Weekly catchup to 23/05/09

And goodness, what a fortnight it’s been for politics and the party.  Since we at Weekly (hem hem) Catchup left  your screens a fortnight (hem hem) ago we’ve seen a lot of movement on the political front led by the Telegraph’s sensational coverage of the “Cash for Cushions” constitutional crisis that John Stewart’s chromakey team dubbed “Scamalot“.

We kicked off our coverage with a triple bill of Norman Baker’s contributions on the matter, but it was to be a gift that keeps on giving.  Stephen ranted, then questioned; you answered in spades. Clegg weighed in. Alix assumed the position. And queried the value of cushions. But ultimately in those heady days of early-to-mid-May-2009, we still thought we’d got off lightly. We defended Andrew George; we castigated the Telegraph for its descent into the gutter; we summarized.  We told the Telegraph to say sorry

But there were flies in the ointment.  There will always be Teignbridge.  And the Rennard situation began to deepen. Party president Ros Scott intervened.

Stuff got heavy for speaker Michael Martin. Clegg called for him to go. Dozens of PPCs put their name to an open letter. And then, he resigned.  We had the first reactions. An historical view. Hardly surprising he should go when 85% of our readers thought he should. Lets hope our subsequent poll on replacement speaker is similarly influential.

In all this expenses muck, lets not forget there were saints too, at least twice.

And there were tributes too for Chris Rennard, who announced his plans to retire later this year, in uncertain circumstances addressed head on by our Editor at Large in this cracking post.

Our snap members’ poll also considered expenses. You’ll find our questions and your responses all under this link. (Unless you’re reading this long after I wrote it by which time something else will be at the top of the page)

Enough of expenses. In case you’d forgotten, we have council and Euro elections in mere weeks.  We did cover those too, with Anders Hanson urging us not to forget the locals. Stephen considered Euro-polls. Helen had news of social networks on a European level. Merlene Emerson told us of VoteMatch. We discovered to our horror we’d actually be talking about Europe in our European campaign this year. And on a more general note, Tony Greaves urged us to abolish postal votes on demand.

We’ve also been taking on the BNP head-on in the last few weeks. Mark showed their election address is a tissue of lies; they have difficulty with numbers; and they used a photo of one of our servicemen without permission. It would be a tragedy if the expenses scandal put them into the European Parliament. After all, there’s Nothing British about them, no matter how hard they gatecrash the Queen

On other topics from our guest-contributors this week: Nonsense on stilts from our Chancellor, says Ed Randall. Daniel Russell is pushing for electoral reform and so is Layla Moran. Luke Burford is almost on board whilst Mark Thompson has been with us for a while. Benjamin Mathis gunned for the man in tights; Ed Fordham gave us a sneak preview of his Newsnight appearance. Kalvis Jansons explained his thinking behind the “PM Resign” petition. And Hywel Morgan wondered just how much money MPs should spend on food.

On a completely different note, Caron Lindsay told us of a struggle within the Scottish church over the fate of a gay minister in Aberdeen. (Earlier this evening, the result of the vote was announced.)

A post about a non-partisan repository of leaflets became a reliving of the Bermondsey byelection in the comments. I highlighted some opportunities to work for the party. We brought you the two  new party election broadcasts, #1 and #2.  

We launched a new strand of content called Daily View which we brought to you on the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd and 24th.  After all that, we’ve nearly got the rota straight and almost decided what to call it.

In CommentIsLinked@LDV:
Clegg – restore trust in democracy
Cable Arthur, Delia, rotten bubble
Norman Baker on expenses

In numbers this week:
Golden Dozen #117
Y barcud Oren #8 

Catchup to 11 May 09

Bloggers know that Catchup is made from only 7 natural ingredients!  And it’s been a slightly quiet week at t’Voice as our various contributors have been abroad or busy at work.

It was the week in which the party launched its new Party Election Broadcast, the Mirror tried to find ways in which supporting the Gurkhas is bad news for the Lib Dems and Mark Pack found fault with the timeless design classic that is the polling card.

My second entry into the Golden Dozen brought news (mainly good) from Sheffield and (not so good) Ashfield. Alix decided that blogs don’t need money (with my bursar hat on, I’d like to point out that this needs at least a couple of hundred quid a year to pay for hosting). And Lord Rennard had a problem with toilets and mice.  Or something.

Most comments this week was Stephen’s article gazing into the future to see what comes our way after June 4th, closely followed by Alix’s view that Gordon Brown should not resign.

Guest contributors this week included a monumental contribution from the internet’s favourite fluffy elephant, Prateek Buch on the Post Office and the co-op movement, Joe Taylor on the Tories going mad,  and Steve Pitt suggesting we stand for something other than elections. Lorna Spenceley gave a campaigning masterclass, and Andrew Lewin shared his thoughts on defending against a rising blue tide.

It’s not too late to join in the Weekly Meme – 7 Reasons I joined the Lib Dems, and in numbers – this week Golden Dozens #115 and #116 graced our screens. (I’m in #116 – did I mention?)

Just the one entry in CommentIsLinked@LDV: Caroline Pidgeon’s views on Boris Johnson’s first year.

Catchup to 5th April 2009

It’s Sunday night, it’s the early hours of the morning – it’s LDV Catchup!

And this was the week in which even more MPs fell foul of the media in the great expense extravaganza, which was particularly embarrassing for Jacqui Smith. Chris Grayling came in for criticism for representing a constituency 17 miles from London but still claiming both second home allowance and high travel costs. Eric Pickles fun time on Question Time finally became available on Youtube – both with and without a Monty Python Yorkshiremen mashup. Thank goodness Nick Clegg has the answer.

It was also the week of the meeting of the G20 – and the ensuing protests gave LDV a lot of copy:
Shirley, Simon, Chris and David monitored the police. Alix Mortimer spent a day glued to Twitter tracking a hashtag. Eye witness Andrew May laid the blame for much of the unrest squarely at the police’s door. Stephen Tall took Daniel Finkelstein to task for his views – and was not chuffed at the lack of response. Catchup’s favourite Lib Dem MP Tom Brake was caught up in the police action. Colin Lloyd had his own distinct perspective the following day. And sadly, one protester died during the fracas – Alix wrote about that here.

Other guest writers this week included Alison Holmes with the politics of globalisation; John Pugh MP wrote about Asquithians and Provincials; LDV’s favourite fluffy elephant opened his diary to us once again as did LDV’s favourite writer and broadcaster Jonathan Fryer; and Antony Hook told us that Europe is closer than we think. Rob Blackie has a heart and mind of his own on e-campaigning. And Julian Harris likes gin and free trade, but is less keen on fairtrade. Nick Thornsby has advice for anyone planning a constituency dinner (or, hem hem, a wedding): go veggie, or at any rate avoid rubber chicken.

Jock Coats’ piece on land value tax generated heated debate; there were many tributes to Maggie Clay, who died this week; and to the best of our knowledge, it wasn’t an April Fool, and Clegg really was annoyed.

In numbers…
Hopping for Golden Dozen #111
Golden Dozen #110
A look back at the polls: March 2009
March 2009 – not the statporn roundup

Just the one CommentIsLinked@LDV:
Chris Huhne – Scalpel-sharp intelligence is needed to slash knife crime

You said…
No to a minimum price for alcohol
And in response to our members only survey, 80% backed Clegg on tax; you gave your views on booze, recession and Afghanistan; and you said yes to assisted suicide and banning incitement to gay hatred.

Catchup to 29/03/09

Welcome to your sneaky guide to the best of LDV from the last fortnight.

In Op-eds, we had a round-up of polls after previous Labour governments from York Membery. Jock Coats told us of the opportunity of a lifetime to build anew, build better. Cllr Jenni Clutten asked whether we can trust our young people and Gareth Aubrey asked whether we can win them.

Our MP for Taunton Jeremy Browne penned a piece to explain why he was one of only two Lib Dem MPs to vote against allowing the Youth Parliament to meet in the House of Commons and Diana Wallis, our MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, put forward suggestions to help improve the gender balance at the European Commission. Michael Moore MP, who represents Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk gave his considered view about development in a downturn.

Julian Harris wrote about trading away poverty whilst Daniel Furr thinks the answer lies in world government. As the expenses row raged on, Hywel Morgan found a curious comparison amongst seven North London MPs. Joe Taylor thinks he has the answer to expense problems. Merlene Emerson checked out the quality of the air we breathe. James Graham was not impressed at the cost of Labour’s free lunch database.

As is often the case, a deliberative post on who are the Lib Dems drew a large number of comments this week when Geoffrey Payne asked “What is an economic liberal?” Alix Mortimer asked “what next?” for David Heath’s defeated fuel poverty bill, and we all learned that vegetarians are terrorists.

In our poll category, we asked whether Sir Fred should keep his pension, and you said yes. We asked if you supported minimum alcohol prices. And we asked if, in the event of a hung parliament where one party won more seats but another party won more votes… which should we back? We also had the return of our members’ survey. If you’re a paid up party member, you can join our panel here.

A busy week for CommentIsLinked@LDV saw Nick Clegg writing about the banking system not once, but twice. Michael Moore told readers of the New Statesman about broken promises. Vince Cable’s got a book out. Both Norman Baker and Nick Clegg wrote pieces about the Iraq war enquiry we need. And David Steel remembered to the Daily Mail that 28 March 1979 was the night that Labour self-destructed.

We learned a night in a police cell costs £853; we were saddened by the death of Ron Silver, who played Bruno in the West Wing; we were intrigued by news of a new voting system called Majority Judgement; we learned Gordon Brown is so unpopular in the Labour party that he’s not mentioned in their latest recruitment leaflet. It only takes three hours to learn how to fight the war against terror. Tony McNulty is terrible at timing. Nick Clegg responded to the economic crisis with a refinement of our tax policy.

And there’s a special place in this catchup for Eric Pickles. He fluffed it on Question Time, a fact that the right-wing blogs somehow failed to mention.

And a final paragraph to note that our colleague Mark Pack is moving on after ten years at Lib Dem HQ. All the very best in your new position, Mark, and we hope you’ll still find time to write for LDV.

The fortnight in numbers
Haggis Neeps and Liberalism #3
Golden Dozen #109
Y Barcud Oren #6

And in our private members’ forum
Mandatory retirement age still legal
Tax cuts now off the agenda?
Direct mail with multiple candidates
Kirklees WarmZone scheme

Catchup to 15/03/09

Welcome to Catchup, bringing you the tastiest nuggets of LDV from the last fortnight, apart from Conference, which we caught up here.

We started the period with a debate about fairtrade. Good? John Pugh MP thought so; Julian Harris wasn’t so sure.

We learned where thousands of Lib Dems will be trekking to conference over the coming years.

We learned the Government had caved on individual voter registration – and Mark Pack explained why that was a good thing.

Our peers came out top. Ros Scott unleashed hell. Bob Russell MP campaigned to save pubs.

Guest contributors included Hywel Morgan, pointing out a rather ridiculous mistake by the BNP, Charlotte Gore thought Modern Liberty was rubbish, Geoffrey Payne kicked the bankers. York Membury gave us a historical perspective of life after Labour and Joe Taylor urged Lib Dem councils to ditch their in-house propaganda sheets. Whilst on the subject of local government, we also had two pieces on the subject of alternate weekly collection from Iain Coleman, who made it work in Cambridge, and a piece from the FT saying Lib Dem AWC plans cost them 24 seats in Waverley in 2007.

Laurence Boyce generated more heat than light when he decided to quit the party – over 70 of you had opinions about whether he should climb down off the parapet or jump; a good number of you had something to say about this week’s Question Time and a number of you had suggestions about how to improve the nation’s sales personnel after Mark Pack listed the worst sales calls he’s had recently.

Perhaps the most striking piece of writing this week was Karin Robinson’s beer fuelled rant in which she told us – “Yes you can!” and a number of us popped up in the comments to doubt whether actually we could.

It’s been a twitter-heavy fortnight: we urged you to tweet at conference and we reported back when you responded by the thousand. Even twitter-sceptics like our dinosaur editor-at-large Stephen Tall were secretly impressed.

CommentIsLinked@LDV
We linked to Jonathan Calder in the Guardian
Vince Cable warning about China
James Graham keeping his pecker up

Numerology
@LibDig Pig #13
94% of conference reps fooled by Kate Winslet
Golden Dozens: 108, 107, 106.
Haggis Neeps and liberalism #2

In our private members’ forum
Aberdeenshire expulsions
Postponed election technicality
Private landlord campaigns
Ron Paul foreign policy analysis