Demo for democracy

Nick Clegg addresses crowd marching for electoral reform.

A demonstration today brought together a range of democratic reform groups, blogs, campaigns and organisations at the instigation of Guy Aitchison, George Gabriel and others. It gathered in Trafalgar Square and then marched to Smith Square, where the Lib Dems were meeting to decide on their strategy.

Word went out that a delegation could go and meet Nick Clegg to hand in a petition. Over 1,000 voices cried "No" -- he had to come out. "You serve us," suddenly arose as a chant. Clegg came. I think this was a historic first: a major party leader being summoned by a crowd and speaking to it.

It was both friendly and determined. Many on the left think there is no political basis for the Lib Dems to close a deal with the Tories. But there is: a Freedom Act to roll back the threat to liberty from the database state and a referendum on PR, which the Tories can campaign against. Of course, Labour can offer more, but not with Gordon Brown at the helm.

The role of the demonstration was both radical and practical. Clegg can't now agree to the mere "inquiry" on electoral reform as offered by Cameron as his payment for a deal. To do so would ruin him. We don't need another inquiry -- we need a referendum.

If you have not signed the petition, you can still do so.

Anthony Barnett is the founder of openDemocracy and co-edits its British blog, OurKingdom.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland