Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
"I currently find myself staring down the barrel of £18,000 worth of debt; £13k student loan and the rest in overdrafts, credit cards and bills. I, like many my age, have consigned myself to a lifetime of debt in an almost fatalistic fashion; without the means to own anything of real value privately and with a collapsing economy there seems little reason to care. Despite having an excellent credit rating still I cannot help but toy with the idea of declaring myself bankrupt as to allow myself a clean slate for my future. Again, many my age also feel like they have been forced into this situation. We are products of our time; with little depth to the world past the consumerist façade we find ourselves living in and stuck in a quagmire of insurmountable debt that we will realistically never lose there is little hope left for the generation that will soon be in charge."
The position many young people find themselves in, particularly those who are most vulnerable, arises from a number of reasons. Not least that the benefits system often leaves them destitute and unable to meet even their most basic needs. But that is not the whole story as the quote from the young person above indicates. Our young people are growing up in a very different landscape, certainly from the one I did. Not only has consumer choice exploded, but so also has the availability of credit. Young people are starting out in life often saddled with student debt, in a housing market that virtually excludes them and a looming pension crisis. In such a climate, credit (which research shows many young people do not regard as debt so long as they pay their minimum payment), appears a seductive solution. Centrepoint (the youth homelessness charity) published a report a couple of years ago "Too much too young" criticising the targeting of young people with credit offers, of most concern was that a significant number of young people had been targeted after they became homeless and were living in hostels. And the peer pressure young people face also contributes to their need to be seen to be wearing the "right" trainers for example, regardless of other financial commitments.
A couple of years ago I was at a Foyer in East London, involved in a session on money management. I had said how much I resented buying something and then going into the shop a couple of weeks later to see the same item reduced. One of the young women said that didn't bother her, when I asked why she said "because I would have had it first".
The reasons for the credit crunch are multiple, but no-one can surely deny that an I want it and I want it now - throwaway consumerism contributes to over indebtedness. I am old enough to remember the days when a designer label was something you only saw in Vogue and shops had at most 4 changes of clothes collections a year - now it is every couple of weeks!
In my work on the FSA Financial Capability Strategy, we are training those who work with young people to support them to be more financially capable. Like trying to deal with teenage pregnancy the greatest challenge is that of changing behaviour, you can know everything, have the skills to do everything, know why you should....but if that doesn't result in behavioural change it is meaningless.
His "Faith Foundation" launched today in New York is his contribution to bringing the world's religions together. I don't object to the idea particularly, but I am dumbstruck that the man doesn't seem to see the irony? Perhaps such a initiative headed up by someone like Martin Luther King or Ghandi or Mother Teresa may have had some integrity - but a war criminal? A man who has been a major contributer to fuelling discontent and disaffection in much of the Muslim world? As I commented when he got his Middle East envoy job, it's like putting Osama bin Laden in charge of airport security.
Perhaps if his attempts at promoting religious unity and world peace were accompanied with a smidgen of humility and a dollop of remorse they would strike more of a chord. As it is..............
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Now, by bringing up the subject of the relationship between faith and politics I am no doubt going to get the likes of Laurence B into a lather. But so be it. As Jim Wallis pointed out, many of the great movements that have changed the world and changed politics have their roots in religion. Yes, religion can rightly on occasions be be blamed for conflict and evil, but it has also been a force for good. The same may be said about atheistic belief systems such as Communism, though no doubt there would be some debate about the Communist contribution for good. Arguments that religion and politics don't mix are meaningless to those who believe they do, which is why I applaud the work Jim and others are doing to challenge the religious right in the States. As Desmond Tutu says "I wonder which bible people are reading when they say religion and politics don't mix". I have no truck with those of faith who think it is purely personal and should have no impact on what they do to try to make a difference to the lives of others.
Jim Wallis believes that the obsession with abortion and gay marriage by the religious right has totally skewed the message of the gospel. As he says, Jesus said nothing at all about homosexuality but an awful lot about poverty and justice. Similarly he criticises the position on abortion, as he points out, despite the rhetoric, abortion rates have remained steady, dropping slightly under Clinton and actually rising slightly under Bush. He argues that is the result of social policy and that the emphasis should be on reducing the number of abortions, not on criminalising abortion. He decries the polarisation of the debate between pro life and pro choice - a topic to which I will return (having not had time to join in the abortion debate last week).
His challenge to the church is about taking the issues of poverty and justice seriously and asserts that politics is groping to find solutions to some of these great world issues. His position is that faith has been and can be a catalyst for action, reminding us of former campaigns against slavery, child labour, the Civil Rights movement in the US and Jubilee 2000. He told us that the origin of the "alter call" popular in so many evangelical churches, was the call to sign up for the anti-slavery campaign.
I applaud him for what he is doing and his contribution to changing things in US politics, to quote from his book "We have now entered the post Religious-Right era. That doesn't mean the Religious Right is dead, or won't still be an influence in Republican party politics. But its "era", the peak of its influence and its monopoly over faith and politics are now gone. Although religion has been given a negative image in the last few decades, the years ahead may be surprisingly shaped by a dynamic and more progressive faith that helps make needed social change possible. I have always been a progressive evangelical. "Progressive evangelical" has seemed to be a misnomer in recent years, but now it is becoming a movement."
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I don't accept that most of the criticism has come from armchair critics, but there has to be consideration of the alienation created by some of the campaign techniques. I have heard from a couple of people, one of whom is one of the best campaigners we have, who were very disturbed that whilst in no way competing with Labour, some of our literature in the campaign appeared to pander to anti immigrant sentiment. I trust this won't happen again.
I do accept a lot of the points Chris makes though, not least that not to have fought hard would have attracted further criticism of the party, but sometime we do have to consider the changed landscape and how we should respond to it.
I also acknowledge his points about the successes we have had (and all credit to him!) BUT that doesn't answer the point I made about a resurgent Tory party. Let's not forget this is their first by election victory in 30 years - if they maintain their momentum the world is a different place isn't it?
One issue Chris doesn't respond to is that of PR. Next year in the European elections we have another opportunity to develop our techniques in PR elections. Sadly these elections are left to the regions to fund and fight - yet the outcome will have a wider impact than just regional - this after all is likely to be the last national election pre the next General Election.
Yes, the Tories have learned from us bigtime - the difference being they have copied the packaging with none of the substance. Sadly, in a passive consumer age we are dealing with a situation where people don't often get beyond the packaging before it is too late. That is my real fear with what is happening and why I believe we must learn and learn fast, from the results of the past few weeks.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Now, at the risk of upsetting the boys, I do think there is a gender issue. In my experience men apply for jobs whether or not they think they can do them, women tend to only apply for jobs they know they can do. So, Gordon has taken on a job, maybe arrogantly believing he can do it, but without the package to deliver. But, I do believe he is motivated by a sense of wanting to tackle poverty and injustice. In which case perhaps it is time to sacrifice his own personal ambition for the greater good. But..........I am not convinced, despite the events of the last few weeks, he can see that.
Friday, May 23, 2008
What happened last night demonstrates that people are hungry for change, the innate optimism of the people believes that any change has to be better. The perennial cry of "you're all the same" is replaced with "well anyone's better than that lot". So the natural inclination is to look to who has the most chance of delivering change. When the Tories were all over the place (and let's not forget, it was only last summer Cameron was really shaky) we did well, now we have a different animal to contend with.
So, what to do? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to return to my "Risk" analysis. If you have a small army the stupidest thing to do is to try and take over the world - it ain't gonna happen! But, if you are prepared to consolidate, to lose some battles for the sake of greater gain elsewhere, to play a long game, to identify and exploit your opponent's weaknesses...........
I hope this will push us in the direction of really taking some chances, of living up to the promise of a radical alternative and to have a far more distinctive message. Chides of Cameronlite or Blairlite are very unfair on Nick Clegg, but until and unless the electorate understand what distinguishes us from the other two Tory parties, we are in danger of having reached our high watermark. I applaud James Graham's optimism, I want to believe him, but at the moment I need convincing that his analysis is sound.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I made my views clear on Crewe and Nantwich selection and they apply here. If we think a candidate isn''t good enough why on earth do we select them???? But, the other interesting issue here is that at a time when we are banging on about a more representative party we have yet again missed a trick. Whilst Cameron et al are cynically ensuring they have women and BME candidates even in the most unlikely places (and I say cynically because I know from inside that this is motivated by image rather than a real commitment to diversity), we are yet again missing a trick. Are we really saying we have no women approved candidates able to cut the mustard in a by election? I can't believe that.
So yet again we will have dissent in the party which could so easily have be avoided. Let's get these by elections out of the way and then I will say what I really think!
The news (hat tip to Darrell) this week that he has for the fourth time voted with the minority of his party perhaps is an indication that eventually (perhaps when he has to actually get some policies down on paper) there are likely to surface some real tensions between him and the mainstream. At the moment we are all distracted with the car crash that is the Brown government, but as some point the Tories will have to say what it is they stand for - and my hunch is - liberalism it ain't!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Nick looked and sounded incredibly fresh and upbeat following what must have been a gruelling few weeks. He was asked a range of interesting questions, but for me what was music to my ears was his response to a question from Paul Walter on electoral reform. He reminded us that this was one of Labour's promises in 1997 that had not materialised. Nick's response was that he wasn't about to do deals with a weak Labour Party in order to achieve that reform, nor did he have any appetite for doing deals with the Tories, his view, that there was "little merit in playing footsie with either party" - glad to hear it Nick!
As for the rest of the interview, more later!
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Here is a copy of his article, published in The Nation tomorrow:
We now have word that Tony Blair, envoy of the Middle East Quartet (the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel intend to organize yet another peace conference, this time in Berlin in June. It is hard to believe that after the long string of failed peace initiatives, stretching back at least to the Madrid conference of 1991, diplomats are recycling these failures without seemingly having a clue as to why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even more hopeless today than before these peace exercises first got under way.
The scandal of the international community's impotence in resolving one of history's longest bloodlettings is that it knows what the problem is but does not have the courage to speak the truth, much less deal with it. The peace conference in Germany will suffer from the same gutlessness that has marked all previous efforts. It will deal with everything except the problem primarily responsible for the impasse. That problem is that for all the sins attributable to the Palestinians--and they are legion, including inept and corrupt leadership, failed institution-building and the murderous violence of rejectionist groups--there is no prospect for a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, primarily because Israel's various governments, from 1967 until today, have never had the intention of allowing such a state to come into being.
It would be one thing if Israeli governments had insisted on delaying a Palestinian state until certain security concerns had been dealt with. But no government serious about a two-state solution to the conflict would have pursued, without letup, the theft and fragmentation of Palestinian lands, which even a child understands makes Palestinian statehood impossible.
Given the overwhelming disproportion of power between the occupier and the occupied, it is hardly surprising that Israeli governments and their military and security establishments found it difficult to resist the acquisition of Palestinian land. What is astounding is that the international community, pretending to believe Israel 's claim that it is the victim and its occupied subjects the aggressors, has allowed this devastating dispossession to continue and the law of the jungle to prevail.
As long as Israel knows that by delaying the peace process it buys time to create facts on the ground, and that the international community will continue to indulge Israel's pretense that its desire for a two-state solution is being frustrated by the Palestinians, no new peace initiative can succeed, and the dispossession of the Palestinian people will indeed become irreversible.
There can be no greater delusion on the part of Western countries weighed down by guilt about the Holocaust than the belief that accommodating such an outcome would be an act of friendship to the Jewish people. The abandonment of the Palestinians now is surely not an atonement for the abandonment of European Jews seventy years ago, nor will it serve the security of the State of Israel and its people.
John Vinocur of the New York Times recently suggested that the virtually unqualified declarations of support for Israel by Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are "at a minimum an attempt to seek Israeli moderation by means of public assurances with this tacit subtext: these days, the European Union is not, or is no longer, its reflexive antagonist." But the expectation that uncritical Western support of Israel would lead to greater Israeli moderation and greater willingness to take risks for peace is blatantly contradicted by the conflict's history.
Time and again, this history has shown that the less opposition Israel encounters from its friends in the West for its dispossession of the Palestinians, the more uncompromising its behavior. Indeed, soon after Sarkozy's and Merkel's expressions of eternal solidarity, Israel 's Ehud Olmert approved massive new construction in East Jerusalem--authorizing housing projects that had been frozen for years by previous governments because of their destructive impact on the possibility of a peace agreement--as well as continued expansion of Israel 's settlements. And Olmert's defense minister, Ehud Barak, declared shortly after Merkel's departure that he will remove only a token number of the more than 500 checkpoints and roadblocks that Israel has repeatedly promised, and just as repeatedly failed, to dismantle. That announcement shattered whatever hope Palestinians may have had for recovery of their economy, as a consequence of $7 billion in new aid promised by international donors in December. In these circumstances, the international donor community will not pour good money after bad, as they so often have in the past.
What is required of statesmen is not more peace conferences or clever adjustments to previous peace formulations but the moral and political courage to end their collaboration with the massive hoax the peace process has been turned into. Of course, Palestinian violence must be condemned and stopped, particularly when it targets civilians. But is it not utterly disingenuous to pretend that Israel 's occupation--maintained by IDF-manned checkpoints and barricades, helicopter gunships, jet fighters, targeted assassinations and military incursions, not to speak of the massive theft of Palestinian lands--is not an exercise in continuous and unrelenting violence against more than 3 million Palestinian civilians? If Israel were to renounce violence, could the occupation last even one day?
Israel's designs on the West Bank are not much different from the designs of the Arab forces that attacked the Jewish state in 1948--the nullification of the international community's partition resolution of 1947. Short of addressing the problem by its right name--something that is of an entirely different order than hollow statements that "settlements do not advance peace"--and taking effective collective action to end a colonial enterprise that disgraces what began as a noble Jewish national liberation struggle, further peace conferences, no matter how well intentioned, make their participants accessories to one of the longest and cruelest deceptions in the annals of international diplomacy.
Yes, of course, in a soundbite, instant gratification age, messages need to be sharp and memorable. But in my humble opinion the problem Labour has is that the message they are trying to convey (change for the better) is discordant with the reality (more of the same tired old government). The Tory's message is very simple and exactly the same - change for the better. The advantage they have is that, despite not a shred of evidence that their change would be for the better, they certainly offer change! Enough water has passed under the bridge in the last 11 years for people to forget the dying days of John Major's government and Cameron's great gift to be able to speak without saying anything, means that the electorate may be forgiven for believing there is a chance his Tory government will be different from the last one. After all, they now care for the poor don't they?
So, bring in the spinners, buy in the marketing consultants, come up with a new message if you must, but it will be totally useless if that message is totally at odds with the reality on the ground.
One such person is David Swanson from After Downing Street where you can read his interesting analysis.
Frankly he looked terrible, very uncomfortable, a sense of a deep underlying misery. He is a man on the ropes, promising to fight but his body language says quite the opposite. I am someone who really believes in the power of humour when you are under attack, it disarms and diffuses the situation and gives you a chink to get your counter attack in. There was none of this, all Brown did was reinforce the image of himself as a dour man who had lost control.
He confessed to having made a mistake over the 10p rate, but said the government were intervening locally and internationally to help the economic problems around the price of food, petrol and housing. He said that he would intervene whilst the Tories would walk away. He argued that Britain was better prepared because of his sound management of the economy in the past. He admitted that he had allowed speculation about the General Election to go on too long. Andrew Marr challenged him that he was too obsessed with the fine detail and consequently had no big picture. His argument was that he was responding to a desire for fairness.
On Boris - he wished him well and congratulated him but questioned where was the substance. He assured us that he would be taking the fight to Tories, for the sake of "hard working families". He questioned whether the party had really changed, where was the substance, where were the policies?
On the prospect of a challenge to his leadership he insisted that it was not there, he did not accept he may not be the right man to lead and was not prepared to step aside. He acknowledged that he was a more private person, but he wanted to solve the country's problems, he felt our pain, understood our problems -he was the right person to do it. So he plans to be getting out more with his clear plan.
AM suggested he was seen as a bit strange, not like other people, a workaholic. Again Brown argued that he had an ordinary background that mean he understands people hurting and their worries. He was not the same as Blair but he was committed to better opportunities for hard working families.
He believed that leadership was tested in the worst of times and he was resolute and determined enough to face the test and build a stronger and fairer country.
When challenged on the 42 days detention he insisted this was the "right thing for the country" but he was someone committed to defending civil liberties.
So, some very contradictory comments. Commitment to opportunity and fairness and helping people in need, but is he really telling us that a man of such intellect and economic capability never understood the consequences of the removal of the 10p rate - even after Ming had pointed out the problem? Telling us he is listening, except of course in those extraordinary (OK everyday) circumstances when he knows what is right for us - 42 day detention for example. And all the chat about "hard working families" what about those who are not part of a family?
But I find myself with a dilemma, do I really want Brown to fall over completely and allow another Tory government in? With the smoke, mirrors and spin of the Tory party reluctant to come up with a single policy - no sorry - one policy on inheritance tax for the very rich - would a future Tory government really be any different from the last one? Maybe the silver lining of a Boris mayoralty will be that we begin to get a feel for the sort of policy direction a future Tory party would be heading in............but then again, maybe not! Brown is right on this, if nothing else, that the Tories lack substance, but as we have seen in the last few days, that is in no way an impediment to electoral success! If a BNP candidate can get elected merely on the basis of "Grown Up Politics" and "putting the needs of people first", Brown may be in a position of King Canute telling the waves to stop, but, unlike Canute, having miscalculated the tide!
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
Boris has clearly demonstrated his credentials, racist, classist (is there such a thing?!), homophobic. Apparently at the LGBT hustings he said ....L..G..B..T is it? Yes yes I am all in favour of it! Right, this is the man who greeted civil partnerships by suggesting that next we would be supporting the union of 3 men and a dog. Now don't get me wrong. He is a character, I enjoy reading him, but he has NONE of the qualities necessary to run anything, let alone a city like London!
So, fasten your seatbelts.............remember, he will also be in charge in the run up to the Olympics......what was that about the last one to leave switching off the lights?
At the other end of the scale was my dear son Ravi. Given our passing like ships in the night over the past week, this evening was the first chance I got to chat to him about his trip to help in..........let's not say where, but somewhere where help was needed! I was in Norwich when I got a text from him saying "don't ever ask me to do this again!" Now Ravi was perfectly happy to help me delivering when he was a little boy, but like most little boys he sadly grew out of it. Anyway, he ended up going to another region to help for a couple of days - the first time for probably 10 years he has done anything useful (in political terms of course!) Sadly the experience appears to have ruined him for helping me next year.
He was not impressed with the organisational skills of our party, and also, unfortunately ended up getting sent to deliver in a white housing estate, where apparently everyone stared at him. Most disturbing was when it was pouring with rain and he asked someone where the nearest bus shelter was. The person he asked was extremely aggressive and swore at him, the bus shelter it turned out was only a few hundred yards away.
The following day he was asked to go back to the same estate, he tried to explain that he had felt the people there were quite racist in their attitude to him, to which the response was "you're a big lad, you can look after yourself". He came home completely disillusioned. He said he couldn't vote for another party because his views are clearly liberal, but he didn't know why he would vote for us. He had also had no thanks for his voluntary efforts and felt completely unappreciated. So, if he feels like this, how many other potential canvassers, deliverers, helpers, candidates, have left this campaign feeling the same way?
We have some great examples of good practice across the country, but it is patchy. We have done OK this evening, but we must bite the bullet and recognise that in some areas we frankly have to get a grip. Or maybe I am being unreasonable?
And there have been times over the last 11 years when I have surprisingly found myself applauding various Tories as they tore into Labour, over Iraq in particular. That nice Mr Clarke and sharp Mr Rifkind.
But today has brought back all those horrid memories of 18 years of Tory rule. The arrogance, pomposity, sneering of a political class who generally believe they are the rightful heirs to the ruling classes and we serfs should know our place. OK, they have learned some lessons from Mr Blair about packaging and spin - but scratch the surface and underneath are the same attitudes that have always permeated the party. A little of the gilding came off today. To be honest they remind me of those Dr Whoish creatures who, having successfully masqueraded as normal human beings and infiltrated human society, suddenly metamorphosises into monsters.........you have been warned!
Nick Clegg talked today of the problem of the Labour Party having lost touch with their values. With the Tories I wonder if it is not that they have lost touch with their core values, but they have developed a rather cunning technique to hide them from the naked eye? Rather as the BNP candidate on the radio today who admitted he had won his seat by promising nothing and with no declared policies (except "grown up politics" ah yes, the BNP are very good at that!) the Tories are relying on the same wheeze. By suddenly discovering their concern for the poor and their opposition to the cut in the 10p rate, with NO PROMISE to replace it, they have pulled the wool over countless thousands of eyes. Unable at this stage to say whether or how they would replace it, they are more than happy to say whether or how they would cut inheritance tax - funny that.
Funny, I had forgotten just how much I loathe the Tories, looks like the country did too.
Clearly, Elizabeth Shenton is an excellent and formidable candidate. And of course it is not unusual for sitting PPC's to be ousted in the event of a byelection, that after all is how Simon Hughes became the candidate in Bermondsey. But, the process should be seen to be transparent and fair shouldn't it? When I was selected for Luton North there was no caveat that in the event of a byelection I may find myself ousted. Maybe Marc Godwin was also unaware and I am sure if any of us had found ourselves in that position we would have been equally miffed.
So, perhaps we need an equivalent of a list system. Anyone who has been through the approval process will know there is no distinction on the quality of candidates. You either pass, pass with a recommendation for further training, fail with the opportunity of doing training and trying again, or fail completely. This results in the kind of problem we now have. I don't buy Marc's complaint that he failed to be shortlisted because the party wanted an attractive woman, (heavens if that were the case why are our candidates still so predominantly white men - some far from attractive (!)?) but if, as in an interview for a job, he knew that he hadn't reached the standard expected for a target or byelection candidate, it would have been a less bitter pill for him to swallow.
My initial thoughts are as follows........firstly, can we please start thinking about a candidate for next time now, instead of scrabbling around at the last minute? We do it in target parliamentary seats, why not London? With a prospective candidate in post, a London Spokesperson could spend the next term building support, challenging the incumbent, developing workable and robust policies.
Secondly, can we have a candidate who has a commitment to and an understanding of, our party? Brian was a reasonably good candidate, extremely good on crime, but I was rather disappointed with some of his attitudes, the "I am not a politician" mantra, subtext "politicians are dreadful people". If you are not a politician what are you doing standing for a political position? Also his comment that he "would not toe the party line" er........what's the point of being in a party then, why didn't he stand as an independent? Now that is not to say that there may not be occasions where he disagrees fundamentally with a position and takes a stand, but stating it as a kind of badge of honour demonstrates to me his lack of understanding, as did apparently making up policy on the hoof, particularly policy that would have an impact on areas outside London, without consultation. It was then left to Simon Hughes to hint about second preferences, whilst Brian refused to say. Given the potentially enormous influence second preferences will have, frankly whatever my doubts about another Ken term, a Boris term is truly terrifying! All of this may just be down to his lack of experience and involvement in the party, but as a party should we not take some responsibility for ensuring that our candidates are fully trained, briefed and properly advised?
Thirdly, can we do some thinking about how we ensure the electorate understand voting systems? Given that some 38% of people have said that they would vote for us if they thought their vote would count, there are many who clearly haven't understood that message, otherwise our first preferences would surely be far higher?
Other ideas, or is it just me that thinks we need to learn some lessons here?
Well, it was clearly going to be a Lib Dem squeeze night. People are fed up with Labour and given our unfair voting system, the clearest way to send a message was voting Tory. I for one was surprised at the number of soft Tories I encountered this time, many who had always voted Tory but now weren't so sure. So it isn't all sweetness and light and I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere along the Tory road of the next couple of years the bubble begins to burst. As I have already pointed out, look on the Tory website, if you find a policy cunningly hidden in some dark corner, please let me know!
But, as ever, what this highlighted for me was our need as a party to be more disciplined, more organised and more evangelistic. Now being as discipline and organisation could not be seen to be my strong points.......I am one of those who needs help in this department!
Where we have lost ground it has often been as a result of internal squabbles, poor candidates who sometimes also get elected (!) very local issues and poor organisation at a local level. Complacency (often a complaint levelled at the Labour Party in their heartlands) can sometimes be a problem for us too. Councillors who are trying to get their long service award, "60 years if it kills me!" unable and unwilling to encourage and nurture new talent. Any organisation that doesn't develop will die, as the saying goes, change is the only sign of life.
So, my verdict? It was OK. Even if we had lost a few more seats it would still have been OK. To use my done to death Risk metaphor. It's no good trying to take over the world all in one go, especially with a miniscule army! We need to consolidate. Nick Clegg needs more time to find his feet. We need to do what he urged at hustings across the land last year, namely become a truly radical anti-establishment party and that means taking risks and in some cases losing ground to gain in the long run. After all, we are all in it to win it aren't we?
One thing I have learned is that you don't get flogged quite so hard in other areas as wot u do in Bedford! Our taskmasters have us up at 5am with not so much as a bowl of porridge.....so I was relieved to learn that I didn't need to get to St Albans until 7.30. This worked well, as it broke my journey to Southend, where I learned they do not have to knock up until 2 minutes before the close of poll!
I am disappointed that we didn't make any gains in Brentwood.They have a young and enthusiastic team and deserve to do well. I am convinced they will do so in the future. But thrilled to hear the news from Southend, winning 2 seats in spite of their laid back approach to knocking up til close of poll.......(only teasing!)
So now anxiously waiting to see what happens elsewhere across the region.