Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Family Christmas

I have managed to see all of my family this Christmas. My Sister had a baby girl a couple of weeks ago and so I took one of my teenage sons over to see the baby and to take my sisters two boys over to visit my mother. My youngest nephew had always been quite shy around me and my boys, since he has become a 'big brother' he has really grown up and sees his role as a great responsibility so it was really nice to get to know him.

Boxing day I went back round to my sisters where they had an open house with various friends of my sister and her husbands popping in. My Mom is especially pleased as this is her first grand daughter after four grandsons. My other sister had come up from London and was there, so it was good to get us all together on a really happy occasion.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This made me chuckle.

Live Music @ The Jug.

I popped down to The Jug & Jester last night where, The Tide, Men in Caves, Circle 3 & King Tide were holding a Pre Launch Party for a regular slot they are organising on a Wednesday night.

The live music scene in Leamington is starting to flourish again over the past couple of years and this is all due to the hard work and efforts of the people involved organising gig's and events, raising money for charity and generally encouraging up and coming musicians in the town. There is a fantastic arts scene in both Leamington & Warwick which is sometimes just outside the mainstream.

It was good to bump into a few old friends and I hope the regular slots starting in January are a success.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Protect our Back Gardens.

The Government’s current planning policies treat your back garden as a “brownfield site” - like an old industrial site - which means they are vulnerable to infill development.

This is an issue we have suffered from in Leamington especially and we need to be sensitive to the unique nature of our town and the knock on effects of increased traffic, growing parking problems and we need to protect many of the fantastic trees we have that help make Leamington a great place to live.

Liberal Democrats believe back gardens serve an important social and environmental purpose and have published a Bill in Parliament calling on the Government to protect back gardens and parkland from over-development. These local green spaces should be treated as the important “greenfield” sites they really are - not as old industrial sites as the Conservative and Labour Governments have labelled them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hill Close Gardens - Open Day.

This morning I walked in the crisp winter air along the Common to Hill Close Gardens, where they were having an open day. These gardens are unique and are probably the only remaining example of Victorian town gardens in existence. The new visitors centre is an ecofriendly building that uses a Ground Source Heat Pump, it was certainly very effective and the place was very warm.
The Gardens & The Visitors Centre are a fantastic resource for education, meetings and leisure as well as being a working example of how we can use ecotecnology.

I look forward to having some meetings here in the near future.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

PPC Selection. - Warwick & Leamington.

Yesterday I was selected as the Lib-Dem, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Warwick & Leamington. This is the culmination of 12 months of training, going through the approval process and applying for my home constituency.

For those not familiar with the term Prospective Parliamentary Candidate or 'PPC' (and wonder what all the fuss is about just being 'prospective' as opposed to the 'real' candidate) this is a quirk of our election law that means we cannot be called an actual 'candidate' until an election is actually called.

(I think this may have changed recently, though until I am clear on this one, I am not taking any chances.)

A PPC is sometimes called a 'Parliamentary Spokesperson' and probably summarises best, what I shall be doing in Warwick & Leamington. It is my job to stand up for, comment and campaign on national issues that affect our towns.

If you live in Warwick and Leamington and would like to get in touch then please email me.

I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement over the months, this really has meant a lot to me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lib Dem Transport Plan Praises our Railway

The Lib-Dem response to the Eddington report outlines a A 6-Point Plan for the Green Transport Switch which includes proposals for a bigger and better railway.

The report praises our own excellent local Chiltern Railway which I use a lot when travelling to London or Birmingham. The report suggests that one reason why Chiltern is able to provide such a good service is down to its long franchise term which allows it to make the long term decisions required to run an effective railway.

Other proposals include Improving Local Transport Services to include greater control at a local level, more bus and tram services and A Realistic Strategy for Road Transport that will cutting down on building new roads.

As our roads become ever more congested, the answer has to be to invest in a modern integrated transport system to encourage a shift from our roads.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blair's sorrow over the slave trade, but what about human trafficking.

Tony Blair expressed his regret over Britain's role in the slave trade today, yet human trafficking is still trapping thousands of people into modern day slavery. I would like to see more action rather than just talk from Tony Blair.

The Government should sign the European Convention against the Trafficking of Human Beings and there should be an urgent provision of resources to support the victims of this human tragedy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Green Tax Switch

I took part in the Green Tax Switch Campaign on Saturday as part of a nationwide campaign to promote the Liberal Democrats proposals to switch to Environmental Taxation.

The principle of this new policy is simple. Less tax on good things like working hard to support ourselves and our families and more tax on Pollution.

Under these proposals the Liberal Democrats would, take 2 million of the poorest people out of tax altogether and save £1000 on the tax bill of the average family.

Of course all this needs to be paid for and so we would shift taxation to environmental taxes such as increased taxation on gas guzzling cars and taxing flights rather than passengers to encourage airlines to run full planes.

Full details of our new Green Tax policy can be found on our website.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tory Tax Cuts - Below the surface.

Adrian Saunders Myspace site provides a simple comparison between the Tories "shall we, shan't we, well OK best throw in a bit of Green Tax" approach to taxation policy and the coherent Lib-Dem green tax switch proposals we openly debated and democratically voted for in Brighton last month.

The full extent of the chaos this has thrown the Conservatives into as they take their first few steps towards anything resembling policy is highlighted on the Conservative Home website.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jack Straw, Headscarves & Community Relations

Cabinet Minister Jack Straw has said he would prefer Muslim women not to wear veils at all.
The Commons leader said he did not want to be "prescriptive" but he believed that covering people's faces could make community relations more difficult.

Another helpful suggestion from our New Labour Government. Have we learned nothing from the French! If we start to discriminate against head scarves then they will start to become a symbol of defiance. This can only worsen community relations.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I almost found myself agreeing with John Prescott

BBC NEWS UK UK Politics Prescott denies calling Bush crap

Its been a long time since I found myself agreeing with John Prescott and find myself dissapointed that John did not have the backbone to stand by his comments on the American President. Personally I felt that our Deputy Prime Ministers alleged comments summed up what a number of British people have been thinking for a long time, far better than anything our actual Prime Minister has had to say on the subject.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ed Davey visits Warwick

Warwick Courier

Ed Davey, visited a number of businesses in Warwick last Friday along with a trip to the unique Hill Close Gardens. I played a minor role in these excursions by chauffeuring the party from Warwick to Leamington as we felt this would cut down time hunting for parking spaces and traipsing across Leamington during the rush hour. In the evening Ed joined a few of us for dinner in the Rose & Crown in Warwick where we discussed energy policy, (Ed having visited the British Gas Transco Control centre at the Warwick Technology Park earlier), Nott's County and the new campaign for next years council elections and beyond.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Two Jag's yes - Two wars NO!

BBC NEWS Politics 'Horror' at Prescott as acting PM

There is an irony here, Prescott can be trusted with Two Jag's but not two wars.

John Prescott: Traditionally stands in for Tony BlairOne of the UK's best known former Army commanders in Iraq says he is "filled with horror" at the prospect of John Prescott running Britain this summer.
Mr Prescott usually takes the reins when Tony Blair is abroad on holiday but Colonel Tim Collins says he should not be left in charge of two wars.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Coventry and Warwickshire Acute Services Review - NHS

Coventry and Warwickshire Acute Services Review - NHS

The local papers in Warwick & Leamington have stirred up a lot of controversy over the future of Warwick hospital over the past few weeks. From what I have read and the people I have spoken to, as far as I can tell, the reason Hospital is Millions of pounds overspent because the hospital attempted to meet government targets and bring down waiting lists, they undertook a number of treatments and the money to pay for all this work did not appear from the people who's job it is to pay for it.

Perhaps the people of mid Warwickshire are failing to follow Government guidelines by getting ill to often.

This emphasises to me, what I have long suspected, that the problems with the Health Service is not to do with the Doctors, or the Nurses (who in my opinion do not get paid enough for what they do) the problems are with how the whole thing is managed. If we are to find an answer to these problems, this is where we should look.

What has not been well publicised by the local press is the 'Acute Services Review'. This is a public consultation on how healthcare is to be provided in Warwickshire in the future. You can get involved by following this link.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Amplifico Appeal to complete their first Album.

The Amplifico Webathon with!

Amplifico are a fantastic talented band from Scotland. I admire their attitude to by-passing the record companies and promoting themselves. They played at a small bar in Leamington last year and after the gig went round collecting email addresses and selling their home made CD's and have stayed in touch. These guys are building and engaging with their fan base themselves. They do not wish to be shackled to a record deal that would cramp their creativity.

They started work on their first properly produced album and unfortunately ran out of cash, so they are conducting a series of fund raising events to raise the cash they need to complete the album.

This will culminate in a webcast live from the Bongo Club in Edinburgh, on Wednesday 19th July 2006 and will be broadcast live on the web you can watch for free at, 9pm.

It is worth checking these guys out for their quirky original and very talented music.

These guys deserve to do well.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Should we build more Nuclear Power Stations.

This is a debate that is starting to gather momentum.

There are many arguments for Nuclear power, on the surface it may seem to be a clean, efficient, carbon neutral solution to our energy problems. It is true that technology has moved on in the half century since the first power stations were built.

There are many arguments against, such as safety, radiation fears for those living nearby and the threat of terrorism, however there are two key arguments that clinch the argument for me.


Firstly our nuclear industry has left us with a massive clean-up bill for historic waste of £56 billion and rising.

Secondly for a fraction of the cost of building the new nuclear power stations we would need could be used to build a range of different renewable power facilities across Britain in less time than it would take to build the Nuclear option.

This would have an added benefit in placing Britain at the cutting edge of the growing market in renewable technologies that would revitalise our industry.

By having a little imagination we can create something with a positive lasting legacy, rather than a huge cleanup bill for future generations.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Training and more training.

I seem to have hit a glut of training for the next few weeks. Last week we had the 'Moving Forward' programme in Worcester, including some Page Plus training. This weekend trogged down to Cowley St for one of the Get Set Go sessions, I have another two booked next month. I am very impressed with the standard of much of the training we get in the Party, the session today on Interpersonal Skills covered similar ground I have covered on some courses at work, only tailored for political situations. Commercially I could have paid hundreds for this standard of training. I would reccomend anyone however long they have been in the party to take advantage of the training on offer, its always worth topping up skills or just networking with other people and exchanging experiences.

So tomorrow, hoping to make a start on my pile of Focus, its ironic, the moment I get them all printed we get the wettest May on record.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Renew for freedom - MAY 2006 - renew your passport

renew for freedom - MAY 2006 - renew your passport

I have just submitted my application to renew my passport using the Passport Service Website. It took me 10 minutes to complete. This is part of a campaign to send a clear message to the Government that we do not wish to be part of the most intrusive ID card schemes in the 'free' world.

By renewing now, this means I do not need to be part of this scheme until 2016 by which time it will probably have gone the way of many recent government initiatives and either fallen into a state of chaos or scrapped due to lack of funding.

This is what has happened to two recent government IT projects I have worked on as a Project Manager in the past 12 months after many, many millions had been spent on them, a scheme to track 'Lorries' so they would pay per mile (sensible green policy) and a scheme to track Livestock which is part of an EU directive aimed at mitigating the impact of disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth. So my confidence that the government can implement an effective scheme to track people is not high.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Turn 9/11 rubble into a killing machine? Hello? - Comment - Times Online

Turn 9/11 rubble into a killing machine? Hello? - Comment - Times Online

Interesting story in the Times...

"On August 28, 2002, Mr Pataki’s wish was granted with the result that 24 tons of steel from the stricken buildings was taken to New Orleans and put to use by Northrop Grumman Systems in the construction of an amphibious assault ship."

The writer, Martin Samuel highlights the irony very well when he says,

"In this way, the 2,800 souls that perished as an indirect result of an interventionist foreign policy that achieved the exact opposite of its stated aims can be honoured by a vessel built to ensure that this flawed cycle of violence continues."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

On a lighter note.

If the DVLA know exactly where any untaxed car is located among the millions of cars in Britain..... but we haven't got a clue as to where the terrorists are located. Maybe we should put the DVLA in charge of MI5.......

"Sensible Policies for a Better Britain!"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Sun Online - Sun Says: Time to stop the madness

The Sun Online - Sun Says: Time to stop the madness

As to my previous Post, its interesting that our old friend David Cameron is showing his true colours, if he can still remember what these are. Now wonder the Tory members are confused, Left, Right, Green, Black, do we wear a tie, do we ride a bike, is it OK if we do ride a bike to have our chauffeur follow behind with our briefcase?

Another point of interest, that fine bastion of public information, The Sun is once again coming out in favour of the Tory's. As I commented not long after Cameron's leadership election, I am convinced that this is all part of a long running shift that will culminate in The Sun declaring their hand close to the next election in favour of the Conservatives.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Human rights law 'may be changed'

BBC NEWS Politics Human rights law 'may be changed': "Liberal Democrat constitutional affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said: 'The answer is to seek better collective protection, not rip up human rights obligations which have stood the test of time and are important guarantees for the rights of us all.' "

This is all part of a steady erosion of our civil liberties and rights as a human being that have persisted under Labour over the past 9 years. I know this is the party line, yet again I am reassured that I am in the right party.

This is simple. The problem does not lie in the Human Rights legislation which exists to protect us all as human beings. The problem lies in the Governments incompetent execution.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Calls for John Reid to Resign

BBC NEWS UK Cannabis found at John Reid home: "defense Secretary John Reid."

The government, facing one of their worst weeks yet in the run up to next weeks local elections were further blighted when a horde of Drugs were found at the home of defense secretary John Reid.

Coming after it was revealed that Charles Clarke had let immigrant murderers and rapists go free, Randy John "Two Shags" Prescott's revelations of romps with his secretary, Tony Blairs Cash for peerages claims and Patricia Hewitt's statement about the health service, what next!

Foresnsic Police experts confirmed that a stash of cannabis with a street value of upto 85 pence had been recovered from the home of the man responsible for our armed forces!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Just the one defection to the Lib-Dem's today - Polls are up though.

Robbie Rowantree, a former Conservative parliamentary candidate who is well known for his involvement in the Highland community has joined to the Scottish Liberal Democrats just days before polling in the Moray by-election.

"The Tories lack of any positive message confirmed they were so out-of-touch that the time had come when I could no longer remain a member of the Party. Contrast that with the Liberal Democrats who, under Nicol Stephen, have set out a radical, reforming, responsible agenda for the whole of Scotland". Commented Robbie.

From the Guardian we have the following...

Labour support has dropped to the lowest point since the party's heavy defeat in the 1987 general election, according to an ICM opinion poll for the Guardian. Its share of the vote has dropped by five points since March, putting it on 32%, two points behind the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems have risen by three points to 24%, a remarkable improvement for a party mired in scandal at the start of its own leadership election two months ago.

Yet another Labour Councillor Joins the Lib-Dems.

Labour Councillor Ann Holtom has today left the Labour party to join the Liberal Democrats. Councillor Holtom becomes the third Labour councillor to join the Lib Dems in as many weeks following moves by councillors in Brent and Plymouth.

Councillor Holtom said "I have become very disillusioned with the Labour Party.. I see the Liberal Democrats as the only party who are meeting the aspirations of Birmingham people".
Councillor Holtom is the third Councillor to join the Liberal Democrats within the last month. Councillor Shaukat Ali Khan and Councillor Mohammed Saeed disbanded the Peoples Justice Party to join the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats are expected to make many more gains in the Local Elections on May 4th. Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Paul Tilsley said "In the middle of the local election campaign this is catastrophic and damming news for Labour. Ann has sent a clear message to voters, leave Labour and back the Liberal Democrats".

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cameron's Problem:- BBC NEWS | Politics | Cameron sets Tories on journey of change

Here is David cameron's biggest challenge. On the one hand we have a party conference where he is urging his followers against a backdrop with the word "CHANGE"

BBC NEWS Politics Cameron sets Tories on journey of change

And then we have the Oxford English Dictionary which defines the word Conservative as:-

• adjective 1 - averse to change and holding traditional values.

Cameron urging the Conservatives to change would be like standing up at the Lib Dem party conference and urging the membership to be Intolerent, Biggoted & Narrow Minded.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Great Western Charity Gig - Sat 5th August

To raise as much money for Myton Hospice as we can. Myton Hospice represents a cause close to many people's hearts and has long been a respected charity not only in Wartwickshire but now also nationwide.

I have volunteered to help out at the Great Western Charity Gig in Warwick on the 5th August. Two of the bands I work with shall be there, The Jonesy Band and The Shanade Band, check out the website for more info. Hopefully there shall be a CD available of the bands material for sale along with other means to raise cash for this excellent local charity.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Lib Dems launch election campaign

BBC NEWS | Politics | Lib Dems launch election campaign

It is well worth watching the Video clip from the BBC website. What I saw was a coherent and candid message that I found a refreshing change from the soundbites and rhetoric that we have become used to from the other parties.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Climate Change - Early Day Motions - Cameron's Green credential shows true colours. (Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats)

Climate Change - Early Day Motions - Cameron's Green credential shows true colours. (Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats): "Lib-Dem MP, Chris Huhne, has written to David Cameron, asking him to demonstrate that his party is as united in tackling climate change. All Lib Dems have signed two Early Day Motions in support of tackling climate change and in favour of the Climate Change Bill currently passing through Parliament. In contrast, fewer than half of the Conservative MPs have signed the motions to date. David Cameron himself has not signed either.
Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats supported these Early Day Motions recently following a talk by local expert, Matthew Rhodes. We sent letters to the Prime Minister & key Government ministers asking them to support these motions. It is disappointing that David Cameron and the Conservative party have failed to live up to their new so called Green credentials so early on by failing to support these bills."

Friday, March 24, 2006

HM Revenue & Customs

Its getting to that time of year when we complete our tax returns. I called my tax office this morning to check a few details. Government departments get a lot of bad press for example the CSA or Benefits Agency. My experience with HMRC was very positive, they had instant records of last years conversations, my current tax status, knew what they were talking about and offered simple advice that I actually understood. They were able to make changes on the system as we spoke.

The Internet Tax Return is also excellent, easy to use and as they often end up owing me money, a check lands on my doormat within days of completing it.

Well done HMRC... Whatever it is they are doing, they are doing it right.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

I went to see the Blue Man Group in London yesterday with some friends. This is a stunning show and I would recommend to anyone if they get the chance.

Using complex home made instruments, they create a rhythmic backdrop for their unique blend of performance art, mime and comedy. Each piece of performance exploring relevant themes of humanity in the 21st Century with the audience participating on a range of levels.

Well worth going to see, expect something really different.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Guardian:-The scramble for schools,,1730412,00.html

A rather damning article in the Guardian that shows just how bad the situation has got. One parent considering selling a kidney to pay for private education, another having been refused their 5th choice school, appeals consultants making a fortune helping parents (those that can afford it) get the places they want, house prices going through the roof near sought after schools.

Where does this leave the bright kid from the council estate, or the mother of the child with special needs that can only get a place in a failing school with little in the way of the support she needs.

I did not have the benefit of choice when I went up to the High School.

Along with my friends from the local area, I went to the local school which was a short walk away. Some from surrounding villages arrived by school bus. There was never a question as to whether I would get a place or should I apply for a different school. I had a choice of subjects to take at O Level and further choice of A levels. Many went onto University, some to Oxbridge (one came from the local council estate). Writing this now and looking back makes it sound as though I was somehow privilaged, perhaps I was, yet this was the local village comprehensive high school in which I got an excellent education.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Snow in Harrogate.

Two days after coming home from the snow in the Alps we have some impressive snow falls in Harrogate where I am attending the spring party conference. We seem totally unable to cope with snow in this country. As I walked to the hotel last night the pavements were becoming treacherous as the temperature dropped.

I attended a consultative session on International Law, quite a complex issue. Our table was discussing the question of when is it right to intervene in the affairs of another state. We agreed that intervention could be anything from Diplomacy, International Aid, Sanctions, Peacekeeping or Military Action. The intervention needs to be appropriate to the situation. Military action should be a last resort in extreme cases. We all agreed that genocide is a situation where we have a responsibility to act.

Next up was a 'Meeting the Challenge' session hosted by some of our key women. I especially enjoyed Lynne Featherstone, I am a bit of a fan of Lynne, I love the way she communicates with people in a down to earth way, she is passionate about a style of politics that everyone can identify with.

This session was followed by the introduction of Ming Campbell as our new leader. Whilst Ming was my second choice I am confidant that Ming has the drive and ambition to lead us to greater success.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Three Valleys

I got back from another successful skiing trip this afternoon. Marek and David had rented a small apartment near the Three Valleys for the week. Stuart and I joined them for a few days as I had to be back for the party conference and Stuart has been on short term passes since the birth of his daughter a few years ago.

Now the sensible approach would have been to have warmed up on a couple of nursery blue slopes to rid myself of all the bad habits I have developed since I last went skiing a couple of years ago. Not so the other guys who are more experienced skiers than I. So a half hour trip up two gondola's later and I step out into a cafe and lift station 2.5KM up. Stunning scenery and slight altitude sickness for a couple of moments until I acclimatise.

An American we met in the bar the night before expressed his view that the ski area, "It's HUUGGE, I mean its HUUGGE Man!" Americans typically see anything European as quaint yet Huge was a far better description, three valleys each side around 1KM up, serious amounts of skiing just to get back to the lifts. Marek and David seemed intent on doing the whole area in just one afternoon and so, discretion being the better part of valour I punctuated some runs with well earned breaks in the sun at the various bars and cafe's dotted around the mountain while they went off on kamikaze missions.

I don't know where Marek & David get their energy from. Their approach to the apres ski being very similar, we ended up playing pool with some young snow borders from Yorkshire. The lads regaled us with tales of how many times they had almost killed themselves off piste and felt we would be impressed with the volume of strange coloured drinks they were pouring down their throats.

By around 2:30 they inevitably started to loose the ability to stand up straight, muscle strain coupled with alcohol poisoning. Marek and David were Cossack dancing and doing hand stands round the pool table. The young lads were starting to see us as a threat. We were chatting to their women, two attractive 18 year olds, showing a genuine interest in them as people with respect, were holding our drink, winning at pool and managed to sprint back up the hill to the hotel. The following evening when we asked them how they had got on that day they informed us that they had such bad hangovers they had not gone out all day, we casually mentioned that we had been up on the first lift to catch the virgin snow. They avoided us after that.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Odds on Huhne ahead

Well my vote is cast for Chris Huhne. This was a difficult choice with three excellent candidates to choose from. I feel that Chris has the fresh ideas to take the party needs to move forwards.

The political betting website today shows Chris ahead so my early investment may well pay off.

And so to the Slopes.

Just finished delivering my last round in our latest Focus. As I walked round a few streets of Victorian terraces, I mulled over the possibility of presenting an emergency policy motion at the conference outlawing those brush type letter box draft excluders that are the bane of our lives and leave us with red raw knuckles.

I am off to the slopes tomorrow for a few days skiing before the conference at Harrogate. This comes as a nice little break as I finished my recent project in the South West of England yesterday. I shall miss the countryside and the interesting characters I have met. On my return I am looking forward to my next project working on the Livestock Register in York.

Friday, February 17, 2006

BBC News | UK | Tests spark fears of genetic underclass

BBC News | UK | Tests spark fears of genetic underclass

This is an issue that sparked my interest this week. Advances in genetics can have many benefits in helping identify people with a propensity for various conditions which help in the application of preventive medicine or early detection of a condition. There is a grave concern however that the government may allow Insurance companies to use this information when setting premiums. This is the thin end of the wedge leading to people being penalized or even denied insurance, the opportunity of home ownership or pensions on the basis of their DNA.

There is a Privacy issue at stake here, in that people have the right to the privacy of their DNA along with issues surrounding Equality, Fairness and as our genetic code is directly related, Race. This is an issue that we as Liberal Democrats need to make a clear stand.

I wonder whether anyone else has any thoughts on this subject.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dumfirmline - Local Issues.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Lib Dems celebrate bombshell win: "The winner, Willie Rennie, said the result would 'rock the foundations' of Downing Street, but ministers said it was due to 'local issues'. "

Heaven forbid that the electorate should start voting for their locally elected representatives on 'local issues'.

And the winner Tonight

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Lib Dems deliver blow to Labour

Just finished watching the Question Time on the leadership contest. I ran a points system for the contestants, awarding points for 'style' based on good points made and delivery and awarded points for winning a particular argument or good policy.

My personal points are:-

Ming, 2 political points and 8 points for style.
Chris, 2 political points and 4 points for style.
Simon, 1 political point and 5 points for style.

This is going to be a difficult one. For me between Chris and Ming. As you may know I have £20 riding on Chris yet am prepared to vote for Ming. In my book Ming has pulled level with Chris after being slightly behind.

Overall the party won tonight. I am still convinced that I am in the right party and am more determined to fight for it, regardless of who is leader. With such talent we really deserve to triumph as it appears we have in Dumfirmline.

That is the result tonight. Anyone who believes that we are a party in 'meltdown' has been sent a clear message.

It is an exciting time to be a Liberal Democrat.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thanks Tony

PM Question Time

Listening to this as I crawled through the Bristol Ring Road tonight I couldnt help wondering how much Tony's rebuttal of the Tory Leaflet in the Dumfirmline By-election was better than anything we may be able to get out and at no cost. I was also pleased that Tony helped respond on our behalf to Cameron's claims to be a Liberal. Had I been a Lib-Dem back bencher in the commons today Tony would have got one of the loudest cheers from my part of the house.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Possible new Shanade Band

Alan Beddow: Shanade

Some of my many severals of readers may remember this post from October, no? well since the legendary gig in the Roebuck I have come across Shanade again a few times in various musical venues around the area. I learned that she was looking to get a band together and that I know her Mom from about 10 years ago when Kelly's in Leamington was the place to be for music.

I arranged a Jam session yesterday as I felt that this was a project worth putting some effort into to get started. I invited my good friend Neil (The sacked drummer) and Shanade and any musicians she managed to get hold of at her end. Initially it looked as though we may not have a Bass player, though Shanade managed to get hold of one, not sure where as they seem to be in short supply around here.

A very positive afternoon and I am convinced that a band will form from this. We managed to record a rough demo of a song that developed and after doing a rough master this morning it sounds really good. Shanade has a fantastic voice which will place any band she plays with right out there, coupled with competent musicians I have a very good feeling about this.

Nice one Cyril

Liberal Democrats : Former Conservative MP Sir Cyril Townsend joins Lib Dems

I'm sorry that is such a good headline someone had to do it...

Just had to check this was true for a moment, that really is excellent news, best news all week. I expect a full front page coverage on this one in all the papers. I shall even allow the Sun to use my 'Nice one Cyril' headline.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another defection to Tory Party.

In a shocking announcement from Tory Central this afternoon, David Cameron paraded the latest defection from the Lib-Dems.

Peter Jackson a Lib-Dem voter in the Stockton on the Fosse Parish Council by-election made the surprising move earlier this morning shortly after breakfast. "I voted Lib-Dem in the by-election because all the other candidates looked too stuck up," said Peter in a press conference on the Village Green this afternoon. "Since David Cameron has stopped wearing a tie, I shall be voting Conservative from now on" he added.

Sir Ming Campbell the acting leader of the Lib-Dem's said that he was campaigning on issues rather than collers and ties. Cameron was more skeptical "It remains to be seen whether the British Public can be swayed by putting Policies before Cheap Gimmicks, and fashion statements" he commented.

The former Lib-Dem Voter pictured watching the three legged race at a recent village fate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Leadership nominations close and Colin Ross is running

That is how I saw an email subject from Colin Ross this evening as I scan read down my emails.

'Colin nipped in under the wire,' I thought!

What the subject line actually said.

"Leadership nominations close and is up and running"

Colin's website contains interesting comment on his work as a campaigner and the Leadership Contest and can be found at.


Quote from the Independent re Adrian Graves.

"Mr Graves is the first prominent Liberal Democrat to defect to the Tories since Mr Cameron became leader last month."


I think 'Prominent' is a bit strong.

The 'Independent' item should read. "Mr Graves is the first Paper Candidate Liberal Democrat to defect to the Tories since Mr Cameron became leader last month."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nailing my colours to the Mast.

OK, time to nail my colours to the mast. I have decided to support Chris Huhne in his leadership bid.

I think Chris has fresh ideas the right balance of Liberal Policies and approach to become an excellent leader.

Besides which I have my 20 Quid investment with William Hill to protect. And who says I don't have integrity.

Under Media Siege

Angus J Huck commenting on my previous post re Oaten.

"The tabloids had a raft of stories about David Cameron lined up last Autumn, but none of them appeared. That was because Murdoch and his friends decided that Cameron, not Davis, was their man. Other senior Liberal Democrats should watch their backs."

I agree, whilst I have never known such publicity it does seem that we are under media siege at the moment. Daily Telegraph "Lib-Dem's in Free Fall".

Had Mark Oaten not withdrawn from the leadership race last week, when would the story have broken?

If Oaten stood a chance of winning, wait till after the new leader is announced, unless by some quirk of fate Mark won the contest, break the story on March 3rd to sully the new leaders honeymoon period and the Spring Conference. The more likely scenario would be to break the story on the 1st March, when all the postal votes are in yet uncounted.

All this is a campaign to undermine and discredit the party to shore up the Conservatives. Given that no publicity is bad publicity perhaps this will backfire.

We can expect more of this I fear in months to come.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Story close to its sell by date.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Oaten resigns over rent boy claim

My theory on the latest Oatengate.

The News of the World had either been sitting on this for a while perhaps some years waiting for Oaten's political value to increase, or they dug the dirt during the past few weeks on the off chance that he may win the leadership.

Either way when Mark withdrew this week the story became a ripe pear about to go past its sell by date. They had to publish this weekend before Mark Oaten slides out of the front page news.

Now this makes me wonder what they have on the other candidates, stories waiting for their moment to come.

Its a dirty game at times.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Investing a score and perhaps even my vote.

I have been observing the leadership campaigns for the past few days with an open mind. There has been no need to force a decision yet, knowing that it would become clear to me over time who I would vote for.

Whilst I may still change my mind, one candidate does impress me, Chris Huhne. Perhaps I have a perverse sympathy for the underdog, as a child I was never one to switch allegiance to which ever team was winning, something I observed on the school bus each season. Perhaps Chris' race will gain in a party who's members are not known for backing those in front rather are prepared to work hard for what they believe.

Why have I been impressed by Chris. Reviewing the notes I made at the conference on Saturday, Chris was the candidate that had some interesting ideas, rather than trotting out the usual mantra's about localism, fairness and playing to the crowd.

Chris is one to watch over the next few weeks. I am not a betting man however I may stroll into town later on and invest a score.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A long week in Politics

A week is a long time in politics. Especially this week.

This weeks unanswered question comes from Tony Blair. In response to Sir Ming's question regarding the problem of finding head teachers for schools, Tony admitted that it was difficult to find leaders for failing organisations.

I would like to know what the Government is going to do to address the problem of finding heads for all the failing schools they have been responsible for all these years.

I would also like to know why after the lessons learned from the Soham enquiry this government is unable to tell us how many sex offenders we have working in our 'failing schools' or how it is that they are working there in the first place.

I would also like to know how many other failing organisations Tony Blair is going to admit to being responsible for.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Left, Right and Centre.

Well things are developing much as expected in Lib-Dem land. It is likely we shall have Campbell, Oaten and Hughes to choose from perhaps even Hemming if he can round up the remaining MP votes.

One thing we MUST not get drawn into which the Media, lacking imagination would love, is for us to get dragged into the Left vs Right debate. This would of course centre around Oaten and Hughes. We must not allow that to happen. We must use this leadership contest to showcase what we stand for as well as allowing healthy debate and the election of a strong leader.

I once read a book comparing the wisdom of Sun Tsu and the art of warfare in business. I guess it applies well to politics as well. "We must fight on ground of our choosing". The other two parties and the media cannot see past the old two dimensional left right political model based on first past the post and two party politics, they feel comfortable with it, this is dinosaur politics.. This is not ground of our choosing.

We stand for a proportionally Represented Multi Party, decentralised, centre ground, with a balance between Market Economics and Social Justice. Lets debate this leadership election on these terms, on our turf and not allow us to get drawn into the Left Right debate at all.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Power of the net - during all of this.

I was just thinking how the power of the internet has been harnessed during the developments in our party over the past few days. Not only have I been able to express by thoughts and feelings on the subject I have also been able to read first hand accounts from some of our MP's who were there at the time. This has enabled me to have a more informed view of events.

I hope some of the people who make the decisions for our party are reading the discussions going on here and on some of the lists. Here is an opportunity for them to pick up on what people right across the party are thinking and some solid oberservations and suggestions from many.


How to turn this situation around.

Earnshaw Palmer posted the following on the Lib-Dem online discussion list. I felt this is worth a wider audience as there are some valid point here.


The recent events have placed the Liberal Democrats in the limelight and we should welcome the publicity that we have received.

There are three things that we should achieve.

a) The debate for a new leader must not be put on hold. The reason is that it will give us new impetus and more media coverage (publicity! publicity! publicity!) and this will slow down the advances that Cameron. Moreover, the analysis of David Cameron’s 100 days as party leader will not be relevant as the Lib Dems leadership elections will be dominate the media and will be the talk of the town.

Federal Executive must not hasten the contest so that we have the election concluded before the spring party conference. The spring party conference must be used as a platform to showcase our candidates and the diverse stands of liberalism that we as a party embrace.

We must have a new leader just after Easter so he has enough press coverage before the May elections and this will nullify any policy pronouncements that the Tories have.

The Lib Dems would be the most dominant party in the media in the run up to the local elections.

The New Leader can then assert his/her authority by focusing on Liberal Values, Liberal principles, integrity in politics and the future direction of the party.
He/she will need to highlight the failures of both parties and what we have to offer as an alternative. (who we are, what we stand for and what is it in it for Joe Public)

We can also use the opportunity to demonstrate how Liberal Values and polices have shaped the changes in 21st Century Britain. These are the areas we have territorial advantage and undoubtedly will reinvigorate Lib Dem appeal.

We need to emphasize the importance, relevance and universality of Liberalism in Britain today and this has to be the task of our new leader. Continuity of core beliefs and principles in a new direction and with new impetus.

b) Sir Menzies must not be a coronation candidate. He must be challenged. Paper candidate or not! We have already washed our dirty linings in public it is now time to display our fineries. An open and philosophical debate must be an integral part of the leadership election process. This will broaden our appeal and we cannot afford to miss out on this golden opportunity, given the fact that media interest will be focused on us and acres of publicity that the election will generate.

c) We must now address as a matter of urgency the fundamental issue of the processes to be instituted in the removal of the party leader. This is a salutary lesson we need to learn from.

Earnshaw Palmer


Saturday, January 07, 2006

On a brighter local level.

On a local level, far away from Westminster, the town of Warwick has a steady increase in members and activists. I was greatly encouraged by a talk given by Lynne Featherstone at the autumn conference about how she built up a derelict constituency. This is the situation we faced in the Warwick part of the Warwick & Leamington Constituency. However in the past year we have more than doubled the number of activists, have a strategy (its secret, if I told you it wouldn't be secret would it) and plan to put out our first Focus by the end of the month.

This follows a number of sessions surveying. This really is an excellent way to meet people on the doorstep and the response we get is very encouraging. I would recommend this to anyone starting in a new ward. Each time we go out two things happen. 1/ It rains and 2/ We pick up a new member or deliverer.

Finally a personal view on Focus. I firmly believe that we should broaden the appeal of the Focus to include some stories from Westminster. We need to present the view that we are a serious party of government not just litter bins and park benches.

I welcome any comments and advice any of you have to give to a new group of activists starting out in virgin territory.

Much has been said.

Well much has been said about the developments today. So where next.

It is clear we need a leader that not only has the support of the grass roots membership we need a leader that has the support of the Parliamentary party, someone who can provide energy and direction.

I notice that in John Hemmings Blog he threatens to stand. The thing with John is I can never work out whether this is blind arrogance or a warped sense of humour.

Menzies Campbell has thrown his hat into the ring. Probably the candidate everybody hoped would stand. I cirtainly would be happy if this was the outcome.

As to whether anyone else stands, we shall have to see.

Political Stalemate.

And so we leave the first week of the new year with a political stalemate.

The key players of the Parliamentary Party want Charles to do the honorable thing.

Charles wishing to take it to the grass roots members in a leadership contest.

No one willing to stand against him.

I count myself as one of those who reluctantly conclude that there is no way that Charles position can be tenable. Even if someone could be found to stand in the leadership poll and even should he win, this does not solve the fact that the majority of the parliamentary party no longer have faith in him. Should Charles not win then we have elected a leader that is not really anybodies choice as the key candidates would not stand against him. Perhaps this is why no one has thrown their hat into the ring yet. For anyone to stand would add validity to the contest.

Better for the field to be cleared, Charles to honorably step down and the contest to be opened to those that feel they can rise to the challenge. The members can decide. Plus look at all that free publicity the Tories got as they stage managed their latest leadership contest!!

Who would I like to see in the contest. How about some new names rather than the usual suspects.

How about Nick Clegg, I have heard him speak and I believe he is more than capable of giving Cameron a run for his money.

Then again we need someone who can maintain cohesion between the Economic Liberal and Social Liberal values. This is VITAL as we are being attacked on the right by Cameron and yet it is vital that someone stands up for social justice seeing as it has been abandoned by New Labour. We need to stick to our guns that Liberal Free Market Economics can sit side by side with Social Liberalism.

Lynne Featherstone has been suggested in more than one blog. I have massive admiration for her and have heard her speak, plus of course she is a bit of a babe. (sorry not that politically correct but what the heck, if its OK to secretly brief the press against your leader then it seems nothing is taboo)

My sister fears I may stand and have to face the inevitable embarrassment that would cause the family. Odd really as most families would consider that to be something to be proud of, not so my family. Fortunately as I explained, I am not an MP and therefore not eligible. (yet)

Lets see how this pans out on Monday.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Well here we are, 2006. I am quite optimistic about it. I have a few resolutions, Stop Smoking, actually I am quite pleased with this one, I had read the book ‘how to stop smoking’ I actually stopped on the 28th as I ran out of cigarettes and thought what is the point of buying some more just so I can go on smoking for a few more days. This is an improvement on the normal half hearted new years eve resolution, where you smoke like a trooper whilst out in the pub partying and wonder why you get withdrawal symptoms the next day. This would be like giving a Heroin Addict an overdose the day before he gets checked into the clinic for cold turkey.

Other than that, the usual stuff, exercise more, eat better food (OK, so the cooked breakfast this morning was a hangover cure), and a list of things I want to achieve and general approach to life that I always review around this time.

So happy new year to anyone reading, lets hope it is a great one.