Monday, 30 May 2011

German Nuclear Power Unplugged.

It has been announced today that people power and democracy has finally won through and a national government has bowed to the will of the people. Germany is to phase out Nuclear power stations by 2022. As a democrat I am exceptionally pleased but as a rational human being I also despair and for the first real time in my life I am vocally opposed to a decision of a German government.

So what is it all about?

Following the Fukishima accident/disaster many German citizens have been moved to protest that their nation remove its support for Nuclear power, remove the facilities and move to a safer form of energy production so that a similar incident could be avoided on German soil.
The German people spoke as a whole and after a good constructed debate in the German parliament steps are being taken.
This is truly democracy at work and a good conscientious government doing the work of the people and representing what the people want.
The key to good democracy is doing the people's will whether it is a bad thing or not, after all people should be allowed to make their own mistakes and make their own decisions and the Government not to dictate what they think is best for the nation but what the nation wants.

So what's wrong with that?

Everything is wrong with it I'm afraid. Nuclear power is not safe, it can lead, as we've seen at Chernobyl and Fukishima to massive environmental incidents and potentially threaten human and natural life on the planet. However it takes something pretty big to cause that sort of crisis. Chernobyl was a product of aging reactors and poor safety procedures where as Fukishima was the result of a cataclysmic Natural disaster something the ever cautious safety designers in Japan hadn't taken into consideration. Don't misunderstand they had set a safety line and then knowing what their part of the world was made it an extra percentage safer but the scale of the earthquake and resulting Tsunami was even bigger than that!
Germany is safe from both of those problems. It has always been said (and fairly stereotypically) the Germans over engineer everything and they are pretty strict with rules and legislation. It would also be highly unlikely that an earthquake of that magnitude would occur under the North sea and cause a massive Tsunami that would sweep into Germany.

Nuclear power is non-renewable and does generate some serious waste issues BUT it is preferable, in my view, to gas and coal fired stations which are heavy pollutants and although cheap to run in the long run will run out of fuel. These are the very power plants that will have to be established to fulfill Germany's power needs for the Nuclear switch off in 2022. After all there are no really suitable sites for Geo-thermal or off sure wind farms, land ones are often rejected by NIMBYists as ugly and noisy. There is scope for tidal generators across the Rhine estuary or in the North sea but such measures are expensive.
It seems to me that they have reacted in an uncharacteristic knee jerk without planning any real alternative or forward plan. If anything the closure is a step back for the environment, a sort of trade off for "What could happen if there was a cataclysmic natural disaster." against the immovable facts of global warming and depletion of fossil fuels.

It has been said that "What is in the public interest is rarely in the public interest." and this is a case that demonstrates that and... as illiberal as it is to say this, the Government should have ignored the masses and done what was right and what IT deemed right for the people as sometimes the people do need guidance and direction on certain issues.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Should Huhne stay or should Huhne go?

The party is in crisis, there is no denying it and there is no need for me to write another blog about it. Unfortunatly in todays politics image is everything and the media of today has a keen eye for weakness and for digging up information however deep you buried it.

David Lawes was our first casualty to such attack and correctly so. As much as I respect and like David Lawes completly understand his motives and reasons he was wrong to commit expenses fraud. He acted immpecably by appologising publically and to the Prime Minister and Nick  before resigning and submitting himself to investigation as well as paying the money back.

Doctor Vince was stung. Pure and simple. He was castigated for voicing his own opinion in private. Now however unprofessional it was of him to do so he was also caught out by journalists using secret recording devices for the reason of just causing trouble. He has also been casigated for voicing his opinion on policy which as a coalition minister he should be allowed to do.     

When we come to Chris Huhne... I like to believe that people are innocent until proven guilty and if Chris Huhne is innocent then I hope that the media will write a full retraction on the front pages.
However how should Nick respond to the crisis?

Chris Huhne has been loyal and worked very hard for the Liberal Democrat party and as a minister but he should now step up and fall upon his sword.
If he is innocent there is time for him to come back to the front benches in another portfolio.

In 2009 Nick attacked the Labour benches that were rocked with scandal and the Conservative MPs who had commited expenses fraud. The image of the party was that we were not involved heavilly in that sort of thing and that we were different. Now, two years later it appears that we are as guilty.
However, we have promised new politics, a cleaner politics and unfortunately Chris Huhne must stand down to fall into the line. He is a minister being investigated by the Police for a criminal offence, this cannot help but affect his work and more importantly his family life too.

Maybe a hiatus would do him good.

If Chris doesn't stand down on his own then Nick should relieve him of his post - at least for the duration of the investigation.

It is the only way. We cannot, as a party or even as a government allow sleeze. It is the easy way for the opposition to criticise us. If we are trying to break the stereotypes, to engage the public in politics and show that poiticians can be trusted, at least to up hold the laws of the realm, then we must be seen to be tough on this. A government minister cannot be seen on the front pages of the Sunday newspapers for the same story for three consecutive weeks.

I do feel sorry for Chris Huhne and I hope that he is innocent and clears his name. Equally I hope that if he is guilty that he is charged accordingly.

He has to stand down for the duration though and if not voluntarily definetly by suggestion and then finally order.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The end of the road For Nick?

For the first time in months I logged on to my LibDem act page and had a surf for groups. During this surf I discovered one I was a member of had changed its' name from "We agree with Nick" to "Do we still agree with Nick?" and a new one labelled "Sack Nick."
It got me thinking about the future of Nick as leader and the very real possibility of his removal from the leadership before 2015.
2010 was a good year for Clegg, he had been an energetic and charismatic young leader of the party - he did what no leader had done for generations- touched the hearts and minds of the voters. His calls for change, abandonment of the summer recess so they could deal with the expenses crisis, electoral reform and a new politics, environmentalism and a frank openness at the leadership debates. The Libdems and Clegg offered a new way and a bright future. Even as the Coalition started we were starry eyed and even buried a distrust of the Conservatives as David Cameron seemed to be saying similar things, maybe we could dull the Conservative blades.
But since the Tuition fees crisis belief in the party has waned. It is grim being a LibDem at the moment. Ten years ago it was the wasted third vote, five years ago we were a viable option and last year we were an outside edge runner that could cause a the first parliamentary upset since Ramsey MacDonald's first Labour government. Now we are pariahs... the only people viewed as lower than us is the BNP who got more votes than us at the Saddleworth by-election!

On May 5th I stood amongst fellow party members and watched the party collapse, not only in Medway but across the nation and it was frustrating to watch something I cared deeply about fail so horrendously and not be able to do anything about it. This was coupled with the utter failure of the AV campaign which meant that we were kicked in the guts whilst we lay on the floor bruised. Angry, bitter and hurt Lib Dems filed out of Count halls across the country thinking about how they were going to pick themselves up and where we were going to go now. I know I asked the question and Blogged about it.
Many turned to the leadership and Nick has been labelled as the Captain of the ship that struck the Iceberg.

The big questions are;

Is this the time to replace Nick? Who would replace him?

Nick Clegg has become like Asquith. A once inspirational leader who is responsible for many great strides and improvements is rapidly finding himself out of touch and out of his depth in the evolving political world. The Media mock him, deride his policies, the Tories hate him and us as a sort of parasite that is sapping their essence whilst feeding on their power, Labour see us as the Achilles heal and Ed Miliband wants to be Nick from last year, even his some of his own party members dislike him seeing him as a sell out. I'm a fairly loyal Cleggite but even I have found myself shouting at PMQs.
"Damn it Nick stop nodding! You don't agree with the crap coming out of Cameron's mouth do you?"

Something must be learned from the Asquith scenario of 1916. Lloyd George took over from him and yes he was more of a political force when it came to solving the national crisis that was World War One but he sold out to the Conservatives and Boner Law, the party was also effectively destroyed and split into factionalism of Asquithian Liberals, Coalition Liberals and it took decades to repair the party and get it to the position it was in last year. Do we really want to go down that road again?

Nick is also VITAL to the running of the coalition. He definitely has some form of chemistry with David Cameron, despite protestations to the contrary. They get on, they work well together and they are the glue that holds it together a new leader may not have that dynamic and could lead the coalition to rupture and crack forcing another General Election and heralding the return of Labour and further defeat for us at the polls.
We may dislike the coalition at times in fact some LibDems and some Tories hate it a lot but lets face it this our chance to make a difference and we are making a difference and pushing forward Liberal reforms and policies if we mess it up now we will always be known as the party that imploded at the first whiff of responsibility and as the U-turn party that once propped up a Tory Minority government. We don't know what the next four years hold but we should hang on in there and see.

Many great politicians messed up royally in their careers but are remembered for their successes. Winston Churchill responsible for the Gallipoli massacre and economic decisions that brought about the general strike saved by epic leadership during World War Two, Milk snatcher Thatcher remembered for the Falklands, George Washington for crossing the Delaware and not the crushing defeats in the Philadelphia campaign. The tuition Fees and local council defeats could be Nick's Quatre-Bras, a defeat he has had to suffer before a stunning victory at Waterloo. If his stance and words of tough Liberalism are genuine and start to ring true, if he stands firm on defending our stance on NHS reform, if he battles the return of the ID database and visibly stands up to the Tories then damn it I'm still on board and I will gladly Tweet "I agree with Nick again."
If... If, when all is said and done it is another damp squib and we just trundle towards the next election in a mediocre diet Tory party fashion then I think in the autumn conference of 2014 we should stand up and elect a new leader for the general election, a new face, a new direction.

But if it is worse than a damp squib and things get worse for us and the country, if we really are ceasing to agree with Nick and each other I think maybe... and it pains me to say it, we should act sooner.

But I have faith that Nick can turn it around for us.

If a replacement for Nick was to be found I think it would have to be someone outside of the government, someone who hasn't been tainted by the coalition or has stood their ground. Unfortunately that rules out Danny Alexander and even Doctor Vince and definitely Chris Huhne who has ruled himself out in recent weeks! also, unfortunately David Lawes and even Simon Hughes. I, personally think someone like Tim Farron or Greg Mulholland would be a good choice or Julian Huppert. Good, solid Lib Dem MPs who represent their constituents, who stand by their pledges and begged others to do the same. These are the people who agree with the grass root party members and if the worse comes to the worse take over from Nick.

Again I say that I support Nick, I agree with Nick and understand he has a tough job, a job none of us would or could do and his position is attacked on all sides by many vipers and carrion eaters but he stands tall and proud trying to do what he thinks is right. I truly believe that in 2015 we can look back on the coalition and say.
"Well it started badly but look what we have accomplished thanks to Nick."

It is also up to us, the grass roots activists to tell people what we are doing in government, tell people what Nick is doing rather than isn't and pushing the Liberal message.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Coalition Anniversary

A year ago, Nick Clegg and David Cameron stood before the world's media and announced they were forming the first coalition in British political history since the Second World War. Lib Dem activists were in a mixed mood, some were cautious about getting into bed with the Conservatives but an emergency conference saw the members present vote successfully to join as did the parliamentary party. I, like many were pleased and excited by the formation, it offered change and a breath of new life after the stagnant, almost living dead style of Brown's administration. I was doubly excited as my daughter was born the day of the Rose garden conference.

Now that Sophie has celebrated her first birthday with jubilant smiles and cake, how has the Coalition and more importantly how have the Lib Dems celebrated their first year?
Well the council results last week tell it all. I stood with colleagues and friends in a giant hall at the Medway Leisure park centre and watched the results come in. I saw a good man and councillor of 11 years lose his seat in Gillingham South to a Labour candidate that had not canvassed me or even delivered a leaflet. The chair of the Medway Lib Dems, Sue Hannant was quoted in the KM extra this week:

"There is no doubt the coalition did for us.
I personally think we should never have gone into it."

Her sentiment has been echoed by Lib Dems across the twittersphere and in party meetings across the land as they tackle the fall out. I have even echoed concerns with the way we are portrayed and conduct ourselves in my post:
But in the week that followed our defeat and the reversal of Cleggmania what have the party leadership and indeed our coalition partners made of it?

At the bottom of the pile are the observers and Lib Dem activists who have watched a party seem to betray its core values in Government, Nick Clegg a once dynamic leader become cowed into a Darth Vader style villain working with Cameron's Palpatine to crush the plucky British citizen with economic hardship and social injustice for just a ministerial car and office.  The parliamentary party seems divided as well, with ministers like Huhne and Alexander nodding in agreement whilst Dr Vince goes from one blunder to another vs. the Huppart's and Mullholland's of the party who stand up for their Liberal beliefs and speak their minds even if it is against the government's wishes. There also seems to be a third way... a grey central ground held by Simon Hughes and others who should disagree but instead stay strangely silent.
Norman Lamb, a leading Lib Dem and advisor to Mr Clegg has come out in recent days and described the party as a human shield for the Conservative party.  (  
People have told me that we are to blame for the harsh government economic measures, that we have a Liberal Chancellor - possibly from the amount of interviews Danny Alexander had to make. Even with the NHS reforms, a process our party members were quick to reject at the Spring conference we have been attacked for standing our ground;

"Instead of coming along after they had made the NHS bill and arguing about it, the Lib Dems should have argued against it from the beginning." Ed Miliband

Conservative back benchers, some of whom have been against a coalition with the Lib dems from the start, have been uttering displeasure at Mr Lamb's observations.

"One of them, Peter Bone, said the Lib Dem ministers had to show more "collective responsibility" and stop "bleating" about the Conservatives." (Ibid.)

Instead Mr Clegg has harkened to advice from the Lib Dem members, perhaps he even read this blog, (unlikely) and has announced a tougher more "Muscular Liberalism."

The following email was dispatched to Lib Dem members:

Dear Chris,
Earlier today I gave a speech at the National Liberal Club to party members and activists outlining where I believe we should go next in coalition. You can read the full text of my speech here.
The decision we took to enter full coalition with the Conservatives, a decision we collectively took, was absolutely the right one. However it is important to be clear that the current government is a coalition of necessity. The driving force behind the formation of the coalition was the need to act together in the national interest to sort out Labour's toxic economic legacy. It is not a 'national' government, but it is a government formed in the national interest.
In the next phase of the coalition, both partners will be able to be clearer in their identities, but equally clear about the need to support the Government and government policy. We will stand together, but not so closely that we stand in each other's shadow. You will see a strong liberal identity in a strong coalition government.
We will not define ourselves in relation to the other parties. We are defined by a century and a half of liberal politics. It is not left. It is not right. Not the anti-Tory party, nor the anti-Labour party, nor the anti-politics party. Instead a party of enterprise and fairness; a party which knows we can do more together than we can alone.
We are a liberal and democratic party. And we will stand our ground in the liberal centre of British politics.

Best wishes,

The Speech itself was a very good one, ('s_speech_to_mark_the_first_anniversary_of_the_Coalition&pPK=b06a3476-8433-42d4-83f7-cbcba784f4b5) and there were many good soundbites for the collected members of the Liberal club and the media as a whole.

It is quickly stressed that the Coalition was not one of convenience but of necessity because of the economic crisis, a crisis that Labour left behind, a party that the public had no real confidence in to sort it out.

 But the driving force behind the formation of the coalition was necessity: the need to act together in the national interest to sort out Labour’s toxic economic legacy. It is not a ‘national’ government, but it is a government formed in the national interest. - Clegg

Clegg, also reminds us what a golden opportunity the coalition is, it can show that we as a party are able to legislate, govern, generate ideas and are a good choice for government;

I am confident that by showing we can combine economic soundness with social justice – competence with a conscience – we will be an even more formidable political force in the future. -Clegg

He also acknowledges that the party has failed to be in the forefront of the media, telling people what we have done rather than what we have failed to do. Pupil Premium, free pre-school, moving for an elected house of lords, delayed Trident renewal, cutting income tax, helping pensioners... All of this has been lost in the quagmire of the media and cast into the shadow of Tuition fees.

In part this means we need to do a better job of blowing our own trumpet on policies such as cutting income tax for ordinary taxpayers; ending child detention; increasing the state pension; introducing free nursery education for disadvantaged 2 year olds; adding a quarter of a million apprenticeships; increasing tax on capital gains; reining in the banks; creating a Green Investment Bank and a green deal; and getting more money into schools to help poorer pupils.
In terms of policy impact, we are punching well above our weight. A recent analysis by the BBC estimated that 75 per cent of our manifesto is being implemented through the coalition agreement, compared to 60 per cent of the Conservative manifesto. -Clegg

I think that the AV campaign did dent his faith in the Conservative-Liberal partnership, the Conservatives did fight dirty and they did rally together, some with glee at the notion of crushing another upstart Lib Dem policy. I usually try to sit on the fence with party politics but I believe AV was a better system and I think to a degree people were hoodwinked and voted No for the wrong reasons. In fact I know some who did!
Clegg also taken steps to move away from the Conservatives and now that we no longer need to play nice for the AV referendum he is offering to stand up to the Conservatives a lot more over policy hopefully showing how separate we are.

"In the next phase, both partners will be able to be clearer in their identities but equally clear about the need to support government and government policy. We will stand together but not so closely that we stand in each other's shadow,"  -Clegg

This will be a good move! It will hopefully help to define us as a separate party again. Indeed on the doorsteps for the local election a Liberal Democrat councillor, with a Lib Dem Candidate badge and rosette was told by one householder in Gillingham South. "No thanks, I don't vote Tory."
If we can stand apart from the Conservatives a bit more, if we can show ourselves as the reformist party that we are we can win back the voters we have lost by 2015. We can honestly say that we have done our bit for the party and the country as a whole. We may not win every time but the proof is in the stance.

We are not just a prop to the Conservative party, we are the Liberal Democrat party and we have our own key core values and beliefs that don't always agree with the Conservatives.

However, and as much as I'd like to end on a triumphal Lib Dem surge, I should point out that we are still in coalition. As James Landale points out ( the coalition will only work if we don't let it turn into a marriage that has wilted into mutual distaste - marred with bickering and backstabbing, of anti- Tory or anti-Lib dem hacking. It is easy to hate each other and to bicker but we also need to work together too solve the deficit and bring in change and reform.
If anything we should not judge the Coalition on what has happened in the first year, and certainly not listen to the criticisms from Labour who cling to the comfort blanket of opposition, and who had just as fragmented party in government as the Coalition which is in fact two parties, we should wait and see how it develops and get involved and judge it on its merits.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Splitting the left vote?

This election saw the TUSC movement trying to gain local council seats in localities. Here in Medway we had Jacqui Berry for Gillingham South, aged 23, Andrew Feist who had just turned 18 for Gillingham North, they are young, they are enthusiastic and they are a party to watch out for in the future, but are they dangerously going to split the left vote and keeping the Tories in power?
The party's main aims are to the left of Labour's current position and I would say have a lot in kin with old Labour. Their basic message is that Labour has failed to represent the unions or the electorate and TUSC are moving into the void. They aren't, as some commentators have labelled them "this TUSC band of lunatics" but a serious party that should, in my opinion be taken seriously.

It is easy to throw labels around and neatly box people and parties up but if you intend to fight parties at the ballot boxes you should study them and evaluate them and their messages - after all parties exist because they represent someone. With the shift of Labour towards the right many people feel unrepresented, especially some of the unions like the PCS who have seen their workers in the civil service maligned and targeted by the last administration and will continue to be so under this government. Now as an ex PCS member and a member of the civil service I can agree with the sentiment. When they talk of civil service pay freezes across the board at £22k pa it hits people like myself who work in London and earn that much as prices for the commute, food, VAT, interest rates go up. One of my Colleagues said that she can only just scrape by on her wages and I myself am forced to face the very real possibility that I may be priced out of my job in three years times by the level of rail fares! Other governmental moves by the Labour administration included alterations to the Civil servants compensation scheme which would make staff easier to get rid off and cheaper too, after all as in any place of employment its always the bottom rung person who'll get let go rather than a manager and that had been our Union Rep's fear.
Other groups, that are separate from the Unions are apposed to the cuts, everyday people who supported the peaceful UKuncut demonstration back in March and went to Hyde Park to listen to Mr Miliband speak.
Others who work for the NHS are worried about job cuts, privatisation, "efficiency savings" that will not only jeopardise Patient care but also patients lives.
On the local level people are worried about affects on council services, loss of Sure start, wasting money on a new Bus station that no one really wanted, public services etc
Who do these people turn to? The Conservatives? Labour- who have let them down in the past and whose plan for the future is pretty much the same just slower or a blank sheet of paper, Lib Dems?- The bedfellows of the Conservatives and betrayers of the people (obviously not my view but a common one) UKIP or the BNP? Greens? -aren't the environmentalists? No one is there...

TUSC does represent people's needs and fears. They aren't some loony lefty fringe party that only has one message they have practical suggestions and courses of action that would solve unemployment and their plans are drawn from historical precedent and actions of the Attlee government.

(Please see: for more of what they stand for and what I think, Jacqui Berry's facebook page;

As a Historian I am forced to ask what has History taught us about this? At the turn of the last century the leading party that represented the people and brought in reform such as better health, old age pensions, votes for women and residential reform looked at a small party led by Ramsey MacDonald and Keir Hardie as a group of left wing radicals that were over exposed to Marx and Engels and would never develop, in fact Asquith offered them a loose coalition just to help keep the Conservatives out and his party in power. A century on the Liberal party is all but gone, its successor the Liberal Democrats just suffered a major electoral loss to this small party - Labour.
I'm not saying that in a hundred years time Labour will have been supplanted by TUSC but it is a scary precedent!

So how well did TUSC do in the local vote in Medway? Well they stood 8 Candidates across the whole conurbation and received, on average 249 votes per candidate! Well that's more than I got! Some people will say that they only got 0.72% of Medway's vote but as I said they only fielded eight candidates so that's pretty damn good in my opinion.

(Figures quoted from:

BUT and back to my original point, does their existence threaten to keep a Tory majority by splitting the left vote? Yes it does.

Some people, who would normally vote Labour or Lib Dem are drawn to the message, decisiveness and drive of Ms Berry and co. as well as their direct campaigning on the streets of Medway and at the PCS hustings, an event the Conservatives and ourselves failed to attend ( I was there, just didn't have the gumption to get up and speak!) By default the Conservatives get in, however this is no reason not to vote for a party or its representatives. After all only a year a go the Conservative media was telling us "A Vote for Clegg is a vote for Brown!" and I recall an episode of the Simpsons where the evil aliens Kang and Kudos are running for US president,
Homer says: "We could vote for a third candidate"
Kang and Kudos in unison. "Sure you can, throw your vote away!"
If the party were to use this election as a learning experience and get out on the streets and really push the message then they may even take seats at the next election, especially if the Libdems continue to fall apart and Labour continue not to do anything about their economic policy or properly oppose cuts etc.

If Labourites are worried enough about the rise of TUSC, and I believe they should be, then they need to address their party's policies or represent genuine people's problems in Medway and dare I say it the UK in general and remove the need for a splinter party. As for us, I'm not sure. I think the Lib Dems have their own journey to make and because of our spot in the coalition it could cause massively harmful ramifications for us.

Ultimately the appearance of TUSC has inconvenienced Labour at this local election, probably cost them some votes and maybe even a seat or two across the board but they aren't some lunatic fringe that should be ignored, I think they're a force to be reckoned with and should the economic situation fail to improve or, as Ed Balls suggests, double dip, then their support will, rightly, grow and grow.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Libdems; Where to go from here.

The dust is settling from the blast that rocked the party on Thursday. The electorate has stood up and said they don't want AV and showed a their distaste of the Coalition government by slaughtering Liberal Democrats across the board and returning a ... Wait there was no major Labour gain, if anything the Conservatives did very well this time...

But aren't they?
Yep, the government.

Anyway. The important fact is that we need to decide what direction we are going to move in. We are not at our lowest but we are in trouble. The Conservatives have shown to Coalition Lib dems who believed, as I did, that they will play dirty and play to win. So should we, before my prediction for the 2015 election, where Labour and Conservatives will happily round on us and destroy us, comes true.


A lot of pundits predicted that this election would be hard fought and more than likely lead to defeat. A Rorke's drift mentality seemed to take over a lot of areas. Lib Dems were happy to defend what they had already taken against an array of opponents; Labour, Conservatives, TUSC, BNP, Independents, Former Liberals, UKIP, English Nationalists...
Of course the first two were and always will be the biggest threat.
If studying military history has taught me anything over the years its that the British always bounce back after a horrific defeat. Isandalwana and Rorke's drift, Quatre Bras and Waterloo, Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. We can bounce back from this if we leave the Rorke's drift mentality now and instead move to the attack.

In councils we've lost, such as Norwich and Sheffield we need to watch, openly criticise the new administration as and when they fail and make cuts.
Point out lies, omissions and inaccuracies.
Relight the fires, get in contact with our grass roots and the electorate, show them that we are different to our Coalition partners and that we care and want to work for them and represent them.

But Chris... That's easier said than done. People hate us at the moment and its what we were doing before hand.

I know, campaigns have been hard fought and years of hard work lost because of the last six months of national politics and Westminster but we have four years to regroup and attack.
We need to listen to the people, represent them in fights against a council's unjust policies or actions.
I personally will be working for Gillingham South, supporting our two councillors in office and watching council policy closely and commentating as well.


I think it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for the coalition. I'm not suggesting that the party should leave the Coalition, far from it!

The coalition has a lot of important work to do, and we are pushing through a lot of our policies, policies that we wouldn't have a hope in hell of passing if we waited for a Lib Dem government.
We are also dulling the blade of Conservatism. I agree with Nick when he says that a Pupil Premium, AV referendum, cuts to income tax, free pre-school education would not have been brought in by the Conservative government on its own.

But we need to stand up, as a unit and say when we don't agree with something.
This is important, we have the right to abstention over issues, but the party all need to do it, not Just a few "Dissident MP's" whom the media quickly dive on as "Splitting the Coalition" but from Nick Clegg down we need to be able to say "No."
No to illiberal, unpopular, selfish policies that may arise or anything that is not supported by the party at large, especially NHS reform.

I also want to state that I am not encouraging dissent for the sake of dissent but we do need to remind the public that we are not a sub sect of the Conservative party and that we are backing "Alarm Clock Britain" and the electorate.

The more important thing is that we need to start trumpeting our achievements rather than relying on them to speak for themselves. People don't know that we've lowered the income tax threshold, or created the pupil premium all that can be seen is Tuition fees and austerity cuts.
Our achievements are being eaten up as "Government policy" and silently read as "Conservative policy." This needs to change.


I'm going to say it... I agree with Nick. I think he works exceptionally hard at a thankless job that anyone in his position would suffer with.

The Media like to portray him as a bungling untrustworthy buffoon who would as soon as sell his own grandmother to charm Cameron. Is it because they are frightened of what he represents? Last year it took a matter of days for newspapers to turn on him after the first successful leadership debate. "Nick Clegg is a Nazi" read one, others warned of the horrors of voting Lib Dem. "A Vote for Clegg is a Vote for Brown." Others call him a hypocrite for wanting to rid the world of business of Interns when he himself used interns. "A Vote for AV is a vote for PRESIDENT CLEGG!"
Thinly veiled attacks on him personally are being passed as news. He needs a media make over and he needs to stand up to David Cameron and distance himself from some decisions.

I think a leadership challenge at this point is politically crazy and dangerous. We've suffered a defeat Yes, but that is no reason to round on our leader yet unless he fails to address the situation. A change of command shows us to be weak in the face of adversity and strife and no one will support a party that crumbles like that. The last time we were in power we did the same thing, Lloyd George replaced Asquith and the split was horrendous and helped cause the party to implode. The same would happen now, we already strain a little between social liberals and Orange Book Liberals but we still use the same approach to solve problems, Mills' theories on Liberal politics. Its what the electorate and media don't get.

To quote Clegg again: "We're not on the left, we're not on the right. We have our own label. LIBERALS"

So I think our leader needs to remember that and start showing it not just closing his eyes and doing what he thinks is best but what the party and the people want.


Just one last thing and I think it is one of the most important. We've learnt that we cannot jump on bandwagons, or rally to populist policies that win votes but are hard to implement. Look at Tuition for Pete's sake.

When you're on the doorsteps or campaigning out there, and this goes for parliamentary and activists, and you too Nick if you're reading this (I doubt it) don't make promises that we cannot keep. Its simple.
In our local election the independents have said they will campaign to bring rail fares down. Balderdash.
We need to campaign on issues and truth... Not Balderdash.