Hunt,
I think he needs to be given time to defend himself and until then he remains a good colleague. I myself will explain my role in the process to the Leveson Inquiry.
We may suspect Jeremy Hunt of all sorts of nefarious wrongdoing. We’re convinced Vince has been shown to have been an astute judge of character in dealing with the Murdochs.
But we may be sensible to content ourselves with some very loud and vociferous cries of ‘Vince was right’ and leave things there.

Sunday 29 April 2012

FCC Response to Comments on Accreditation

FCC has issued the response below to all those who replied to the call for comments on Accreditation at Conference.. My summary - they have listened (good). Its difficult (I concur). There is more work to do (agreed).

In short - I think FCC are doing their best. But we're not there yet.

Many thanks for responding to the consultation by FCC. Apologies for the 'standard' response but as you will appreciate we had a lot of replies and I wanted to advise everyone that responded of where we have got to.

Federal Conference Committee met on Monday to consider the question of conference security.

As we said in our article of 14th April 2012, the police have requested that we adopt a similar system of accreditation for conference that was used for Birmingham last Autumn.  

That system would involve conference attendees submitting certain pieces of information at the time of registration, such as their past addresses and passport number.  That information would be used to assess whether the person registering is who they say they are and whether they pose a serious security threat to conference.  If so, the person concerned would not be accredited.  The vast majority, however, would be.  Those who were accredited for attendance in Birmingham would be recognised by the system, unless they had asked for their data from last time to be deleted, and minimal checks would be required.

As before, safeguards would be put in place were accreditation to be adopted.  These include an appeals procedure whereby the final decision as to whether someone could attend conference or not would be taken by the Party and not the police.  It would also include the facility for the data to be deleted in respect of anyone who wanted it.   What data remained would be held on a standalone system, not linked to the main police computer system.  People who have changed identity would be able to apply for accreditation under their current identity and would not need to reveal their former one.

The FCC recognises that accreditation is highly controversial within the Party.  A motion was submitted about it to Birmingham Conference and, whilst an amendment that would have refused to adopt accreditation in the future failed, conference did ‘condemn’ the system that was in use at that time.

When we called for views on the accreditation proposal for Brighton, many responses were received.  We would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to send us their opinions.  Many were in favour of accreditation but many were vehemently opposed to it.

At our meeting on Monday, representatives of LGBT+ attended to tell us about the particular problems with accreditation that face people with previous identities.  We are very grateful for the time they took to do that. 

Senior members of Party staff also attended.  Over the past two weeks, they have talked extensively to the Party insurers and to staff at the conference venue in Brighton.

Following careful consideration, FCC does not think that the case for accreditation of party members is presently made out, but recognises that there are other complex issues around it that need to be addressed.  We are committed to holding conference without it if we possibly can.  

We have therefore decided to delay opening registration for Party members (and only Party members) whilst further negotiation takes place with the police, other Party Committees, the owners of the conference venue and our insurers.  If we possibly can avoid using accreditation though, we will.  We will provide further information as soon as we are able to do so.

Andrew Wiseman
Chair, Federal Conference Committee

Friday 27 April 2012

Paddick best choice of Mayor say... Guardian readers. Sort of.

There's a fun interactive guide over on the Guardian website where you can answer a series of questions and they will tell you what your perfect 'mix' of Mayor is from the main candidates.

They have then added up everyone's results, from which Brian's policies make him the most popular choice, closely followed by Jenny Jones.

Interestingly, there's also a hint of Boris in the mix - but not a sniff of Ken. 

Awkward Ed Miliband moments

A pictorial delight. With a bonus David 'Gunslinger' moment as well.

And yes, there's a whole website devoted to this stuff


Media storm

I work on New Cavendish Street in central London and todays' hostage seize happened at the end of the road.

Having popped down, I can tell you there was a small crowd, several roads closed and a bad traffic jam. And the Greggs on Goodge Street was full of policemen and ran out of sausage rolls. Draw your own conclusions.

But panic? crisis? chaos? I think not. Yet look how ITV captioned this film - and then have a look at the film (click on the picture to go see the film - ITV wont let you embed) and see if their words are a fair reflection of the situation...

These pictures from the air show confusion and panic on Tottenham Court Road in central London earlier this afternoon.

Makes you wonder if the media always present the true picture of what's going on...

Thursday 26 April 2012

The case for a referendum on Lords Reform

First published in The New Statesman on Monday

Is it any wonder that the public tire of politics, when politicians spend an inordinate amount of time squabbling over an issue they all fundamentally agree about?
All three main parties put reform of the Lords in their manifestos, we can argue about the details, but the principle of a need for change was clear. Today, a cross-party group of parliamentarians has published a report that recommends some sensible and appropriate changes to the way the upper house is constituted. At which point professional politicians all over the shop will throw toys out of their pram left, right and centre, and create a Westminster firestorm over a policy that just 6 per cent of the public think should be a priority. Why don’t they just sort it?
It does seem to me that the arguments against reform fly in the face of democracy. The main theme this week is ’electing representatives to the upper house gives them a democratic legitimacy that the current Lords do not have, threatening the primacy of The House of Commons’. Is that really an argument for not reforming the current system – that the lack of an elected mandate for the Lords, making them a less effective opposition to the Commons, is a good thing? Previously the main argument was ‘if we don’t appoint good people to the Lords, then we’ll lose the best talent’. Again – isn’t it up to the people to decide who the best talent is? Otherwise, you end up in a similar situation to Greece or Italy with a political elite foisted on them in dubious democratic circumstances.
But that’s just me (and the Lib Dems). I understand there are others with different views. So I think the public should probably decide,  if the politicians really can’t. After all, anyone who voted Lib Dem, Labour or Tory voted for it at the last general election.
Which is why, unlike many in my party, I’m not particularly against the idea of a referendum on this issue. I well understand the arguments against one – all three parties advocated reform in their manifesto, the mandate for change already exists. I also understand the whispered fear in the Lib Dems – having been burned by the AV referendum last year (and having seen the rather nasty but highly effective campaign against reform by our coalition, ahem, partners), why put ourselves through that mill again? And the "fast and loose with the truth" nature of that last campaign seems to be starting already.
But my answer would be – trust the people. There is a mandate for change. There is a majority for change. We are talking about a major constitutional reform, the only time perhaps a referendum is justified in a parliamentary democracy. And frankly, as a Liberal Democrat, I find it hard to argue against giving people the final say.
I, for one, would be happy to get out there and make the case for change.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Why FCC is still considering the Accreditation issue.

I am against Accreditation at conference and I have said as much very publicly.

Last night FCC considered the 'accreditation at conference' issue, in the light of the many submissions made to the committee in response to the request for views made on Lib Dem Voice, and I know they also heard views on the day from activists such as Zoe O'Connell and Sarah Brown (who tweeted about it). As various members of FCC have revealed, the opening of conference registration has been postponed while this issue is addressed.

Fair play to FCC member Jeremy Hargreaves, who tweeted in response to some of my queries after the meeting. Here are his comments, in 'latest first' order (look up my twitter feed at @richardmorrisuk to see my tweets).

So there we have it. The main concerns of FCC are insurance and venue acceptance.

I have asked Jeremy to encourage publishing full disclosure of these concerns at LDV so we can at least know the whys and wherefores of these issues. I believe the insurance issue was addressed in the debate at Birmingham and I would be interested to hear why the Brighton Conference folk think accreditation may be necessary (couldn't be because Sussex Police told them so, I suppose...?)

Anyway, I look forward to hearing the full explanations.

I think full frank and open information exchange is the way forward on this issue - if only to give FCC the ammunition they need to prevent this illiberal process of accreditation for conference continuing for another year.


Caron has an excellent update post on her blog revealing full details of the FCC debate, the options looked at and the hero 5 members of FCC who voted for further disucussion. they have my grateful thanks

Arnie Gibbons
Jeremy Hargreaves
Justine McGuinness
Geoff Payne
Lucy Care

Sarah Brown has also blogged an excellent update on her website of her experience of the FCC session

Monday 23 April 2012

"Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don't know the price of milk"

I know I'm hardly the first person to post this video today, but if you've missed this Nadine Dorries treat...well, enjoy...

Sunday 22 April 2012

UKIP rep says no to Zac Goldsmith on my blog. Interesting...

Lots of people have read my blogpost suggesting Zac Goldsmith may be about to jump ship from the Tories and join UKIP and I've had a fair amount of comments back on Twitter.

But then a UKIP member - who is at least prominent enough to merit his own page on the UKIP website - has been on my blog to say they don't want him..

The full comment is...

"There is flying a kite and there is plain lunacy.

UKIP don't believe that we are experiencing catastrophic global warming; we don't want to cover the country in windmills; we do support cheap nuclear electricity; we do support the development of shale gas. Under what possible circumstances would Zac be welcome in UKIP?

The subconscious subtext here may be that you recognise, with the LudDims now the 4th party, Zac, or anybody else, would not be so foolish as to consider joining you despite the fact that he shares your ecofascist hysteria."

I wonder if anyone has told Nigel Farage - or indeed Zac - that UKIP don't want him. I have given Zac 3 separate opportunties to deny he's about to jump ship -which either means he doesn't care about what this blog says ('Ridiculous' I hear you cry... :-) ) or there really is something to this...

Also a few people have suggested that he may be about to jump ship - into the Lib Dems. Which I have to say given the VERY bad blood locally after the last general election, combined with Zac's views on Europe and Constitutional Reform, seems EXTREMELY unlikely.

No. I still reckon UKIP may be making a siren like call in his direction. Someone better tell Neil Craig...

Friday 20 April 2012

When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone

I didn't really want to watch this short film about Philip Gould. But enough people told me I should. And while it's incredibly sad, it is also very wonderful.

You may not want to watch it either. But you should.

Is Zac Goldsmith about to join UKIP?

Amongst all the speculation about who are the Tory MPs that Tim Montgomerie suggests are strongly considering jumping ship and joining UKIP - the most commonly named MPs have been listed by Guido Fawkes and James Mills - it seems to me that

the most obvious candidate is being ignored. Zac Goldsmith. And the reason he's being
ignored is because most pundits don't live in Ham Common - but if they
did, they'd be suggesting Zac too. Because there's a special Ham Common related reason why Zac might be about to leave the Tories.

So why do I think Zac may be about to leap into UKIPs arms?

Well, to start, lets list the the obvious reasons. Most agree that Tim's 2 'mystery'

MPs are likely to be amongst the 81 rebels who voted for a referendum
on the EU last year. Zac is one of their number.

The two PPSs who resigned in order to defy the whip - Adam Holloway
and Stewart Jackson - are seen as being amongst the most likely

jumpers. But it's been forgotten that defying the whip also cost Zac a
job in government. He was about to become David Cameron's personal
Green envoy. But then, as the Mail reported...

"David Cameron was accused of ‘petty and vindictive behaviour’ last
night after millionaire Tory MP Zac Goldsmith was banned from a key
Government job for defying him over the EU.

The Prime Minister had approved the appointment of Mr Goldsmith as his
personal Downing Street envoy to fight global warming and save the
world’s rainforests.

But the offer was withdrawn two days before his first assignment – and
hours after he voted in favour of a referendum on whether Britain
should cut its ties with Brussels."

As we know, the environment is a cause Zac is passionate about. It must rankle to

have the job he'd most want in government taken away by Cameron.
And reports that Osborne wants to try and weasel out of The Green Deal
must be salt in the wound.

And of course Zac has strong family history around  the anti EU lobby.

He'd fit right in around the UKIP table

So lots of good reasons to surmise that it might be Zac. But there's

something more.

Zac is MP for Richmond Park. And there's one local issue that all

local parties have campaigned very effectively on.  And he has been
entirely consistent over. And now it seems his own party may be about to
stab him in the back.

The third runway at Heathrow.

Zac has said he will resign and fight a by-election if the Tories

reverse policy on this. And now suddenly, they are apparently doing
just that.

There's a council by-election currently taking place in Richmond. Our local campaign is based on stopping the third runway - and pointing out that the Tories are considering a massive U turn on this.

Imagine as Zac trudges around the constituency and gets told every day

that his own party is doing the one thing he said he'd resign over.
And the local Lib Dem candidate , Jane Dodds, is running a fantastic campaign. She
lost by just 19 votes last time.

And to save you checking -  yes. UKIP policy is against a third runway at Heathrow.


A Tory rebel

He has the job he wanted taken away from him
His father's son
A green campaigner in a party reneging on it's green promises
Being stabbed in the back by his own party on the one issue he said
he'd resign over
Seeing a highly effective local campaign in his own constituency
pointing out Tory betrayal on that same policy - and imagining defending
that same policy in 3 years time...
And when he said he' d force a by-election, he didn't say who he would
stand for...

Now. I think a lot about Zac. I am after all a Lib Dem PPC who

lives in his constituency. I can even see the top of his mums house from my window (there's a reason this blog is called what it is - it's my little in joke...). 

So I reckon I'm in a good place to put 2+2 together.

Of course, this is all speculation. I will tweet this out to Zac, and he's welcome to come on the comments and tell me I'm wrong.

But since I first tweeted it (on 11th April), he's been out there saying stuff like this...

It all adds up...doesn't it?