Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Site Unseen

Well, it's been a bit of a slog but we got there in the end.

It has long been one of my goals to have webcasting in the council chamber at Reading Borough Council for several reasons and it was in the Reading Lib Dem manifesto in 2008 (non-)coincidentally when I was elected.

There are many reasons why the busniess of the council should be available and it isn't because you will be thrilled by the prospect of the clash of intellectual titans.If you are prepare for crushing disappointment. More often than not it is empty vessels making the most sound but that is not the point.
  • Democracy shouldn't be done, it should be seen to be done.And that includes being seen to be done by people who would ordinarily find it difficult to get to the Civic Offices for a 6.30pm start. The disabled and shift workers shouldn't be denied the right to see what is being done in their name.
  • Reports of council business vary in quality and quantity.
    Not a criticism of the journalists (I'm not just saying that because they sit behind me and might take to lobbing bread rolls at me if it was) but there is simply not enough space to cover any discussion and by the Friday a Tuesday evening 'scoop' may be wearing thin as a news item. Even so the most tedious debate says something about the participants so why shouldn't it all be available for scrutiny.
  • Who said what when might be a little easier to determine.
    Tonight was a world's record for personal statements both contrite and bolshie. Now if we knew what they actually had said word for word rather than through the collective prism of political leaflet writers then we could have cut half an hour from the meeting.
  • Simply letting the electors see how the elected behave.My personal favourite! Might even stop Peter Jones being gratuitously offensive but hey, Blair is more likely to apologise for an illegal war so don't pin your hopes on it.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Smear we go again

Well, I guess the niceties are over and the smearing and dirty tricks have started: spurious complaints; claiming credit for others' work and now just resorting to publishing lies and smears.

The surprise is given their attempts to paint the Tory party as the nasty party that it is Labour who are the first to crack. It'll be interesting to see if Naz and Anneliese are willing to disown their own election leaflets and back my call for a public apology to Daisy. It could go someway to restore the battered reputation that politics has if they were big enough to do so.

In an interview in the Reading East Banner, Anneleise is quoted as saying: "I don't go for trading personal insults." Daisy and I spoke to Naz only two days ago on the streets of Whitley and he seems to be genuinely nice guy and in my opinion undeserving of the Nasty Naz epithet used on another blog. I can't believe for one moment that either of them would wish to continue to be associated in any way with that sort of campaigning and condone what is a personal smear on the competancy of a popular and hard working local person like Daisy Benson. It doesn't wash with their electorate who know the truth and distancing themselves from such gutter politics would be the decent thing to do and do Anneliese, Naz and politics a lot of credit in the process.

But behind it all, do I detect a dead hand still at the tiller? Reading Banner is printed by Public Impact Communications after all.

Whoever is responsible, it would seem that the nasty cliche are still in charge of Labour's campaigning. There is a remarkable similarity to another personal attack made by Labour on the last day of the 2008 local elections when David Sutton was quoted on a leaflet as saying of me: "A man who's (sic) only contribution to public life in Reading is to publish a scandal mongering website." I can't believe that he would actually have said such a thing especially as he would have personally known at the time that I was a committee member of the Katesgrove Residents Association and it would therefore have been untrue. Whilst in relative terms at the time admittedly it was a small contribution, it was known by the Katesgrove electorate and I know that leaflet angered people who once counted themselves as his supporters the day before election day as they knew it wasn't true. The same is true now with Labour supporters, Tories and neutrals appalled by the latest efforts to smear by untruth.
To save the reputations of their candidates, maybe the person who really writes the Labour leaflets would like to make themselves known?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Love is the Slug

It's sad that it takes young people to die to provoke a debate about drugs, but we've been here before. Unfortunately once again it hasn't been an informed debate. Grieving parents are quoted and pushed into articulating solutions. It's rather distasteful and akin to asking a parent of an astronaut in the Challenger disaster to pinpoint the cause.

Police are now saying that they were killed by a contaminated batch. Contaminated? Experience shows that quite often after the "policy by Daily Mail" process has been set in motion it turns out that a "cocktail" and folly of youth is ultimately the root cause.

The reality that the Government are the real guilty party as 4-MMC would almost certainly have been made illegal like BZP if they hadn't chosen to interfere for political reasons.

However, that's not really the issue at stake here. I've said before that drugs should be classed in order of harm to society. That is not the same as saying drugs should necessarily be legal, but the current farce is killing people. Whilst the current crop of politicians were happy enough to snort and puff their way through University, once tasked with creating a safer society they have behaved like frightened bunnies in the headlights and instead have created a drugs policy using the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rule book leaving the young to roll 20 sided dice. An evidence based and medically led approach to the problems of drug use rather than victim criminalisation is the only logical way to deal with a problem that causes misery and collatoral damage with the criminal activity that goes on to support the industry.

Old Liberals like me (as opposed to the Provisional Social Democratic wing of the party) get squeemish when a ban on anything is proposed without proper debate or evidence, but that doesn't mean that we wouldn't if the evidence showed it to be necessary. Professor Nutt's approach was just the kind of respected research on which to make such decisions, but it would seem that many politicians would still burn women as witches if they perceived it as the politically expediant response to a Daily Mail headline.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Politics... show.

Behind the scenes at the Politics Show (South) insert for today's programme came up with one very revealing insight. Despite it having been posted on his website, one of the candidates was blissfully unaware that fighting cuts in local health services was one of his local priorities. I shall save the blushes of the person involved, but that's the problem when politics is driven by the political machine rather than political conviction.

One thing you can be sure of, if Daisy posts anything it is not written for her.


Doing some research for the programme (and thank goodness for IE8!) this did make me laugh when I went to the Reading West Conservative web site and clicked on the link to Alok Sharma's "new" web site:

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