winninghereBack in November, I entered the Liberal Democrats’ Agenda 2020 essay competition. The aim was to write a short essay on ‘what does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today?’ and I posted my entry here on the blog as well.

The entries to it have now all been read, and mine is one of those that made it through onto the final shortlist. So you can now read mine as well as the other eight on the shortlist and decide on which one you think best captures the meaning of what it is to be a Liberal Democrat today. You can vote until February 12th, with the winner being announced at the next party conference in York in March. So, go read them and have your say.

The Quarter Quell: October-December 2015

I’ve already looked back on my most popular posts of 2015, but what were the top posts of the last quarter of it?

5) Taking student politics far too seriously – People get riled up about the inanities of student politics look as silly now as they did when I was a student.
4) West Wing worship is damaging for British politics – Yet again, too many people are taking something frothy far too seriously.
3) What the hell are the Lib Dem Lords playing at? – Because we really need the scab picking off an old wound.
2) The curse of the Very Serious People – Thanks to everyone who supported my Tough Decision to demonstrate my moral clarity and write this post.
1) Closing the Overton Window – It’s an unproven concept that doesn’t reflect how public opinion is actually formed.

And that concludes our looking back at 2015. Time to think of some new things to write about for 2016.

2015: A year in blogging

charlotte-new-years-eve-2015Thanks to all of you have visited here over the year. There were either a lot of you, or a few of you who came here very regularly to read what I had to write, and if you’d all paid a pound for each visit you’d have been horrendously overcharged.

My most-visited posts this year were ones that definitely hit the Google zeitgeist, either because they featured general or local election results, because they featured Balustrade Lanyard (shockingly overlooked when Time named their man of the year) or because politics students were working out how to answer a question about why people join political parties. Beyond those flukes, the ten most popular posts were these:

10) Bloggers for Tim: A collection of posts backing Tim Farron for Lib Dem leader – Probably the post that took the most time to put together, as I was constantly adding to it and seeking out new posts for it during the leadership election campaign.
9) West Wing worship is damaging for British politics – It’s a good show, but taking it as a model for politics in the real world is a bad idea.
8) What the hell are the Lib Dem lords playing at? – A truly frequently asked question, yet to have a definitive answer.
7) The curse of the Very Serious People – How the very very serious punditocracy and their love of making tough decisions means they fail to challenge the political consensus.
6) NUS invents a Liberal Democrat MP – An odd moment from the general election campaign, and still no one knows who Ian Cunningham might have been.
5) Guest post: Liberal Youth members on why they’re supporting Tim Farron for leader – I’m always happy to provide a platform on the interwebnets for the young people to speak their views while they’re doing their media socialising.
4) Thoughts on the Lib Dems: Past, present and (hopefully) future – In the wasteland that followed the election, I set out my thoughts on where we should go next.
3) What if Nick Clegg loses his seat at the election? – Turns out that the question we should have been asking was what if he kept his while 49 other Liberal Democrats were losing theirs?
2) Closing the Overton Window – It’s a term without meaning or evidence to support it’s existence, but people still use it to pretend they’re being political experts.
1) Liberals, social democrats and Liberal Democrats: The Economist joins the long list of those not understanding the difference – And when they’re not talking about the Overton Window, the ‘experts’ are proving their ignorance of the spread of opinion within the Liberal Democrats.

Thanks to all of you who read these and many other posts during the year, especially if you shared them with others. Special thanks to Chris Dillow, Jonathan Calder and Jennie Rigg, whose links brought the most visitors here over the year.

Not quite new year, but a new look anyway

Finally had a chance to sit down and repair the site after this weekend’s hacking, and decided to take the opportunity to give it a whole new look. Hopefully all the problems have been fixed now, but please let me know if you spot anything out.

Because of Christmas and everything else, there are unlikely to be any new posts here until 2016, so I’ll take this chance to wish you all a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading, sharing, commenting and everything else during the past twelve months, and hopefully there’ll be more of the same during the next twelve months!


If you’re wondering why there’s a new (and slightly shonky) look to the site right now, it’s because I’m fixing the damage caused by a hacker. There doesn’t appear to be any malicious code, but I’ve had to swap to an old theme while I sort it out. Please let me know if you spot any problems (other than the page menu spilling out over the top) and I’ll attempt to fix as best I can. Repairs are being confounded by me having limited Internet access for a couple of days, however…

The Quarter Quell: July-September 2015

Not been the busiest time on the blog the past three months, but here are the most popular posts from during it:

7) Labour’s leadership election takes us into the silly season – Remember when we all thought Jeremy Corbyn might win the leadership election? What an odd time that was…
6) Equidistance is good at winning votes, but not seats – My dissertation explained, and a notion of where Liberal Democrat strategy needs to go.
5) Where did the Lib Dem voters go? – Far, far, away…
4) European liberal parties don’t alternate between governments of left and right anymore – Another bit from the dissertation, with examples of how equidistance only worked as a short term strategy for other liberal parties.
3) Compare and contrast: Kirsty Williams and Danny Alexander on the future of the Liberal Democrats – Speaking up for liberalism, or consensus-following centrist mush?
2) Guest post: Liberal Youth members on why they’re supporting Tim Farron for leader – A post with over 50 authors, none of whom was me.

And so, the most popular post here over the last three months was this one:

1) Liberals, social democrats and Liberal Democrats: The Economist joins the long list of those not understanding the difference – When journalists talk about the Liberal Democrats being divided between ‘classical liberals’ and social democrats, it’s a sure sign they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Worth Reading 179: Abgar the Great

Why I support pretty much any strike by pretty much anyone, anywhere, about anything – “If the real world sucks, we shouldn’t get over it. We should fight it. That’s what you do when something sucks. That’s what you’re meant to do.”
Osborne’s living wage won’t spare low-income families from cuts – I’m shocked – shocked, I tell you! – to discover that the Tories’ new ‘living wage’ is anything but.
Post-Youth – Tom Ewing wonders if the Budget signals the beginning of the end for the concept of ‘youth’ as we know it.
Labour’s failure – The difference between being a party for workers and a party of workers may seem small, but it has big consequences.
City cycling in London is a joke – A Dutch cyclist visited London and was pretty unimpressed with our haphazard cycling infrastructure.

A quick break for a charitable plug

A couple of months ago, I told you about the members of my family who were walking 100km in a day for charity, and thanks to those of you who supported them on that. Now, inspired by seeing them do it, my partner Karen is giving it a go herself and will be doing the London to Cambridge Challenge at the end of August to raise money for DEC’s work in Nepal following the earthquake. If you’ve got a spare few quid, you can sponsor her here, and every donation will be very gratefully received as she works towards her target.

As well as through JustGiving, those of you in and around Colchester have another option to help her out. Karen runs Colchester Acupuncture in the town centre and one of the services she offers there is the traditional Chinese Tui Na massage. So, to raise more for charity, she’s offering half-hour taster Tui Na taster sessions for a donation of £5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous!) at her treatment room in Trinity Street.

So, please help out with a donation if you can – and if you’re in the area, come along and try a massage. Click on the image below or visit her website for more information.

The Quarter Quell: April-June 2015

Being the most popular posts on this blog for the last three months. Be warned, some of these links seemed incredibly relevant at the time, but the post-election landscape now makes them quaint relics of an earlier more innocent time.

8) On Milifandom and politics fandom in general – “Most political parties are just organised fandoms for a political ideology or slice of political history, it’;s just that they’ve been around so long people treat them as something different and respectable.”
7) Hampstead and Kilburn: Election not postponed – For a few hours at the start of the campaign, it looked like one interesting seat might have its election delayed. Then someone checked the actual law.
6) Who is (or was) Balustrade Lanyard? – The man. The balustrade. The flag. The lanyard. The legend.
5) Thoughts on the Lib Dems: Past, present and (hopefully) future – A couple of days after the election, I finally got my thoughts on the future of the party in order enough to set them down.
4) NUS invents a Liberal Democrat MP – We never did find out who Ian Cunningham MP might have been.
3) 2015 General Election Day 34: Who can answer the Balustrade Lanyard question? – The only one of my daily general election posts to make it into this list, demonstrating just what happens when you put two words everyone’s Googling into the headline capture the zeitgeist.
2) Colchester 2015 General Election result – They googled, they saw, and the result stayed the same.
1) 2015 Colchester local election results – They Googled even more, they saw, and the results still stayed the same.

Thanks to all the many visitors over the past few months, and please keep coming. I only need to keep posting regularly for a couple more weeks and I’ll have been back blogging for a whole year!