Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Information about Linda Jack 4 PCC

This morning a voter in Bedfordshire has kindly informed me that the BBC has been directing those wanting to learn about their PCC candidates to this page. This is my personal blog and has nothing to do with my candidacy for PCC - apologies to anyone who has ended up here in error. I have informed the BBC of the mistake, in the mean time you can visit my PPC website here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I'm a Celebrity - So my Constituents can go Hang for a few Weeks....

The news that my infamous MP had hotfooted it to the jungle hit me between the bleary eyes at some point during the Today programme this morning. A few minutes later I had ITV Daybreak on the phone, asking if I could come on the programme to talk about it tomorrow - swiftly followed by the BBC and Sky. Unfortunately I had to tell them I am currently the PCC candidate for Bedfordshire, which meant they all dropped me like a hot potato. 

So, I am forced to resort to my blog. Of course the last time I resorted to my blog to take on Ms Dorries she contacted a dear friend and told him she was going to sue me. I confess my response was, bring it on. The fact is that she apparently lives under the misapprehension that she is "Teflon Woman" that nothing she says or does will have any consequence. She got away with lying to her constituents (admitting she pretended she was in the constituency when she was apparently in her "First Home" in the Cotswolds), and allegedly fiddling her expenses (apparently despite a police investigation the CPS didn't want to prosecute - Denis McShane come to mind?) oh and of course, Derek Conway may have paid the ultimate price for employing his children while they were students, but apparently that is OK for Ms Dorries.  

But maybe this latest escapade will turn out to be that step too far. She has upset her constituency party once again (I understand they weren't best pleased when she spoke about "killing" Cameron) and at last has forced the hand of the parliamentary party who have now withdrawn the whip. 

So, what would happen to you or me if we just decided, on a whim, to up and leave work for a week and let's say....swan off to Australia? Well, when I was in the army that would certainly have been considered going AWOL (Absent Without Leave) or desertion (once a capital offence). As an employee I would certainly have been on a disciplinary, and more than likely dismissed. But of course, when you are employed by 70,000 odd's not quite so easy to get dismissed - and even if you upset them all, you generally get a breathing space until the next election. 

Ms Dorries claims that she is doing this because she can reach millions of people with her message about 20 weeks.........I don't want to rain on your parade Nadine, but I suspect it was more to do with the alleged £40,000 fee? But, you could prove me wrong and donate it to a local charity. Maybe a foodbank? They are after all the fastest growing charity sector at the moment. And maybe I'm a bit old fashioned, but I thought the job of the MP was to reach out to their constituents - not half the known universe?

However, as a pal pointed out earlier this evening, you could see it as that she is only following in the footsteps of our erstwhile transported ancestors, but in this case, self sentencing herself!

I'm not usually too keen on 'I'm a Celebrity' but if the threatened Lib Dem phone bank comes off......we may be in for a treat in the Bushtucker Trials :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Of Mice and Men......and Cam er on

The juxtaposition of the Number 10 cat, a dead mouse and Mr Yeo calling his boss out with reference to said rodent, has led to the odd comment on Twitter. Most recent from Isabel Hardman of the Spectator who said "I never met a mouse I liked. One ran up a boy's trousers leg when I was at school." And that in response to the inimitable Peter Mannion who had let us in to the astonishing revelation that "yes there was a tipexed outline marking spot of dead mouse found on Indie press office floor."

All of which reminded me of what was one of the highlights of my wonderful couple of months in the States. Sitting at the kitchen table with my beautiful Aunt June (I hope I look that good at 86!),  hilarious Uncle Steve (or Reg as he now prefers to be known) and wonderful cousin June (Steve's daughter), in Branson Missouri; June and Steve were reminising about their childhood during the war. They had a couple of mice which they kept in the dolls house. Said mice multiplied until there were 150 of them. Having been told by their mother that they had to get rid of them, they decided they may be able to sell them to the pet shop in Hightown, Luton. They borrowed their mother's suitcase, although she refused to let them punch holes in it given it was in the middle of the war she was unlikely to be able to get another one.

                                     Cousin June, Aunt June and Uncle Steve Reg

They got on the bus to Hightown, balancing the suitcase full of mice on their laps. Steve (aged 9 at the time) kept begging June (12) to be allowed to open the suitcase a fraction as he was worried the mice would suffocate. Eventually she relented and said yes, he could open it, but just a fraction...................

Unfortunately he opened the lid - a fraction - just as the bus jolted to a halt. Yes, the lid flew up and all the mice escaped, all over the double decker bus, up stairs and down! They managed to catch around 25 before they were unceremoniously ejected from the bus (this wasn't the only time, they had also been ejected with the family goat - but that's another story!), so they walked down the hill into Hightown to the pet shop. Unfortunately the pet shop owner had a similar problem with mice breeding like rabbits mice so their idea about making their fortune was dashed. Unable to get back on the bus they walked home up the hill, apparently releasing a couple of mice every time they came to a house with a basement :-)

So where was I? Allegations that Mr C may be a mouse rather than a man? Well, it may not be immediately apparent, but I'm not Mr C's greatest fan - however, I do find Tim Yeo's goading a tad childish. Coalition (however much I personally hate it) means THE TORIES AREN'T IN CHARGE!!!! Mr Yeo? You been asleep? Not only did your esteemed party make a manifesto commitment to oppose a third runway at Heathrow - it was also in the Coalition Agreement. IMHO, mouse like behaviour would be if Mr C rolled over and let you tickle his tummy! 

And on that point, I am reminded that my daughter spotted a field mouse climbing into our outside ventilation hole.......sweet dreams.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Light the Blue Touch Paper and..........

OK, it looks like I have been a wee bit inactive for the last few months. That would be true! Having spent a great couple of months in the States I came back and threw myself into the thankless task of job hunting. But that doesn't mean I haven't been completely silent elsewhere. 

Today I followed up my February CiF piece with one raising the question about whether Nick Clegg should stand down as leader........if the LDV poll is to be believed that should annoy and please members in equal measure! To be honest, when I got the call from the Guardian this morning I knew it wasn't going to be easy to write and I hope even those who disagree with me will appreciate my attempt to be balanced. 

I have always been very fond of Nick and as my CiF piece explains, supported him because of his unquestionable liberal values. But those issues which used to be the hairline fractures in our theoretical discussions and policy disagreements, have, over the past two years become chasms. The leader who promised to double our presence in parliament over two parliaments now faces the possibility of achieving the opposite. He is a good man who I know believes he is doing the right thing, that it is a price worth paying for the country and the party. But I am afraid I disagree profoundly with him. Our erstwhile supporters feel betrayed that the party who promised a new kind of politics has slipped itself into the mire.

Elsewhere I have contributed to The New Statesman, Shifting Grounds, Lib Dem Voice and have my own Children and Young People Now Blog commenting on youth issues. 

Today I have also submitted my application to be the Lib Dem PCC candidate in Bedfordshire - gives a whole new meaning to lighting the blue touch paper.....

Monday, April 30, 2012

Time for the Coalition to Look to the Future

A few days ago I was speaking at a Financial Literacy conference in Orlando. One of the most interesting contributions came from Chase Card Services - their research had found that "consumers are more optimistic and spending more". This where the President has taken the view that investment in growth rather than tackling the deficit is the priority, in stark contrast to "Austerity Britain".

So I am delighted that today Ed Randall has written this thought provoking piece for Liberal Left responding to the double dip recession,  as he points out:

 "It isn’t any longer good enough to complain that the Coalition was saddled with an almighty Labour mess. It was, but the Coalition government has to look – and be seen to look – to the future and not to the past. It isn’t any longer good enough to insist that the Coalition has no alternative but to insist on accelerated deficit reduction, and to go on treating ‘deficit reduction [as] the most urgent issue facing Britain"

Thursday, March 08, 2012

On Afghanistan, Syria - what should be the Liberal Response?

I have been a bit inactive on my blog recently. Busy elsewhere, but no excuses really. I get the same urge to vent my spleen from time to time - but my spleen tends to end up deposited elsewhere.

So what has got me back to my personal therapy space? It's the news over the last day of the loss of six servicemen in Afghanistan. Whenever we hear the news of a British soldier lost on active service I admit to shedding a few tears. These are usually young men and occasionally young women, with their whole lives ahead of them. But the enormity of the situation has focused all our minds on why we are there and what a "price worth paying" amounts to.

And it raises again the question of whether we should intervene in Syria, how, why and when.

As a young woman of 17 I took "the Queen's shilling" and joined the army. Never believing my country would ever ask me to do anything that was immoral, illegal or unjust. So my opposition to the Iraq war was augmented by a recognition that many of our young men and women would have done the same thing. And the news today that those young men who lost their lives, apart from one, were aged 19-21 was excruciating.

We grieve for them, but also their families, in my case, especially the mothers. I have a son a wee bit older -  I immediately think about how I would feel if it was him. I imagine what it will be like for these mothers on Mothers Day - only a few days away. An empty space at the dinner table. No loving card or message, no bear hug, or that inevitable phone call "Mum, can you lend me some money?". The child you have nurtured, scolded, taught, nursed, encouraged, excused. Laughed with, cried with, lain awake worrying about. The much loved fruit of your womb lost - and lost forever, no parent ever expects to bury their child.

It is a serious responsibility when our politicians send our young people to war - and one too often influenced not by a commitment to human rights, peace or our own security, but as we saw in Iraq, personal gain and vanity. And who can honestly say we have made things better in Afghanistan? A country that like Iraq, was a convenient scapegoat in response to 9/11.

So what to say about Syria? We intervened in Libya for much less. Can we stand aside while communities are massacred? Will we remain inactive until it becomes akin to what happened in Bosnia, or Cambodia? How do we value life - in units of one, or in multiples of 1,000?

I confess I really struggle with this. The obvious answer is a robust UN response (isn't that the whole point of the UN?) with peace keeping troops protecting the vulnerable. But, rather in the way the US has continually blocked a humane response to the actions of the state of Israel,  Russia and China do the same in their own interests.

One of the most tragic legacies of the Iraq war has been to undermine any moral legitimacy we, or the US may have had in terms of intervening - and I have heard robust arguments against any intervention, given that often the inevitable result (as in Iraq) is likely to be far more civilian deaths.

If we return to the principles that underpin our party, the idea that we can ignore what is going on elsewhere in the world is inconceivable. The long term lesson surely is that we ignore despotic rulers at our peril. However, the challenge for us now is to find the right response - what that is, I guess many of us are still struggling with.

So as I write this, tears running down my cheeks listening to the tributes to these young men from their "brothers in arms" I continue to ask that question, what should
our response be?