Saturday, 29 May 2010

I Think I Swallowed a Bug

Labour politicians have expressed shock and outrage over David Laws resignation from the Cabinet after revelations in a newspaper.

"He's an absolute disgrace," said one former Labour Minister. "He should have hung on in there until the last minute. It's the kind of thing that brings Labour politicians into disrepute."

Friday, 28 May 2010

Let's Set Fire to Tears

Following the #bbcqt hash tag on Twitter is one of the great entertainments of the week. Yesterday's programme didn't let me down as Alistair Campbell without any sense of irony repeated Malcom Tucker's scriptwriter's joke about David Laws being a Bond villain from last week's Have I Got News for You without any attribution. Life really has started to imitate art... or maybe The Thick of It has political reality more nailed on than we ever dared to hope?

One of the audience members on BBC Question Time put up a rather odd argument for Lab-Lib coalition and that was that the country had voted for a left of centre alliance. It is undoubtedly a position that many Labour supporters genuinely feel is the case but it is quite wrong. For it to be true, you have to believe that the current Labour party is left of centre in the first place. It is demonstrably not and the only evidence that they give to justify calling themselves that is the introduction of the minimum wage which could equally have come from a right wing think tank paper demanding Government should stop subsidising businesses with welfare.

Indeed as the Political Compass web site shows there is no left of centre position in mainstream British politics and previous Labour and Tory fights over white van man can be seen in terms of a straight forward authoritorian right of centre tussle.

Within that framework, Orange book liberalism did not see the Lib Dems move significantly towards the right because the social democratic core has had a damping effect on runaway liberalism. I am instinctively a liberal, but am indebted to the social democrats in the party for dragging me back to reality! It's why the idea of coalition is not a problem for Lib Dems, we have faced the idea of accomodation of other positions within a broad set of principles for far longer than any of the other main parties. It's what happens when each year our leaders have to democratically take the party with them instead of relying on behind the scenes stitch-ups.

On the other hand for both Tories and Labour their members have dealt with internal conflicts of opinion like Thatcherism or nuLabour with those not subscribing to the change closing their eyes and ears and believing loyalty to the tribe or brand as more important. It's why Dennis Skinner can see no contradiction in him staying in a party which left his core beliefs over a decade ago and sees unions pouring millions of pounds into a party that is at best neutral and often hostile to their own members' interests. Many Conservatives face the same scenario where politically they are more allied with UKIP than their own leadership, but instead hang on in there hoping the tide will turn for them.

The downside is that we have to accept that we won't get our way on everything within a coalition framework, but it is one reason why a democratic and strong party has the most to gain from new politics. If you can define your party by what you are for rather than what you are against, you have a far better chance of bossing the agenda. Which then begs the question: what does the Labour Party stand for? I genuinely no longer know the answer to that.

iPrat

I  do love the irony of the Appleistas seeing Microsoft as the evil empire whilst the reality of Apple's exploitation and proprietary lock in is ignored. It's the technological equivalent of paying over the odds for designer branded goods manufactured in sweatshops.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beano Annual

I'm intrigued which way Labour are going to play tonight's Annual Council. A cheery 'hello' to Labour members over the last week has been met by largely mono-syllabic responses. I don't think they have taken it well.

I am looking forward to a particularly hysterical speech from Mrs. Ruhemann. Or maybe Tony Page will oblige with one of his fact-free contributions.

It would be terrible if they walked out and spoiled Gul Khan's big day. That would be churlish. But in the spirit of inter-party co-operation I would suggest that Gul could save the council tax payers' money on the cost of the Mayor's reception by buying a big bag of lemons from Marks and Spencer for the Labour group to suck on.

If anyone thinks that the new council will be more of the same... not with the new adminstration it won't. I'll leave it as a surprise until this evening ;0)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Democracy - Labour style

Jo Lovelock speaks. Tremble all who hear her voice:

“The people of Reading did not vote for this Con/Dem coalition, do not deserve this Con/Dem coalition and I am sure will take an early opportunity to say so through the ballot box.”

What Jo conveniently forgets is that it was in 2008 through the ballot box that the people of Reading kicked her party out. What they have had since then is an administration they didn't vote for, they didn't deserve and in 2010 continued to say so through the ballot box.

It is about time that this council was run for the benefit of the residents, by parties that can count majority support rather than for the benefit of the ever dwindling Reading and District Labour Party?

Friday, 21 May 2010

(500) Days of Summer

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't.

Gregory's Girl meets Eternal Sunshine
Anyone know where I can get a recording of Zooey singing 'Sugar Town'?
Favourite quotes:
"There's plenty other fish in the sea." "Well they're wrong."
"Why is it that pretty girls can treat everyone like crap and get away with it?" "Centuries of reinforcement."
"Just because some bizzaro girl likes the same things that you do, doesn't make her your soul mate."
"Loneliness is... er, underrated."
"The Lady Dothn't"
"I'm stalking. Er, I'm starving"
"Dear, I don't know how to tell you this. But there is a Chinese family in our bathroom."
Day 35
"Your girl is losing it."
"A shitload of suffering is what I am saying!
"Roses are red, violets are blue **** you you whore"
"She took a giant shit on my face... literally." "Literally?" "Not literally"
Expectations : Reality
"I think you were just remembering the good stuff"
"I quit. there's enough bullshit in the world without my help."
"I guess I should say congratulations?" "Only if you mean it." "In that case..."
"Why did you dance with me" "Because I wanted to"
"You didn't want to be anyone's girlfriend and now you are somebody's wife"
"Summer... I really do hope that you are happy."
"I haven't seen you." "You must not have been looking."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Autumn"

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Labour Tantrums Start.

Reading some of the rubbish being put around by Reading Labour councillors in the last few days is immensley amusing. It's been like watching a child when their mum has taken away their favourite teddy to wash off the vomit.

I don't define myself as progressive because it is a completely meaningless term used by vacuous people post-election to mean "Not Conservative". Labour members have to increasingly define themselves by what they are not because they no longer know what they stand for. I have no need to because I am quite clear what a Lib Dem believes in and it is been a continuous and honourable line from the reforms of the 19th Century to Nick Clegg's calls for a society based on fairness. If a label needs to be pinned on my party, I may allow the use of radical but that is a term you absolutely could not use to describe Labour in any shape or form.

The root of their problem is that Labour refuse to accept that they LOST the local elections in 2008.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Deal or No Deal

The Labour Party are putting predictable spin on the news that the Lib Dems and Conservatives have come to an agreement to run Reading Borough Council. Their justification for holding on to control in Reading is that they gained a councillor from the Tories in Minster. Wow, Labour win back seat in Labour stronghold shocker! What we have in fact been seeing since 2004 is the long slow death of Reading Labour not being reflected in the number of wards they hold.

The basic facts are that Labour lost Katesgrove, which now joins Redlands as 100% Lib Dem. They lost Park. Battle was not a real gain as the "independent" councillor they won it from fought it as a Labour candidate last time. On their share of the vote, Labour has only justified having 14 or 15 councillors since 2006 and in the last local elections more than one in four people voted Lib Dem. Labour lost any legitimacy to run the town many years ago.

Perhaps what Labour are really scared off is the return of democracy to Reading. And if they are, they are right to be worried.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Nice to See You, to See You...

No prizes I guess for suggesting that it's going to be a really wierd few years. The sight of Nick Clegg sittting on the Government benches ain't ever getting old!

What we can't tell yet is whether the 223 new MPs and a spirit of Glasnost will fundamentally change the nature of the Commons. Maybe when we look back the real casualty will be an end to the sixth form debating society nature of British politics that has characterised Parliamentary business for decades.

The idea that the nation voted for a hung Parliament is patently asbsurd. However, it may have been that the nation actually delivered a far more powerful message to MPs? Grow up!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Con-Dem Nation

Chris Addison hit it on the head on Have I Got News for You, the media doesn't have a clue as to how to report the coalition deal with the Tories as they continue trying to shove it into their adversarial mode of reporting.

You could see their problem show in their reporting of our Special Conference this weekend. Excitable interviews with a Labour MP outside the venue and with the revelation that former leader Charles Kennedy abstained in the MPs' vote, the press were gearing up for a scrap between the party and the leadership. How little they know about Lib Dems, ironically because they have paid so little attention to us up until now.

Labour from the moment on they realised that they'd lost the election have been getting ready to go back to their constituencies and prepare for opposition. And let's face it, there would be just as much work to do undoing Labour policies as keeping the Tories on the straight and narrow.

What appeared to have convinced the members that the negotiating team had done the best for the party and the nation was the sheer number of Lib Dem manifesto commitments that are going to be implemented.  No longer will people be able to say that Lib Dems can say what we want because we'll never get our ideas implemented. You can see a list of them here: Carl Minns Blog.



In the UK "progressive" has been used by mainly Labour party members as a convenient banner to pin their flags on after the abandonment of socialism by Tony Blair. Yet, when you query Labour Party members what they mean by progressive, they have absolutely no idea what it is! Proposing legislation just to give the Queen's something to say in her speech is not sufficient justification for calling oneself progressive as though it means anything.

So let's define it for them shall we. Progressive rock was the 70s musical musings of Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis. Prog Politics is the political equivalent and encapsulates Labour's ideology perfectly. For those who grew up guided by the punk ethic, "prog" meant bloated overblown pomposity with a tendency for the act to end up disappearing up their own backsides whilst simultaneously over doing the theatrics. Yep, with that definition Labour really can justify calling themselves a progressive party!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

We are Liberal Democrats

Welcome to the real world. If you go to the country saying that you can form a credible Government you cannot shirk it when the chance comes. Nick Clegg would be betraying the voter if a real chance to implement Liberal Democrat policies was spurned to carry on as some kind of political awkward squad.


Labour, of course, are going to squeal like a stuck-pig. One of the more dishonest claims from them is of a majority "progressive" vote. If fails on the first test. Labour are anything but a progressive party. Labour has been a repressive and authoritarian Government and it is to their shame that local Labour politicians have tried to distance themselves from national policy whist simultaneously standing on the same platform. That is dishonest.

We saw the ridiculous situation where one of the Labour candidates was against Trident, campaigned against tuition fees and opposed the war in Iraq. She backed the 10:10 initiative whilst her colleagues in Parliament voted against it and saw not the slightest hypocrisy in her position. That's chasing power without principle.

And lets be clear. Lib Dems are not an anti-Tory party. We don't define ourselves by what we hate. Just because it is the only tactic Labour has left to scare the voter as they desert their natural supporters it doesn't mean that others are. Lib Dems are not Tory and neither are we Labour-lite, we are Liberal Democrats. The clue is in the name.

We never claimed to be a part of a progressive movement, that was Gordon Brown's shabby attempt to keep his job after being so comprehensively rejected. We were quite clear when campaigning. We are different. A Lib Dem vote was not and never was a vote to keep Gordon Brown in office.

What Labour politicians do not understand is that the liberal tradition exists in its own right. There are both Labour supporters and Tories who share some of these traditions and have chosen to stay in their own parties and argue from within, but the bottom line is that we have our own traditions and values which the majority of Labour members just don't understand.

Lib Dems oppose class-based politics. We believe in limiting state power when it has no role to play. We believe in devolving power to local levels. These are distinct matters of principle which is obviously why Labour are confused. They left their principles behind over a decade ago..

This is why, we oppose ID cards, storing DNA of innocent people and removing the right to trial by jury. It is why we believe in reducing income tax for the poor instead of doling out tax credits and our commitment to improving education outcomes for the poor and the restoration of a meritocracy. We don't have these aims because of a focus group report. It is because that's what we are.

Labour just doesn't get it. And I suspect they never will.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Lost and Found

Just following orders...

Subject: Baggage reclaim

Roger, others, please distribute this message widely:

Comrades,

We have now cleared 128 Oxford Road and will be returning the keys to Mr Gupta tomorrow [Monday 10th] as promised. Harry and others with keys, please return them to me when you can.

There are still two pasting tables, four wooden dining chairs and two red folding chairs at 128, which I can release by arrangement, but please make it quick.

Other stuff Lesley and I have brought home to ** ** ****** **** includes a laptop, a brown Lee Cooper jacket Mens XL, a grey hoodie with green and black stripes, some shaving equipment, some 2,000
plastic bags and hundreds of cloth bags.

If you own any of the above or other stuff not mentioned, please get in touch: email, **** *** **** or ***** ******, or just knock on our door.

Best wishes,

Robert

I love the way the class traitors still call themselves "comrades".

Business as usual?

Now this is an odd one. The Reading and District Labour Party are holding a General Committee meeting in the council chamber tonight... start time 7pm if you wish to get along there. Only problem is that it does not appear to have been booked.

I hope they will be paying for using council facilities for party political purposes.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Lib Dems Cause Cancer

Or they would if the Daily Mail did a report on us.

This is classic satire from Russell Howard. Ha ha ha bonk!

First Reaction

Congratulations to Alok Sharma. I may disagree fundamentally with many of his party's policies but he fought a good clean campaign and I genuinely wish him all the best as the MP for Reading West... well, at least until the next election!

On the other hand, Labour were quite disreputable. Naz Sarkar when picked up on his lying leaflets actually admitted that he didn't like it either and that it was Pete Ruhemann's doing - something that despite all the evidence pointing to him as the author he has denied in public and in print. Maybe the local Labour party would like to tell us which one of Naz or Pete Ruhemann is not telling the truth. They both cannot be right.

The local election results are interesting in that it seems to back up my thoughts that the Tories highwater mark was in 2007. There was much bluster from the Tories in 2008 about taking over the town but their failure to defend their gains of Minster and Park that they made in 2006, 2007 meant that in actuality they were going backwards even then. There were also a lot of bullish pre-election taunting from Tory commentators (and Tony Page) about taking Tilehurst from the Lib Dems. It's what happens when you start believing your own hype. Local Lib Dems continued their steady progress since 2006 by ending up at the end of the election with more seats than when they started.

The mathematics of the election always meant that Reading would remain in no overall control.

I'm analysing the results so I will post a more detailed update later.

[Update] Just had an enormous giggle at a blog post predicting a Labour meltdown in Reading. Labour lost Katesgrove and Park... but gained Minster from the Tories and effectively gained Battle from Independent, so Labour held steady. Lib Dems and Greens moved forward and only one party went backwards. Any prizes for guessing which?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Party Time!

Reading East and West Thank You Party

Anneliese and Naz invite you to a Thank You Party
(hopefully a celebration too!)

Let’s enjoy ourselves after all this hard work!
Venue: Chilli n Spice restaurant, 10 St Mary’s Butts, Reading
Time: 7.30 onwards Date: Saturday 8th May

An informal buffet will be available of Chilli n Spice’s excellent curry
(price tbc., probably around £12).

Please let us know if you’re coming so we can plan for catering purposes.

Squeaky Bum Time

It's "squeaky bum time" as one football manager would say!

I'm pleased that we are the only party that has given the voters a positive reason to vote for us. Both Labour and Tories have been asking people to vote for them because they are not the other lot, what could be called 'Air Freshener Politics' - the politics of voting with a peg on your nose where the message is: "Vote for us because we may stink but it is slightly less than the other lot." How patronising and trite.

It only reinforces Nick's comments at the Lib Dem Spring Conference that the Liberal Democrats are the last political party left in Britain. Labour and the Conservatives are just slick marketing organisations paid for by vested interests.

In Reading the local Labour Party has resorted to a brand new tactic in electioneering - pure barefaced lying. Truth is often stretched at election time, but this is the first time I can remember it being completely ignored and to hell with the consequences. They really don't care.

And a word of advice to Peter Ruhemann, I suggest that you seriously think of standing down rather than seek re-election next year. You will lose.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Rats Reboarding a Sinking Ship

Now, it's one thing to misrepresent Lib Dem policies (and we've seen a lot of that from both the Boy Dave and Bigot Brown) but it is quite another thing to publish a complete and fabricated lie in an election leaflet.

I've just seen a copy of the election special 'Abbey Matters':

Beware - Residents' parking Under Threat from Reading Tories and Liberals

What follows is a completely made up "marmite du merde" as they say in France. I guess they don't care anymore, so desperate are they to hang on that barefaced lying is all they have left and so much for the clean campaign pledge from Anneleiese. The sooner this disreputable bunch are kicked out of office the better.

I hope the Reading Labour agents have deep pockets. They are going to need them.