Sunday 6th May 2007

11:22 pm

snatch and run

Gravatar There is clearly a problem in a number of countries with forced adoptions. The link relates to some stories from Canada.
10:36 pm

The Moral Is: Don’t Lie!

Gravatar The Mail on Sunday today has yet more revelations about John Browne and his pillow-talk with his former Canadian lover, whom he met through an online escort agency (and not while out jogging, as he foolishly declared in court). The associated scandal has sent ‘Britain’s most successful businessman’ scurrying from his job, and produced an interesting [...]
10:30 pm

>> Lib Dems leave government in Scotland

Gravatar Having earlier ruled out a coalition with the Labour, the Lib Dems have now also ruled out going in to government with the SNP.
10:27 pm

Compare and contrast

Gravatar From the BBC on Saturday 5 May 2007: Asked if she had confidence in Mr German, Ms Burnham replied: "We have to discuss that today". Pressed on the issue, she said: "We have to do better than last time, when people like myself didn't have the opportunity to express a view". From the BBC today: Ms Burnham said Mr Black should not be raising the leadership issue. "I think Peter Black is being irresponsible," she said. "He's in a minority, I assure you.
10:19 pm

Back to the Land

Gravatar What bliss - no leaflets to deliver! I celebrated by constructing a mini-greenhouse on my allotment (a triumph of recycling, and the price was right - nothing so far) with room for nine tomato plants. In case you thought tomatoes only come in one colour, namely tomato red, I have news. They range from white through all the warm colours to black. And stripy. This season I'm trying Black Russian (black, obviously), Yellow Pear and Golden Sunrise (yellow, obviously), Sungold (orange), plus some red ones: St. Pierre, and a beefsteak type whose name I forget, ...
9:30 pm

Kingston Muslim Women

Gravatar The Kingston Muslim Women's Welfare and Cultural Association is a supportive network which runs weekly classes in Urdu for children. It also holds seminars and discussions on cultural and religious themes. I was invited today to one of their seminars, on the topic of Islamic Awareness. They presented a number of interesting talks on misconceptions about Islam, the role of women, and on...
8:55 pm

Media spin, 1966 vintage

Gravatar A trivial historic footnote for the bank holiday. During the 1966 general election campaign, Prime Minister Harold Wilson visited the Birmingham Rag Market for a public meeting (scene of a famous* public meeting in the 1964 campaign when the then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home got shouted down). Compare and contrast the media coverage of the time. Exhibit A: [...]
8:26 pm

Iain Dale, Wales, and why blogs should never be trusted

Gravatar Iain Dale has a story that lays into me over the Welsh elections. The problem with Iain Dale is that he tries to come across as some neutral observer on the political scene through his blog and 18 Doughty Street. Of course Iain can publish what he wants, it is a free blogosphere, but his choice of stories has to be taken with a sack of salt. The story refers to me, messaging and strategic
8:14 pm

24 hours away from London!

Gravatar I've just got back from 24 hours away from London to go to the wedding of a fellow crew member from the Clipper2002 Round the World Yacht Race...and it's all come flooding back! Although my part of the race was just the first leg, from Liverpool to Lisbon to Havana...6 weeks spent on board a 60ft yacht with 12 other people in some of the most trying physical conditions (because, yes, I had
8:06 pm

A bad week

Gravatar On so many fronts the last week has not been good news. The local election results were not good across the country although undoubtedly they varied a lot from area to area. Some areas posted good or steady results whilst other lost ground. I have been helping in West Berkshire and Portsmouth. The results in West Berkshire were disappointing although we retained control of both Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils. Better news in Portsmouth where we gained one and lost one and where our leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson held his seat after a very strong ...
7:41 pm


Gravatar Thank you to all that went out on Thursday and voted! Colin Darracott and I have been returned as your Councillors for Walcot Ward. We knocked on almost every door on the run up to polling day and delivered far too many leaflets. The final results were: David Christopher DIXON Liberal Democrats 723 Elected Colin Gordon DARRACOTT Liberal Democrats 706 Elected Susan Elizabeth Francesca YUILLE Conservative Party 605 Jim YUILLE Conservative Party 572 Nick HALES Green Party 475 Patrick Michael MCCARRON Labour Party 189 Bernard William MORGAN Labour Party 170 ...
7:33 pm

French liberals split 50/50 in vote

Gravatar I'm happy to see that the French have just voted to reform their country rather than just reform the left-wing of it, which in a nutshell was the problem with Segolene Royal's narrative, and Sarkozy's strength. An interesting sideshow to that was that the French centre-party the UDF, effectively our sister-party in France split exactly down the middle in their second preferences (according to TNS on the BBC just now). I wonder if the same split would be evident amongst Liberal Democrat voters if asked to choose in a similar poll in the UK?
6:56 pm

Today's sad loss does not demonstrate that more police are in more danger

Gravatar Interesting statistics on the number of police killed in action in England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland being something of an unusual situation) suggest that tabloid fears that society is becoming more violent are - at least as far as the police are concerned - misplaced. According to the BBC, including today's casualty, Before the latest officer death, Police Memorial Trust figures showed 27 officers were killed in the 1970s, 42 in the 1980s, 21 in the 1990s and 15 since 2000. This suggests that there is are generally a couple of officers killed a year, except in ...
6:29 pm

Spider-Man 3: good, but not great (SPOILERS)

Gravatar Last year, one of my friends commented that the problem with X-Men: The Last Stand was that it should have been two films: there was simply too much plot to fit in just one. I disagreed: the problem was it just wasn’t a terribly good film. Less would have been more, no Brett [...]
6:11 pm


Gravatar I've just snapped this parakeet in my garden. There is a colony of about 3000 of them at Esher Rugby Club, and they can often be heard screeching around the gardens in Claygate and Chessington. But there is one little problem; they are green, so difficult to spot and to photograph against the summer foliage. ...
5:32 pm

It's time for a coalition in Bristol

Gravatar Despite some rather optimistic press releases from the Bristol Lib Dems recently about our chances of taking control of the city, we lost two seats including the executive member for social services, and already the other Lib Dem councillors have forced out the council leader, Barbara Janke. Now we're down to 31 seats out of 70, so it's time for some self-reflection. Can we really hold on as a minority administration? I don't think so, and nor should we (I think Norfolk Blogger agrees). While Labour and the Tories on Bristol City Council could team up and defeat us before ...
5:17 pm

Weekly bin collections - A phyrric victory?

Gravatar Like many other places the local Tories here wer delivering leaflets on polling day which said 'Vote Conservative to save weekly bin collections'. These may have had more impact if there was the slightest hint that the current Lib Dem administration had any plans to ditch weekly bin collections. If the Tories have won seats and councils on the back of this campaign I do wonder if it will come back to bite them. The first council in Oxfordshire to move to fortnightly collections was Tory run Cherwell. It appears to have been popular and has ...
5:14 pm

Badmouthing PR

Gravatar OK, so it's now a couple of days late to post a reaction to election night coverage, but I've got exams coming up, so meh. Thursday night saw me and two of my more politically minded friends (one LibDem, one Labour) in Queens' College JCR watching Dimbleby and co. fill time before the results came trickling in. We eventually got bored/depressed at about 3.30am. In the time before this, however,
5:09 pm

My take on the results

Gravatar The term 'a mixed bag' has been overused but is, I think, a fair summary. Having helped run a campaign in a council next door to David Cameron's Witney constituency I am now certain that there is no 'Cameron effect', at least not in the way the media usually use the term. The local elections here were fought on local issues and, despite visits from both Cameron and Campbell during the campaign, national politics didn't feature much. The result in the Vale mirrors the position in many other Lib Dem held or target seats - consolidation where ...
4:51 pm

23-9 to the Tories in Torbay ! What Next ?

Gravatar My previous post proved quite prophetic as in Ellacome the vigorous long-running campaign of Julien Parrott saw him beat both the Tories and myself in the local elections. At least we retained one seat in the shape of Cindy Stocks who is Ellacombe through and through. Having absolute control now the mayor has an entirely free hand, but I hope he learns from his mistakes to date, for the good of the bay. Listen to residents as much as business interests, consult and take people with you and engage with councillors, including LD ones, irrespective of the cabinet ...
4:34 pm

Happy birthday Susan

Gravatar I don't often post anything personal - but last night I went to the 40th birthday party of Cllr Susie Oatway (Lib Dem, Alexandra ward). And I just wanted to pay a little public tribute to the work that Susie has put into Haringey over the last decade and still does. I was handing out leaflets at Bounds Green Station during the '97 election when I first ran for Parliament. A young women took a
4:12 pm

Lies, damn lies, and election results

Gravatar Iain Dale points me to two differing accounts of the local election results, one by Sean Fear and the other by Mark Pack. Dale hails the former and dismisses the latter as “desperate post election spin” but I know who I’d rather have on my psephological team. Sean peddles the increasingly desperate-sounding myth that these [...]
3:45 pm

The letter from Her Majesty: Part 3

Gravatar The Envelope was received! The Envelope was opened! The Envelope contained The Piece of Paper! And now .... exclusively on this blog only I can reveal that The Piece of Paper is A Letter!! Here is the photographic evidence: Check back soon to see what The Letter says! Only on this blog! Accept no condensed substitutes!
3:12 pm

Peony flowers - now you seem them, now you don't

Gravatar For years I have been meaning to take some photos of our Peony flowers. We were fortunate to inherit a couple of Peony plants when we moved house 20 years ago. The flowers are deep red and exceptionally beautiful. However, you have to be quick to see them - they usually die off within a few days. So today, blessed with that bank of time given only to retired councillors and normal people, I took
2:59 pm

Inside view of Number Ten, the White House and the Kremlin

Gravatar There was a superb documentary on Channel 4 last night called "Houses of Power". Presented by Simon Thurley, it went behind the scenes for an architectural look at Number Ten, the White House and the Kremlin. For political anoraks, it was a bit like swimming in chocolate. One of the key themes about 10 Downing Street is the repeated tension, across its history, between being a grand show house
2:57 pm

John Reid to resign as Home Secretary

Gravatar John Reid has announced that he will step down as Home Secretary when Tony Blair goes. He says he wants to "recharge his batteries" on the backbenches. He is lucky to be able to choose (to a certain degree - although it's a 'jumped before he was pushed by Gordie' situation) when he leaves the Home Office - most Home Secretaries don't. I suspect he could not work with Gordon Brown. It has already
2:02 pm

Lib Dems say it's SNP or no-one for coalition partners

Gravatar The Scottish Lib Dems have ruled out doing a deal with Labour to prop up a Labour executive in Scotland.
2:00 pm

BritBlog Roundup 116

Gravatar This week's selection has been posted at Redemption Blues.
1:50 pm

Scottish Lib Dems should avoid Green/SNP coalition

Gravatar I wrote yesterday on lessons to be learned by the Lib Dems. In particular, I stressed the need not to assume it is incumbent on Lib Dems to share in power when ever the chance is there, be this in a national assembly or in the council chamber.So I hope the Lib Dems in Scotland will keep an arms length distance from the SNP/Green coalition and Labour. The Lib Dems need to reflect, lick their wounds and look for a way forward. The SNP's nationalist views will not resonate well with English voters if the Lib Dems were to ...
1:19 pm

10 years in Parliament

Gravatar The Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell, was in Tolworth last night, celebrating Edward Davey's 10th Anniversary as Member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton. Here they both are with five former Kingston councillors.
1:11 pm

Brown in, Reid out

Gravatar John Reid has told the Politics Show that he will not serve in a Gordon Brown cabinet. However, he avoided attacking the Chancellor, even claiming that Brown had offered him a place in the Cabinet, which Reid declined. Reid has also said that he will back Brown for the leadership. Speculation will be rife as to the motivation behind Reid’s announcement. One thing is certain: it has become clear even to the “anyone but Gordon” crowd that Brown is going to be the next prime minister. Usually, this would trigger a rush to embrace him before it is too ...
1:02 pm

Elections and Evil Scorpion Mutants

Gravatar I'm still in a good mood from the elections in Eastbourne, where we gained control of the Council fairly decisively - 20 Lib Dems to 7 Tories, gaining councillors in two seats where we've never had any before. The Lib Dem team are enthusiastic, new, and young (by Eastbourne standards at least) - whereas the Conservatives have lost all the people who gave them any drive. Be interesting to see what happens at the General Election. However, I was a bit disappointed by last night's Dr Who. The plot was so derivative it was unbelievable - they must have ...
12:52 pm

What A Load Of Rubbish

Gravatar Playing Simon & Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Water at the final whistle, in the final game of the season, in the final match Torquay will play in the football league for a while, was enough to...
12:31 pm

A Liberal View Of Sheffield: Labour lose control of Sheffield

Gravatar Superb - simply superb. Labour 41 seats (-3) Liberal Democrats 39 seats (+4) Green Party 2 seats (-) Conservatives 1 seat (-1) Independent 1 seat (-) Congratulations to the following new Lib Dem Councillors: Councillor Steve Ayris (member for Hillsborough - LD gain from Lab) Councillor Denise Reaney (member for Gleadless Valley - LD gain from Lab) Councillor Penny Baker (member for Walkley - LD gain from Lab) Councillor Mike Davis (member for Dore & Totley - LD gain from Con) Councillor Colin France (member for Nether Edge - LD hold)
12:20 pm

A Liberal View Of Sheffield: Sheffield, Hallam - notional majority increased

Gravatar In keeping with the theme of Lib Dem held seats doing rather well at the local elections, here is the full vote share for Sheffield, Hallam on the new boundaries. Changes from last time are in parentheses. LD 44.1% (+2.6) Con 21.3% (-1.4) Lab 10.7% (+0.4) Grn 7.2% (-0.5) UKIP 0.8% (-0.1) Others 0.0% (-0.8) Also, all five Council seats were won by over 1,000 votes - including a gain from the Tories. Councillors in the constituency now stand at LD 14, Con 1, Others 0. The final remaining Tory is up for election next year, where ...
12:03 pm

What to do now...?

Gravatar Without my leaflets and canvass sheets I was at a bit of a loss for a time. Having been so tied up in campaigning for weeks on end, it is a bit of a shock to the system to be able to take a leisurely walk round Heaton Park and lie down for two hours reading a book. But that's what I did yesterday (this book, should you be interested). And after that, I took a couple of my most loyal campaign
12:02 pm

Peter Black AM: Speaking out inappropriately

Gravatar Peter Black AM: Speaking out inappropriately
11:41 am

Taking down the election posters

Gravatar It is so good that we don't have to take down the election posters on Lamp Posts because we didn't put them up. I don't think there will be any politicians driving to bring back lamp post posters. We will keep the boards for a few years just in case, but they are really things for recycling now.
11:28 am

How not to do rebuttal

Gravatar I always worry when Lib Dems announce that they 'have to' spend the campaigning rebutting what the other side are saying about us. And this web page from the local Tories just about sums it up. Once you've read some of the most effective bits of our leaflets and noticed their long and tedious rebuttal in a small typeface alongside it you might find this sentence: 'We do not beleive that it should be the role of the Council to organise activities for young people,' Now, can you guess what was plastered all over our eve ...
11:11 am

E-mail overload

Gravatar Not directly related to the GLA selection contest - well, not only related to the GLA selection contest anyway - was amused at seeing this cartoon just now... {cartoon from} Cartoon by Dave Walker.
11:09 am

"A Mixed Bag"

Gravatar So in the end it was an election for everybody and nobody. Labour lost control of Scotland and failed to regain Wales, but weren't quite wiped out in England. Cameron's Conservatives hit 40% in terms of the popular vote but didn't do well enough in the north to prove they can win the next general election. The Lib Dems made a few spectacular gains against both Labour (Hull) and the Tories (Eastbourne), but overall we lost some 200 councillors. That's because the last time we fought these seats we were riding high on anti-Iraq War feeling and the Tories were ...
10:45 am

When are my local Tory Councillors going to tidy up after their fly-posting ?

Gravatar On Wednesday , the invisible Tory Councillors in my area ( Taverham North) decided that street litter was the new way forward, so they attached a number of Conservative posters to street lamps, road signs, county highways fencing and trees, in order to boost their profile. The question is, why is it that by the following Sunday, some four days later, they have not been bothered to go round and collect in their street litter. What a good example the Conservative Councillors have set to the electorate of Taverham North.
10:42 am

Progtastic mate

Gravatar Now that the dust has settled on the elections I am looking forward to catching up with a batch of excellent British (and prog influenced) rock that has been released recently. The new Marillion album was released a few weeks ago and even hit number 24 on the album chart. Called 'Somewhere Else' it is a very listenable collection of songs highlighting Steve Hogarth's emotional writing and voice and some fantastic guitar playing by Steve Rothery. The band is currently on tour in Europe and heading for the UK soon. Details here. Tickets are selling ...
10:36 am

West Midlands round-up

Gravatar It was certainly a mixed set of results for the Liberal Democrats in the West Midlands, well so far, Warwick will restart their count (for the third time) on Tuesday! In some places we made some fantastic gains - 3 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, 2 in Solihull which meant the Conservatives lost overall control, a crucial gain in Hodge Hill Parliamentary seat, a gain in Stoke, Burton, Sandwell, Wolverhampton.
10:28 am

More Lib Dem councillors than ever in Abingdon

Gravatar Well we did it. We gained the three Vale of White Horse DC seats and four Abingdon Town Council seats that slipped our fingers four years ago after the boundary changes. Abingdon now has 14 out of 14 Vale councillors and 21 out of 21 Town councillors. We can't claim a record for the clean sweep - we did that in 1999 - but we can claim that we now have a record number of Lib Dem councillors in the town, thanks to the boundary changes four years ago. In the ward where I live ...
10:23 am

Speaking out inappropriately

Gravatar This morning's Wales on Sunday carries a two page spread on my views on the Welsh Assembly Group leadership. It was not easy speaking out publicly like this but I felt that it was necessary when it became obvious in meetings on Saturday that Mike German was already manoeuvring to stay on as leader for most if not all of the next four years. I have nothing against Mike personally, in fact I think that he has given exceptional service as leader and done an outstanding job in very difficult circumstances. However, it is in the best ...
9:58 am

Election Aftermath

Gravatar During the election campaign, I always said it would be like getting our lives back after the election! So it was really good yesterday to have a day almost devoid of elections, politics and the Council. Our older son was off to Rome on holiday after wearing out much shoe leather in the run-up to 3rd May so having dropped him at Edinburgh Airport, we had a nice day out in South Queensferry (see picture!), where my late grandparents lived for many years. Great lunch too! There was great hilarity in the Macpherson household yesterday morning when we read ...
9:46 am

Jeremy Bland

Gravatar Sadly I have to report that last week Jeremy Bland of Lichfield passed away. Jeremy was effectively the organiser for Lichfield Liberal Democrats.
9:24 am

Recovery Weekend

Gravatar No leaflets today! Last week was amazing - the last push to get our literature out and message across paid off - we held a seat and gained two more. How I hate leafleting and how relieved, we got on and did it! Next week its de-briefing meetings and others to start planning and discussing who would like to do what role for the next year too. I can also start to catch up on casework and the FoE
8:40 am

Sergolene Royal wins French presidential poll

Gravatar The polls are closed in the only French presidential election that really matters: that of Liberal Polemic's readership! I asked Liberal Democrats, libertarians and anybody else who visited this site "Who would you support in second round of the French presidential elections?" The results are a clear victory for the Lady in Red. Votes Nicolas Sarkozy 40% (16) Segolene Royal 53% (21) Rather emigrate 8% (3) (40 votes total) So there you have it, folks. Confirmation, if it were ever needed, that even in the blogosphere, the Lib Dems are a left leaning bunch, who would ...
4:25 am

On Liberty, Online: The squeeze is on

Gravatar A cursory look at this week's local election results nationally have led me to believe the following: We have, by and large, done well in councils where we are the official opposition - especially in Labour-controlled councils We have, by and large, done poorly in situations where we are in third place or worse, or there is little Labour presenceAs I am keen to stress, this is based more on gut feeling than a formal analysis. It would make a very interesting project for someone with more time than I to see if this hypothesis stands up to scrutiny. ...
1:04 am

It's a 22 horse race

Gravatar Just a brief post aimed only at London Lib Dems reading this blog... As you'll know, we're in the process of selecting our candidates for the GLA list for next year's elections. You will probably have received your ballot paper today - if you haven't got yours by the end of next week, then you should contact the party to check you're eligible to vote. Many of you will know that I have been helping one of the 22 candidates to campaign - but all I am saying with this post is please do remember to use your ...
12:30 am

A cure for election blues

Gravatar Thursday’s election results were at best mixed for the Lib Dems but I think I found an unusual cure - a 20 hour rolling election count witnessing some of the party’s best results. For the first time since, well, forever, I was not committed to a particular campaign this year.  So I decided to head home and help [...]
12:30 am

It doesn’t suck at all to be on Avenue Q

Gravatar Well I’ve had a very stimulating first week in my new job, and wrapped it up by using a gift from my colleagues and friends in my old job to buy some theatre tickets for myself and a couple of friends recovering from their hard work in the elections. So it was that we found ourselves [...]
12:24 am

Welsh Lib Dem council leaders oppose LD participation in assembly coalition

Gravatar I was a touch surprised to hear on BBC radio this morning that parties in Scotland were negotiating the future government of their nation… with no mention of Wales, where the same process is going on. The leaders of the Lib Dem controlled councils in Wales are expressing grave doubts about propping up Labour in Wales: Welsh [...]
12:16 am

The Beginning of the End for Respect?

Gravatar Virtually unnoticed in all the electioneering and results of the past few days, there has been a significant defection: Whitechapel’s Respect Councillor, Waiseul Islam, has left the party for Labour. Labour is pleased, as it means their overall majority on Tower Hamlets Council has gone up from one to three. But the wider local community [...]

Previous days:

Saturday 5th May 2007, Friday 4th May 2007, Thursday 3rd May 2007, Wednesday 2nd May 2007, Tuesday 1st May 2007, Monday 30th April 2007