Nick Clegg's speech to the Liberal Democrats at their party conference in Glasgow was focused, very definitively, on the centre. The Lib Dems, he said, are 'in the centre of Government and the centre of British politics, standing up for the millions of people in the middle.' He spoke of the centre seven times...
Whilst the idea may seem attractive to environmental campaigners, charging five pence for a carrier bag could in fact hit the poorest the hardest. It may not seem like a lot of money, but if one were to take Mr Smith, a single father with one child who works part time, he is likely to feel the pinch. Mr Smith doesn't drive and relies on public transport...
After a summer consisting of writing large tracts of my upcoming book, wearing a Del Monte man hat and harpoon fishing with Jeremy Paxman and his awesome beard, I've now returned to my usual beat. And just in time, because I wouldn't miss the Liberal Democrat Party Conference for the world.
This autumn, for the second year in a row, the number of young people going to university will fall. Three years on from the decision to increase tuition fees, the coalition's promise that the hike in the cost of higher education would help universities and not hinder applicants has been found wanting.
Nick Clegg's not a terrible person. Even though his people made personalised anonymous briefings against me, and though he broke a commitment he made at the time of his leadership election, I forgive him. What's harder to forgive is his bloody-minded determination to stay in charge even though just about every performance indicator available shows that under his leadership the party has gone backwards. Remember when he said his goal was to double the number of Lib Dem MPs? I do. Instead, he's already presided over the second biggest numerical decline in Lib Dem MPs since 1945.
Ukip is a spent political force. Despite the seemingly endless news carnival of its rise, the bubble has burst. Much like the idiotic, and entirely unreflected in reality, notion of "Cleggmania" - which gave struggling news channels something to fill up a schedule - the fortunes of Ukip's leadership coterie will soon crash to Earth once more.
While the leader will almost certainly survive into the next parliament it seems likely that his party will suffer significant losses unless the conference in Glasgow can begin develop a distinctive and consistent platform of policies on which to fight the next election.
This morning a huge number of Liberal Democrats called for the Government to implement existing Party housing policy. At the behest of the party leadership, this existing policy was voted down. Not only does this cause the Liberal Democrats a short-term policy difficulty in working out what its housing policy is - a pity as it was a good one - but it hands our political opponents a completely unnecessary political vacuum where Liberals are and the only British party representing Liberals should be.
The Liberal Democrats will do a lot of talking at their conference in Glasgow this week, so it's worth remembering the single most important truth about them: Nick Clegg has repeatedly said one thing and then done another.
Only the wettest, most malleable, least controversial people make it to the top of modern political parties, and therefore political life generally. They may be 'popular' (read: tolerated) within their chosen party, but in the real world, most people seem to be able to see through the crap that emanates from their mouths and fingertips. Is it any wonder that everyone is so pissed off with "the establishment"?
The coalition of the willing done a good job of creating just the opposite, seemingly. Large majorities in both the UK and US still do not support attacking Syria, and it is those most passionate about politics who seem to most object. For the antiwar left, any use of force by the West is neo-imperialism and repeats the mistakes of ten years ago...
David Cameron will be planning more holidays if things carry on like this. While the PM has been out of office for the summer, his popularity ratings have taken an unexpected turn for the better, leaving poor Ed Miliband with egg on his face... quite literally this week. With the housing market on the up, and the entire country enjoying the kind of feel-good factor only a summer of sun and a royal baby can muster up, a survey this week by the ICM and the Guardian showed 40% of the electorate have economic confidence in the government, while only 24% have the same trust in Miliband and Ed Balls.
Forget the headlines, our economy is on the high road to ruin. Its apparent recovery is artificial and the reality is that our government is set to bankrupt our country. Don't believe me?
The Government is putting yet more pressure on our children in a world where tests are flooding the curriculum... Children as young as four quite simply shouldn't be subject to high pressure tests. It not necessary and there are much better, less anxiety-inducing ways of achieving Clegg's goals.
As the scorching UK heatwave turns Facebook, Twitter and all other known social media into one big sweaty groan of status updates, I wonder - who's having sex in this heat? The nation's grinding must surely have, er, ground to a halt.
So, I was sitting at my desk at home the other day trying to think of something new and exciting that nobody has done before. I picked up a blunt HB pencil and started twiddling it, then shelled a few pistachio nuts and tossed the shells in a bowl of other pistachio shells. At this point the imaginary light-bulb above my head...