Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jesse Jackson - Why we MUST listen to him!

I am listening to Today in Westminster - if you get a chance do listen again. I have just heard Jesse Jackson give one of the most eloquent rebuttals of this government's totally misguided approach to youth crime. He talked of children growing up in the light or in the dark. He reminded us of how plants denied light do not develop properly - he chastised this country saying our approach to children was to "lock them up not lift them up". What a breath of fresh air.

Margaret Moran MP - make the most of it.........

This morning I boarded the train at Leagrave - a little further North than Luton but not as far North as the arctic wastes of Bedford. Door to door when I travelled to 25 The North Colonnade from Bedford it was 61.1 door to door, having moved to Luton, it is 40 miles exactly (courtesy of AA Route finder!).

Occasionally I stay over in London with friends in North London - then it takes me exactly the same time to get to work despite being 34 miles closer! Now, courtesy of AA Route finder, I discover that if my journey took me to Westminster instead of Canary Wharf, it would be 5 miles less - a mere 35 miles! The fast train from Luton is only 23 minutes, even faster on a good day when it is the right kind of leaves and snow........on such a good day it is possible for me to get door to door in 1 hour and 8 minutes - that means an hour was I to be heading for Westminster.

Now, I am well aware that our hardpressed MPs do occasionally find themselves sitting late in Westminster. I do sympathise, I occasionally find myself sitting late in Westminster, (usually in a local hostelry after FPC ;-)) but unless ridiculously late, I manage to jump on a late night train back to Luton and hop into a cab. Sometimes I have been known to arrive home at 2.30 and leave to return 5 hours later..........But, I agree, not a good idea. And if I am working I am well within my rights to expect my employer to pay for me to stay over in a hotel. As Kelvin Hopkins apparently does, as his fellow Luton MP clearly does not.

So....hat tip to Duncan Borrowman for picking this story up. Having stood against Kelvin Hopkins in the 2005 elections, I know him to be a man of integrity. I may not agree with him on everything, but as I said to the people of Luton North on the night of the elections, they may not have elected a Lib Dem, but they got the next best thing given his record of joining us in the lobbies! Margaret Moran, it appears, is a totally different kettle of fish. She is now my MP and I have already discovered how reluctant she is to engage with us unwashed masses of Luton South. She appears to be universally despised - even my apolitical mum hasn't a good word to say for her. I experienced for myself her obsession with the photo opportunity. Arriving late for the photo call with Operation Black Vote in the last election she was furious that the filming/photos had taken place without her. Clearly her interest was in image and spin, no evidence of any commitment whatsoever to listening to the concerns of the BME community.

So, I was not surprised to hear that she was unable to manage the short train journey from Luton to Westminster - perhaps that is because she spends so little time in Luton, who knows. Some time in the next 15 months we will have an opportunity to show erstwhile Blair babe Ms Moran what the people of Luton South make of her cavalier and self serving attitude.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Political Betting - Male Bastionism at its best?

Last night I popped in to the Political Betting 5 year birthday party at the NLC. I dragged along a pal from Northern Ireland, haven't had chance to catch up with her yet to see what she made of it! But - much as I shout the odds about poor representation within our party - last night was truly shocking. Apart from us and Mike Smithson's wife Jackie there were only two other women there. The room was packed - but they were virtually all men, virtually all white and virtually all Tory men at that! One of them helpfully pointed out that the reason was that women generally were not interested in politics or betting............ hmmmmmm........probably far better tucked up at home with their knitting and nothing to worry their pretty little heads eh?!

But it was and is depressing - whilst we have made strides in terms of better representation in parliament, in terms of gender, ethnicity etc., we still have such a hill to climb. Men, God luv'em, still dominate political debate at every level. I was left wondering if we are banging our heads against a titanium wall - or if we just have to content ourselves that progress will likely mirror that of the ambitious stalagmite's quest to reach the roof of the cave.

That said, all credit to Mike for conceiving of and developing such an important and enlightening resource for all those of us who really appreciate his insightful and truly spinfree analysis.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

150 Lib Dem MPs......OK Guys - What's the Strategy?

I read Karin Robinson's article on LDV with interest, coming to it late having been away this weekend. We all know, however uncomfortable, it is always essential to listen to how outsiders see us. Cosy consensus is an inevitable default position when we only ever talk to ourselves. I found it particularly pertinent as I have driven back from the South West today mulling over the challenge we face if we are truly to make the breakthrough we all yearn for in British politics.

Nick Clegg took over the leadership with a vision for 150 Lib Dem MP's - Karin accuses us of a paucity of ambition - 150? No way..........if we really want to see transformation in this country I agree, we have to aim higher, we have to talk and think big. We will never achieve any of our goals if we languish in 3rd place. Our policies are the only ones that can truly transform this country, if I didn't believe that, if you didn't believe that, what on earth would we be doing in the Lib Dems?! We would be accepting the dodgy advice of the n'erdowells languishing in the comments pages of Political Betting who think we would be better off defecting to the Tories and Labour!

If all those who said they would vote for us thought we really had a chance and did so, there is no doubt we would be in power within two general elections. People are crying out for change, frankly, with the moral high ground Vince has taken for us on the economy, we should all be out there with our crampons and ropes to take the rest.

At the moment we have a target but from where I sit, no strategy. It is the strategy we need pretty damn quick. The fact is we do have people in the party who have that strategy, I spent yesterday speaking to one of them. The problem is, if as a party we are to embrace that strategy we have to loose our grip on outdated, stale and tired campaigning. We have to dump the mantra "but we've always done it this way and its always worked and anyway the Tories are copying us so it must be right", we have to be ready to obey Nick's injunction - risky and radical........not only in terms of policy, but perhaps more importantly - strategy.

The results of Labour's mismanagement is leading to total despair and ruin for so many. In particular the life chances of our young people are being blighted - 40% of the unemployed are 16-24. People are losing their livelihoods, their homes, are in mental distress and in some cases are taking their lives. Change is not an option it is an imperative. And crocodile tears apologist Cameron has absolutely NO answers. We do, we can, we will!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time to "occupy" the green benches!

I was a little disgusted by the Tories attempt to block the UK Youth Parliament from holding their annual conference within the hallowed halls. Fair enough to strut their stuff in the Lords, but let a load of YOUNG PEOPLE loose in the commons? Clearly totally out of keeping with respectable society.

Well, I for one welcome this idea. Having had some involvement with them, I always enjoyed the annual gatherings - what an encouragement to see so many young people excited and enthused about politics! And I well recall banging on about the fact that given parliament was in recess at the time it seemed a perfect opportunity to take over the green benches.

We all have a responsibility to promote democratic engagement in this country, if this can be enhanced by allowing our young people to convene in parliament........why should anyone object?.......unless of course they are scared witless......

Time to "occupy" the green benches!

Monday, March 09, 2009

My "Best Side"?!

I was rather amused to get an email from a pal today saying he was sending me a copy of a pic he took of me on the podium at conference - think he was trying to tell me something?!

Monday, March 02, 2009


If you do nothing else this week, do listen to Start the Week with the ubiquitous Andrew Marr.

Richard Wilkinson makes a strong argument for addressing inequality. He believes that more equal societies produce better health and happiness for all of us, not just the poor. He describes how improving the distribution of wealth contributes to lower crime rates, lower disease rates and less anxiety about status. When ever will we get it?

Tory Turmoil AGAIN!!!!

Oh dear......what a disaster............Bedford Tories worried due to inquiry into Ashcroft funding. Beds on Sunday report that a Tory insider said:

"We are very concerned about this development, as we could be forced to give back some of the money we have received in donations.

"Without these funds our whole borough unitary election campaign could be placed in jeopardy and we may even have to leave our brand new campaign offices in Hassett Street.

"This news could not have come at a worse time, after all the divisions and infighting we have had to endure locally over the past few months.

"It's no wonder people are concerned that we could end up in third place behind the Liberal Democrats at the next General Election"

Are you a voting rep? I need your help!

I like a challenge..........I also like a conference where we debate the really meaty issues, that we are not "dumbed down" to save anyone getting their noses pushed out of joint. Now, as those of you who know me know, I am not one to shirk difficult issues. So, I am hoping to submit an emergency motion on Royal Mail tomorrow. But I need your support. If you agree with the text below, want to give Brown a bloody nose and also happen to be a voting rep for conference - please email me ( with your membership number and local party. If you don't agree, no probs. Still look forward to seeing you at conference!

Royal Mail

Conference regrets that:

Gordon Brown has been able to find in the region of £1.3 trillion to bail out the private sector banks but is apparently unable to find the £1.5 billion necessary to invest in public sector Royal Mail.
The government is happy to subsidise private companies providing public services such as the rail companies, but unwilling to do the same for Royal Mail.

Conference notes that:

Almost 90% of the public oppose the privatisation of Royal Mail.
That other public services such as the police and social services are not expected to “break even” and are funded almost exclusively from the public purse.

Conference is concerned that:

· Even part privatisation will create a situation in which the private sector takes the profitable part of the operation and leaves the tax payer to take care of the rest
· The result of privatisation will be to create postal service black holes as the private sector cuts services to remote and areas that are difficult to access

Conference calls for:

The government to recognise the vital public service role of the Royal Mail and to invest at a level to enable it to operate effectively.
To ensure that there is a level playing field for Royal Mail and that legislation is reviewed in order to enable them to compete in a fair market, without one hand tied behind their back.