Thursday 21st September 2006

11:24 pm

D day for Woolton!

Gravatar Woolton village should hear this week how its done in the national Britain in Bloom competition. My colleague , cllr Barbara Mace, has gone up to scotland with some of the local volunteers to the awards ceremony. woolton is a national entry on behalf of the north west after years of doing better and better in the regional competition. So its fingers crossed!

11:20 pm

A Britain that is free, fair and green

Gravatar September 21, 2006: Ming Campbell addressed Liberal Democrat conference as follows: This has been my first autumn conference as Liberal Democrat leader. And I have enjoyed it - particularly since Tuesday lunchtime. But while I have enjoyed my first, others will be hoping to enjoy their last. Labour is preparing to pick a new leader. You may have read [...]
11:19 pm

Voting dilemma.

Gravatar I voted against my party tonight. I don't do it very often, and always feel slightly uneasy but sometimes you hear an argument and you think.. yes that actually is right regardless of what any party has said beforehand. Tonight, on a select committee at the council, we were discussing a plan to renovate two homelessness hostels (good) and meanwhile decant the residents to two parts of the city where there are good reasons not to base them (bad). I supported a call for a halt on the plan so we could look at other solutions. ...
11:14 pm

Want a dentist - no chance!

Gravatar Another Lib Dem Councillor - Steve Hurst - raised the whole problem of NHS dentists at the social care and health committee tonight. The latest news is that if you want an NHS dentist in south liverpool.. tough. You can ring the PALS number and they'll direct you to another.. who might be in Old Swan. But if you live somewhere like Speke and have no transport.. looks like you'll have to go without the NHS when it comes to dental care. Steve proposed, and I seconded, a motion at the committee to call on the ...
11:12 pm

Good finale!

Gravatar Thursday 21st September 2006 - After dashing back from Berlin I managed to get to Brighton in time to have dinner on Wednesday night and drop in to the Liverpool Culture Company event in the Grand Hotel and see how the plans for European Capital of Culture 2008 are shaping up before retiring to my hotel. After an early morning meeting with North west colleague Andrew Stunell MP I head for the
10:50 pm

Calderglen Country Park Objections top 9000

Gravatar The token 'consultation period' over Labour's attempt to sell part of Calderglen Country Park in East Kilbride to private housing developers has now ended. According to St Leonards Community Council, a total of 9014 written objections are known to have been sent to South Lanarkshire Council. It's a fantastic achievement to have involved so many local people in the campaign, and Labour can't
10:48 pm

Useful day!

Gravatar A busy useful day today! This morning I chaired a meeting where City Council finance staff spoke with retired members of the Tayside Superannuation Fund. It was very worthwhile and a robust and enjoyable question and answer session took place. The group of retired members gave their strong support to ethical investment decisions and I will be reporting back their views to the next meeting of our Superannuation Investment Sub-Committee. This afternoon received good news that, following my request, Dundee Contract Services has agreed to paint the benches at the Sinderins ...
10:43 pm

Just how dangerous?

Gravatar I noticed this on the Guardian News Blog - The world: just how dangerous is it? So, it's not just the Daily Mail that believes we are all doomed. According to a new survey almost three-quarters of Britons think the world is a more dangerous, war-like place than it was 50 years ago, writes Peter Walker.And it got me thinking about the sorts of changes I've seen. Despite appearances, I'm actually
9:42 pm

Hungary for Knowledge

Gravatar The "Lying Hungarian Prime Minister " story has been news for several days now. Thanks to Harry's Place, I've now found an interesting Hungarian English-language website with the splendid name of Pestiside But never mind the Hungarian lies, have you heard of the "Hungarian Calendar"? It seems to be a book written by one Zoltan Hunnivari which seemingly claims that conventional history is wrong ,
9:36 pm

Praise be

Gravatar There seems to be a worrying degree of consensus in the Lib Dem blogosphere tonight that the Brighton conference was not only a success, it was enjoyable too. Fellow bloggers - do try and remember we are liberals, and therefore natural dissenters. And that we are Lib Dems - and therefore won’t be able to keep such dissent to ourselves. I hope to see a proper post slating the whole shebang on the
9:20 pm

I spoke at conference!!

Gravatar I did it! With a litle coaching from Sal Brinton (thank you Sal) beforehand I was called to speak on the Monday "Stronger Families, Brighter Futures" debate. I was really nervous but actually pulled it off big time by all accounts ... and I loved it! I really want to do loads more of that! My Dad saw it on Parliament TV and clips were shown on BBC2 Andrew Marr's show ... he even paraphrased a
8:48 pm

Post-conference reflections

Gravatar Now I’m home with my trusty laptop… The more conferences I go to, the fewer formal sessions (debates, fringes, training) I seem to take part in British Airways flights are great. Free food and drink and a video monitor showing you the plane’s route, altitude, speed, etc. I could get used to that, green tax switch permitting. If [...]
8:30 pm

I enjoyed conference shocker!

Gravatar People who know me may have noticed that by halfway through autumn conferences in the last few years I have become very sullen and withdrawn, wandering around the halls of the conference centre muttering darkly under my breath. The truth is, in recent years I’ve come to loathe party conferences. They’ve increasingly become worryingly close [...]
8:27 pm

Ming's speech: the (belated) verdict

Gravatar Blimey, the pressures of blogging. Ros Taylor’s conference newsblog for GuardianUnlimited noted… Stephen Tall, the winner of the Lib Dems' blogging competition, hasn't yet delivered his verdict on the speech… at 2.50 pm, two hours after Ming finished speaking. I had a couple of good reasons. By that time I had spoken with Ros’s Grauniad colleague, Hélène Mulholland, for her ‘What the delegates
8:07 pm

Conference photos - Ming's speech

Gravatar Standing ovation for Ming.
7:48 pm

Conference photos - the PCA reception

Gravatar More photos from conference. It's all smiles as Ming arrives at the PCA reception - after all, the tax vote was in the bag by then! Meanwhile Ed Davey MP makes an impromptu speech in the middle of Tesco's Brighton branch!
7:37 pm

Photos from conference

Gravatar As promised in my previous entry, here's some of the photos I took at conference. These are from Tuesday (tax debate and PCA reception). Newcastle City Council Leader John Shipley reads up on why the 50p rate should be dropped on the way into the conference centre.Paddy Ashdown joins the queue to get into the tax debate.Arnie Gibbons moves the rebel amendment.Norman Lamb listens to the
7:26 pm

The leader’s speech

Gravatar Well, I can tell you what I thought, but I’m no columnist. Tell me what you thought - e-mail (replace WHOISAT with @ to e-mail) (replace WHOISAT with @ to e-mail) and I’ll publish a representative sample ASAP.
7:03 pm

Lessons learned

Gravatar So what lessons have we learned about e-democracy in the last few years? Two years ago I chaired and spoke at the first London Connects workshop on e-democracy so I was gratified to be asked back to the second one a couple pf weeks ago to give an update. My topic was 'London e-Democracy - Lessons Learned'. You can download my presentation from here. Today I spoke at the...
6:57 pm

Speechblogging: Me Again

Gravatar We’re just home, and knackered. So while I’d like to have blogged promptly about Ming’s speech – excellent, though like Paddy and Charles he’s immediately adopted one over-used and instantly imitable mannerism for his speeches (answers tomorrow) – I’ll publish my own from yesterday’s disappointing ‘Meeting the Challenge’ debate instead, as I’ve done all the thinking I need to about that one (writing your own speeches really gets in the way of blogging). If you hurry, you might also get today’s Independent, where I’m given a good writeup; it’s cheaper to physically buy the whole paper than one online article. ...
6:53 pm

Don't juggle with stress balls - use bean bags instead

Gravatar Having started conference by addressing a couple of fringe meetings. The first was on an issue that will be very vexed over the next year or so as to where the boundary should lie between public sector directly managed services and private sector contracted services. The NHS, of course, has now basically put out to tender all 64bn of the PCTs' budgets (potentially). Where this goes will only be
6:49 pm

Best Speeches of Conference

Gravatar Well, I'll be honest, I haven't managed to watch every single hour of Conference, but out of the bit I've seen, here are the speeches I thought were good. The one which impressed me most was by probably the furthest travelled conference rep. Dominique Rommel from Shetland eloquently spelled out the realities of life in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where a 4 x 4 is a necessity in the
6:48 pm

Manslaughter, or death by dangerous driving?

Gravatar There was an horrific accident on the notoriously bad Oxford to Banbury road which recently came to court in Oxford. A 19 year old, driving without a license or insurance, in a borrowed car at 80mph on a 50mph stretch of road, hurrying, ironically, to get to court to answer other charges killed a young recently qualified doctor coming the other way as he overtook on a blind brow of a hill. The
6:27 pm


Gravatar I felt quite at home yesterday speaking to this crowd of students at Kingston College, having spent many years teaching there myself . I had been invited to answer questions from the new intake of students to the Pathway course. They wanted to know what my job entailed, how much I got paid (fair enough - it's public money), who I managed, and what would happen if I lost the...
6:21 pm

Home again, home again…

Gravatar I’ve made it back home, after leaving Brighton at about 3pm following a nice lunch of Mussels. Yum yum, my favourite. So it’s time for some reflections on conference week. I coped much worse this year with the relative lack of sleep (about five hours a night). I must be getting old. I’m suprised my feet have no [...]
6:08 pm

The Electoral 'Churn'

Gravatar I was so enthused by the recent conference vote that I conceed a somewhat panglossian element to my last post, which was understandably challenged by two conservatives on several issues. Nevertheless, I remain upbeat about Liberal Democrat propects for several reasons best explained by looking at the criticisms made and why (at least to me) they do not necessarily hold water. Once again though, I repeat that I'm not putting the champagne on ice, simply observing that either a robust defence or modest advance is equally possible. However, wipeout or landslide are equally unlikely from my point of view. ...
5:49 pm

Iain Dale scrapes the barrel

Gravatar Iain Dale had a posting entitled yesterday entitled: "Charles Kennedy Back as LibDem Leader According to LibDems Website" You then follow the link provided and realise it links to the 2005 conference agenda still on Iain then excuses this complete waste of space with: "PS Just my little joke - it's the 2005 agenda, which for some reason is still on the LibDems website!" What
5:44 pm

Cheap frill for half the price

Gravatar I have just bought (or paid a deposit) for an Oyster Card and used it for the first time on the bus. This now means that when I travel to see my friends I pay the same amount for two bus journeys than I used to pay for one journey. Great, I get to use twice as many buses for the same amount of money. I just touch and go... ooohhhh misses!
5:36 pm

Ming's electrifying speech

Gravatar Phew! I said a few weeks ago that Ming owed the Liberal Democrats a barnstormer of a speech at the conference. It was certainly that - a barnstormer. It reminded me of the best of Paddy's speeches - brilliant! It hit all the right buttons, covered all the serious policy points and answered the question: What are the Liberal Democrats for? Ming made excoriating and funny criticisms of Blair, Brown
5:20 pm

Welcome to our 16 new members

Gravatar Local Liberal Democrats today attended the freshers fayre at Bucks Chiltern University College. It was great to be able to meet students to discuss the issues which are of most concern to them. There is still a lot of anger around Labour’s decision to betray students and introduce tuition and top up fees. Concern was [...]
4:02 pm

Why would some Tory councillors think that child abuse is a subject to mock or joke about ?

Gravatar Having gone to a full council meeting at Cromer last night, I was aghast to hear arguments given by Tories and some independents, if you can ever really tell them apart (some Tories regularly stand as independents in order to get elected then join the Tory group just after the election), against the Council adopting a child protection policy. One Tory councillor objected to the part of the policy which made clear the responsibility of people to report suspected abuse of children (why you wouldn't want to report it, god only knows), some Tories objected to the fact that councillors ...
3:47 pm

Blogging at conference

Gravatar Having finally got a chance to use a real computer instead of my phone, I've been looking at the webstats. On the Monday of Conference last year there were 10 posts appearing on LibDemBlogs, however this year on the Monday there were 84. Whilst I don't think that there were many more computers available, more people seem to be taking the time out to blog, or even use their mobile phones to post whilst in the conference hall. Looking at the hits and visitors to the site, last year saw no real increase whilst conference was happening, most likely due ...
3:47 pm

Get thee to Oxford

Gravatar Unlike a certain Mr Coats (*shock horror!) I was out delivering Good Mornings in Oxford this morning. If you are in the vicinity at any point before 10pm this evening do drop in. The Committee Room is here. 32 Marsh Lane, Cowley, Oxford OX4 2HH. Tel 01865 716756. *PS - don't worry Jock - it happens to us all!
3:24 pm

So what do we do?

Gravatar This morning's Western Mail reports on an Electoral Commission survey that has discovered that the people of Wales are warming to the National Assembly, despite many of them not understanding what it does: More than half (54%) of the people surveyed said devolution had improved the way Wales was governed, and only 13% thought it made things worse. Experts said the confusion over the Assembly's role was partly down to its dependence on Westminster to pass legislation on issues such as banning smoking in enclosed public spaces. They also blamed London-based media for reporting on England-only issues ...
3:16 pm

Conference over: now if you are passing Oxford

Gravatar You know what it's like, when you haven't been sat on your arses listening to the blather from the podium, you've been trying to remain upright enough to sort out the world in the conference bar. So now it's all over, if you're travelling back passing anywhere within range of Oxford today, why not call in and help ensure that Nathan Pyle gets elected to the city council? I myself failed dismally
2:48 pm

A view from a chair at home

Gravatar Ok let’s admit it – we have a light entertainment crisis in this party. Ming will never cut the mustard swapping quips on ‘Have I Got News for You?’. He just hasn’t got the timing to take a stream of side digs to script. But Hurrican Gordon went down fine. He did however survived the Storming Strobes ordeal inflicted on his entry by some overexcited media geek. Now what was the carbon footprint of that stunt? Never again please - the press were all set to laugh at the slightest corny stumble. On the other hand when ...
2:28 pm

End of Conference

Gravatar Well that is that for another year, the TV crews will move on to MAnchester next week to cover Labour then on to the Conservatives. Another Federal Lib Dem conference has finished. It was a solid conference making progress on a number of key issues. The press as usual got all pent up about hte possibility that the rank and file members might o against the leadership, because ours is the only
1:57 pm

Coming to all TV Channels Soon

Gravatar I love Peter Brookes cartoon in today's Times. With the Prime Minister away in Manchester next week anything might happen in London.
1:54 pm

Talpra magyar, hí a haza !

Gravatar "Arise Hungarians! the country calls" The first lines of the Nemzeti dal- the national hymn of Hungary. It was penned by the insurrectionary poet, Petofi Sandor, shortly before his death in the Hungarian uprising of 1848-9. Petofi was also the inspiration for the Hungarian uprising of October 23rd 1956. The student clubs, the Petofi circles, were ostensibly literary clubs, but they had come to have a more political character and in the confusing times after Krushchev's secret speech denouncing Stalin in February 1956, they began agitating for greater Hungarian Freedom. The early stage of the 1956 rebellion was a demonstration ...
1:38 pm

Land Registry visit

Gravatar Back in August I carried out a visit to the Land Registry for Wales, which is based in my region, to find out more about the proposed merger of their two Swansea offices and the subsequent reduction in their work force over the next ten years. I met with management and the Trade Unions. A couple of weeks later I was asked to write an article for their Intranet in the format of a question and answer session to explain why I had carried out the visit and what I had found out. I replied the same day. For some ...
1:35 pm

Fairer, greener and ... stronger

Gravatar Media reports of the final day of party conference, and comment on Ming's speech in particular, suggest an element of surprise that: a The mood at conference is bouyantb There has been no popular 'bring back Charles' uprisingc The leadership are doing quite well actually I guess this reflects the underestimation of the Lib Dems that meant they were taken aback at our ability to win in Dunfermline and come so close in Bromley. Apart from reconfirming to me why I joined the Liberals nearly 20 years ago - a belief that our society needed to be ...
1:29 pm

Tall the Tart

Gravatar There's no stopping Lib Dem Blogger of the Year and Oxford City Council Finance boss Stephen Tall. After a week of media coverage I'm now listening to him on the World at One, giving us his response to Ming's speech. Not only that but he was on first before Party President Simon Hughes!
1:24 pm

Farewell, Brighton

Gravatar And that’s conference for another year. Ming’s speech was very good, featuring a particulary incisive joke about Hurricane Gordon (it’s a grey depression that spins and sucks everything to the centre). He hit all the right notes and energised the audience. Afterwards, for the first time, an MP called me by name, so hurrah for Greg [...]
1:20 pm

Ming the Magnificent

Gravatar Just left the conference hall after a fantastic speech by Ming. He's mercifully killed off the talk about his leadership style, clobbered the opposition and given some great substance to his words. Great stuff.I had the camera with me and got into the rugby scrum at the end to get some pics taken. Will try to upload them later today when I get back to London.Oh what a contrast to a year ago.
1:19 pm

Youth Communications - getting there

Gravatar Good meeting last night of the board of Youth Communications- the new organisation I am involved in. We are planning to produce magazines, written and edited by young people - a bit like the Press Gang project that some of the schools in Liverpool took part in. the idea is partly about young people having a chance to have their say... and partly about journalism training. We've raised a small amount of money now and are looking at finding young people to be on a sort of editorial board to oversee things. We'll also at some ...
12:10 pm

Matthew Parris watches Charles Kennedy

Gravatar Today's Parris column features one of those little observations of human character that make him one of my favourite political writers: From the public balcony where I watched Charles Kennedy’s speech here in Brighton, I am able to reveal what any TV camera could have shown. The report that to avoid an embarrassingly enthusiastic reception Mr Kennedy interrupted his standing ovation by walking off
12:03 pm

Ming the Movie

Gravatar I am writing this in the internet cafe at the Brighton Centre. I can hear the soundtrack of Ming the Movie coming through the walls. There is a sign above the door saying: Please note there may be excessive flash and strobe lighting effects in use during this session.
12:02 pm

Thursday and final conference video diary

Gravatar Here it is!
12:00 pm


Gravatar MPfight: Looks like it might be interesting, but for me, the text version just crashes after the first input.  Will have a longer experiment when I’m not relying on battery. (via)
11:53 am

Meanwhile in Shropshire

Gravatar There is an interesting story in my favourite newspaper: A radical new plan for Ludlow’s under-threat community hospital to increase services and opt out of NHS control will be unveiled on Thursday. Independent consultants will tell civic leaders that their plan represents the best way forward for the under-fire site. The hospital could soon lose two of its wards as part of a cost-cutting
11:47 am

I’m a *bad* Lib Dem

Gravatar I’m really sorry, but I simply cannot be bothered to go to the Leader’s Speech this morning. I will listen to what he has to say later on the radio, or I will download his speech, but this morning it’s not important to me to go and sit in the conference hall and listen. Two factors influence [...]
11:26 am

Human rights

Gravatar I did get called in the Meeting the Challenge debate on Wednesday. I had put a card in - but in a democratic party you never know if your name will be chosen by the Chair of the debate who has absolute discretion. Anyway - I was called - and the speech went down well. It is one of my causes - that of the poverty of the built environment and what that does to the life chances of young people and the aspirations of all living in those areas of deprivation where the worst that developers can do is ...
11:09 am

Ad liberalling (Or: Eternal Sunshine of the Liberal Mind)

Gravatar In an hour’s time, and next door to where I’m typing this, Ming Campbell will get to his feet for the first time to address the Lib Dems’ autumn conference as leader. He will receive a rousing reception which will leave the media scratching their heads. For the assembled troops of journos and commentators, this week has not followed their script. If we’d followed their agenda, the party would
10:57 am

TheyWorkForYou Advances

Gravatar I have been looking at the new API for the very wonderful TheyWorkForYou site (that’s Application Programming Interface for the non-techy reader). Essentially, this allows people to use some of the data and functionality of TWFY in their own applications very easily (at least it is relatively ‘easy’ from a programmer’s point of view). [...]
10:41 am

Tough on flip-flops, tough on the causes of flip-flops

Gravatar It was on 15th February, this year, when Ming Campbell asked Tony Blair at Prime Minister’s Questions: Rather than creating ambiguous and controversial offences such as the glorification of terrorism, should not the Government introduce the effective and practical measure of permitting the use of telephone intercept evidence in our courts, so that we may bring suspected terrorists to trial?The
10:38 am

Further Legal News

Gravatar My attention was drawn to this piece, entitled 'Prosecutors Say Computer Thief Stole Courthouse Computers During His Trial'. If only British youngsters displayed this spirit of entrepreneurial derring-do, their parents wouldn’t need to pack the corpulent toads off to study economics at Cambridge University.
10:30 am

EXCLUSIVE: Leader interview

Gravatar Alex Foster gets the interview he’s been angling after all week. Well, nearly. A little bird tells that net guru Tim Ireland is making a viral marketing campaign for the Lib Dems. It’s a short piece to attack the Tories and it should be crossing your web-browser in the next few days. [...]
10:04 am

Chris Rennard, I challenge you

Gravatar The highlight of yesterday afternoon (hell, of the whole day) was playing the LibDem Image game at their stall. They have made badges and fridge magnets of our 63 MPs and the game involves trying to put all the magnets onto a board in alphabetical order in as quick as time as possible. I am [...]
9:57 am

The last day

Gravatar As I type, it’s relatively early on Thursday morning and I’m knackered. Going night after night with rather less sleep and more beer than usual takes it out of you. I’ve finally managed to get back on one of the PCs in the conference centre. Since we last spoke, I’ve not actually been to that much, [...]
9:31 am

A song at the final curtain

Gravatar Thursday at the conference is not usually of great interest. The jaded, terminally hungover delegates are mostly subdued and many have left. The only highlight is usually the leaders speech, but each year this seems to get a little more exaggerated. I remember Paddy Ashdown coming off stage after one of his "leader's speeches" which ended in fireworks, and balloons and the usual hullabaloo and muttering under his breath "stupid bloody circus" and I know what he means. Nevertheless, "Ming-the Movie" which will proceed today's celebration of the final curtain on conference will at least let a few people know ...
9:30 am

I, Claudius

Gravatar Poison, backbiting, people professing their love and loyalty to colleagues then plotting as soon as their backs are turned, charismatic speeches and leaders being violently deposed… If you want a break from Liberal Democrat Conference, BBC4 is showing the complete run again of one of the finest television series ever made, compelling Roman drama I, Claudius. If you’ve never seen it, do so. The first episode is tonight at 10pm, and not only is the script outstanding, but just about every famous British actor of the 1970s is in it; it originally started broadcasting exactly thirty years ago last Saturday. ...
9:26 am

John juggles

Gravatar Tags: john+hemming, juggling, liberal+democrats, party+conference, brighton, youtube
9:21 am

Welcome to more Lib Dems than ever

Gravatar I’d just like to say a particular welcome to new members coming to Lib Dem Voice after seeing a leaflet at Brighton conference - welcome! You may find it useful to read this introduction to the site. There were 3500 visitors to the site in its first week, so you’re in lots of (and hopefully [...]
7:58 am

Companies catch on to bloggers

Gravatar Great piece from Tuesdays Guardian which can be found here. Companies are beginning to realise the power that bloggers have and the speed with which "issues" can be common knowledge through the power of the internet. The piece also has some links to some of the interesting sites which focus their attention on the failings of one company
7:13 am

Rhodri Morgan: A Lost Leader

Gravatar Rhodri Morgan: A Lost Leader A bit too personal for my taste but entertaining nevertheless.
12:53 am

Video news feed - links

Gravatar For some reason the original post for the new video news feed didn’t appear in Lib Dem Blogs, so here’s a link to the original post which explains how to add the party’s new (test) video feed to your site.
12:30 am

All about climate change: Part 1

Gravatar Alcohol Level - Just the one Its come to my attention that the state of California is to sue 6 car company’s for polluting the environment. It’s a novel approach, though not one I’m sure will help. The USA is addicted to cheap oil and private transport, and its probable that if the state of California will use this simply to raise funds, rather than do anything about the
12:23 am

For you, Herr Valladares, ze conference is over...

Gravatar Unfortunately, due to a rather unfortunate lack of leave (yes, well, all of the trips I've taken thus far this year might account for that...), I am home, for good. It's been, as far as I'm concerned, a pretty good conference. The tax debate was a welcome sign of the economic maturity of the Party, and I renewed a series of old acquaintances, some of which have led to a new appointment (subject to ratification, of course). I have had the pleasure of acting as Returning Officer for the European Parliamentary selections for the ...

Previous days:

Wednesday 20th September 2006, Tuesday 19th September 2006, Monday 18th September 2006, Sunday 17th September 2006, Saturday 16th September 2006, Friday 15th September 2006