The last 48 hours: what LDV would have said next (Part II)

by Stephen Tall on March 1, 2009

As LDV’s readers will know, the site took an extended day and a bit’s break on Friday and Saturday while Ryan Cullen was working wonders with our servers to ensure the site doesn’t continue to be suspended the moment we experience a spike in visitor traffic. Here then is the second part of our guide to the stories we would have featured if we had been able to (Part I can be found here):

The Convention on Modern Liberty

Lib Dems up and down the country took part in Saturday’s Convention on Modern Liberty to protest against government incursions of civil and human rights, and to promote positive action to win back our freedoms. LDV’s Alix Mortimer live-blogged her way rather deliciously through the London Convention at her People’s Republic blog here and has high praise for (among others) Brian Eno, Ben Goldacre, Vince Cable and David Davis.

The Economist’s newbie blogger Bagehot was also at the Convention, and articulated his own thoughts:

My main conclusion, however, was this: the Conservatives are heading for a big and not-too-distant bust-up over this whole agenda (which David Davis, the ex-shadow home secretary, immodestly but perhaps not unreasonably describes as the “Davis agenda”).

It is touching to hear those Tories, such as Dominic Grieve, the shadow attorney general, and Edward Garnier, the shadow justice minister, who were at the convention and share its aims, trying to explain away the differences of emphases between themselves and those leading Tories who are much more sceptical about both the politics and the security implications of the party’s current liberal-ish stance. Touching—but not altogether convincing. Mr Grieve was obliged to admit that he wasn’t absolutely sure what “fewer rights, more wrong”, a new slogan from Chris Grayling, the latest shadow home secretary, had meant. They flounder when they try to explain why exactly the Tories propose to scrap the Human Rights Act. …

At one of the break-out sessions, Tim Montgomerie of conservativehome pointed out that the pressures on an actual government on security issues are altogether different from those experienced by an opposition; and that the terrorist danger has not seemed especially urgent of late. When either or both of those things changes, it seems reasonably likely that the Tory leadership will shift, and the civil-libertarians will feel cheated.

James Keeley quits as Lib Dem PPC for Skipton and Ripon

The Nidderdale Herald reports:

LIBERAL Democrat James Keeley has resigned as his party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for the Skipton and Ripon constituency. … in a statement to local party officers this week, Mr Keeley announced “with great regret” that he was resigning as PPC. “However, my reasons for entering politics – namely the search for equality, justice and freedom – burn brighter than ever. It is also for those reasons that I will remain a member of the Liberal Democrat party,” he said. …

The Skipton and Ripon Liberal Democrats local party chairman, Coun Andy Rankine, said: “We are very sorry to have received James’ resignation as our PPC, but fully understand his reasons. James has been an excellent candidate who has helped us to build our strength as a party over recent years.”

Councillors in race rows

One Lib Dem, one Tory…

No. 1 – the BBC reports:

A black councillor has apologised for calling an Asian colleague a “coconut” in a row over funding. Shirley Brown, a Liberal Democrat councillor, used the term towards Conservative member Jay Jethwa at a Bristol City Council budget meeting. The incident was recorded live on a webcam at the meeting. Mrs Brown made the comment in response to a proposal to end funding for the Legacy Commission which funds ethnic minority projects but has apologised.

Mrs Brown told Mrs Jethwa at the meeting: “In our culture we have a word for you, a word which many in the city would understand, and that’s coconut. At the end of the day I look at you as that.”
Cllr Brown has since apologised unreservedly for her use of the term.

No. 2 – again from the BBC:

A Conservative politician who posted a comment about refugees’ skin colour on the internet has apologised and said he is not racist. Dover district councillor Roger Walkden put a joke on the Dover Forum website. A complaint was made to Conservative leader David Cameron’s office. Mr Walkden said he meant no offence. Tony Fuller, from the Kent Refugee Action Network, said he was surprised a councillor had made a posting which could offend many people.