Thursday, 17 July 2008

For the Record

This is a response to some strange statements made in the 17th July edition of the Folkestone Herald.

1. I continue to be a member of the Liberal Democrats and have been since 15th August 1987 despite the events of last year. I am a Liberal and have been a card carrying one all my adult life.

2. Claims that I "cannot communicate face to face" don't wash. If I can't communicate face to face why have I been asked today to spend more time (an extra 35 days) in Croatia delivering training, coaching and mentoring to business support service providers and Civil Servants in the Croatian Government by that Government? I think that this, amongst other things, somewhat undermines that claim.

If I have the poor face to face communication skills that I am claimed to have why then did several members of the Bromley and Chislehurst and Orpington Liberal Democrats (including the Bromley Borough Council Liberal Democrat Group Leader) come down to assist the local election campaigning last year (on more than one occasion in some cases)?

In all my years of involvement in the Liberal Democrats around the country I only ever had problems in Shepway in 2007. Even then, I have continued to get on well with several members who supported my Parliamentary Candidacy and others beyond the party who live in Folkestone and the surrounding areas.

If I look back over the years I have been involved in the Liberal Democrats I had a fantastic team around me in 1992 when I stood for Parliament at Birmingham Perry Barr first time around. They were all very supportive of me. I also had good relationships with my fellow members in Warrington Liberal Democrats where I was an activist, local Party officer and Council Candidate.

Later on, after I moved to Durham in the 90's I worked very closely with Carol Woods and others during her Parliamentary campaign in Durham in 2001 and came back from China to help her again in 2005. I got on well with the folks up in Durham.

When I returned from China in 2005 I was welcomed readily by my friends in the Bromley and Chislehurst Liberal Democrats and was very quickly approved as a target seat Council Candidate.

It might also be worth noting that to become an approved candidate you have to get sponsored by 4 party members (well, that was true when I was approved). I didn't find it difficult to find sponsors. In fact, one of the guys up there told me one day "you are going to be an MP one day. You've got what it takes". These kinds of things don't happen to someone who can't communicate face to face.

3. Simon Finlay's Editorial in last week's Folkestone Herald about my "face not fitting with some" in the local party would be nearer the mark than the "disastrously wrong" quotation. If losing 5 councillors in two months isn't things going "disastrously wrong" I don't know what is! I certainly had absolutely nothing to do with that and have been away except for two weeks in April (when even then I was working flat out on material for the Croatian project) since February. As previously stated, I have been back in the UK since 29th June and pretty busy since then.

4. I was not contacted by anyone at the Folkestone Herald before my comments from this blog were published.

5. In the light of the comments attributed to the Councillor concerned and, given the fact that I am a local resident with a business to run here which involves communication training, I am going to investigate what remedies are available to me for some of the unacceptable comments made in the Herald today. This may involve a complaint to the Liberal Democrats nationally and potentially the Standards Board.

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