Friday, December 16, 2005

The Leadership Challenger owns up !

So we Liberal Democrats are being invited to join the Conservatives.

This means I have a choice. Do I want David Cameron or Charles Kennedy as the leader of my party? So the leadership challenger this week has finally owned up, it was David C all along, and here we were thinking it was John Hemming again.

Seriously, I am starting to suspect that this weeks 'secret leaks' really were stage managed by the David C camp, easily done.

I have already made up my mind where my leadership vote is to be cast.

Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats - Invite 'Liberal Conservatives' to Join us.

I have just seen David Cameron's website launched this evening, many activists, Councillors and MP's have been sent emails inviting them to view this site,

I have posted a quick invitation to Liberal Conservatives to join us on our local web page

Personally I find the idea of joining the Conservatives obhorent, I simply cannot trust them nor do I have any respect for them.

This whole thing stinks, it really makes me wonder whether there were any 'secret briefings' of the press this week. No one has owned up to it and if this was a supposed leadership challenge it was very clumsy. How difficult would it have been for Cameron to create a few leaks to the Tory controlled press? An excellent launch to his Libdem4cameron campain.

There is a very good rebuttal in Simon Mollan's blog

This is clearly the first salvo in the fight for the centre ground. Remember Sun Tsu say, "Always fight on the ground of your choosing" in this battle we have the high ground, the centre ground, our home turf, this is the ground of our choosing and we can win this.

<> Totally Excellent rebuttal from our Youth & Students Branch

Lets see how this pans out, we shall gain a massive respect when, as I hope no one defects.


Raising our Game. - Meeting the Challenge.

A lot has been said this week about the need for Charles Kennedy to raise his game. I do not wish to comment on what has already been said, other than I feel it was very unwise, whoever it was who briefed the press earlier this week.

The political climate has changed for us all in the party, an ever shifting climate. Our increased presence in Westminster, the overdue and long wait for Blair to step down and of course Cameron's honeymoon period as leader of the Conservatives.

We have a Political climate where Labour and the Tories occupy very similar ground in the right authoritarian quadrant of the political compass. This is leaving a vacuum for those who still believe in social justice and for those who believe in individual liberty. This is the space where the Liberal Party and Liberal Democrats have held for many decades. Whilst the other two parties pay lip service to moving into this hallowed centre ground in a bid to reassure disaffected voters, this is our natural homeland, our turf, based on core values rather than a knee jerk lurch to the left to appease the opinion polls.

The fact that we are being attacked on two fronts signifies that the other two parties see us as a genuine threat and this will only intensify. We should continue to confidently hold this ground, from a position of strength, where sound economic principles meet social justice and opportunity for all.

It is not only Charles Kennedy that needs to raise the game, we all do, I have recognised this in myself, in our local party, at all levels. It is encouraging to see that there are many at all levels of the party that recognise this and are willing to do all that is needed to meet this challenge. There is a real sense of energy building in the party at the moment and it is not surprising that Cameron needs to attack this. We are his biggest threat.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Cameron Stamping his mark.

"The Tories say they are scrapping their traditional week-long seaside conferences as they are only attended by "fanatics" and retired people. "

Well as far as fanatics.... No arguement there judging by the last Tory Conference, attended by the then shadow cabinet, the leadership contenders, the new shadow cabinet and Cameron himself.

And they are looking to withdraw from the European Group, effectively isolating themselves in Europe.

Only a few days into Cameron's leadership, what other draconian measures can we look forward to?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | Battle for Europe

Interesting Panorama tonight. It expressed something I have been thinking about for some time.

We live at a time where Europe will become even more critical to the economy of this country, it is not the time to be uncertain as to our place in Europe. The new economies in the east will prove to be great assets to this partnership, we need to embrace it and trade with them rather that fear it. Finally we can learn from some of the lessons from our neighbours. France & Germany are slow to react to the challenges we now face, the economic models of the Nordic countries have been very successful, building new knowledge based economies based on strong free market principles, whilst maintaining good social policies. They have Liberal societies and a low gap between rich and poor. Although this comes at the cost of high taxation, the quality of life in these countries is high. We could learn a lot from them.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wal-Mart employee fired for Christmas email | The Register

I saw this today. It demonstrates what I have been saying for some time about 'political correctness'. Whist I wholheartedly agree with not using terms or actions that may genuinely offend someone we have to foster some kind of common sense and accept that there are going to be people that have a different cultural view. Understanding and respecting these views are the key, not the wholesale sterialisation of all our cultures.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The seduction of Blair

Prime Minister Tony Blair was "seduced by the glamour of U.S. power" in the build-up to the Iraq war and repeatedly failed to influence U.S. policy, Christopher Meyer a former top diplomat said in comments published on Monday.

Blair did not use his position as Washington's most important ally to delay the start of the war to give more time to plan for what to do after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Meyer said. "History's verdict looks likely to be that it was terminally flawed both in conception and execution," he wrote.

This will go down in history as Blair's biggest failure. Britain should never view itself as a junior partner. Britain is one of the worlds most diplomatically respected nations with much experience in war and occupation, by our successes and by our many mistakes. We do value our special relationship with the US. As a close friend we need to be prepared to give sage advice at times. When Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with Bush after September 11th I firmly hoped that Blair would be the moderating force in the partnership, the voice of reason. Sadly Blair was seduced by the glamour of an American motorcade.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Race Relations - Social Inclusion - Question Time

Interesting to find that within hours of posting my blog on 'race relations and social inclusion' Alan Beddow: Race Relations - Social Inclusion the subject is discussed on Question Time.

Some members of the audience made some excellent points, sadly there was a lack of sensible comment from the panalists.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Race Relations - Social Inclusion

I would like to summarise some thoughts I have been having for some time now.

Community Relations are one of the most serious challenges we currently face as a nation. We seem in a state of denial. We like to think of ourselves as a multicultural society yet we have had terrorist bombings in London and recently racial tension in Birmingham.

The politically correct like to think that by pussyfooting around words such as 'black' and sanitising Christmas in case we offend anyone is the way forward. We have a government that are going down the road of draconian measures such as ID cards and confused laws and yet how does that contribute to multiculturalism.

Yet we have a situation where a minority of Muslims feel alienated to the extent that they become involved in extreme groups creating a climate of suspicion for the rest of their community, a Black community that feel disadvantaged, immigrants that are tarred with one sweeping brush with a media fuelled paranoia of immigrants. I feel that no one is listening to the real feelings of the various communities out there, including the vast majority of white open minded people.

I firmly believe that Britain with its long history of immigration and multiculturalism stretching back for almost 2000 years should have the experience and the will to get this right. The answer is not ID cards or laws to control what we say or the erosion of civil liberties. The answer must lie in what we have always done, work towards a society where we can celebrate our differences, respect for others whilst building a sense of pride in our own communities.

I have met no one from any non Christian culture that is offended by our celebrating Christmas. I have not seen any Christian offended by other communities celebrating their own holidays. In fact the vast majority of us from whatever background welcome the opportunity to share in the cultures of others, whether it be 'Jamaican Independence Day' (celebrated each year at Hectors in Leamington Spa), Diwali celebrations, folk festivals, watching the West Indies playing at Edgebaston or whatever events take place in our towns.

Outside the paranoia we have a fusion of arts and music, embracing various cultures, there is a new trend in music to fuse Asian styles with British Music that has much of its roots in Celtic or Black music. It is this that makes British Culture so rich.

There has been talk of segregated faith based schools, recent moves by the government for private initiatives in education may accelerate this. Yet how better to build a society of social inclusion than in a school playground where White, Black, Asian, eastern European, all children from whatever background that makes up the blend of communities within an area, play together.

I believe that ID cards and some of the laws being considered at the moment are looking at putting a very flimsy lid on the issue without tackling the real heart of the problem. Clearly there are people from various communities that do not feel included or integrated. Is no one listening to the real issues.

I would like to see less money spent on ID cards and rather more spent on projects to promote community inclusion. Facilities where young people of all backgrounds can play sport, get involved in arts or music. I would like to see investment to promote various cultures that communities can be proud of and share with others. This will in no way erode British culture, whatever that is, it will contribute to enrich it, as it always has. Of course there will still be a minority from all backgrounds that cannot see this, yet they will be marginalised and have little voice, as has happenned with Gay Discrimination, the way to silence them is to take away the very things they shout about.

Once we have a society where all cultures feel included, can be proud of their sense of identity and share it with others, then the tensions that create racial unrest and extremist tendencies will diminish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Just before the main band played, Shanade the support act played. In the true spirit of John Peel (as opposed to the conspiring to sack your drummer after the gig spirit) Shanade, being a new artist on the local scene was given a support slot. I hope to arrange something like this each year.

I have to say stunning songs...!! she is so talented, if you ever get the chance to see Shanade from Leamington Spa, do so. Her songs have been going round in my head all weekend.

Fortunately I had a MiniDisk recorder at the desk and I recorded the entire gig. For a desk mix the songs have come out really well and I have given her a copy. I have managed to post a copy of one track below. Best right click and download before you listen.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cut the crap politics.

Just popped out for a swift one in the local, the conversation turned to politics, I don't tend to bring such subjects up however am happy to nurture them when they do.

So what is the word on the street.

Well it seems people are opposed to the central control that the government have over local council planning and the manner in which this means indescriminate building with little regard to low cost housing, a real problem in our area. I suggested that perhaps what we needed was power devolved to the lowest level and that was met with favourable agreement. It was also proposed that we move from council tax to a local income tax with many favourable arguments being put forward by all concerned.

All this could have come from a discussion in the bar at the recent Lib Dem conference. These comments came from people that claim they 'dont understand politics'.

It reminded me of something I picked up at the conference. People like our policies all we need are people to spread the word.

I feel people are sick of the spin, smears and the smoke and mirrors that have dominated British Politics in the past few decades. What people want is a style of politics that cuts the crap and presents a clear set of policies that people can understand and that are just plain common sense.

I joined the Liberal Democrats totally prepared to be disillusioned and so far can still say that we are the party that can deliver just that.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Quiz Night, John Peel Day and Kofi Annan

Along with other members of the Warwick Liberal Democrat team I attended a Quiz Night in aid of Macmillan Nurses Cancer Relief they provide excellent support for people with Cancer.

The Quiz was sponsored by Iain Jermond who is currently the Mayor of Royal Leamington Spa. Excellent night, very well organised although the questions were a bit tough and obscure. We scored 93 using a skillful strategy of educated guesses. Some teams scored well over 200, I mean what sort of people know things like that !!

Well I am off to engineer at a gig in aid of John Peel day (one day late) at my local the Roebuck in Warwick tonight. The band politics involved in this event make Prime Ministers Question Time look like a WI coffee morning. It has taken the skills of Kofi Annan to keep this on track at times.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The most powerful person on Earth & Jeremy Beadle.

Last night after a productive evening in my local, drinking beer and talking crap we ventured back to a friends house where there is a fireplace set in the garden. We sat around the fire discussing the world in general and one friend summed up the sad state the world is in.

"George Bush is the most powerful person on Earth" at the time it was quite a profound statement and we sat there for a while reflecting on how mankinds evolution had culminated in this situation, a world that created Enstein, Picasso, Shakespeare, Beethoven, had mapped the human Genome. And the nation that claims to be the most advanced civilization actually elected George W Bush as their president, twice, to elect him once is unfortunate, to reelect him is just plain careless. How can that happen. Something is clearly wrong.

I keep expecting it to turn out to be some huge practical joke, Candid Camera or Jeremy Beadle (a TV personality in the UK that plays practical jokes, [for the American readers])

Jeremy Beadle jumps out from behind a grassy knoll and announces, "You thought you had elected George W as your president didn't you! What you didn't know is that we set the whole thing up.... You've been had."

The global population heaves a collective sigh of relief.

"Bloody hell, Jeremy" one Englishman exclaims, "that's Bloody Brilliant, how did you fix that, rigging the election, the War in Iraq, that's gotta be your best prank yet!!"

Whilst George W being a joke president would seem to be the most logical explanation, sadly our American Cousins have indeed chosen George W as their leader and even more remarkable there are some that even believe he is a good president.

Here is an example of Georges wisdom that caught my eye this evening. Relating to the subject of low voter turnout and re-engagement of people in politics, a subject well covered by a number of fringe events at the Lib-Dem Blackpool Conference. None of the speakers however managed to hit the nail on the head as eloquently as George.

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

Nice One George !!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

MPE Band - Moo Bar Leamington

Popped into Leamington this evening, they often have bands on a Sunday night, though often pot luck as to who is playing. Tonight featured the MPE Band from America, a blend of blue grass, Zappa, folk and anything else that ended up in the blender at the time, shifting styles even within one song. Excellent musicians and very versatile. Recommend seeing them if they are down your way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Warwick traffic management

Went to a public meeting this evening to look at the problems we face in Warwick with traffic. This is part of the public consultation phase and was a workshop to get people involved in identifying the problems. The session was well run and focused on the issues rather than solutions, I felt this avoided any soap boxing that these events can often turn into.

Traffic is a problem in Warwick as we have an old town with narrow streets, only one route across the river and a character of the town that needs preserving. There are problems especially with the school traffic and commuters plus people driving through the town rather than using the bi-pass.

This is the second attempt at a traffic management scheme for the town. The previous plan that was proposed after consultants studied the issues was so opposed by the public that they mounted a 'silent protest' outside county hall on the evening that the Councillors went to vote on the issue.

Who says Democracy does not work !!!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Is the Sun Newspaper about to turn on Labour?,,2-2005440637,00.html,,2-2005440634,00.html

Saw this in the sun today. Not that I am an avid reader of the sun you understand, it was on the table in the smoking room at work.

Now the question... Is the Sun about to turn on Labour. We all remember the famous "Vote for Maggie" in depth political comment during the 80's and then the switch to the New Labour Conservative party. Perhaps this is a slown build up to a switch back? Non too difficult from an idealogical perspective as both parties represent differing brandings on a very similar perspective.

Now the Sun clearly carries quite a bit of political weight and is very effective in telling its readers what to think. Conspiracy Theorists amongst us I am sure can come up with some interesting theories about media puppet masters. Perhaps it suits the establishment to have a two party system that can be manipulated in order to create the illusion of an alternative. Its all about branding, if we get bored with Coca Cola we can always switch to Pepsi yet its still a brown cola drink.

I am going to watch this one....


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Blackpool Liberal Democrat Conference

It was interesting to see the reports in the media, I suspect that some of them must have been at a different conference. I saw reports on TV of debates that I had attended reported in a very different way to the way I saw them. There was the talk of leadership challenges and descent, although there are some that would like Charles Kennedy to be more dynamic I do feel that this was grossly overplayed and perhaps its better to have a leader with some integrity in his beliefs than a presidential style. In the end he gave an excellent speech, as did Menzies Campbell a few days earlier, he is such a great speaker. I notice he is speaking in Stratford soon and I may try to get an invite.

Anyway a fascinating week all round, I attended some fringe events on a number of issues, met some interesting people and attended some training. The week was quite tiring, there was so much to do and I had to plan my day carefully. I also feel that I have been out of touch with the outside world for a while as I had no internet connection.

I had a 5 hour train journey to the other end of the country and am now in Exeter for a meeting tomorrow with a supplier. I am glad I took the train as I really could not face a 5 hour journey. I am looking forward to getting home tomorrow.

The hotel in Blackpool, which I booked on the internet was a little run down, little things like having greasy cups at breakfast. It was quite central though and was only a place to sleep. I am in a nicer hotel now in Exeter and shall chill out and relax for a bit, my meeting is at 12:30 so I can catch up on my work email tomorrow morning.

Anyway, that's the news from Blackpool, I'm off out for a walk around I have not been here since I was a child. I shall probably end up in a nice pub somewhere for a swift pint.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Earth Google

Well here we go the first post on my new blog.

Todays stunning thing to report is Earth Google, if you have broadband do a search, install and try it. You can zoom into satelite pictures of anywhere on earth. The kewlest thing I have seen on the internet since it evolved.