+++ Cable : Clegg’s Position “Unassailable” +++

Vince has just recorded an interview for GMTV, telling Jackie Ashley that the LibDems were not doing well enough. She asked if Clegg’s position was “unassailable”? The ballroom dancing Ming assassin said Clegg was “completely unassailable”.

Be afraid Nick, very afraid…

Clegg : the FCS Days, Denials and Delays

Calamity Clegg is denying this story that he was a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, unfortunately nobody believes him. Greg Hands MP says “There was only one Nick Clegg at Robinson College, and Nick Clegg was a member of CUCA.” He should know, he was counting on Clegg’s votes in the internal CUCA elections.

The Huhnie monsters accused Clegg of having a Tory past during the leadership election, something he denied at the time, as he does now.

Changing the subject, his press team told Guido a few weeks ago they would be publishing his expenses about now. Now Hannah in his office says they didn’t tell Guido that, and they will be publishing his expenses in “a few weeks”. Just as well, because Clegg himself warned us nearly a month ago that “Any delay will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.”

Poor the Sarah

Spotted last night – Sarah Teather eating alone. Maybe Recess Monkey’s campaign on her behalf should be re-started? Fact: she has a large collection of Paprika jars.

Guido fears she could in a few years turn into a liberal version of Anne Widdecombe…

UPDATE : While Hague had 14 beers a day, Clegg tells GQ magazine that he has dabbled his pork sword with some 30 different women. Sarah needs to keep her side up…

LibDemVoice has a copy of a press release from Nick Clegg about the speaker blocking the full publication of MP’s expenses in full.
“There are legitimate grounds for appealing the decision to publish private addresses. However, there is no earthly reason why the rest of the information should not be published immediately.

“Any delay will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.”

So Guido called Nick Clegg’s office.
GF : I see from Nick’s press release that he thinks MPs should publish their full expenses immediately. When is he going to publish his expenses?
Tim : I don’t know. Can I get his press officer Hannah to call you?

So Guido called Lynne Featherstone, who is very strong on the issue

GF : When is Lynne going to publish her expenses in full?
Ian : Err, don’t know. I’ll ask her.
GF : Great, get back to me.

Guido called Ed Davey’s Office.

GF : When is Ed going to publish his expenses in full?
Kerry : He will as soon as he can. We have had staffing problems and he has been very busy with the Lisbon Treaty.

So Ed Davey is going to publish his expenses in full. Just as well because his leader says any delay will “will only add to the British public’s distrust in their politicians.” The LibDems are talking the talk, can they walk the walk? Don’t delay…

UPDATE 16.15 : Clegg’s office has just called to say he will be publishing his expenses in full the week after next. They were not clear if all LibDem MPs will be doing the same.

The Party That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Guido exceeded the age limit for the guest list for the launch of Liberal Youth last night on Brick Lane. The Liberal Jugend Führer, Mark Gettleson, wanted to rename LDYS because he wanted “a name that sounds like a youth movement rather than a sexually transmitted disease”. Which is as good a reason as any…

The logo and website have a Top of the Pops circa-1974 feel. Which is either knowingly kitsch or perhaps just like the Liberal Party of yore, outdated and retro. Groovy kids!

Guido is in Hong Kong…

Hong Kong is nominally now under communist control, yet has a low income tax rate of 16%, a free market economy and limited government. This combined with its free trade port status makes it a reform model for the developing post-communist world.

It consistently tops the Reaganite Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. Judging by reports Vince Cable would love it here – at an off-the-record* post-budget briefing he gave to clients of pollsters ComRes, he lauded Nigel Lawson’s tax reforms and Ronald Reagan’s rolling back of big government. Vince was happily quoting Reagan’s dictum that the most chilling thing you can be told is “We’re from the government and we are here to help you.”

As George Osborne promises to stick to Gordon Brown’s tax and over-spend policies, maybe the most fertile political ground for the LibDems to stake out is to be liberal on economics rather than social democrat. The centre-right German Free Democrats and the Irish Progressive Democrats have been in government more often than not since the late 80s, despite being small liberal parties. Something to think about as we contemplate a hung parliament…

*Guido was not there, so not bound by the off-the-record convention.

UPDATE : Have just discovered that the Hong Kong finance minister has now abolished all taxes on wine and beer. How refreshingly civilised…

They have also introduced Green tax cuts! Financial Secretary John Tsang also announced last month tax incentives for “Greener” vehicles and a concessionary profits tax reduction for capital expenditure on “Greener” machinery and equipment. Corporate taxes were also reduced this year 1% to 16.5%. Pay attention Osborne at the back.

Economic Incoherence

The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Philip Hammond, gave an off-camera briefing ahead of the Budget yesterday lunchtime. Not quite sure how this squares with Dave’s commitment to the New Politics of openness and transparency or his boss George Osborne’sopen source politics 2.0 which he said would see a Tory government “become more accountable, more transparent and more accessible – and so bridge the growing gap between government and governed.” Having an off camera briefing in the Lobby room seems less than transparent and rather inaccessible to the governed.

Perhaps he has good reason to explain Tory economic policy out of sight, being too timid to put the case for tax relief for the struggling middle classes and reducing state over-spending. The Tories basically accept that because of the dire fiscal position Chancellor Osborne will stick with Gordon Brown’s tax and spending plans. As we tip towards worldwide recession and a global financial crisis the Tories are advocating “tax hikes on alcopops!” and the LibDems “tax cuts for smoothies!” Pathetically unambitious.

Cowley Street Press Release : “Clegg Has Bottled It” On Europe

Guido just received this via email. The perfect end to a perfect week for Clegg. Well it is late on a Friday night…

Liverpool LibDem Leadership & Laundry Crisis

As is traditional with the LibDems, there is a leadership crisis at their conference. Clegg has been in office a couple of months, so it is about due. Nothing will come of it, but it will give bored hacks something to write about.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ SKY Reporting Three LibDem Frontbench Resignations +++

Different names in their story, Sky reckon Alistair Carmichael will join Tim Farron and David Heath. Bring back Vince…

+ READ MORE +

+++ Crick : First LibDem Has Resigned +++

According to Michael Crick, Clegg has accepted his first resignation. No details.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Paxo Gets Clegg to Shoot Himself in the Foot

Over on GuyNews is the whole Paxman Newsnight interview with Clegg. Guido’s favourite bit is 4 minutes and 50 seconds in, when Clegg accuses the Labour Party of reneging on their referendum commitment. Doh!

+ READ MORE +

Up To Three Four LibDem Frontbenchers Could Go

Heath, Kramer and Farron are the most likely to resign.
Last night’s Paxman interview was excruciating, Clegg at one point attacked the Labour Party for “reneging on its commitment to a referendum”. The government uses exactly the same sophistry as the LibDems.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Calamity Logic

Guido had his good impression of Clegg diminished during his leadership fight with Huhne, which he won (just) on votes while Huhne won on style and determination. Interviewed yesterday Clegg tried to justify wriggling out of his manifesto promise to hold a referendum.[…]

+ READ MORE +

LibDem Stunt Amuses

In Guido’s schooldays he had an RE teacher with the distinction of being held in contempt by the boys and the headmaster. We would compete to get thrown out of class and sent down to the headmaster’s office. The headmaster would invariably shake his head and send us on our way.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Hughes Remembers the “Straight Choice”

Simon Hughes is celebrating the dirty Bermondsey campaign that got him elected 25 years ago. He made his name in the early 80s winning working-class Bermondsey from Labour in a vicious battle. The gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was his Labour opponent.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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