The former Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh, Chris Huhne has been sentenced to 8 months in prison following the case at Southwark Crown Court where he and his ex-wife were found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Huhne who resigned as Energy and Climate Change Secretary first explicitly denied driving the car which triggered a speed camera in 2003, and then at the last hurdle he confirmed that it was in fact him driving the car and not his former wife. Huhne was narrowly defeated in the race to be leader of the Lib Dems and was a self-made millionaire. He played a crucial role in the negotiations with the Conservative Party following a hung parliament in 2010.
The scandal that has engulfed the Liberal Democrats over the last few days in relation to the alleged sexual harassment carried out on female staffers by Lord Rennard the Lib Dem Chief Executive up until 2009 is certainly disgraceful and these incidents are right to be investigated by the police. Although one has to remember that one is innocent until proven guilty and these alleged victims are brave to come forward and speak up.
The Prime Minister David Cameron has reshuffled his Cabinet. It is the first major reshuffle since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010. The key players within Government are staying in their current posts; that is William Hague, Theresa May, Philip Hammond, George Osborne, Michael Gove and Ian Duncan Smith. The changes made to the Government are listed below.
Northern Ireland Secretary, OUT: Owen PATERSON, IN: Theresa VILLIERS.
Leader of the House of Commons, SIR George YOUNG, IN: Andrew LANSLEY.
Government Chief Whip, OUT: Patrick McLOUGHLIN, IN: Andrew MITCHELL.
Minister without Portfolio, OUT: Baroness WARSI, IN: Ken CLARKE.
Chair of the Conservative Party, OUT: Baroness WARSI, IN: Grant SHAPPS.
Solicitor General, OUT: Edward GARNIER, IN: Oliver HEALD.
Health Secretary, OUT: Andrew LANSLEY, IN: Jeremy HUNT.
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary: OUT: Ken CLARKE, IN: Chris GRAYLING.
Transport Secretary, OUT: Justine GREENING, IN: Patrick McLOUGHLIN.
Secretary for CMS, OUT: Jeremy HUNT, IN: Maria MILLER.
DEFRA Secretary: OUT: Caroline SPELMAN, IN: Owen PATERSON.
Intl Development Secretary: OUT: Andrew MITCHELL, IN: Justine GREENING.
Welsh Secretary, OUT: Cheryl GILLAN, IN: David JONES.
Minister without Portfolio (attending Cabinet), Grant SHAPPS.
Snr FCO Minister and Minister for Faith and Communities, Baroness WARSI.
Chancellor, George OSBORNE.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny ALEXANDER.
Home Secretary, Theresa MAY.
Foreign Secretary, William HAGUE.
Defence Secretary, Philip HAMMOND.
Education Secretary, Michael GOVE.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian DUNCAN SMITH.
Business Secretary, Vince CABLE.
Energy Secretary, Ed DAVEY.
Secretary for Communities and Local Govt, Eric PICKLES.
The reshuffle went beyond just the Cabinet, a number of Junior Ministers were appointed and sacked. You can read the list of junior appointments and sackings here from Number 10. The most notable appointment to the Government was former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws MP who has been appointed as an Education Minister.
It was going to be the case from the day it was announced the Liberal Democrats were in talks with the Conservatives to form a Coalition Government, there was concern amongst Lib Dems of all ranks about whether they really could be a party of Government or whether it was simply too much – that sounds bizarre but that’s the mindset of some Lib Dems.
As we know, Nick Clegg decided to take the Lib Dems into a Coalition in order to prop up the Conservatives. However whilst that decision may have seemed wise to Clegg and his inner circle as it would enable them to moderate the Tories and implement some policies that have long been associated with the Liberals, what they seemed to have done is not truly forecast what the effect would be on their grassroots and electoral performances. I know from speaking to a number of Lib Dem activists that within the party there is widespread concern about the Liberals being wiped out at the next election and being an irrelevance.
We have to be clear that the Labour Party should be attacking the Conservatives rather than the Lib Dems, the Liberal Democrats are merely a scapegoat and whilst the Lib Dems will be wiped out at the next election the true opposition – the Conservatives will remain. This has and always be a two horse race.
Lord Oakeshott was right to call for the Lib Dems to find a new leader before the general election. To avoid total wipeout they need to find a leader that has not held a Government post…so that would rule Vince Cable out. My suggestion would be the Lib Dem President, Tim Farron. Tim is a decent chap and unlike many of his Parliamentary colleagues has stuck to his principles.
Whether the Lib Dems leave the government before the general election or not, they are going to be wiped out. Clegg has effectively ruined 25 years of work. Even recent polls put UKIP above the Lib Dems as the third largest party.
It is the case that the Liberal Democrats will continue to face destruction as a modern political party.
Today important elections are taking place across the United Kingdom, voters in London, Liverpool and Salford will decide who they want to be their directly elected Mayor whilst voters in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield will vote on whether to have a directly elected Mayor or not.
Council elections are also happening today across most of the UK, the Liberal Democrats are expected to lose most of their councillors who were first elected in 2008 as a result of their part in the Coalition Government nationally and the Labour Party will be hoping to win councils including Glasgow. The Conservatives will hope to try and pick up some seats that will be lost by the Lib Dems whilst they face a threat of losing seats to the rapidly growing UKIP.
Today I have short blogs from members of the main three political parties about why you should vote for either the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats. The links are below.
Cameron Brown on why you should vote Conservative today.
Ellis Palmer on why you should vote Labour today.
Tristan Pithers on why you should vote Lib Dem today.
Whatever you do please do go and use your democratic vote, voting matters. You can follow coverage of the election results, tonight on BBC1 from 11:35PM.