PODCAST: How do the government’s political reforms measure up to the Great Reform Act?

Soon after becoming Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg promised “the most significant programmes of reform by a British government since the 19th century…. the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832.” But how do the Coalition government’s constitutional changes actually compare to the changes brought in by the Great Reform Bill of 1832?

That question was addressed by a meeting organised by the Liberal Democrat History Group earlier this year, with speakers our own Dr Mark Pack (who studied nineteenth century elections and electoral reform for his PhD) and the History of Parliament Trust’s Dr Philip Salmon. Here now for those who couldn’t make the meeting is a podcast.

You can also read a review of Philip Salmon’s book Electoral Reform at Work: Local Politics and National Parties 1832-1841 here.

PODCAST: Nick Clegg Q&A

The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Nick Clegg MP, made himself available for a question and answer session with party members this afternoon, and a packed Oval Hall at Sheffield’s City Hall called in to hear his answers.

Hear him as he talks about Lords reform and tuition fees and takes questions within topic from speakers on the floor.

And did he really forget he was in charge of the country? Find out by clicking the “play in another window” link below.

Second day for #welovetheNHS

Yesterday we brought you news about the bizarre battle between American rightwingers spreading misinformation about the NHS, and British users of the NHS who were actually quite proud of it.

24 hours later and Tweetminster (which monitors the twitter updates of MPs and PPCs and provides a service where you can search them) reports

65 #welovethenhs tweets from MPs & PPCS. 8 from @UKLabour MPs & 4 PPCs, 3 from @LibDems MPs & 3 PPCs, 1 from @Conservatives PPC

Our own Nick_Clegg was amongst them, as was Prime Minister Brown (whose tweet looks like it’s had help from a speechwriter):

NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there.

Judged by how fast these memes gather pace, both Clegg and Brown responded pretty late actually. Taking part was a no-brainer, almost everyone on Twitter was doing it, and it took a day for them to get into it.

On google, Lib Dems have dominated the search for the last day: google #welovetheNHS and LDV’s post from yesterday still comes fairly near the top – we were second after Twitter itself for quite a while. Put in the spaces and the top blog is Charlotte Gore’s acid response to the campaign. Charlotte raises a very valid point of course, that if it hadn’t been for completely overblown, factually wrong criticisms of the NHS from America, it’s hard to imagine that the entire UK twitter-base would have spontaneously exploded into unequivocal support for the institution.

Our own Mark Pack reports that the origin of the storm of support was sitcom writer Graham Linehan, although we’re a little a baffled at his assertion that Pack doesn’t look a character from the IT Crowd. Whatever can he mean? [/deadpan]

Comedy songwriter Mitch Benn pointed out in the middle of the night that a US guy seemed to think that all of the tweets were coming from the army of bureaucrats who run the NHS. And as I type he’s heading into the Now Show recording studio to sing a song about – we’ll find out on Friday night at 6.30pm and Saturday at 12.30pm whether it makes the final cut.

And a few Lib Dem bloggers have weighed in too:

Clegg impresses MoneySavingExpert.com

MoneySavingExpert is reporting that Nick Clegg answered an open letter to David Cameron before the Tories managed to get their boots on:

It came about in an unusual way. Clegg (pictured, right) is one of the 3.5 million recipients of the MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) weekly money tips email. In it, three weeks ago, he spotted an open letter to David Cameron where MSE asked the Tory leader to back the campaign for automatic refunds.

While Cameron has not replied, Clegg, and his Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable, in a letter to MSE this week (see full text below), have promised to table a Parliamentary motion after the summer recess.

Nick also uses his letter to the financial expert blogger to plug the forthcoming consumer protection policy paper at Bournemouth conference next month.

(With thanks to MSE subscriber Hywel Morgan for the link)

Daily View 2×2: 23 July 2009

Good morning. You join us here on LDV as we wish happy birthday to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michael Foot, and as the nation of Egypt and the Rastafarians commemorate the birth of Haile Selassie.

It’s also polling day in Norwich North. Will April Pond become the 64th Lib Dem MP? Will we make our second by-election gain in the 2005 Parliament? Find out first on twitter – as the blogosphere’s reporter on the spot Nich Starling will report, live from the Norfolk Showground.

Two big news stories

Kingsnorth tactics criticised
The Guardian reports the report into police behaviour at the environmental protests earlier in the year at Kingsnorth, with Lib Dem MP David Howarth quoted:

This is yet another example of the disproportionate use of stop and search, and shows how, even on the report’s own narrow terms, this tactic is totally counterproductive.

Battle to save Britain’s wind industry
The Independent leads with a story of a coalition of trades unionists and green campaigners attempting to save Britain’s only major wind turbine plant, on the Isle of Wight.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “This closure exposes the hollow truth of Labour’s climate change strategy.”

Rebuilding a stable green economy, presumably including green collar jobs in the wind turbine industry, is the first of the major strands of Nick Clegg’s Fresh Start.

Two must-read blog posts

What’s the point of FPC? Ask Nick Clegg!

A frustrated Lindy Loo reveals Nick Clegg has gone a little off-message in his presentation of the pre-manifesto. Another big bust up due at conference?

Mark Reckons chats to Brenda Barbara Tucker

Not the character from the Archers, but a staunch anti-war protester currently living in Parliament Square:

She explained that as far as she is concerned, the entire political system has failed. She thinks that we are led by war criminals and all who support this system are also complicit. She said that parliament does not have legitimacy and that the whipping system is anti-democratic. Eventually she hopes that enough people will decide to opt out of the system and then things will have to change.

Local Solutions 2009 – Nick Clegg and Ros Scott

For four mornings this week, LDV will be bringing you audio recordings of the proceedings at ALDC’s Local Solutions conference for Lib Dem councillors. One of the features of this event is to cram in as much as possible – including training sessions clashing with plenary sessions, which means many attendees themselves may not have heard the plenary. First up this morning is Saturday’s early morning session with party leader Nick Clegg MP and party president Baroness Ros Scott.

Sheffield Local Solutions 2009

You can listen to the sound file right here on the web, or you can download it for use with your MP3 player. Why not listen to the conference next time you’re out delivering leaflets? If you use iTunes you can search the podcast directory for Lib Dem Voice; for other podcast software, you can use this RSS feed of LDV’s audio content.

Tune in at 11am tomorrow for Cllr Paul Scriven’s account of how the Liberal Democrats are transforming Sheffield.

NB, the photo is of the multistorey carpark ALDC recommended drivers to use, a very few minutes walk from the town hall and the conference hotel. Very interesting treatment of the outside. It’s the same car park Will Howells calls “the best car park ever“. It’s not, however, a car park that my satnav could easily find.

Radio Alert – Phone Clegg

Eagle-eared listeners will have just heard BBC Radio 4’s consumer whingefest magazine Your and Yours announce that tomorrow’s Call You and Yours will be an opportunity for the Radio 4 listenership to quiz the Lib Dem leader.

A reasonably fair introduction told us that the recent election results were OK but could have been better; and the worrying statistic that whilst people generally like Nick Clegg when they know him, up to 30% haven’t even heard of the name.

The programme will be 12-1pm tomorrow, Tuesday, and available afterwards as a Listen Again / iPlayer item. There are details with the contact number, an email address and more here.

Daily View 2×2: 28th May 2009

2 big stories

LDV’s daily glimpse into the world of media and views.  Our biggest story today has already made the news here at LDV, but it’s too good for us not to trail again: Nick Clegg has launched a campaign for 100 days of proper discussion about real reform.

It’s the front of the Guardian: the main story; the article by Clegg himself, and the version of the story where Clegg mocks Cameron’s pathetic attempts at real reform.

There’s been a wide variety of responses to the article here and in the comments over at the Guardian – ranging from praise to  ”aim lower – you might get something done” – but my favourite response so far has been the approving words from Felix Cohen – he of the (very strongly worded) openlettertothelibdems.net.

While we’re on the subject of reform, don’t miss my second pick – Matthew Norman in the Independent calling for a written constitution.  He’s not exactly complimentary about the Lib Dems but he reserves his truly scathing commentary for the other two main parties. So that’s alright, then.

2 must-read blog posts

There were some good instapundit reactions to the Clegg news including:

But for my two picks, I’m choosing Mark “Star of Radio 4’s More or Less” Thompson’s latest revisiting of the correlation between safety of seat an MP’s seat and the likelihood of him or her abusing expenses. After all, the first outing of this just ten days ago is arguably what has boosted electoral and constitutional reform so high up the agenda.

And my second pick, an unhappy Jo Christie-Smith is narked at unkempt Boris’s unkept promises – South-East Londoners still can’t use their Oyster cards on trains.

Coming up later today

On Lib Dem Voice today – we’lll have news of UKIP’s tenuous grip on reality – and I’ll be donning my Bursar’s hat and  publishing LDV’s accounts for members of our forum to investigate.

Bloggers unanimous: Ghurkha champion Clegg aced PMQs

As I type, the Lib Dems are holding the Government to account on their stance on rights for Ghurka troops to settle in the UK.

But in PMQs this afternoon, Clegg launched a blistering attack on the Prime Minister on the Ghurka issue, despite following Cameron’s similar question.

And he’s been rewarded for his efforts with a round of ace reviews from bloggers across the spectrum:

Jane Marrick: Clegg’s finest hour

But it was Clegg who played the real blinder. This was the Lib Dem leader’s best performance at PMQs. Clegg has struggled to find the right issue to get the PM on, but this, on the Gurkhas, is the right one.

Guido Fawkes: Clegg Hits His Mark

Iain Dale: Clegg Shines and puts Brown on the Ropes

This was Nick Clegg’s strongest performance yet at PMQs in his 16 months as LibDem leader. Despite being pre-empted by Cameron, he put Brown on the back foot.

Gordon Brown 5
David Cameron 6
Nick Clegg 7

UPDATE: Andrew Neil has just said that the Daily Politics has never had such an avalanche of emails after PMQs as today on the Gurkhas. Furthermore, every single one of them supported the Gurkhas. Every. Single. One.

Caron’s Musings: Clegg slams Brown on Ghurkas

Brown gave a bit of a lacklustre answer, which, to be honest, it was hard to imagine he actually believed himself. Nick came straight back at him saying that “his answer was that of a man who knows he’s doing a shameful thing but doesn’t have the guts to admit it or change it.”

I want Clegg fighting on my side if I’m ever in trouble.

Paul Waugh: Clegg wins PMQs

[…] it was Nick Clegg who won the day. Many of us thought he would have to junk his Gurhka questions after Cameron majored on the subject. Yet as it happened, the Lib Dem leader was more passionate and more scathing than his Tory counterpart.

Final word to Jane Merrick:

PS I get the feeling this will be settled by the end of the week with another u-turn. At least two newspapers are running campaigns on the Gurkhas, including the Sun (which never loses campaigns). This is an issue where there is cross-party anger.

It’s a crying shame that on such an issue the Government has to be forced into providing justice for brave soldiers.