Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Thank you Brighton!

Superb result on the new tax plans today - we've single-handedly outflanked Labour on social justice, outflanked the Tories on tax cuts, and out-greened the Greens. I couldn't be more proud.

I think that this result speaks volumes about how well this party's democratic policy-making process works.

The media have been going on and on about how David Cameron needs to be seen to take on his party and win - to have a "Clause IV moment" - but the simple fact is that he doesn't need to do that at all to make policy. We do - and it's a good thing.

Both the Labour and Conservative leaderships are quite capable of ruling their parties from on high with centrally-issued diktats, and find it quite within their power to treat with disdain their membership and conferences alike. We Liberal Democrats, however, are quite concerned that when we adopt new policy we take the party with us.

The media seem astonished that the party is in such rude health following the last year's upheaval. That's because the process works. Debate invigorates this party - and the democratic nature of this party means that we can outlast any so-called "scandal" you care to throw at us. Stop acting so surprised.


Paxman's got nothing on me

Have just woken up from the oddest dream.

For some reason I was on Newsnight opposite Margaret Beckett. I suppose it must have been on the eve of a general election, because the talk was of possible post-election horse trading. Quoth the MP for Derby South:

"Everyone knows that the Lib Dems will go into coalition with the Tories if there's a hung parliament - just look at the likes of Birmingham and Burnley."

To which I saucily replied,

"So what do your constituents think of the Labour-Tory coalition on Derby Council?"

So what can it all mean? Why am I dreaming about Margaret Beckett? And why can I only produce those sort of zingers in my sleep? Find out on the next exciting installment of Joe's tenuous grip on reality...

Friday, September 15, 2006


Milburn a Blairite? More like a Campbellite

Nick Assinder at the Beeb is claiming that Alan Milburn's speech makes him the "ultra-Blairite" candidate for the Labour leadership, but then goes on to say that Milburn wants
"[L]ocal income taxes, more individual choice in public services, [...] a directly-elected House of Lords and proportional representation for Westminster elections."
and that the main thrust of his speech was
"a call for redistribution of power away from the centre - Whitehall and government - to individuals and communities who might even take over budgets for running some of their own local services."
Now I don't know if it's just me, but I'm sure that that's a fairly complete list of the issues that the New Labour project has ducked - driven largely by an agenda of self-preservation. Indeed, there is only one party that has consistently supported all of these policies, and it isn't the Labour Party.

Has Alan Milburn defected to the Lib Dems and just not told anyone?

Friday, September 08, 2006


Boris is in hot water

Many, many apologies to Papua New Guinea (and Monkey Island)

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