Sunday, 24 August 2014

No place for a woman

Alison Goldsworthy appears to be one of those people who believe in direct action. Her response to the reinstatement of Lord Rennard lacks the practised ambiguity normally associated with Liberal Democrats.

She stated, “The thing that makes me really sad is there’s no way I could advise a woman who was a liberal and aspiring to stand for parliament to put herself forwards.

“If she encounters a problem or there are abuses of power she wouldn’t be taken seriously.
“I can see no place for me – or any women who want to deliver change – in a party that behaves like this.”
Ms Goldsworthy has already resigned from the Lib Dem federal executive. She is now preparing to leave the party.

Revolving doors

Due to the challenges of proximity, it is only belatedly that we hear how all is not well at Calamity Hall. Our information, gleaned from newspaper accounts and hurriedly misspelt texts furtively sent from under desks, is that frustrations at the "whimsical" style of the Labour leadership have finally boiled over.

Comradely attempts at achieving a consensual exit strategy rapidly descended into a testy exchange of ultimatums, we are told. Concomitant sackings provoked bitter counter-sanctions to the extent that visitors to the civic centre now invariably remark as to how a 'Balkans feel' pervades the place.

From what other little scraps we can glean, Furher Phillips is said to be issuing orders to imaginary divisions from his Calamity Hall bunker while his loyal commanders attempt personal appeasement negotiations with the enemy.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pragmatic to the last

Political media reaction yesterday to news that Lord Rennard was no longer suspended by the Lib Dems was mixed to say the least. Epithets about looking in the mirror were dismissed by most commentators as mealy mouthed confirmation that the imperatives of electoral survival had overcome all other considerations.

Nick Clegg admitted how it was clear that "a number of women in our party" had been let down by a failure to act over repeated allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the Lib Dem peer.

He insisted to anyone with a byline that the party had changed. There are already many within its ranks who disagree. Others, such as Susan Gaszczak, have simply quit.

She stated that the party leadership lacked backbone, adding "The party democracy obviously has no moral compass. They say we are credible, then fail to act on it and don't see the impact this has on women and women voters."

Monday, 18 August 2014

As welcome as hole in the ground

For the record, we count ourselves among those who believe it to be entirely coincidental that a item published very early this morning in the excellent Wales Eye blog on the controversial subject of fracking was followed a few hours later by a a series of high profile protests.

University chiefs are reported to be inconsolable over the resultant damaging PR delays following the incursion. We understand entirely.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Money worries

It is to be presumed that Lib Dems are fully accustomed to reading how they lag behind Ukip in popularity. The news that they are also now beaten in political donations is likely to be greeted with the same sense of inevitability among activists.

According to latest available figures, Ukip reported receiving £1.4 m from April to June this year. Lib Dems brought in £170,000 less.

As the article infers, this boost in income is single-sourced through the largesse of businessman Paul Sykes. There are also Lib Dem allegations that the independence party has indulged in creative accounting.

Even so, it is not good news for Nick Clegg nine months from the election. Bad enough that his main strategist remains outside the camp. A cash shortage is an additional headache that he will find hard to cure.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Perfidy by proxy

It's not often we quote a Mail on Sunday story but there is a surreal edge to reports of how allies of Vince Cable are said to be outraged about a 'whispering campaign' against him by Nick Clegg's aides.

The apparent clash of the surrogates stems from the manner in which the paper claims to have been told by 'two well placed source sources within the party' that the 71-year old Business Secretary is considering leaving the cabinet after the autumn conference.

One source close to leader Nick Clegg insisted: "He wants to step aside from the grind of office and take up an election campaigning role in which he would woo back disaffected Lib Dems".

There are of course those who hold that the party's electoral chances would improve immeasurably if it was Clegg instead of Cable who left the coalition.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A minister scorned

Downing Street has been putting considerable effort into spinning that it was pique rather than policy difference with the government that lay behind the departure of Baroness Warsi. They have enjoyed partial success with one cooperative tabloid accusing her of "flouncing out of office' in protest at Cameron's "balanced stance" over Gaza. More serious sections of the media remain off-message.

Party strategists will know that this holding action is unsustainable. Rumours are circulating that two PPS post holders have signified their reluctance to continue in the role. Cameron has been informed that up to 60 tory MPs are preparing a letter calling on him to end his 'equivocation' over outright condemnation of continued attacks on civilian targets by Israeli forces.

Warsi's record as party chairman and minster was hardly without blemish but she made a lot of political friends and was behind a significant boost in fundraising. She may be the first from Cameron's cabal to have quit over policy but she will join a growing line of ex-ministers and discontents who are well advanced in their plotting. Doubtlessly the influence of donors the Baroness has attracted in the past will be a key factor.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Rumours of insight are exaggerated

A large dollop of facial omelette landed in the Western Mail last night. An 'informed' article insisted that TV presenter Fiona Phillips would be bidding to succeed Peter Hain as Neath MP.

the earlier version

Within a very short period, the announcement was replaced by a near identical story (still bearing the fearsome byline of Shipton of the Mail) but which now expounded how Ms Phillips had used social media to deny any interest in the seat. Unpublished Twitter exchanges followed.

The veteran journo cited "sources within the Labour Party" for this live and highly visible switcharound. His newsroom colleagues are said to be delighted at his gaffe, but presumably not as much as remaining political contenders for the seat. 

Update: Phones have been hot with recriminations in Neath today. Follow-up piece on how the great man was deceived is said to be 'imminent'.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Omertà at the Mail

A revealing story appears in the Guardian which recounts how four Mail on Sunday journos were victims of phone hacking instigated by News of the World colleagues.

Strangely however, this rather key information was withheld from the Press Complaints Commission when it held its inquiries into claims of intercepted of voicemail messages. Police informed four Mail on Sunday journalists in 2006 that their mobile phones had been hacked.
According to the Guardian, Peter Wright, who was then Mail on Sunday editor, was also made aware of the hacking. He did not publish the fact at the time, and it remained a secret for eight years until it emerged in evidence at the recent trial.
There is ample speculation as to what lay behind this code of silence. The usually forthright Mr Dacre has yet to provide an explanation.