Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I managed to find time to give a master class in how to be a Local Party Secretary, and if only I had the time to do all of those things, I'd probably make a really good one. What do you mean, I am one?...
At Conference, I had a minor clash with Lembit. I was only asking him the obvious questions, but others felt that there was an edge previously missing from blogger interviews. And another candidate emerged... What made Chandila Fernando's campaign so unexpected was that he had offered his services in support of Ros's campaign just a week earlier. We may never know what then caused him to seek nominations for a run himself, although I have my deep suspicions.
We were still travelling, to Bexley, to Haringey and to Western Counties. Ros's campaign team were producing leaflets, sending e-mails and making telephone calls. Lembit was doing... err... not much. Chandila was entertaining us all with a website that didn't actually do anything. Eventually, a clock appeared, counting down to an apparent launch. When the clock reached zero, nothing happened. Not so much trouble shooter as hapless amateur. Chandila, what did he stand for? "Absolutely nothing", seemed to be the answer. His photograph looked good though, as at least one Lib Dem blogger noted...
By October, we knew where we all stood. Liberal Democrat Voice released the results of its poll including all three candidates. According to its readers. Ros was going to win in a canter. None of us believed it...
Ros and I were everywhere, with hustings to attend, speeches to give, and canvassing to do. The Opik campaign finally got underway, although the Fernando campaign continued to be substance free. It certainly made his hustings speeches easier, although it was noticeable that, the longer he was given to speak, the less effective he became. Hustings were clearly a problem, despite the decision by the Returning Officer not to sanction any official ones. It showed, and I issued a guide on how to run one after a series of shambolic attempts. The PCA 'hustings' was the worst, although the inability of anyone to make a decision and stick to it, even in terms of the time given to candidates to speak demonstrated why we are so short of Returning Officers...
My cat, Cincinnati, made his political debut in my manifesto for English Candidates Committee, although his picture only appeared on ther blog in the end, as I was re-elected unopposed.
November saw the culmination of two years work on the part of Ros, as Liberal Democrat voters elected her Party President with a huge mandate. Whilst Lembit made a gracious speech in defeat, Chandila made a typically mean-spirited, churlish contribution... and then disappeared... I only hope that he has no aims in the field of diplomacy...
Meanwhile, my wish was granted, as Barack Obama became President of the United States. A great result for the rest of the world, even if his inheritance was probably the worst since Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933...
At home, the Baby P catastrophe proved once again that the combination of control freakery, Labour's infatuation with targets and a council incapable of dealing with criticism was deadly. We haven't heard the last of this by any means, although whether even the best systems and staff can completely prevent such occurences is questionable. The Conservative response was to criticise the Government whilst not actually offering an alternative themselves. Not much new there, then...
I had problems with the way we select candidates for Parliamentary by-elections, which led to a bit of a falling out with Martin Turner and the Parliamentary Candidates Association. Whilst they got a bit upset, Ros and I took our leave and went to Madeira for a week. When we returned, Martin and I exchanged a few e-mails, agreed on a means of progression and shook hands on it. Admittedly, the promised password for the PCA website never emerged, the promised copy of their e-mail to members was just that, promised, and the only comments were supportive of my view, but...
And so we reached December. I got to attend the State Opening of Parliament, and wondered whether its lack of content presaged an early general election. There was a crisis brewing though, and the third Monday saw me liveblog my breakfast to mark the end of the restaurant car service on National Express East Anglia. Or was it the end?...
I got involved in an unlikely by-election debate, and decided that it might be fun to attack the English Democrats. Indeed, it was fun, although it was interesting to see that if you actually discipline those posting comments, occasionally they respond in the right way. And for those of you who haven't gone to Bexley and live within reasonable journey time, go on, you'll be more than welcome.
And so the year comes to an end. I'm still hopelessly in love with Ros, I still have cats, albeit only two (rest in peace, Victoria, Frankln and Eleanor...) and I'm preparing for life as the Honourable Lady Mark (another inspirational line from Jennie...). 2009 may not be as dramatic, but it certainly won't be dull...
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I wasn't happy with Labour (again), and was observing the meltdown of their support in some unexpected places. But the charge towards the nanny state continued apace, with smoking and drinking coming under the microscope. My response was to start my exploration of the wonderful world of small Suffolk breweries.
Whilst Ros was beginning to crank up her campaign with visits to the West Midlands and the South West, there was no sign of campaigning life from any opponent. We knew that Lembit was intending to get his nomination in, but we were wondering when he would start putting himself about... We never did find out who ran the YouGov poll about the Presidency though...
July saw the 'I'm 4 Ros' campaign overseas and on a pilgrimage, where I met Jennie for the first time. Detouring to pay a lightning visit to the Glasgow East by-election, I rejoined Ros for a sally across the border into Wales - oh yes, there were no 'no go' areas for the campaign...
I got tremendous entertainment out of the White Paper on House of Lords reform, and remain convinced that selecting new Peers by means of a contest whereby applicants have to compete against each other to collect water in buckets from a tap placed eight feet off of the ground whilst dressed as penguins and standing on a greased revolving platform. Wouldn't you pay good money to see that? I know I would...
In August, I discovered a new cultural form, only to discover that misogeny is everywhere. The video should have been a giveaway really but merely demonstrated what a sheltered life I've led... Labour didn't get campaign finance reform, Conservatives didn't understand why Ian Oakley's vile behaviour in Watford was a problem for us all. They didn't have any policy yet, either.
To take my mind off of it all, Ros whisked me away to Scotland, Cornwall and Wales (where I got to meet Steph, as well as someone called Kirsty Williams - whatever became of her, I wonder?), although I did find time to fall out with another member of the Taunton Deane massive...
Life was about to get really hectic...
As the year began, we (and there was the key first difference from 2007) were a bit busy. The house in Kingsbury was on the market for sale, we had put in an offer on a house in Needham Market, preparations were well advanced for our April wedding and a Presidential campaign was beginning to step up a gear. There were hints that the wheels were about to fall off of the economy, but the sheer horror of what was to come was still to be anything other than a twinkle in Mr Cable’s eye. There would be some implications to come, but I didn’t care - after all, I was in love…
I was on good predictive form though, calling the race for the Democratic nomination as a likely Obama win before the Iowa caucus (blog entry 8 January), and picking out some of the reasons why Hilary would lose. I was struggling with choice and free trade, but nothing new there, whilst preparing to be financially shafted by my employers (no change there either). Boy, was I right there, and we are still to reach agreement a year later. Ros started blogging, and whilst her readership figures were hardly in the Guido/Iain Dale league, ‘Because Baronesses are People too…’ would prove to be a slow-burning precursor for a Presidency to come.
In February, I launched my first attack on the Parliamentary Candidates Association for past uselessness, more in regret than anger. They had a new Chair, so that was alright, wasn’t it? Tory sleaze was back, and wasn’t that going to be a feature of the year to come. Conservatives were beginning to prepare for government. Not by creating policy, no, by demonstrating that they’re view of government was a means of making money and settling scores. Ideas were not to be encouraged. Labour were beginning to implode, the economy was weak, all that Cameron, Osborne and the rest had to do was wait. Wasn’t it?
Labour’s response? More sleaze, more stupidity. Peter Hain left office to spend more time with his home tanning machine and take lessons in basic arithmetic after failing to declare more than £100,000 of donations to his disastrously unsuccessful campaign to be Deputy Leader, whilst Caroline Flint demonstrated exactly why she shouldn’t be allowed to do anything that might require empathy or integrity.
The Bones Commission, which I had suggested to Nick Clegg in the aftermath of his election as Leader (he reads every word I write, you know) via the medium of Liberal Democrat Voice, was at work, and I wasn’t entirely happy with the suggestion that it was all the fault of a bunch of bureaucrats. I could have named names but I was still being nice to people (it wouldn’t necessarily last)
Niceness lasted into March, as I tried a reprise of my role as peacemaker, after Nich Starling and Alex Wilcock had a quite entertaining set-to. Not for the first time, Nich hit the nail on the head, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing his inner conspiracy theorist to replace intellect and diplomacy. Alex went volcanic in his typically erudite way, unleashing a flow of molten invective all over Norfolk (we were comfortable with that in mid-Suffolk). As usual, Alex saw the light. Nich demonstrated why Tories like him…
At Conference, Lembit moved a motion calling for the role of the Party President to be split into two jobs. In return, I attacked him and the Federal Executive for incompetence, defeatism and an utter incomprehension of the notion of conflict of interest. Whilst two members of the Federal Executive did have the courtesy to defend their stance (Erlend Watson and James Gurling), very few people saw the irony of a declared candidate for the Presidency claming that the job couldn’t be done… The ’I’m 4 Ros’ campaign team sat in a corner of the conference hall, and watched as the motion was passed but without the required two-thirds majority. You can guess which way I voted.
Nick Clegg talked about ‘Faceless Britain’ in his conference speech, and I did see what he was on about, but my first Regional Conference was about to take precedence. It went rather well, and I declared myself to be a fan-boy (thank you, Jennie, for this addition to my vocabulary) of Baroness Hamwee of Richmond upon Thames (is there something in the water in the Royal Borough?)
Reprieved, the ‘I’m 4 Ros’ campaign began to gather momentum, with a number of events, including an astonishingly intellectual fundraiser, starring Brian Eno. We attended the launch of ‘Liberal Youth’ and, although the significance of this was yet to become apparent, I was not to hear the last from them as the year progressed.
My patience with Bob Shaw finally ran out though. He’d been annoying me for a while, with a series of misogynist, snide attacks on Ros. That, I was willing to let go albeit grudgingly, but cowardice and hypocrisy provided too tempting a target. Ironically, it wasn't my last run-in with someone from Taunton Deane...
The big day or, at least, the first of the big days, was coming up fast, yet the Campaign for a Real President could not wait, and we went to the North East for the first big tour. And whilst the Conservatives were demonstrating exactly how not to run an internal party candidate selection. I was even quoted favourably on Conservative Home (don't worry, I'm not turning into Nich Starling...).
The only sunny day in the whole summer (alright, there may have been others but do you remember any?) was timed to coincide with the wedding of baroness and bureaucrat. Whilst the new power couple fled to India for the best part of three weeks of sun, massage and elephants, my old friend, Empress Jessica, reported on the Valladares family wedding of the year for the Amaranth edition of 'Hello' magazine.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I wasn't as organised as might be ideal, as I've done my delivery round with a laptop on my back, but despite the dark and cold, it went pretty smoothly. The part of the ward that I was in is comparatively easy to deliver, although not as easy as East Dulwich was (minute front gardens, long terraces and flat ground for the most part).
However, all this means nothing unless people come forward to do the delivering, which is what brought this North Londoner to distant South East London. Bexley is a prime example of a place where we have a potential vote far greater than that achieved in recent years. It wasn't that long ago that we had fourteen councillors and were part of the administration, yet now we have not a single councillor. And yes, going from zero to one might not mean much in the scheme of things, but it means that there is another potential block of votes that can be delivered in regional list elections which wasn't fully tapped before. How many votes were we short of a second European Parliament seat in London in 2004? How many votes short of a fourth London Assembly seat this year?
I'm a firm believer that a small investment in those areas where we are weak will pay off if it is converted into a few more members, a few more activists and an extra councillor or two. It isn't exactly a fashionable view, I know, but given that our performance in list elections is hardly stellar, what harm is there in trying something slightly different?
Ah well, at least I've done something useful this evening...
Thursday, December 25, 2008
For me, at least, 2008 has been a year of personal growth (in more than one way) and of increasing happiness. President-elect Ros and I got married, travelled the Liberal Democrat world, and triumphed against the apparent electoral odds. Yes, it's been a good year.
I've met some wonderful people, who have reminded me of why we do what we do for our cause, and seen some amazing places - Skara Brae, Blaenavon, the Mendips to name but three. My belief in what we seek to achieve as Liberal Democrats has been bolstered and, whilst we may disagree on the means, we do coalesce around the ends for the most part.
And so, a Merry Christmas to you all. Enjoy the festive season, take care of those whom you love, and find a little time for yourself - you're worth it. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with a turkey that won't be kept waiting...
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Luckily, I didn't need to get to Creeting St Peter, where Ros and the cats are sleeping soundly, because the next bus is due on 8 January. However, I was faced with a tricky journey. Improvising, I realised that I needed to get towards central London as quickly as possible, so I caught the conveniently timed number 51 bus to Woolwich which, interestingly enough, goes through East Wickham ward.
Thinking quickly, I looked up my alternatives on the Transport for London journey planner and discovered that by catching a number 53 in Woolwich, connecting with a number 148 at Elephant & Castle before switching to a number N16 at Marble Arch, I could be home in not much more than two hours.
As a Londoner, it is easy to become blase about the ease with which we can travel around at all times of day and night. Under the supreme beneficence of Comrade Ken, the number of night bus routes expanding substantially, creating a plethora of options for getting home after the last tubes and trains had run. If I was younger, I could stay out until late, carousing and clubbing, knowing that I could get home safely. Of course, not being the clubbing type, I had to stick with carousing, but I recall some fairly grim journeys waiting for buses that ran every hour.
Now I'm in Cricklewood, having made every connection comfortably, and having not had to wait more than ten minutes at any stage. It will have taken me about two and a quarter hours, but it has cost me nothing (all covered by my Oyster card), I've been safe, warm and dry, and even using trains, it would probably have taken me an hour and forty-five minutes.
All the same, I really ought not to hang around after the work is done...
Monday, December 22, 2008
It's my first solo engagement, so wish me luck...
It would appear that, over the Christmas period, NXEA don't run a restaurant car service anyway, so I wasn't strictly missing out on my pork-dominated treat. However, it still leaves me feeling as though a small piece of my life is just that little bit less perfect.
On the other hand, there is a suggestion that the restaurant car may survive into the New Year. The response from regular users has clearly made some impression, and whilst NXEA still insist that the restaurant car loses money, perhaps they may have realised that some of their passengers have a choice too.
All that said, my train arrived at London Liverpool Street seven minutes early, so they can do some things well...
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Alder Carr Farm was the site of the first Farmers Market in the East of England, and only the third in the country, and, it is conveniently close to the country seat. Indeed, so convenient is it that the journey is shorter than to the nearest supermarket (Tesco, outside Stowmarket). The market takes place on the third Saturday of the month, and the courtyard of the farm shop complex is filled with stalls selling fresh beef, home made chocolates, game, and locally grown vegetables.
Ros is not entirely well, having contracted the fairly miserable cold that is doing the rounds. So, in caring husband mode, I decided to feed her cold with a freshly made sausage roll - they really are awfully good, as Lord Bonkers might say. We'd bought other pork products - locally cured bacon, sausages and even award-winning black pudding from a butcher in Peasenhall - but a warm sausage roll is a thing of beauty.
Fruit and vegetables were procured, and our trolley was nearly full. However, something was missing, and I found it on one of the stalls. Rougham is a small village between Needham Market and Bury St Edmunds, famous for very little, I suspect. However, what it does have is Bartrams Brewery, a small micro brewery which produces an interesting range of beers. In line with our newly reinforced purchasing policy, I therefore purchased a mixed case of twelve bottles for consumption at the country seat.
As an oddity, one of the bottles was of 'Alder Carr Ale', commemorating the Farmers Market. At an alcohol level of 10%, this is far from a quaffing ale, more a long contemplatory sip over a solid lunch. It's very dark, and a rather acquired taste, I think. I might have to study the issue further...
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I did have my reservations. All five cats were fairly traumatised by the move from East Dulwich to Kingsbury, and I was worried that they might react badly to a two-hour trip to Creeting St Peter. Ros had already loaded up the car by the time I got home yesterday evening, and all that remained was to put the cats in their carriers and put them in the car.
The journey itself was uneventful, although Katherine whinged all the way up the A1, across the A505 and around the A14. This was as nothing compared to the yowling as she was carried across the garden to the house - anyone would have thought that she was being tortured.
However, on being released from their boxes, they've explored the house and, whilst Cincinnati is a bit sulky, Katherine has taken to the change of scenery well. Eventually, we'll let them outside. It will be interesting to see whether the pheasants mug them...
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Inevitably, what happens is that staff behaviour is distorted towards delivering those areas which are targetted at the expense of everything else, regardless of the impact. If you want to emphasise the distortion, you introduce performance related pay linked to specific targets, a favourite of central government over the past twenty years.
It becomes more important to vouch those activities than to look beond the 'target horizon', until you reach a point where people stop looking altogether. And here, the Baby P scandal puts its head above the parapet. Without the benefit of a background in social work, and without the benefit of the findings of the inquiry, I can guess that everyone concerned was satisfied that they had met their targets, and sight of the actual aim of the exercise, i.e. to protect vulnerable children, was lost.
Last year, a target was announced with regard to an area of work I specialise in. It was an entirely laudable goal, and one that I supported. However, there was no means to measure whether or not it was being achieved, and no context in which performance against that target could be properly judged. On asking a senior colleague what was planned to remedy this issue, I was told that it was hoped that something might be set up. It still hasn't been, although on the basis of my personal data, I know that I have met our goal. I have assured management that we are currently on target, but they only really have my word for it.
For some time, I've been arguing that political parties, Liberal Democrats included, need to decide what government is for. Once you decide that, what you do in government stems from some sense of philosophical cohesion and consistency. In terms of what the public sector does, a slightly refined question applies - what is your function?
If target setting is a tacit acknowledgement that you can't do everything that you are required to, can you successfully reduce the number of things that you actually can do, or can you drop areas of work without causing hurt to those that you serve? Alternatively, can you obtain the resources you need to deliver the whole job?
Ironically, there is a group of people capable of making the best decisions under such circumstances. Generally abused, under-resourced and ill-equipped, those of us on the front line are forced to make decisions about resource use every day. We see the impact of those decisions on those that we serve, and we have the potential flexibility to react quickly to day to day situations. If anyone is serious about improving our public services, they'll find a way to harness that opportunity.
Perhaps if the Government set another target...
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
However, word has got out that I'm 'anti-candidate', whatever that might mean. If it means that I expect an organisation that has status in the Party to demonstrate competence and obey the rules, well yes, I plead guilty as charged. Indeed, whilst Martin Turner and I exchanged a series of terse e-mails on my return from a well-deserved holiday, we had found some areas of mutual agreement (by the way, Martin, got that password for me yet?).
At the same time, word reaches me that I have caused a stir in English Candidates Committee circles. Ah yes, I had a bit of a dart at them too, didn't I? Anyone would think that I didn't care...
So let's get something straight, before the anonymous peanut gallery get it into their heads that impugning my reputation is a good idea. Candidates are a vital part of what we do. We need more potential Parliamentary candidates, from all walks of life, from all sections of our community, better trained, better resourced and better supported. I've argued for that, encouraged debate on how we might achieve it, and gone out of my way to open up our processes and engage a wider audience.
I've given up my weekends over nearly fourteen years as a candidate assessor (unpaid, and with no personal reward), and expending time, care and a large chunk of my personal finances as a Returning Officer over twenty years (I'm not very good at claiming my expenses...). At least a candidate gets to appear on a ballot paper and be the focus of a campaign.
On top of that, I've served on both the Regional and State Candidates Committees, answered questions from potential candidates, made presentations on the approval system, signed sponsorship forms for people who impress me, and encouraged others to give approval more thought. I've written and proposed motions to open up the process to underrepresented groups, and opposed discrimination wherever I've encountered it.
You know, the worst thing about politics is the behind the scenes whispering. So I have a request to those who are suggesting that I'm anti-candidate - if you've got a problem with what I've got to say, have a word with me. Make the case for an alternative view by all means, and do it publicly. The alternative is that you earn my pity, because you simply aren't worth my respect.
And if you don't understand that I'm angry because I care, because it's my gut reaction to want a system that works for everyone, that you really don't know me. And that's a crying shame...
Ann was an ever present presence besides Navnit during his two terms as Party President and, over dinner in an Italian restaurant between Westminster and Victoria, I took the opportunity to get a sense of how being the consort works. Admittedly, we come from rather different backgrounds in terms of our experiences within the Party, but her advice was treasured nonetheless.
As I think I've noted before, being the Presidential consort isn't necessarily a comfortable place to be. Are people being nice to you in pursuit of their agenda or just because they're nice? Indeed, can they be trusted if you say something inadvertently indiscreet? Are you being used as a means of 'getting to the President'?
Personally, I've always taken the view that people should be trusted until they prove to be unworthy of that trust, but I may need to be a little more cautious for the next two/four years (the choice is yours, ladies and gentlemen...).
However, Ann's advice was that I should continue to be myself, as people have grown used to my slightly idiosyncratic ways (my words, not hers) and that I should continue to speak out on the things that matter to me. And so I will. I might hold back from time to time, and I trust that you will understand if I do. After all, it isn't right to upset people just because I can, even if it might be fun to do so.
Meanwhile, Navnit and Ros were discussing the Presidency, and how things worked and what was learnt. Not really my territory, methinks...
Monday, December 15, 2008
I'll shortly say goodbye to the staff of the restaurant car for the last time. And, whilst Richard Bowker, the head guy at National Express, carries on running his trains and coaches, doubtless upsetting Jonathan Wallace whilst he does so, I will be mourning the passing of another piece of railway heritage. Sorry, Mr Bowker, but you're not on my Christmas card list this year...
The loss of the restaurant car on National Express East Anglia is, in itself, not a huge thing. From a personal perspective, it will be better for both my waistline and my pocket (breakfast may be good, but it isn't cheap). On the other hand, it makes the journey more than a lengthy commute, and the easy familiarity of seeing the same faces, eating their kippers or porridge is vaguely reassuring. I also enjoy the friendly banter with the staff, which reminds me of my days at UEA in Norwich.
However, in these times of austerity, a loss-making restaurant car stands between National Express and yet greater profitability. I'm guessing that I won't see the benefits of my sacrifice though. And as for those staff whose jobs will be lost in the week before Christmas, my thoughts go out to them.
Ah well, a slice of toast with blackcurrent preserve is needed, methinks. Oh yes, and some coffee to wash it down...
My fellow travellers are grumbling about the loss of their morning routine too, and one is moved to suggest that one of the MPs on the route should be making a fuss. They certainly don't seem to respond to a baroness - Ros wrote to them expressing her dismay and was given the 'standard brush-off letter' in reply.
Ironically, the main stations on the line serve constituencies held by all three major Parties, Norwich South and Ipswich are Labour, South Norfolk (for Diss), Bury St Edmunds (for Stowmarket) and whichever seat covers Manningtree are Conservative, and, of course, Colchester is Liberal Democrat.
Any chance that you might all rally round our restaurant car, gentlemen?
There are those who would disparage Bob, but he is true to the finest traditions of the Party, and is a fine constituency MP. He reminds me of a proper full English breakfast - and guess what just turned up in front of me?
The approach to the Stour Valley is usually one of the prettier parts of the run but, in sympathy with the air of nostalgic regret and sense of impending loss, the sky is grey and damp, and the farm animals are standing around, looking forlorn.
It just won't be the same in standard class...
It's a sad day for those of us who have a romantic view of the railways, so I thought that I should mark the occasion. I've got a cup of coffee and a slice of buttered toast, with an assortment of citrus fruit on the way, so I'll be back after Ipswich...
Friday, December 12, 2008
I'm guessing that they worked out that the excess fares they would have to pay to staff commuting to the next nearest office might bankrupt them...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
He suggested, apparently in all seriousness, that money was a bad thing. He noted that he was doing as much as possible without the use of money, and only had £5 on him because, "his aunt had given him the money, as she didn't want him to be vulnerable". Bless...
Last night, I celebrated my new-found freedom by attending the launch of Stephen Haseler's new book, "Meltdown - how the Masters of the Universe destroyed the West's power and prosperity" at London Metropolitan University. Professor Haseler is a friend of Ros's, and his view is that the neo-conservative vision of low regulation, encouraged by the triumph of capitalism over communism, combined with poor political leadership is the cause of much of our current discomfort. As interesting as Stephen was, his fellow panel members, Lord Skidelsky and Larry Elliott, added further intellectual lustre to the evening.
Stephen managed to bring together a whole clutch of concepts which have nagged at me like a slightly loose tooth for some time. The notion that the societal norm of debt-averseness has been overturned, that there could not be a reversal of the previous inevitable advance of living standards and of personal wealth has seemed, to this bureaucrat at least, to be flawed in terms of ts credibility. Without Vince Cable's lonely campaigning over the years, the strategy of debt-fueled growth, promoted by the Government and basically unchallenged by the Conservatives, would have been unanimously supported.
The audience was interesting too. Given Professor Haseler's somewhat social democratic view of the world, the presence of Progressive Vision's own Svengali, Mark Littlewood, was perhaps a mite unexpected. Whilst they share a love of Championship football teams (QPR and Southampton respectively), I am unconvinced that they would see eye to eye on many aspects of the book.
So, all in all, a thought-provoking evening out...
Monday, December 08, 2008
"But I'd be happy
When next I ask the time
If I find I've wasted none of mine
Listening while you wasted all of yours..."
It's looking like it'll be another grim evening...
|For all Gunners fans out there...|
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
|Isn't it lovely?|
Thursday, December 04, 2008
|Victoria Terminus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site|
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- Create a mentoring structure for PPCs. The Campaign for Gender Balance can do it - why can't you?
- Service your members properly - representing their views, providing advice on how to deal with difficult Local Parties, engaging in rules reviews, these are the things that I expect.
- Work with the Campaigns Department to draw up better guidance for candidates in winnable seats - what commitment of time is really necessary, how adjustments can be made to allow for personal circumstances.
- Make yourselves reflective of the sort of Parliamentary Party we all want - involve a wider range of people, find ways to encourage women and BME candidates to play a part in your activities.
- Create a central information resource, not necessarily 'Who's Who in the Liberal Democrats' but more 'Who Does What in the Liberal Democrats'. It would be far more useful to candidates, especially the less well-resourced ones, when they really need to know something.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
- the Chair or Vice-Chair of the ECC (or nominee)
- an MP (preferably one who has fought a by-election or similar type of seat)
- the RCC from the Region where the by-election is taking place (or nominee)
- the Director of Campaigns (or nominee)
- issues regarding factions within the Local Party
- the ability of Local Party members to understand the issues involved in fighting a by-election
- the difficulty in getting five people together at short notice
- confidentiality - a Local Party member might go back to their colleagues and say that they didn’t agree with the outcome