Thursday, August 22, 2013


My Best Posts 2012-2013

As my contribution to the Lib Dem Voice Awards, I’ve just put together a celebration of a great many posts from a great many other Lib Dem Blogs – so it seems an appropriate day to select my own latest ‘greatest hits’ package. Below you can find links and summaries for my best articles of the last year on politics, Doctor Who and one or two other subjects. Featuring What the Lib Dems Stand For, Liberal Quotations, Betrayal, Daleks and much more…! All showcasing posts written from the start of October last year to the end of August this year (a change from last year’s ‘Best of’ selection from September 2011 to September 2012). So, if I write any more this month, I may re-edit this to add something else which you can discover later…

My Best 2012-13: Politics

Nick Clegg’s Garden Cities – Thinking Big, But Are There Any Foundations?

Fisking a major speech from Nick – agreeing with him in principle, but doubting what would happen in practice. Two hard-headed tests for any major policy proposal: ‘Can we get it done?’ and ‘Will we get any credit?’

Eastleigh – Proof There’s No Such Thing As a Perfect Storm

Taking five lessons from the Eastleigh by-election, and asking two questions for the future.

Lessons From Coalition – The Two Biggest Problems: Betrayal and Betrayal

Available in two versions: for the in-depth article, click the named link above, while the supercompressed version was written for Lib Dem Voice.

Update: Syrian Intervention: Nick, Please Make the Hard Choice to Be Practical

Role-reversal where Nick Clegg’s party has to tell him we can’t have everything we want by wishing for it.

The Liberal Democrat What Do We Stand For Challenge

The best political pieces I’ve written in the last year are together ongoing investigation, collaboration and rallying cry about what the Liberal Democrats stand for. The basic idea is to challenge myself, first, then other Lib Dems to get across what we stand for in something more meaningful than a soundbite but still short enough to be no more than a minute’s speech or a box on a Focus leaflet. And to make things harder, I aimed for broad consensus by synthesising the Preamble to the Lib Dem Constitution, the party’s priorities in government and the party leadership’s latest messaging. Did it work? Here’s my go:
The Liberal Democrats stand for freedom for every individual – freedom from poverty, ignorance and conformity.

To make that freedom real needs both fairness and economic responsibility: an economy that works, that encourages enterprise, and where everyone pays their fair share.

So freedom from poverty requires responsible spending, not debt, built on fairer taxes where lower earners pay less tax and the wealthiest pay more, and building green jobs for the future.

Freedom from ignorance needs better education and training, so people have the opportunity to realise their potential.

And freedom from conformity, supported by freedom from poverty and ignorance, means everyone should have the liberty to live their lives as they choose – without harming others; with equality before the law; with a better say, because no government always knows best.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are working for a stronger, greener economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Happy 25th Birthday, Liberal Democrats – and What the Lib Dems Stand For 2013.1

Why we should sum up What the Lib Dems Stand For, and how it’s developed over the years.

What the Lib Dems Stand For 2013.2 – a Challenge and a Meme #LibDemValues

Setting out my ‘What the Lib Dems Stand For’ based on the Preamble, practice and core messaging, and challenging other Lib Dems to come up with their own.

The Liberal Democrat What Do We Stand For Challenge 2013.3 – Eight Answers (so far) #LibDemValues

After receiving the first set of responses, rounding up eight different Liberal Democrats’ versions of what we stand for – so far…

The Liberal Democrat What Do We Stand For Challenge 2013.4 – What It’s All About #LibDemValues

Inviting people to use my short declaration of ‘What the Lib Dems Stand For’ and explaining what each bit of it means.

There’ll be more.

Last year’s theme for occasional Lib Dem blog posts was less positive – “Things To Remember About Labour”. I’ve written one more since:

Things To Remember About Labour #6 – Iraq

Liberal Mondays

I’ve been writing another occasional series, too. My aim with them was simply to pick an inspiring or intriguing Liberal quotation and publish it to start the week. Naturally, being me, with each of them so far I’ve instead used each line as springboards to talk around Liberal ideas they suggest to me.

Liberal Mondays 1: Alfred Russel Wallace #LibDemValues

Quoting the Victorian naturalist, natural selection theorist and Liberal, then going on to look at the 1996 collection Why I Am A Liberal Democrat. I notice that the party’s evolved from Jeremy Bentham to John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor and more – and a good thing, too.

Liberal Mondays 2: Conrad Russell – The Liberal Cause #LibDemValues

Examining in detail the first booklet I ever read by the Conrad, who became a friend and mentor. I’ll probably return to him in the future.

Liberal Mondays 3: John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor #LibDemValues

Probably my best of these so far: going to the Liberal text, On Liberty, to look afresh at its heart. In Lib Dem Focus leaflet style, Three Things To Remember; definitely not in Focus style, also one to think about.

Liberal Mondays 4: Ralf Dahrendorf Vs Utopia #LibDemValues

Looking at three separate quotes as a Liberal critique of Utopia.

Liberal Mondays 5: The World’s End Vs Utopia #LibDemValues

Where Ralf Dahrendorf left off, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright pick up.

Update: Liberal Wednesday 6: Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” #LibDemValues

On the fiftieth anniversary of one of the greatest speeches of the Twentieth Century, and how it echoes through history.

Three Problems With The Politician’s Husband

Bridging my politics and TV articles, I set out exactly why the BBC’s flagship new David Tennant drama was such a failure.

My Best 2012-13: Doctor Who

Doctor Who – The Evil of the Daleks (Campbell & Hadley’s Recorder Uncut)

I’ve written fewer Doctor Who reviews this year, but here’s one with a difference, answering questions from my friend Nick about one of my favourites. And what does it all have to do with John Stuart Mill?

Doctor Who 50 – Fifty Great Scenes

On top of two series of occasional blog posts on Liberal themes, I’ve been writing an occasional series to celebrate Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary. Taking Fifty Great Scenes, exploring what’s great about each of them in turn, and adding bonus quotations from other stories that seem to fit. Rather than list the lot, here are six of my favourites so far:

Doctor Who 50 Great Scenes – 50: The Eleventh Hour

Starting off the countdown with the two most important words in Doctor Who.

Doctor Who 50 Great Scenes – 47: The Rescue – The Powerful Enemy

Celebrating William Hartnell, the Doctor, and going all the way to Matt Smith

Doctor Who 50 Great Scenes – 45: Robot

The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry in the first story I ever saw, with a bonus that was another sort of first for me.

Doctor Who 50 Great Scenes – 44: Enlightenment

Ships where you don’t expect to find them and, as a bonus, one of my more creative moments: fashioning scenes from a favourite story into an epic poem and the cliffhanger that should have been.

Doctor Who The Master 50 Great Scenes – 39: Terror of the Autons

The first (plastic) flowerings of each incarnation of the Master.

Doctor Who 50 Great Scenes – 36: The Krotons

Celebrating Patrick Troughton, Robert Holmes and the Double Act

I’ve also got back to my thoughts-from-the-beginning review blog Next Time, I Shall Not Be So Lenient! at last, so here are two from that:

William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton’s Doctor Who: Now You See It…

What happened to much of 1960s Doctor Who, and the different ways in which you can still experience it after all.

Doctor Who – Marco Polo Episode One: The Roof of the World

Beginning an episode-by-episode look at Doctor Who’s first ‘missing story’.

Broadchurch and How To Spot A TV Murderer

And finally, ITV’s goes-against-the-grain-to-say-it-but-far-more-successful flagship new David Tennant drama. Examining the surprisingly deep themes of murder drama Broadchurch – without spoiling whodunnit, but giving Richard’s and my Rules of Suspicion so you can spot the murderer for yourself in a host of different detective series.

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