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Danny Alexander grasps centre – in politics & policies

Danny Alexander grasps centre – in politics & policies

by Anoosh Chakelian / 17 Sep 2013 15:12

Clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right, here we are, stuck in the middle with Danny.

Not as catchy as the original, admittedly, but a perfect summation (that’s a Lib Dem Conference word I’ve learnt) of the chief secretary to the Treasury’s speech to conference today.

Let’s start off with the clowns and jokers first. Because wherever they were, right or left, they certainly weren’t in the conference hall. Poor old Beaker

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Sitting on defence? Lib Dems & Trident

Sitting on defence? Lib Dems & Trident

by Anoosh Chakelian / 17 Sep 2013 12:46

On Sunday, the Lib Dem delegates flouted party history and voted in favour of building more nuclear power stations – energy secretary Ed Davey having told them this is vital to fight climate change – and also voted to support fracking, albeit with an amendment to ensure pollution levels were closely monitored and those local to fracking sites were properly consulted.

Such a break from Lib Dem traditional values was this that The Independent’s sketchwriter

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Cable makes headlines... again

Cable makes headlines... again

by Sam Macrory / 16 Sep 2013 19:09

So you thought Vince Cable had run out of headline-making steam at the Liberal Democrat conference? Think again.

The business secretary has just given an interview to the Independent's Steve Richards at a fringe event, and casually lobbed a few more hand grenades in the direction of the coalition and its future.

Cable broke from the Lib Dem line pushed by Nick Clegg in suggesting that the coalition could split before the election, also hinted that he

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Nick Clegg confidently confronts the left

Nick Clegg confidently confronts the left

by Anoosh Chakelian / 16 Sep 2013 15:17

Nick Clegg answered questions on welfare, local government, young people and immigration among other subjects in a conference hall Q+A today at Lib Dem Party Conference, and confidently confronted the left of his party.

Possibly riding high on the relief – rather than out-and-out joy – of winning an important symbolic vote this morning when a motion was put to the conference hall on continuing the coalition’s economic policies was carried, a debate where the Lib

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Cable: Attack on Tories & Labour wooing

Cable: Attack on Tories & Labour wooing

by Anoosh Chakelian / 16 Sep 2013 12:34

An attack on the Tories was always bound to feature in “perpetual Jeremiah” business secretary Vince Cable’s speech to Lib Dem Conference today. He has been taking swipes at George Osborne’s economic recovery narrative recently, and there were even hints he may not vote with the party’s ‘Strengthening the UK Economy’ motion this morning in favour of coalition economic policy (he voted in favour in the end – a relieving win for Nick Clegg, following

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Five things to say...

Five things to say...

by Sam Macrory / 16 Sep 2013 11:52

It's easily done. Put the wrong addresses into the 'cc' box, forget to check them, press send. We've all done it.

Unfortunately for the Liberal Democrats, a memo for MPs has just been sent out to about the worst audience of all.... the journalists at the Liberal Democrat conference. And worse than that, the memo is a collection of instructions for MPs on what lines to give.... the political journalists at the Liberal Democrat conference.

It might

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Lib Dems looking for Labour?

Lib Dems looking for Labour?

by Sam Macrory / 16 Sep 2013 01:15

To the delight of the watching Lib Dem masses, Ed Davey's conference speech on Sunday was peppered with its fair share of rabble-rousing Tory-bashing. Further proof of gloves being loosened, if not quite removed, as the coalition approaches its final 18 months.

But just as telling was the energy secretary's handling of the Labour Party. Sure, there was a rather wonkish attack on Labour’s policy to abolish energy regulator Ofgem, but Davey also expressed his desire

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Kennedy breaks cover

Kennedy breaks cover

by Sam Macrory / 15 Sep 2013 16:17

Ex-leaders of political parties struggle to know what to do with themselves at the best of times, with their every word interpreted as passing judgment on their successor. And the problem gets worse at party conference season.

It’s a problem Charles Kennedy is well aware of. Ex-leaders, Kennedy told a Lib Dem conference fringe event in which he was speaking in his role as president of the European Movement, should be “seen occasionally and heard

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Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

by Sam Macrory / 14 Sep 2013 17:51

A lovely bit of Commons trivia appeared on the parliamentary website yesterday, with the publication of a list of MPs who are related to current or former members.

The PIL (Public Information List) provided by the Commons library is impressively long. A lot of it is fairly familiar stuff to anyone with a passing political interest. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is married to shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper. Their shadow cabinet colleague Hilary Benn's father is

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Total Politechs: State of the nation

Total Politechs: State of the nation

by Anoosh Chakelian / 13 Sep 2013 16:01

Did you see that diffident bespectacled young man in a Zuckerberg hoodie politely fielding Andrew Neil’s questions on the Daily Politics earlier today? That was Jim Gilliam, creator of NationBuilder – the online community organising platform that’s got campaigners on both sides of the Atlantic clicking away like the West Side Story score in double-time.

I interviewed him this morning ahead of the Lib Dems and Labour rolling this technology out across their parties at their

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Syria: Bad time for splendid isolation

Syria: Bad time for splendid isolation

by Filip Tucek / 12 Sep 2013 10:51

Syria matters, especially to Europe

Europe, for centuries the notorious trouble-maker, has become a notorious trouble-ignorant. Barack Obama´s passionate advocacy of a decisive solution of the Syrian crisis, gives the European governments unique chance to tackle its security concerns with indispensable US material and financial help. Participation in an US led action would be in harmony with both security and political interests of the Continent; Europe would tackle the growing danger posed by prolonged Syrian

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PMQs: Comedy and complacency

PMQs: Comedy and complacency

by Sam Macrory / 11 Sep 2013 17:02

Ed Miliband’s turn at the Trade Union Congress on Tuesday had been a little on the quiet side. A ripple of applause here, a cheer most definitely not there.  The Labour leader needed to generate some noise.

But with economic figures not exactly helping the Labour’s leader previous mantra that the government’s economic plans were a shambles, his latest attack is to attack the government for its complacency.

Telling someone to stop being pleased with

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