Thursday, 5 February 2009

New Political Blog

Dear readers,

Thanks for the interest you have all taken in the past in this blog. To reflect my new independent political status (who are the "Shepway Independents"?) I have now created a new blog called The Kent Roundhead which can be found here.

I hope that you will enjoy it. Over time I will be adding connections to other blogs that I am gradually creating on different topics apart from politics and I hope you will also find them interesting and useful.

Very best regards.


Monday, 1 December 2008

The Future

I've decided this week to finally quit the Liberal Democrats. Other Parties should not get excited, I'm certainly not coming your way. I am leaving politics completely as I have had enough of waiting for the Party to get its internal house in order. Clearly this isn't going to happen any time soon and I have no further intention to waste my money and continue being party to ongoing unacceptable practices. Had I been the only one in an isolated case then I might have been able to grin and bear it but there is a systematic problem which is being deliberately ignored by the Party's current Federal Executive. I fail to understand why they failed to talk to those affected directly and make a genuinely informed view.

I can't imagine myself in any other Party but it is no secret that I have a pretty awful relationship with the surviving rump of the Shepway Liberal Democrats. So local political involvement is not really an option for me now and I intend to continue living in Folkestone which I consider to be my hometown. I would like to somehow find a way to make a positive contribution to the economic and social regeneration of the town which is dear to my heart and will continue to look for ways to achieve this in the future.

I would like to thank very much the Executive of the Bromley and Chislehurst Liberal Democrats who very kindly agreed to allow me to rejoin them after the miserable time I had to endure at the hands of certain elements in the Shepway Local Party in 2007. This decision is by no means a reflection on you. You guys were great to campaign with and I certainly miss the Red Lion Tendency. Lennard Woods was certainly a great loss and I miss him. May he rest in peace.

I also very much enjoyed campaigning with the gang up in Durham and particularly with Carol Woods who is a great friend and whom I am very sorry we didn't manage to get elected last time around. She will make a great MP for Durham City (and certainly better than the New Labour lackey who currently has "borrowed" the seat). I am thrilled that you all did so well up there in the last lot of local elections. Thanks for some great campaigning memories.

I have made so many friends in the Liberal Democrats over the years and you all know who you are. It is such a wrench to leave and it is sad that unfortunately a few bad apples have spoilt what was mostly a very enjoyable time for me.

I will make a more detailed statement about the reasons for my decision on my return to the UK for anyone who is remotely interested (probably not many). I'm currently still working away in Croatia at present and only have limited time for this for now and want to choose my words carefully.

I plan to resume blogging in 2009 on different issues which will include international enterprise development in which I have a strong interest, human rights, international relations and other similar issues of interest to me so watch this space.

I would like to thank all my readers, both domestic and international, who have taken the trouble to look at what I have written. Although my readership hasn't exactly been huge it has certainly been truly international. Thanks and bye for now.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Good for You Gavin!

I'm very pleased to hear that Gavin Webb, the Liberal Democrat PPC for Burton has finally been reinstated by the Party after enduring two suspensions from Party membership. Details of the going ons can be found on my friend Alex Wilcock's blog.

It would seem that, not for the first time, some people have been exceeding their powers within the Party. Unfortunately there is a small "barrack room lawyer" tendency within the Liberal Democrats. This small group of people have instincts at variance with the core values of Liberalism and a creative tendency "to make it up as they go along" when someone gets in their crosshairs. These are people who, perhaps due to poor eyesight, or maybe because they joined the Liberal Democrats as a vehicle for personal ambition rather than the pursuit of personal liberty for all are unable to read or understand what it says on the Party membership card:

"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community and in which no-one will be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity".

I hope that lessons will be learned by the Party from this sorry episode and I also hope that more attention will be paid to the real need for swift action when there are abuses of power rather than trying to sweep them under the carpet. Sweeping them under the carpet only creates problems further down the line.

Good for you Gavin! May you enjoy taking on our opponents and may your own side leave you in peace to do your job.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Truth Will Out In The End

Today is a rather bitter-sweet day in many ways. I won't pretend that I am not disappointed with a letter I received from the Council this morning. I dispute some of the statements made within it. My motivation was to protect my personal business interests and there are other interested parties involved as well. The ruling sets an unfortunately precedent as does the subsequent conduct of persons unnamed. Allowing "open season" on members of the local business community will not encourage future investment in the area.

As a professional trainer who undertakes a lot of face-to-face communication in the UK and in other parts of the world I think it legitimate to complain when someone makes a sweeping statement in a local newspaper that you are not competent in this area. People who know me well know that the Councillor concerned was talking bollocks but unfortunately there are a number of people out there I have still to meet who might take the comment concerned at face value until they have had the benefit of a conversation with me. Anyway, I still have 30 days now to consider appealing regarding the decision.........

It does seem that life has a bit of a habit of compensating you though. I have not been the only one who has experienced some "local difficulties". It would appear that a number of other PPCs and ex-PPCs have gone through a similar situation to myself. In an odd kind of way this is a bit of a comfort when you realise that you are not alone. It is even more comforting when some people (who are not you) start to suggest that things need to change for the better. There are some issues that need to be confronted once and for all in the Party about the treatment of PPCs and a recognition that PPCs have multiple roles (husband, wife, worker/self-employed, partner, parent, carer, etc.) and need more support.

I'm certainly never ever planning to stand again for Parliament (I would be divorced faster than you can say "Mao Zedong" if were to suggest it) but it still grieves me that others have also faced a similar situation to my own and next to nothing appears to have been done about it and it is happening again and again.

It is time to end the "Ostrich approach" to these matters and time for someone (English Candidates Committee?) to start showing some real steel and enforce genuine local party democracy.

I've also got some interesting documents but I will try not to mix alcohol and the e-mail system...........

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hu Jia: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2008?

Jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia (and maybe also his brave wife Zeng Jinyan who is also under house arrest and who is bringing up their young daughter alone) is/are being tipped for the Nobel Peace Prize. This is very welcome news in light of the Communist Government's blatant failure to uphold human rights as promised around the time of the Beijing Olympics.

Hu was jailed in April apprently for 5 articles he wrote and 2 interviews he gave criticising the Communist Government in China for failing to uphold human rights. How pathetic is that?

Hu has actively campaigned on behalf of AIDS/HIV sufferers and other dissidents such as Chen Guangcheng over a number of years.

There is a moral dimension to this ongoing oppression which ought to give the Chinese Government pause for thought. Governments that lock up people who don't agree with them (we are not talking terrorism here for goodness sake!) tend to have limited shelf-lives, never achieve the moral authority and acceptance in the eyes of the international community that they crave and ultimately implode on themselves when the final vestiges of their legitimacy disappear. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow or in 20 years, but one day it shall if they carry on like this.

Hu would be a worthy winner and it would be interesting to see how and if the Communist authorities would react. I think it would be highly embarrassing for them that Hu is currently in prison on a pretty flimsy pretext. Perhaps they ought to think about releasing him PDQ?

Friday, 19 September 2008

A Good Week To Be A Liberal Democrat

My impression from afar was that overall Nick Clegg and the Party had a very good week in Bournemouth. I was a bit surprised at Iain Dale (the Tory one) making a bit of an arse of himself over Nick's comments when anyone with half a braincell would realise that Nick was talking to the person in the street about Lehman Brothers, Meryll Lynch etc. I'm really delighted that Making It Happen was adopted without amendment and I think that finally the Party has begun to capture the mood of the moment. People are struggling to make ends meet and they want their money where they need it, in their pockets.

I thought that Iain was better than that but I guess that Tories who like to talk about social justice and then commit themselves to continuing with a REGRESSIVE tax structure which punishes lower and middle income earners at the expense of the wealthy in society must be feeling a little bit rattled and concerned and grasping at straws to discredit Vince Cable and Nick Clegg. There is nothing "right wing" about Making It Happen. That is good economic and political sense in a Liberal and progressive way.

To heap misery on it, it would seem that floating voters and even existing Labour supporters prefer Clegg to Cameron according to Newsnight. HINT: address the incidence of the tax burden and THEN you can be taken seriously on social justice issues. The current Tory message looks like "we hear your pain but we don't really give a damn as we've decided to adopt a Blue Labour strategy".

It's been a tough 18 months or so to stay in the Party with all that has happened, and some of my good friends leaving, but this week has made me glad that I've kept my membership and kept going through the gritted teeth. A good stronger small business and enterprise development policy now to really encourage so many of those millions of small business people to come to naturally support our Party and we will be on the road to longer term success.

Is the Liberal Democrat Business Forum Still Operating?

I'm still working away here in Zagreb and so was not able to get along to Bournemouth and so hence my question.

I'm curious to know if the Liberal Democrat Business Forum is still operating. I would be grateful for any information anyone has on whether or not it is operating and how I could get involved if I wanted to.