Tim Farron holds milk, looks aggrieved, causes much confusion

Tim Farron holding milk

Every politician should have a concerned face, and whatever one thinks of Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron he certainly knows how to look suitably aggrieved.

Of course with such powers of facial expression one must use them wisely, lest some uncharitable soul leak unused pictures to the press of you holding dairy items for no explicable reason.

Thankfully the Farron was on hand shortly afterwards to explain a scandal literally nobody is calling Milkgate.

Still, the ability to look suitably aggrieved on cue could prove useful should the Libs’ poll ratings fail to improve over the next few years.

Image Credit – Tim Farron holding milk via Marie Le Conte

Lib Dems join peerage frenzy after campaigning for Lords reform

Westminster Old Palace Yard, 1911 by Charles Flower

The Liberal Democrats scooped up a raft of honours and peerages on Thursday for MPs kicked out of Parliament in the general election and donors to the party, despite previously campaigning to turn the Lords into an elected body.

Chief among the new lords is former business secretary Vince Cable, whose defenestration from his Commons seat in Twickenham at the general election by 2,000 votes was seen by many as the apex of the party’s destruction on that night.

He is joined by deputy leader and former Gordon MP Malcolm Bruce, former Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Alan Beith, former Hazel Grove MP Andrew Stunell, and former Bath MP Don Foster, all of whom stepped down before the general election, thus avoiding the rout the other members suffered.

Lynne Featherstone, who held her Commons seat in Hornsey and Wood Green for a decade until she lost by more than 10,000 votes to Labour MP Catherine West earlier this year, will also be made a peer.

Also recognised in the honours was Danny Alexander, second to chancellor George Osborne throughout the coalition government, who was turfed out by more than 10,000 vote in his Commons seat in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, but will now be a knight.

Such appointments will fuel suspicion that since its reform under Labour prime minister Tony Blair the Lords and the honours system is regularly abused to empower politicians rejected by voters, as well as invite allegations of hypocrisy upon the Liberal Democrats.

Government guidelines state the wider honours system is intended to recognised those that “made achievements in public life” or “committed themselves to serving and helping Britain”, though ostensibly it recognises those that helped whichever parties happened to be in power at the time.

In a statement Tim Farron, leader of the Lib Dems, said:

“Liberal Democrats are committed to root and branch reform of the House of Lords. Today’s appointments introduce a new wave of Lib Dems determined to fight for change.”

Among the benefits of being a Lord are a £150 or £300 stipend that can be claimed for attending a session in the chamber, as well as the opportunity to influence and delay legislation as it passes up from the Commons for review.

At present the Lords numbers 781, making it the second largest legislative body behind the National People’s Congress in China, a rubber stamping chamber that numbers 2,987, for a nation of more than 1.3bn people.

With these additional peers the Lords will number 826, for a nation of 64m.

Image Credit – Westminster Old Palace Yard, 1911 by Charles Flower

These eurosceptic Liberals want to scrap Trident, abolish the national curriculum and nationalise railways

Gladstone debate on Irish Home Rule April1886

Since May’s general election many have wondered what the future of liberalism is in a country where the leading liberal party has only eight MPs.

At the time some commentators speculated that the Liberal Democrats would fade away, unable to claim the insurgent credibility that won it protest votes for decades. Others wondered if in one of the world’s leading liberal democracies the need for a party committed to liberalism is there at all.

On that latter count Glen Maney, a national executive of the rival Liberal party, begs to differ. Speaking to the Right Dishonourable, he even wondered if the UK really is a liberal democracy:

“More CCTV cameras than anywhere else in the world. The growing acceptance of trial without jury. The cutting back on legal aid and the stripping of workers’ rights to go along with that.”

Maney’s party is an obscure one. Now with 12 councillors to its name, the modern Liberal party formed in 1989 shortly after the rump of the historic Liberal party merged with the Social Democrats, the two allied groups having nearly outdone Labour in the previous 1983 general election with a vote share of 25 percent.

Though political activists tend to enjoy working for groups with a heritage, the history comes with some branding difficulties for the smaller Liberal party. As Maney explained, his party ends up getting “a lot of flak” for policies that are actually the Liberal Democrats’. Tim Farron, now the leader of the Lib Dems, has added to the confusion by frequently describing himself as a “Liberal”.

Even so the Liberals do define themselves against the Lib Dems. In general terms it claims to be a party of “small government”. It wishes, for instance, to scrap the Trident nuclear programme. It also wants to abolish the national curriculum in schools, nationalise rail and water infrastructure, and is open to severing ties with the EU.

Indeed such is the zeal against the Union that three prospective councillors in Cornwall stood down at the general election so that their Ukip counterparts stood a better chance. According to Maney, they were later disciplined by the Liberal party for their actions.

“This was not reflective of the party who oppose 90 percent of what Ukip stand for,” he said. “In fact I have recruited several ex-Ukip voters who only agreed with Ukip on Europe, and were disgusted when I pointed out other policies like their stance on the NHS and their support for hunting and Trident.”

Maney even claimed that the Liberals’ stance on the EU had encouraged support even from former Lib Dems, whose view on the Union changed as they saw how the confederation treated Greece during its ongoing debt crisis. “We also have a ground swell of support from ex-Lib Dems who indeed think that their party has compromised their ideology to an unacceptable level,” he said.

On that point of ideology, Maney believes that the market for ideologically purer parties is about to boom. Like many on the Left – Maney puts his party just to the right of the Greens on a “21st century terminology barometer” – he foresees a backlash against the Tories as “debt created largely by the banking crisis is paid for by those who were least responsible”, stimulating the cost of living crisis already affecting much of London.

Labour under [former prime minister Tony] Blair became the slave to big business and deserted its roots in order to be electable, and the Tory ideology appears to now be the ethnic cleansing of the poor.

 

“I think that individuals and parties with values who aren’t prepared to sell out their values will come to the fore over the next fifty years, and I can see from the early shoots of growth in our party that we are seeing now that we will earn the respect of a lot of voters over the next few years by not compromising our ideological standpoints.”

The next few years will prove whether his party, which wants to contest as many seats as possible in the next general election in 2020, manages to capture that enthusiasm.

Image Credit – Liberal leader William Gladstone debates on Irish Home Rule in April 1886, Illustrated London News

Podcast (ep.6): Labour/ Lib Dem Leadership, Gays in Russia & Her Royal Heilness

Jazza is back from Russia! And in this episode he shed some light on the LGBT life in Moscow with the conversations he had with gay and homophobic Russians.

But not before Jazza & Jimmy discuss the Labour and Lib Dem leaderships. Why is Jazza not Tim Farron’s biggest fan? Why doesn’t Jimmy really care that the Telegraph newspaper wants to sabotage Labour? Find out in this week’s podcast.

And finally we talk about THAT Sun front page, with the Queen doing the Nazi salute as a 7 year old girl. Is it fair for them to publish it? Was the pun ‘Her Royal Heilness’ really that terrible?

 

Make sure you engage with us on social media. Talk to us on Twitter @RightDishonour.

Podcast (Ep. 2) : Anti-Austerity Protests, Lib Dem Leadership and Charleston Shootings

End Austerity Now March, 20 June 2015

Episode 2 of the Right Dishonour Podcast where Jimmy recounts his experience at the #EndAusterityNow protests. Will these anti-austerity protests actually go anywhere?

We also touch on the Liberal Democrats’ leadership contest between Norman Lamb and Tim Farron. Why exactly does Jazza dislike Tim so much? Find out here, and then read Jimmy’s analysis of the Lib Dem London hustings from last week here.

Finally Jazza gets annoyed at America about the Charleston shootings and gun control. Sort it out USA! And after you listen perhaps read Mr. Servante’s piece analysing the Jon Stewart’s reaction to the racially motivated attacks here.

Make sure you leave us a review on iTunes and rate us five stars (or how ever many starts you want). It helps us out mucho!