Tuesday, March 27, 2007

200 years after abolition of Slavery - No time to Celebrate.

I have not posted for a while on here as I am snowed under with the local elections that are just 6 weeks away. However over the past few days I have seen headline capturing words from Tony Blair expressing deep sorrow over Britain's role in the slave trade, words from the Church and the usual suspects who love to publicly hang their heads in regret of long past events infront of ever present TV cameras.

Hypocrisy !!!

This is starting to really annoy me. OK I agree we should show regret, but a far better way would be to do more about the slave trade we actually have going on in this country today!

Exchange slave ships for Cargo Container's, replace West African's with Eastern Europeans and people from the far east (many of them children), change the setting from the plantations of the new world to farms, sweat shops and brothels across England and the shear human misery is the same.

I would like to see the same outcry against this that is happening right now as we have seen in recent days over a 200 year old event. This is the worst crime imaginable, women and children imprisoned & raped daily in our cities.

There is a lot of information on the BBC website.
Find out about the Poppy Project

What we can do!

  • Be Informed
  • Write to your newspaper, MP, MEP, Me, Tell your friends.
  • Raise Awareness & Make a lot of noise
  • Sign my Petition.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

MP's Vote to Elect the Lords.

It is a historic day today. MP's voted by a majority of 113 to elect 100% of the house of Lords. Long awaited as we have only been looking at this since 1911.

I am in favour of this reform because Democracy requires the involvement of the people, it will make the second chamber more accountable and more effective. The second chamber will provide a direct regional influence in Parliament, to scrutinise legislation and executive action and to take a backstop role in preventing abusive amendment of the constitution without popular consent.

Of course, there is now the small matter of an Act of Parliament that will have to be written and the details of how this will work to be thrashed through - and which will have to get through the House of Lords, ironically enough - but it's a fantastic start.

For fun... Have a look at the Elect the Lords website and you can buy yourself the virtual peerage of your choice.

Or for a more detailed analysis have a look at the Democracy Wkki Site.

Home Office Watch - or why it may be illegal to wear a Red Nose in Parliament Square on Red Nose Day.

There has been a lot of news over recent months about the failures of the 'Home Office'. Now this is the office that looks after things like our Police, Passports and Immigration and our Courts and Prison Service.

It is so easy to let endless headlines wash over us, as just another set of failed institutions such as the Rural Payments Agency and the Child Support Agency. Yet the Home Office is too critical to the safety and security of this country to be ignored.

Nick Clegg the Lib-Dem Shadow Home Secretary has set up a website to track the failures of the Home Office. It is important that people are kept informed on these serious issues, such as;

While at the same time, Prisons are overflowing, Sex Offenders committing crimes in Europe are going free and Serious mistakes are being made with Home Office accounting.

This insanity can not be allowed to continue, I urge everyone to check out the website and write to your MP, the Papers, Me, your local councillor, anyone... Lets not let this be ignored. Britain deserves a Home Office fit for purpose.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Harrogate Spring Conference

I have returned home from this years spring conference in Harrogate. It has been a chance to catch up on some training and some informative fringe events, this year I attended a couple of excellent sessions run by the Youth & Students, one on speaking in schools and colleges, very useful as I am attending a debate run by the North Leamington 6th Form next week and an interesting event yesterday on affordable housing, a particular challenge for young people in Warwick & Leamington. The guest speaker Theresa McDermot from Shelter told us, “The most progress over the past few years on housing has been made by the Liberal Democrats.”

I attended a few debates, the Trident debate I have already commented on and of course the Leaders Speech this afternoon. I felt this was the best speech I have heard Ming give as leader, he seemed a lot more relaxed than he appeared in Brighton in September and I felt the message was tighter and more reflective of the way in which our policies hang together. As I was sitting in a prime location I can be spotted along with Pat Wreford-Bush and Cllr Alan Boad from Leamington in the audience on the BBC coverage.

Of course it wouldn’t be a conference without a chance to meet colleagues from around the country in the bar and after spending some of the evening with Mike Dixon and his family, who are from the area I grew up in, I woke with a slight fuzzy head. Some would say I got off lightly.

So its now full steam ahead for the District Council elections in May.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Trident Debate

Saturday Morning of the Spring Conference brought the much discussed debate on Trident.

The current Trident System has 20 years life left in it and the decision as to whether we replace Trident is not needed until 2014. In 2010 there is the next round of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Talks. Tony Blair’s New Labour party want to take the decision to replace Trident now.

This has been an emotive issue within the party and the debate was well argued from all sides. Now I am no great fan of Nuclear Weapons and though I was willing to be persuaded to vote against the motion by the debate, in the end I voted along with the majority of delegates in favour of the motion as I felt it was the best policy for the situation we are in now!

My three core reasons for supporting this motion are;

1/ We would cut our weapons by 50% now, demonstrating our commitment to the non-proliferation treaty.

2/ It keeps us at the negotiation table in the 2010 talks, which presents our best chance to be able to influence the outcome.

3/ Allows us to make the decision when it needs to be made in 2014.

It is important to note that Liberal Democrat MP's will vote against Labours position of replacing Trident Now! Doing so just so it can be part of Blair’s Legacy is a poor excuse in my book.

The fact that we can debate these issues openly in conference is one of the things that marks us out as being different than the other parties, where in recent years open debate has been discouraged.

Friday, March 02, 2007

We can cut Crime.

I had time to settle in before attending a briefing from Chris Rennard and the Parliamentary Candidates Association and then onto the ‘We can cut Crime’ rally in the evening.

The Rally was hosted by Nick Clegg our shadow Home Affairs Spokesperson.

It is shocking that 98% of young men coming out of prison go on to offend again. Clearly our current policy of simply locking up offenders is not working and it is the poorest communities suffer most from crime.

Yet in Liberal Democrat run cities and districts across the country we are cutting crime through a series of community initiatives that tackle specific issues at a local level. Baroness Scott presented a film she had made featuring some of these initiatives. In Watford, Vale of White Horse, Newcastle and in Liverpool for example where alley gating has cut crime by placing gates to back alleys across the city, incidentally the gates are manufactured by an organisation as part of a drug rehab project.

Nick outlined the long catalogue of Home Office failures and launched a new web site www.homeofficewatch.com I believe it is vital that we understand what is happening to our Home Office, as this is the department that is supposed to take care of many services that affect us, such as the Police and law & order.

Crime is one of the themes of this conference so I am sure there will be more on this in the next couple of days.

To get really lost you need SatNav!

I got badly lost on my way to the Lib-Dem conference in Harrogate this morning. My SatNav crashed. It did not crash straight away of course, no it was fine all the way to the York turning and having worked on a project in the town for 6 weeks last year I was familiar with most of the journey.

It was not even phased by the new bit of the A1(M), happily showing me skimming over ploughed fields at 70MPH. As soon as I really needed it, it crashed. By the time I pulled over to reboot it (technical term which means switching it off and then back on again, sometimes involving removal of batteries) I was way off my route. The SatNav then took me down obscure country roads to turn round, before taking me to the safety of the conference centre.

Still it was a nice early spring day and the scenery in this part of the world is stunning so I did not mind too much.