Conservative Diary

Liberal Democrats

29 Dec 2012 18:33:57

It's time to threaten the Lib Dems with Mutually Assured Destruction

By Tim Montgomerie
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"Mutual assured destruction, or mutually assured destruction (MAD), is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of high-yield weapons of mass destruction by two opposing sides would effectively result in the complete, utter and irrevocable annihilation of both the attacker and the defender becoming thus a war that has no victory nor any armistice but only effective reciprocal destruction." (Wikipedia)

The Liberal Democrat campaign to retoxify the Tory brand is becoming more organised.

The party's Director of Communications Tim Snowball has produced talking points for all senior Lib Dems scheduled to appear on the media.

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28 Dec 2012 16:30:19

Nick Clegg is the 'Yellow B**tard of 2012'

By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday we published the first of ten picks of 2012 - as chosen by ConHome readers. Jesse Norman won the backbencher of the year award.

Our second award goes to the Yellow B**tard of the year. The name for this award is taken from a meeting of the 1922 Committee when one or two Tory MPs decided to vent against Lib Dem obstructionism. There was a time when Nick Clegg was at the bottom of the Yellow B**tard League but, to the certain disappointment of Lord Oakeshott, no longer. Asked to vote for Yellow B**tard of 2012 and the Lib Dem leader was the clear winner...


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1 Nov 2012 11:28:22

Nick Clegg and David Lidington make the economic argument for staying inside the EU

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2012-11-01 at 11.15.49If David Cameron is looking for help from Nick Clegg in defusing tensions over Europe he's not going to get it. The Deputy Prime Minister has just given a speech in which he describes last night's 53 Tory rebels as "political opportunists". In his speech he argues that Britain should choose a middle path between the core countries who are in the Eurozone and forging even closer union and the countries that he describes as being on the periphery - "the accession countries, EEA countries, Norway, Switzerland, and so on".

After long advocating Euro entry Mr Clegg now admits that Britain won't join the single currency in his "political lifetime". We won't therefore, he concedes, be part of the inner core. He also goes on to reject fundamental renegotiation, arguing that it simply isn't on the agenda or acceptable to other member states:

"It is wishful thinking to suggest we could effectively give ourselves a free pass to undercut the Single Market, only to then renegotiate our way back in to the laws that suit us. The rest of Europe simply wouldn’t have it. What kind of club gives you a full pass, with all the perks, but doesn’t expect you to pay the full membership fee or abide by all the rules? If anyone else tried to do it, if the French tried to duck out of the rules on the environment or consumer protection, if the Germans tried to opt out of their obligations on competition and the single market, we would stop them – and rightly so."

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22 Oct 2012 18:03:24

Free market Lib Dem Mark Littlewood advocates continued coalition of Orange Bookers and Conservatives after 2015

By Matthew Barrett
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LittlewoodNovember's edition of Standpoint magazine, which is released on Thursday, carries an article by Mark Littlewood, currently the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, and formerly the head of media for the Liberal Democrats from 2004 until 2007. In his article, Mr Littlewood advocates a pact between free market Lib Dems and Conservatives after the next election, in which the Conservatives stand down in Lib Dem seats where the yellow candidate agrees to pursue deficit reduction and free market policies, and signs up for a new coalition. Mr Littlewood says:

"The arrangement he should seek with free market-leaning (“Orange Book”) Lib Dem MPs should be unilateral but not universal. It would essentially amount to an offer to withdraw the Conservative candidate from those seats in which an incumbent Liberal was willing publicly to take a pledge to continue the work of the coalition beyond 2015, specifically in regard to swiftly completing the process of fiscal consolidation, preferably at a rather more rapid pace than at present."

Mr Littlewood suggests such an arrangement would be particularly attractive to those Lib Dem MPs currently holding positions of office:

"Not only do they find it harder to distinguish themselves politically from their coalition partners, but they have far less ability to practise the tried and tested Lib Dem technique of “digging in” in their own constituency. If you are a government minister, your ability to pound the pavements of your local patch and to be a constant presence at civic functions is substantially diminished."

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28 Sep 2012 08:32:50

Can Cameron appeal simultaneously to Lib Dem and UKIP-minded voters? Yes he can.

By Tim Montgomerie
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The challenge for David Cameron at the next election, writes Michael Ashcroft in an article for The Guardian, is to simultaneously appeal to the voters who we have lost to UKIP and the voters wavering between the Tory and Lib Dem boxes on the ballot paper. He thinks it can be done but most commentators don't. They think any move to appease the UKIP Right will frighten the Lib Dem centrists. It's one of the laziest false choices in politics.

The choice isn't, in reality, about going to the centre or going Right - as pundits suggest - but instead it's about being a narrow party or a broad party.

In 2001 and 2005 we were a narrow party - focusing too much on issues like Europe, immigration and tax. We lost. We didn't lose because people didn't agree with us on those topics. They did. 60% plus people agreed with Hague on Europe and Howard on border control. They didn't support us because they also worried about the NHS, schools and pensions and we seemed unbalanced in our interests*.

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27 Sep 2012 11:05:17

The Coalition is not doing enough to end the equalities industry - tackling it would be a social and economic good

By Matthew Barrett
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Amidst all the talk of "going for growth", Lib Dem "hate taxes on the rich", and difficult decisions for Ministers having to reduce their budgets, there is one large, flabby area of government which has been insufficiently tackled, but which could be cut down to size easily, popularly, and with huge benefits for society: the equalities sector.

As people working in the private sector - the real economy - knows, hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted on having to comply with equalities regulations, and millions more are spent on funding equalities professionals - unproductive individuals. The Treasury ought to see cutting down on this pernicious aspect of the Whitehall establishment as a priority, not just to save money on those employed to collect meaningless data, but to create the conditions necessary for small and medium-sized businesses to power the recovery.

The idea of having an equalities sector is out-dated. In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, when race relations were considered poor, and legislation like the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and '68 were passed, one could see there was some logic in ensuring government adhered to the principle of racial equality it had legislated for. Race relations improved in the second half of the 1980s and 1990s (when, un-coincidentally, a Conservative immigration existed), but, perversely, the 1980s Labour left saw "diversity", "equality", and other such Guardian buzzwords, as a fundamental part of what Labour should believe in, which led to the expansion of the equalities sector when Labour entered office in 1997.

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27 Sep 2012 08:26:24

Boris Johnson leads Conservative resistance against Clegg's mansion taxes

By Matthew Barrett
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JOHNSON BORIS 2006"Boris isn’t shy about lobbing grenades across the political landscape", as my colleague Peter Hoskin noted earlier this week. Sometimes he seems to want to cause controversy, sometimes he seems to want to grab attention - and sometimes, as Tory activists admire him for, he says what senior Conservatives cannot.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Mayor of London has called Nick Clegg’s mansion tax plans "a non-starter [and] he knows it". That's not particularly incendiary by his standards, but it is the first big intervention on the mansion tax after an oddly mute few days on the issue from senior Tories, including David Cameron, and it will annoy the Treasury, who the Telegraph say are working on plans for the new tax. Mr Johnson's full quote is:

"I like Nick Clegg but he can’t be serious. These proposals are a non-starter. He knows it. I know it. The idea of a mansion tax is crazy. The idea of a mansion tax by the back door through vastly inflated council tax bills is nonsense. These taxes will disproportionately hit London and Londoners, penalising people simply because of circumstance, trapping people who in many cases are cash poor. London is the motor of the UK economy; kicking it hard makes no sense at all."

Mr Johnson is likely to have four factors playing on his mind when he made those comments. Firstly, he will know the strength of feeling amongst some senior Tories. The Telegraph names Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (who will presumably have some responsibility for administering the policy), and Grant Shapps, the new Chairman, as opponents of the policy so far.

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30 Aug 2012 13:35:27

Why Tories shouldn’t be quick to pour scorn on Nick Clegg

By Peter Hoskin
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CleggOkay, the picture to the right may be slightly overdoing it — but I still think that Nick Clegg deserves some defence from his critics. They’re at it again today, from all sides, after yesterday’s hasty proposal for a new wealth tax. The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail both contain particularly virulent editorials attacking, respectively, the Deputy Prime Minister’s “immature and irresponsible” politics and his “vacuous proposal”. The Guardian’s Martin Kettle describes him as a “loser”, while Kevin Maguire has him down as “Cameron’s nodding dog”. But few of them top Iain Martin’s column for the Telegraph, which identifies Mr Clegg as a “man of towering political intelligence,” but — er — not in a sincere way.

Why do I think that the Lib Dem leader deserves defending from this onslaught? Partially because I’m feeling charitable today, but mainly because he’s a better politician than these insults would have you believe. I’ve written in praise of him before, at my former stable, but here — by way of a very brief recap — are what I now regard as the three main reasons to show him a bit of respect:

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20 Aug 2012 06:29:17

A Last Chance Reshuffle for Growth. Which means appointing Laws and (gulp) promoting Cable

By Paul Goodman
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Cameron should be willing to move Hague and May in order to get Cable out of the Business portfolio and David Laws appointed in his place.

Most reshuffles don't matter.  But this one does.

That is the premise of my piece in today's Daily Telegraph, though I also write that "if [David Cameron's Ministers] can't come up with the right policies for growth (and the Treasury's determination is in doubt) then shifting them about will make no difference".

With the boundary review lost and no economic recovery, the Prime Minister should throw the dice.  He can't salvage the review.  But he can go for growth - without the prospect of it, his 2015 chances will fade further.  I set three conditions for recommendations:

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7 Aug 2012 07:46:54

David Cameron's leadership is now at risk

By Paul Goodman
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Imagine a civil partnership of which one member suddenly announced to the world: "My partner has refused to cook me any food.  So I am refusing to give him any sex.  But don't worry for a moment: we must now restore balance to our relationship, allowing us to draw a line under these events and get on with our civil partnership."  Such a proclamation would scarcely persuade friends of the happy couple that the arrangement had much of a future.

I apologise in advance if the comparison is in any way offensive, but this is roughly what Nick Clegg seemed to say yesterday when he declared that since some Conservative backbenchers didn't support Lords reform he will now require all Liberal Democrat frontbenchers to oppose the boundary review.

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