Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Vote Early, Vote Often.....

In case anyone was wondering (or perhaps worrying), yes, I have already cast my ballot for Nick Clegg.

I urge you all to do the same to give the Liberal Democrats that young, charismatic leader that Liberal Britain so badly needs.

Far from playing dog whistle politics to the activists, Nick has been focused outwards on talking to the liberals of Britain who currently would like to support us but don't yet. As our leader, Nick Clegg will enable the Liberal Democrats to build a liberal coalition to strengthen civil liberties at home, challenge disadvantage and rebuild Britain's international reputation abroad.

I urge all members who are still considering who to support to think long and hard about whether we wish to continue where we are, talking to ourselves, or start to face outwards and widen our horizons.

Some people closer to home would do well to take note that continuing on their current path is unsustainable.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Thanks Darling!

What a lovely early Christmas present courtesy of HMRC and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Tonight I joined the 25 million other British Citizens who have had their data exposed to risk of ID fraud.

The personal security of my daughter has also been compromised which I also find totally unacceptable.

And these people want our biometric data as well!

This has to be the death of the madcap ID cards idea. Who on earth would want to trust this Government with their data after this? I for one, will not.

If this Government pushes it to the limit then yes, I am prepared to go to prison to protect my right to control my identity. In my view, identity is a property right that people should assign. It is not the property of the State and compulsion to provide it is an unacceptable form of nationalisation that must be resisted.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Huhne Has Gone Too Far

In 20 years of membership of the Liberals or Liberal Democrats I have never seen anything as appalling as Chris Huhne's conduct today and given some of my recent personal experiences, that's saying something! The same old nonsense has been wheeled out again regarding Nick's position on education, the health service and Trident.

Chris' conduct on BBC1 today has damaged the Party's image and, should he hopefully lose the leadership election, has consigned him to the backbenches. How on earth does he expect Nick Clegg to trust him after he pulls this kind of stunt?

It is very clear that Huhne knew exactly what was in the document as he then brazenly went through it line by line.

The fact that he allowed such a document to go out with such a title shows precisely why he is unfit to be leader. If he can't manage his staff how on earth can he expect to be trusted with the leadership of our party? The short answer is that he can't.

This is the second time that Huhne has allowed negative comments against Nick to go out and then said "oh, sorry, I apologise".

We don't allow these kind of antics in other internal elections and nor should we in leadership elections.

After today, Huhne deserves to be thrashed in this leadership contest good and proper.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

My Thoughts on Tonight's Question Time

Here are some of my impressions of tonight's Lib Dem Leadership Question Time.

Chris Huhne's negative campaigning has come back to haunt him. David Dimbleby lashes Huhne for the "Cameron Stunt Double" quotation pretty quickly which puts him on the defensive.

Chris is wrong over Trident. To my mind, his negotiating position would throw all the cards out of the window. I also think that he badly underestimates Russia under Vladimir Putin. Russia has increasing receipts from oil and gas which it is using to rebuild it's military.

Nick has also realised that Russia is using it's oil and gas supply to put pressure on former Soviet states such as Ukraine. Nick is right to suggest that the EU has to be firm and hold Putin to account. Nick's experience as an international negotiator with the European Commission shows through very strongly and given the re-emergence of Russia, the rise of China and the increasingly multipolar nature of the world he would be better placed to deal on international political and economic relations.

Nick Clegg has real passion for the underpriviledged and for the mismanagement of public services and this is where he scored massive points tonight. His motivation to get into politics is very similar to that of so many of our activists (including me). Nick's passion will come across well to voters who do not currently support the Liberal Democrats. Chris perhaps came over as too "Mr Great CV" and therefore a bit patrician and remote.

Huhne tries "dog whistle" politics on Nick again by attacking David Law's views on health insurance versus NHS. Regrettably for Chris, Nick has emphatically denied supporting (are you reading this Jo Hayes!) health insurance.

There was no nonsense coming from Chris over vouchers. Nick clearly laid out his views on the pupil premium and there were no vouchers in sight.

Despite what looks like a Huhnite plant to paint Nick as "Cameron-lite", Nick Clegg clearly set himself apart from Cameron for the same reasons I got involved in Liberal politics. Disgust at the wasteland that was created in the wake of Thatcherism and a determination to change politics for the better.

I think Nick came out ahead purely and simply as he was able to relate his experience directly to issues that concern the majority of voters, but I would say that wouldn't I?

Slaying the Vouchers Dragon

It's been a very interesting evening's blogging.

Jo Hayes once again repeated the outlandish and discredited claim on behalf of Chris Huhne that Nick Clegg supports vouchers for education. Dredging up the words of journalists (one of whom has made it very clear that he added the word "vouchers" and not Nick) she claimed that the words of journalists were enough to be evidence that Nick supports vouchers. One of them was from that well-known Lib Dem loving newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

Jeremy Hargreaves had already taken this claim apart here

Unfortunately for Jo and others who have tried to claim that Nick supports vouchers (probably some of the most unpleasant bit of "dog whistle" style politics in this leadership contest so far) when you look at Nick in his own words there is absolutely no voucher in sight.

If you look at the pamphlet that Nick wrote with Richard Grayson back in 2002 again, there is no voucher in sight. In fact, Nick's support for the idea of a "Pupil Premium" which is expounded in the pamphlet pre-dates official party policy on the subject .

Liz Barker has now intervened in annoyance at the Huhneite tactics and put Jo right in the comments to her post.

So, could the Huhneites cut out the "dog whistle" nonsense and get back to a real debate about our leadership contenders real positions based on what they say themselves.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Yahoo! Forced to See the Light

After it's lashing by the US Congress, Yahoo! has finally been forced to apologise and compensate two Chinese cyber-dissidents, Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning.

It is a pity that it has taken the US Congress to shame Yahoo! into this aboutface but it is welcome nonetheless. I'm also glad to see that they will be creating fund to provide legal aid for online dissidents. I hope this sees the beginning of the end of the collaborationist mentality of internet companies and a recognition that freedom of speech and internet freedom of expression are global freedoms that should not be compromised.

Hmm... I could say something further but I won't until I've seen a certain report.

Oh Come Off It Chris!

Not satisfied with slurring Nick Clegg by claiming he supports vouchers in education when he doesn't and using Chris Clarke to branch Nick a Tory (quickly withdrawn once challenged but those comments should never have appeared in the first place) we saw yesterday yet another dubious claim from the Huhne camp. This time Chris claimed to be the first through the 1000 barrier.

Oh really? So why has the Clegg campaign already got 1500 supporters and rising?

I recognise that Chris is a good economist and has many admirable strengths but does he have to be economical with the truth as well?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Wars Never End

Regardless of my overt support for Nick Clegg, as the brother of a serving soldier I was absolutely delighted to see that should he be elected as our leader he will be taking the issue of the treatment of our servicemen and women seriously through the establishment of a Military Convenant Commission.

Remembrance Sunday should not be merely to remember the dead but also to remember the mained and injured (both physically and mentally) who have returned from Britain's military engagements over the years. Nick has rightly identified that our treatment of armed forces personnel, present and past, is pretty shoddy (and that includes ex-Gurkhas as well). I can only condemn the Government for not allowing injured personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan to parade past the Cenotaph yesterday. Shades of Vietnam there.

The reality facing our Armed Forces today include accommodation that is often not fit for purpose, appropriate and adequate kit scarce (the Americans call our troops "Lendmies" rather than "Limies" these days) and welfare and medical care often fails to come up to the mark.

Tonight's Channel 4 documentary "Forgotten Heroes: The Not Dead" scratches the surface of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is an absolutely shocking statistic that more Falklands veterans have taken their own lives than were killed in the conflict.

We all need a shake to face up to our responsibilities to those who, in effect implement the "muscle" part of our foreign policy. The conflicts of Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to claim their victims until such time as we do our bit for those who did their bit.

Our Military Covenant Commission, I hope, will begin to shake the consensus of convenient ignorance regarding the consequences of military conflict for our service personnel that has pervaded our politics for far too many years.

Friday, 9 November 2007

For The Record

Having seen the quotation regarding myself in the Folkestone Herald yesterday I would like to put the following on record:

I did not disagree with the stance taken by Liberal Democrat and some Conservative Councillors in leaving the Council Chamber at the last full council meeting of Shepway District Council and my support for the Firefighters in this town is unequivocable. That should be patently obvious from my last post dated 2nd November. I strongly believe that our District Councillors of whatever political party are there to do a job - stand up for the interests of the people of the district. I believe that the proposals on the table from the Fire Authority will endanger lives in Folkestone and the wider district and should be rescinded.

However, being a reasonably fair-minded person, and given that Gordon is one of my neighbours in Sandgate Road with whom I am on friendly terms with even if we do disagree politically, I wanted to hear what he had to say on the matter. I still cannot understand what Rory Love thought he was achieving through his stance on the Lib Dem motion laid down to council. If he had further information then it should have been shared with the Council there and then.

I think that my relationship with some elements of the Shepway Liberal Democrats is a matter of public record as being somewhat poor. So much so, that rather than remain a member of a local party that could allow its officers and others to treat me in such an appalling fashion I asked permission from the Executive of the Bromley and Chislehurst Liberal Democrats if I could rejoin them.

They very kindly agreed and this has enabled me to continue to play an active role in the party that I have been an active a member of for just over 20 years. I still am a Liberal and could not imagine myself in any other political home despite some of the rumours that some have tried to put about to smear my name in the district.

I would like to publicly thank those Shepway Liberal Democrat (some of whom are now non-members due to their disapproval of the conduct of certain Executive Officers and others) and Liberal Democrat members from further afield who were supportive of myself and my family during and subsequent to events in May. Qun, Anna and myself are very grateful to you for your friendship in what has been the saddest set of events in my political life.

For the record, I am still awaiting the outcome of a regional investigation into the goings on surrounding my resignation as Parliamentary Candidate. Once that investigation has reported I reserve the right to make a public statement as/if I see fit.

As for my comments on Ming, my more recent views had been more supportive as I had seen his performance as our former Leader improve. I was saddened by his going but I did feel that it was regrettably inevitable. I had a personal issue with Ming which coloured my view of the early part of his Leadership and it need not be aired here.

My view is that Ming should have challenged Charles Kennedy for the leadership when Paddy Ashdown stood down in 1999. Last year was perhaps too late for him. For the record, I wanted Nick Clegg to stand last year. He refused and so I came to support Chris Huhne.

I am supporting Nick in this leadership election as I believe that he is best placed to reach out to people who are liberal and Liberal but who are currently not voting Liberal Democrat. I respect Chris Huhne, admire his intelligence (if not always his judgement on some issues - Trident and "Clarkegate" being two examples) and am sure that he will hold a higher profile position on the Frontbench subsequent to the Leadership Election.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Stop the Cuts to Our Fire Service!

I am appalled to learn tonight that some members of Conservative Controlled Shepway District Council failed miserably to stand up for the district and are effectively acquiesing in the decimation of our local Fire Brigade.

Utterly shameful.

The proposals on the table from the Kent Fire Authority will cost lives. God help us should Operation Stack be in place on the night that a serious fire occurs.

Rory Love et al., stop filibustering and stand up for the district and the people who elected you or resign your seats and allow them to be taken by people who will.