Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Ex-Liberal Democrats in the News (including two you may not have spotted)

Much heat and little light has exploded in the Liberal Democrat Blogosphere over Sith Lord of Liberal Vision Mark Littlewood’s becoming Director of the Institute for Evil Acquisitiveness. I quite like Mark, despite frequently thinking he gets it wrong, and the party’s worse off for losing a talented individual (I’m with Mat on this) – just as it’s a shrewd move for an often Tory-associated thinktank to pick a non-Tory, all the better to stand up to a potential new government. But outside of our own little enclave, two much less recently ex-Lib Dems have been in the ‘proper’ news – one the party can, I think, feel does us credit to any extent that we influenced him, and one whom we’re probably well shot of…

Martin Lewis

I’ve just heard a heated exchange on the Today Programme’s truncated Yesterday in Parliament early slot where consumer champion Martin Lewis gave evidence to a Select Committee yesterday about lenders’ virulently anti-competitive practices, while bankers and credit agencies offered weasel words and refused to give any figures. Who’d have thought? Yes, when in these credit crunch days it’s even more vital than ever to shop around and compare prices, the money-saving expert (TM) reveals that banks and other lenders are brilliantly penalising anyone who does that when it comes to getting a loan – meaning that, under the guise of ‘protecting’ themselves, people blindly have to take the first rate offered to them, or they’ll be punished for looking around by being forced to take one that’s even higher. Hmm, protectionism giving consumers a raw deal… Again, who’d have thought?

The first time I met Martin Lewis, though, he wasn’t a well-known financial expert; in 1993 or so, he was a bright and rather well-turned-out students’ union president, at a Student Liberal Democrat Conference or an NUS Conference (he may even have attended both). I was the much less well-turned-out students’ union president for Essex University, and although I was a far more active Liberal Democrat, when I few years later I spotted that good-looking young chap on the telly I instantly remembered when he was involved. So, well done him.

Elizabeth Truss

In other news this week, though, you may have read about Elizabeth Truss, a newly selected Conservative candidate who’s been picked for a safe seat and is now ‘in trouble’ with her local party after she was done over by a scabrous rag for – shock horror – having had sex some years ago. Something a scabrous rag had already criticised her for years ago. Now, my views on this sort of ludicrous attack are firmly on record: I’ve suggested the slogan, ‘Liberal Democrats – the Party That Says Sex Is All Right’, and not only is it no-one else’s business who you have sex with or don’t, but it’s a bloody stupid reason not to vote for someone. Of course, it’s a century and a half since John Stuart Mill observed that the Conservatives are the stupid party, and that’s not changed since, but – durrhh, when something’s already been in the public domain for several years, it’s really stupid to say ‘but we didn’t know’. If you vote for a candidate without having done a thirty-second Google check on them, you can’t very well complain that you don’t know everything about their lives: it’s your fault, not theirs, if you believe in prying through your net curtains but don’t bother looking!

If, on the other hand, any dyed-in-the-wool traditional Conservatives would think any worse of Liz Truss if they knew that, again in around 1993, she was a self-styled radical Liberal Democrat who kept attacking me when I was Chair of the Liberal Democrat Youth and Students because I wasn’t left-wing enough, and whom I once held a meeting with to try and get her to work with anyone else in the organisation because she was a complete and utter egomaniac pain in the backside incapable of working in a team, that would be entirely a matter for them. I hope she’s as well-loved and effective a teambuilder for the Tories as she was in the Liberal Democrats.

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great post
I quite like Mark L. too whilst also not agreeing with everything that he says. I spent an afternoon with him and a few others at conference last month and he was good company to debate things with.

Thanks for linking to my Liz Truss thing as well BTW :)
Thanks, er, Director.

And you're very welcome, Mark. Good to see plenty of Lib Dems instinctively saying, 'So what?'

I remember Liz Truss being the second or third worst person on your exec, which was, frankly, pretty impressive, given that your exec seemed to consist almost entirely of raging egomanics who had no idea about teamwork. At least you had Clein!
Happy birthday Daddy Alex
Could not help smile on the comment on Lizz Truss in the Lib Dems. My own memory of 1993 was walking into Lizz Truss' room in the morning at unversity with a group of friends to find Alex Wilcox there in nothing but his underpants and a t-shirt declaring "Call Me Straight and I'll Sue"

Now admittedly there would be a few extra steps of logic to turn this into a great sex scandal - was Mark Field hiding in the cupboard?, is Lizz Truss masquerading as a man to get on the all-women shortlists? - but surely we can provide the necessary extra details? :)
"I hope she’s as well-loved and effective a teambuilder for the Tories as she was in the Liberal Democrats."

Pretty much sums up my reaction ;-)
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