Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Modern Anachronism -First class Train travel.

Many commuters will know the pain of being stuck on busy rush hour trains, crushed in door ways or sitting in the aisles. In wet weather they are wedged against other wet bodies, cold, wet and frustrated all the while they stare at the first class section with, in some cases twenty seats in with say three or four people.
It is a throw back to a bygone age, in today's modern classless society should there still be a first class? The very differentiation between second and first class is offensive in itself. It is bad enough that "men in suits" already give me filthy looks when I commute in a uniform with a name badge, let alone some of the condescending looks I have received from First Class whilst I have been sat in a doorway! In today's modern world we are all citizens and we are all the same and are afforded the same rights.

*Getting off my soapbox*

I can understand that some people are willing to pay more for comfort, more leg room and quiet in which to work but many more of us pay for a seat and room to work and cannot get even that. All the majority of commuters see is a clutch of empty seats going to waste. Occasionally it is declassified and sometimes I have seen people get away with a free ride in first class (usually between Victoria and Bromley South!) but for those of us who obey the rules it is just a wasted area.

Maybe another answer would be to bring back Third class. I would gladly pay less for a ticket that didn't entitle me to an actual seat but I could sit in the doorway (that I usually do) or aisle and I'm sure many others wouldn't mind just to save money and not pay for a service that isn't being provided.

Rail companies do make quite a bit of money out of first class travel, they also make a good amount from ticket mark ups from those caught in the wrong section but they need to think of the majority of travellers and they are the second class travellers who require a seat and pay a good amount of money also.

I know that the current rolling stock has the first class built into it but I would hope that companies would look to the future and remove this anachronism so that we could all travel in a fair and adjusted manner with the same rights to seating and comfort.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Dave vs. Nick; Alterations to the Human Rights act.

Since the Conservatives gained a majority in parliament there has been a worry that the Human Rights Act may suffer a redraft or complete revision. The first was when Priti Patel asked in PMQ's;

"When will the government overturn the Human Rights act?"

More than a few Libdems began to worry what they had got themselves into but all went quite on this front until recently, with the bout of Civil disorder which gripped the country. Reports of offenders hiding behind the Act and using it to escape justice has lead many to question its use in public life and legislation it is, in the words of Jack Straw;

"A Villians' Charter."

David Cameron has in the past called for the act to be scrapped completely in the past (  and then on 21st August Mr Cameron wrote an article on change and what the Coalition was going to do to try and rectify the situation. (

There are some concerning sentences;

There are problems in our society that have been growing for a long time: a decline in responsibility, a rise in selfishness, a growing sense of individual rights come before anything else.


I am determined we get a grip on the misrepresentation of human rights.


sense of personal responsibility that has been eroded over the years by many things, ... to the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights.

These are all quite vague and alarm bells are ringing in the Liberal world that the Right are going to meddle to everyone's detriment. After all the Individual has the right not to be trampled on by the state and that a person's rights are there to be protected before it is trampled on by the larger state.

It would make sense that the riots and the civil disorder act as a catalyst or spark to bring about change to the act, when public feeling is against the perpetrators. It is a way to get public and media support, the kind of reaction that looks like an understandable knee jerk. We've also seen these in the form of evictions of
rioters from Council housing and harsh sentences that have come out in subsequent trials.
The Spectator also points out that Cameron may be playing to the crowd somewhat... He talks of fighting Europe to rectify the European Court of Human Rights - Boo Europe!!!
He neglects to say that actually they are two different bodies. To alter the ECHR you need the backing of 47 member states rather than the 27 involved in the EU.

Worried? I was... then Cue.... NICK CLEGG!

Nick's comments in the Guardian are very reassuring. He sounds like the reasonable half of the debate, explaining what his interpretation and the party's stance (hopefully) will be standing for rather than the rant of the right playing to the crowd. He outlines that the act has been misused in the past and very famously lambasted in the media, often used by money hungry lawyers who will take a hyped up cases. It is these loop holes need to be closed, the act needs to work for everyone
and that the balance of between individual rights to the rules and laws of society balance needs to be readdressed. He also talks about the paranoia of officials who do not want to break the human rights act, the Policemen who went to go and get a KFC meal for a fugitive who claimed it was his human right, law enforcement is scared not to act at times and enforce the law. We as a society will continue to lose out if law breakers are able to call upon a misrepresented act.

He reassures the party faithful that we stand for strengthening the commitment of the human rights act and the rights of the small person against oppression by the state. He talks about the way that the act has helped people already;

Preventing local authorities from carrying out surveillance of law abiding families,

Removing the innocent from the DNA database,

Stopping rapists from cross examining their possible victims.

He states;

The reality is that those who need to make use  of human rights laws to challenge the decisions of the authorities are nearly always people who are in the care of the state: Children's homes, mental hospitals, immigration detention. They are often vulnerable, powerless or outsiders and are sometimes people for whom the public feels little sympathy. But they are human beings, and our common humanity dictates that we treat them as such.

In a similar vein to his article in the Orange Book, he talks about reform of the ECHR but from within the system with everyone's support and for the benefit of everyone. These are our rights, the law should benefit the many not the few and that the state should be able to act to protect the majority.

In short I am more confident in the changes knowing that Nick and the parliamentary party will not back changes in specific rights (Theresa May's aim), or alter the way we work with the ECHR, which appears to be Mr Cameron's aim or even to leave the convention altogether which is an aim of the far right and some backbenchers! If we were to back down on these, if we allow the Conservatives to achieve any goals that would threaten the very existence of Human rights and personal freedom from state interest - We might as well pack up and go home, it is the very foundation of the party and THE cornerstone that once removed will bring down the house of Gladstone, and rightly so.

He has managed to get the commission into a "Bill of rights" almost solely with Liberal Human rights lawyers Phillipe Sands, Lord Lester and Helena Kennedy! This will guarantee that we will keep our rights and that the party will maintain its dedication to rights and Liberalism laid down in Mills and Liberal philosophers who

Whilst David Cameron postures and talks of the Right's aims and wishes, whether he is playing up to the crowd or whether he truly believes that this sort of change is what is needed, I can feel safe that Nick's words explain the bluster and his calm and reassuring article belays all fears that a state where the Government and its bodies DO hold ALL the power will not and cannot exist. He once described the party as the heirs to Mill, Lloyd George, Keynes, Beverage and Grimmond, I hope that we can carry on their grand legacy of Liberalism and not succumb now to external pressure.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

A tale of two bus stations. Gillingham 1940 - Chatham 2011

On August 27th 1940, in the middle of the night Gillingham became the target for the Luftwaffe. German bombers using the "Knicke-baum" or the moonlight reflecting on the estuary began their raid. Bombs fell upon the fire station, an incendiary hit the theatre where patrons were asked politely to leave, a butchers shop, A Co-op, a sub-post office, a newsagent and many residential houses were also struck. Twenty people (half of Gillingham's killed in the whole war.) were killed and twenty-two seriously injured.

The worst damage was on the Maidstone and District bus station off Duncan road. The fire took hold and blazed away through the night with an intensity that damaged houses on the street opposite and melted roof tiles. Apples in the neighbouring orchard were roasted on the trees and courageous depot and volunteers braved the fire and the exploding petrol tanks to drive the buses out saving 70 (50 were lost). One sailor, who couldn't drive resorted to using a phone kiosk as a brake and then ran into the blaze to grab another! Other than the heat and explosions another thing slowing rescue was that the steering wheels had been locked so that German Paratroopers couldn't steal them in an invasion scenario, there were unfortunately only two sets of keys!

Seventy one years on Medway looks set to announce the opening of its new bus station in Chatham. This new facility will replace the Pentagon bus station this autumn, a few months late at an extra cost to the Medway tax payer, who as always picks up the shortfall.

I have a few issues with the way the station's construction and planning but that has passed and whether I think there is indeed a need for a new bus station or not- It's being built.

So lets look at the positives...

When completed there may be less congestion for the buses around Chatham town centre and the open plan stretched out nature will allow more freedom of movement with buses no longer getting in each others way.

It will also be an impressive centre piece for the City status campaign and the river front regeneration project. If all goes to plan the new station will help usher in a new era for Chatham High street and could boost prosperity. (Now that people can finally get into the town centre after a year of road works!)

Another good thing is that it will have the live bus tracker so that you will know when your bus is due, which port and if it has become delayed. This will be helpful for many customers and travellers who often arrive at the Pentagon and are unsure whether they have just missed their bus or if there is one due?

This is a step in a direction for Medway, whether as good as promised or a non starter only time will tell, lets hope it fairs better than it Gillingham counter part from that fateful night in 1940.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Nick Clegg gets painted.

I was reading in todays Metro that yesterday at a meet the party event two gentlemen forced their way in and threw blue paint over Nick Clegg and William Rennie, head of the Scottish Lib Dem party.

Mr Rennie laughed it off with;

I've always wanted a blue streak in my hair but my mother wouldn't let me.

Nick merely said;

These things happen in the job. It's no big deal.

There are several things that could be read into this however.

One of these is security. The way the country is at the moment and especially in the light of what has happened in Noway, we could be looking at a dead party leader and members.
It is also interesting that considering the amount of security questions and information required for the national conference to guard against such things yet on the streets of Glasgow...

The other thing is; what does this say about our (the Party's) politics?
Mr Rogers, the man who threw the paint is a former LibDem who had become angry with the direction and left. I know a few Libdems who have become disillusioned with the party and its role in the Coalition. There are even mutters in the local party about it and Nick isn't that popular with some of the grass roots.

A group of us do understand the hard work that Nick puts in and that the Coalition do representing the party and the hardships of working in with the Conservatives. However the one thing the AV campaign taught me is that being on Twitter and agreeing with each other doesn't mean the nation agrees.

Many people view us with disdain, traitors, vile lapdogs of the hated Tory oppressor... Of course this isn't my view, nor even my wife's.

The problem is we need to convince the rest of the country that we are still separate and representing their concerns on a local and national level. We have to continue to champion the people and their concerns, publicise our achievements a lot more and make our disagreements more visible.

Some sort of sustained media campaign will be needed as well as clear Policy decisions and reviews before 2015. On the ground we are telling people what the party are doing both nationally and locally but the message is hard to get across.
People in the middle want the party who; Govern from the middle for the middle. to help them. We who honestly go to work but find money not going as far, who are fed up with paying overpriced train fares, high utility bills and taxes - We need help and no one seems to be helping. The party needs to help us and to appeal to us more and get the support it seems to be losing.

I fear something must be done before the paint dries and we are turned permanently blue.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A tale of two stations.

A copy of my article published on at the end of July.
It is easy, considering how much woe is caused by the late running, poor customer service, lack of information and condition of our trains to forget about the humble railway station. For many of us it is but a simple couple of concrete platforms with a ticket office, a sort of gateway to disappointment and trouble but to some it is in itself, its' own nightmare.
So let me make a couple of comparisons between Chatham station, a once busy hub of commuters and one of the town's two stations, the second was demolished, and Sunny Strood International as it is lovingly referred to by one announcer a functional station that acts like a junction with the Medway valley line and the gate way to Medway towns.
Chatham station is medium sized station with two platforms set below street level with the ticket office set over the platforms with two sets of foot bridges leading up to it, disabled access is via large exit gates on either platform with ramps leading up to street level. These gates are locked and you need to get the attention of platform staff to let you out or push the industrial sized door bell if on the outside. It seems inconvenient but it beats trying to drag a buggy loaded with shopping or wheelchair down stairs and there is no where to install lifts. As for platform facilities there are good sized waiting rooms, a more than adequate canopy for bad weather, an "Orange Pumpkin" catering outlet as well as a news agent in the ticket office and toilets on each platform. Having recently used these toilets I can verify that they are clean, in full working order and have plenty of facilities so you'd have to be pretty unfortunate to have to queue!
Bearing that in mind... we turn to Strood. Now as I mentioned it is a junction and imagine if you will that you have come back from Maidstone with a lot of shopping, or you're a wheel chair user and you now wish to cross to platform 1 for the connection to Gillingham, where's the lift?
That's right... just the subway is available with stairs down and up the other side. Have I missed my connection because I've had to carry a buggy laden with baby and shopping down and up? You bet! Was I vexed at having to wait twenty minutes for the next one? Yep! What if I were a wheelchair user coming in late at night? How would I get across or even out of the station? The same is true for rural stations too. I grew up in the village of Marden and if you were to get off the train at platform 2 you had to leave through a side gate (If it is even unlocked) and travel a mile up a grassy unkept footpath or... try and climb the concrete footbridge or try the larger metallic bridge (beyond the un/locked gate) that once up the first flight of stairs did lead a flat path to the church yard on the other side of the rails. Being a rural station there are no station staff to speak of so if you were on the train with a wheelchair you had to rely on a friend to meet you or the good will of other users.
Now I understand the reasons for Southeastern, much like their predecessors Connex and Network Southeast, for not installing lifts and things across the network at all the little stations. I also know that when you've got a franchise for only a small amount of time you don't necessarily want to pour money into a network and then lose the contract- you'll want to take the money and run. I'm also sure that if you were heading out to Marden or Sole street or any of the multitude of rural stations with a wheelchair you might want to call up the Network before hand and see what facilities were available and not just arrogantly just head off and hope that it'd all be alright on the night. BUT saying that, a station like Strood or even Maidstone West would be in serious need of such facilities. Strood could easily have lifts installed. Yes it would cause a lot of inconvenience to commuters for a short while but think of the benefits it would bring in the long term?
Other things that Strood is missing include decent waiting rooms. Yeah there's a roof over your head but they are open and partially glazed, daubed in graffiti and look like they are second hand from an ex Soviet state. I haven't seen any toilets to speak of, though to be honest I've not really looked, and the ticket office is tiny. Last year, due to a fault the Medway line was closed and a replacement bus service was laid on. Two carriages worth of people were crammed in the tiny ticket office in the pouring rain waiting for the bus and obstructing other patrons from getting on the platform to travel to London.
So what am I trying to say? This problem is not just a Southeastern problem but endemic across the country but it is one that needs curing. Yes you should have basic disabled access at ALL stations if not DEFINITELY on major to middle stations and junctions where changing platform is mandatory. It fails a small percentage of customers but they pay the same high fares as everyone else and deserve to be able to travel to work in the same manner as everyone else. Also some shelter and working toilet facilities would be good. Either supply us with more working and clean toilets on the train or supply us with some on the stations.

Restructuring Libya. - Warnings from History.

When military backed dictatorships or autocracies collapse there are many dangers that face the emerging country. As the state collapses in on itself the rebels need to start thinking about establishing a new state. This can lead to some serious problems.
1. Rebel unity.
When the Bolsheviks took power in 1917 a counter revolution started almost immediately, culminating in the Russian Civil war with many factions with only one aim... The removal of Lenin's government. The factions; Iudenich, Denikin, Kornilov and Kolchak (the white Generals), The Green Russians (anarchists), Britain, France, USA, Japan and Finland (foreign interventionists) were often at odds with each other. Had the struggle gone against the Bolsheviks then these divisions would have been more and more obvious.
The anti Gaddafi movement is just that. There rebels are made up of pro-democracy groups, maybe some Religious extremists who would like to see a stronger state, ex military officers who may wish to overthrow any fledgling government and install themselves, Communists - who knows?
The various groups will come to a head when their goal has been achieved as they did after the liberation of Iraq when rival tribal groups rediscovered their old dislike for one another. This too could happen in Libya.
Any restructuring will have t be well thought out and if they are going to have democracy then a "Provisional council" will have to be exactly that - Provisional and hold elections within a year – Not carry on like Kerenski’s Russian Provisional Government, indefinitely with out a real mandate which was ultimately one of its reasons for downfall.
As for Foreign intervention in the creation of government- I fear this must be kept at a minimal as it could be argued, quite successfully in some cases, that a puppet regime has been installed - especially if there is still a counter revolt underway. This is the main reason why NATO foot soldiers haven't been on the ground and only air support levelling the playing field. If any single state goes in and helps with the rebuilding (however noble their original aims) will be accused of moulding the new state in its own image and for its own benefit. Western aid will have to be completely in an advisory capacity, the UN would be the best bet for this rather than any individual state.
2. Removal of heirs.
If Gaddafi is caught or commits suicide then the pro Gaddafi forces will rally around his successor, whether it is Saif or one of his other sons, or even a loyal officer with similar ideals. This may either be an overt continuance of the civil war, establishing an "alpine redoubt" defence and proving a thorn in a democratic government's side OR covertly, going "Werewolf" and carrying out terrorist strikes and vengeance attacks on a new government.
All heirs must be caught or go into exile to maintain the legitimacy of any successor state.
3. Problems of War crimes.
When Nazi Germany collapsed there were many people who responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes, taking part in the regime's oppressive nature or worked for organs of the state. Himmler had said that the Allied forces would need the SS to provide order in the post-war power vacuum and that he as their head would be needed to help with the rebuilding. Although slightly delusional he was right. Post-war it would have been impossible to arrest and try everyone who had taken part in all of the above crimes and organisations. Germany needed civil servants, Police officers, bank managers, captains of industry even soldiers. The ring leaders were indeed rounded up and executed or put in prison. However many were not. All those soldiers who were in Einsatzgruppen and police battalions, executioners in the legal system, civil servants and even the SS officer who served at Auschwitz and worked out how much a single prisoner cost the state (from arrest to Gas chamber) and the net profit for the state, was only in prison for five years before release as he was an excellent bank manager and economist!!!
When Gaddafi's regime does collapse, many people are going to get away with crimes. There is no way to avoid it. The ring leaders, including Gaddafi and his sons, top military officers, Police/ secret Police officers will be caught and face justice but many will get away with it. The day after the civil war ends people will want their streets crime free, anarchy to a minimum, a working economy etc...
These things will need to be undertaken by organs of the state that already exist.
Another thing is that many ex military officers and rebels may have joined the rebellion as a way of trying to hide their involvement in previous crimes or actions or to gain leniency in future trials. Himmler certainly did.
So to Conclude.
Libya is about to enter a new phase, it is hopefully going to be a bright start and like Egypt and Tunisia a flourishing democracy will mean that everyone can benefit. However all state builders should be aware that there are pitfalls and perils that would derail their progress and could plunge Libya backwards, they just need to look to history and what has happened before and a clearer path will become apparent.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Political blame game.

The more I indulge in politics, especially concentrating on the local scene, the more I am seeing more and more incidents where debates can end up being platforms for point scoring or rapidly descending into blaming everyone else.

It has become more and more of a phenomena over the last few years- or maybe I'm just noticing it now! Maybe it has been going on for centuries.

During the war of 1812 was Lord North's administration blamed for losing the colonies in the first place?

As the bombs fell on Berlin, did Interior Minister Frick release a press statement blaming Stresseman for Versailles?

I should like to raise my hand and say that I have never been partisan or tried to score points for my party. - I can't though- Often it comes back to siding with the Conservatives in defending the Coalition or on occasions agreeing with Labour over a misguided policy of Medway Council.

I do try and stay out of a blame game though.

I've watched many a debate dissolve into an argument as to whose fault it is. I was talking to someone last week about the train fare rises and the political side of it. I told him I was tired of the blaming and squabbling and he responded with;

The only ones who care about that is you guys.

It is true.

As a commuter I want answers and solutions to the problems not someone to blame! What am I to do with someone to blame? Vote for the other party in four years time because of a policy twenty years ago- especially when the other guy hasn't any better suggestions!

Charles Kennedy wrote that people do not appreciate or understand the game of "Political Rugby" that seems to be modern politics and all it does is alienate the electorate who are watching them on BBC parliament. One of the issues of this country is is that the electorate feels very detached from government as if they are moving in separate worlds.

It could be argued that this is very true, even of the local council! Politicians (both local and national) seem to be more interested in point scoring and party politics rather than looking after their constituents!

Even issues that both parties agree on can break up into arguments. I once saw a discussion about the Hoo Peninsula Airport, on which a Tory and Labour councillor agreed upon (that it was a bad idea) dissolve into an argument as to who was to blame for it, who wasn't going to do what and the effectiveness of local MP's and yet at the bottom of it - All three of us agreed on the issue but it put casual readers, even myself off, the subject entirely.

It is one thing understanding where a bad policy or incident occurred. It is the nature of learning, identify a problem and work on solutions. However sometimes it does seem that we get bogged down in the past rather than looking to the future and solving the problem.

We must remember who we are here to serve... Not our parties, not the chief whips but the people and what they want and what is good for your constituents. That's why I have the utmost respect for Greg Mulholland (LD) , Julian Huppert (LD) and Tracey Crouch (Con) who all voted against the government on "Tuition fees"
and for the benefit of their constituents and their beliefs.

It is also sad, and I've said this many a time before hand, that Good/ Excellent constituency MP's lose their seats because of their party affiliation when it comes to the General Election. Be they Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem. It seems the electorate would often rather swing votes to another party just so "they" don't get in and cut their nose of to spite their face, suffering five years under a complete pillock just because he is not one of "them".

More importantly, effective opposition needs to be constructive. It seems the current Labour opposition, and to be fair the Conservatives were the same when they were in opposition, seem to be concentrating in criticising Government policy without actually coming up with alternatives. It is easy to sit and jeer at someone and to say;
"You're wrong!"
It takes a sharper intellect and more vote worthy party to come up with alternatives to the Government plans. Take the Conservative vs. Liberal and Labour battles of the 1920's over the policy of Protectionism or the Liberal vs Conservative on Lords reform. Alternatives and compromises were made, for the good of the country and policy was passed. If you're in an opposing party you can say;
"I think that you aren't doing enough... BUT have you thought about doing this?"
Again the people suffer as the Government or elected representatives continue to act as they see fit and so for four maybe five years it is the electorate that suffer.

MP's (and councillors) are selected from among the people, voted for by the people, to represent the people and they shouldn't forget that their primary allegiance is to the people they represent and dedicate the time they use sniping and trying to gain political kudos for themselves and party, to helping those people and come election time your good work will be remembered.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Shark attack in the Seychelles - Wrong to hunt Shark.

Bull Shark
I know this isn't a political subject but I needed to talk about this.

I want to say that the loss of Ian Redmond on honeymoon was tragic. My heart goes out to his widow, no one deserves to suffer a lose like that especially on honeymoon. I can't imagine what she is going through.

However, I cannot condone the hunting down of the Bull Shark by a flotilla of spear fishermen who are looking for (as the BBC put it) shark or sharks responsible for two attacks over the last month.

What? Sharks or sharks responsible? Does that mean that the fishermen will be questioning the fish before they kill it? Is this some Shark based crime wave that has hit the idyllic island paradise? No.

On top of that, I heard somewhere that the flotilla was being backed up by a gunboat. A Gunboat?!!! It is an 8ft Shark not a bloody U-boat sinking Allied shipping.

The Bull shark or Carcharhinus leucas is a known man eater, they are one of the few sharks able to swim up rivers and has been known to attack pilgrims washing in the Ganges, India. They also have been known to attack people who are in the Sydney inlets. However these attacks are exceptionally rare, there has only ever been one shark to have attacked people over an extended period of time and that was a Great White Shark in 1915 on the east coast of the USA, this shark actually swam up a creek and continued its killing spree.

If a Bull shark did attack Mr Redmond it must be born in mind that it is a WILD animal in its habitat and attacked him for good reason... I.e it was hungry or mistook him for another food stuff. Either way it did what came naturally to it why should it have to die?

These sort of Shark culls have happened before. Back in the 1970's it was believed the Grey Nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) was responsible for many shark attacks, partially because of its fearsome look, and hunted to near extinction, in fact it still remains on the endangered list. Other cases have led to fishermen just spearing large numbers of sharks whose remains aren't even eaten; they are merely ripped from the sea.

Shark conservation is a serious matter as China harvest vast numbers of them for the delicacy of shark fin soup, often discarding the still living shark, sans fins, and tossing it back in the sea. Numbers are also dwindling due to netting of beeches that kills off many smaller, non lethal species.

Breaking news, identification by scientists have now revealed that the Shark was actually a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Which is still a vulnerable species but the good news for the Seychelles is that it is not a natural fish for their waters and meandered in. This probably won't save it. At 8ft it is still a young to middle aged Great White, fully grown adults can get up to 21ft or bigger in open water!
It is known for its vicious attacks on people, especially off Amity Island in North America in Jaws films!!!!
In real life, it isn't as big a threat as the movies made out. Humans aren't particularly to their tastes and low in meat to bone ratio. The other suggestion is that most attacks by Great Whites have been in areas where there is low visibility where their senses were impaired. Also if observed from below humans on surf boards look like seals, the Shark's staple food.
Often the Great White will do a test bite on a subject... often fairly fatal, but explains why a lot of people die ashore rather than disappear.

What I am trying to say is that these wild creatures are doing what millions of years of evolution have helped design. It cannot be condemned to death for this. More importantly how many other sharks will be hunted down and killed in the process. Personally i think we should mourn the tragic loss and let nature be.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Rail fare rise - Where are our MPs?

On the day that Southeastern have announced an 8% rise due in January angry commuters from Medway raise questions about the government and our MPs for failing to keep their pledge on fighting fare increases.

All three MPs fought, as we the Lib Dems did, to stop unreasonable train fare rises. It is a key issue in the Medway towns and even beyond, that commuters pay a extra chunk of wages that their colleagues who live in the capitol don't. At the moment it stands at 24% of my wages, after tax, going before mortgage, bills, food etc...

Currently it breaks down like this;

Monthly season ticket is £319's (x12 = £3828 pa.) After an 8% rise it will be £344.52 pm & £4134.24 pa

My monthly wage is £1676.17 - tax/pension/NI = £1309.55

- £500 for my share of mortgage, food, nursery for my daughter, council tax.
- £ 200's for the bills I pay
-£ 319's rail fare
= £290's or £72.50 a week

After the rise it will be £265.03 = £66.25 a week.

I must be honest that I didn't vote for Rehman Chishti and predictably voted Libdem, but from memory we had a similar pledge, in fact one of our aims to get people into work and help the hard working. I saw a lot of angry tweets yesterday from people who blamed the Fibdems saying we had betrayed the electorate again. Also from the local Labour press officer accusing the South Eastern MPs of failure and effectively lying to their electorate pointing out that Mr Chishti ran his campaign against Paul Clarke MP on the basis that Gillingham commuters are made to suffer on a policy (RPI +3) that was a Labour poilicy and as one fo the under secretaries of transport- Within his jurisdiction to change. However a year into Mr Chishti's tenour he has not had the power to remove it.

BUT... is there any foundation in these claims?

On the surface of it -Yes after all the prices went up.

BUT... If you took a moment to look beneath the surface and ignore opportunistic gumpf...

Mark Reckless, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti have indeed been petitioning the Minister for Rail Theresa Villiers on our behalf since coming into power. As has Mike Hancock MP for Portsmouth (and a Lib Dem by the way- the only one whose constituents travel from the south to London) as have his Conservative colleagues in the Southern region such as the other MP for Portsmouth, Gosport, Woking and others. I watched the debate on BBC Parliament as they discussed Rolling stock, fares, renewal of franchise etc. The house was hardly packed and Ms Villiers was not moved by their words. In fact she used the same defence she did in her letter to me ( ). That to take the burden off the commuter it would have to be shifted to the tax payer and in today's economic climate and austerity - especially with more pressing things to spend money on.

The MPs - naught but backbenchers with no power other than to represent, have and continue to petition on our behalf. Yesterday Evening Tracey Crouch wrote;

The money Southeastern get from the commuters already should be enough for investment in stations, rolling stock etc but the main thing constituents ask me for is simply a better service. They want a service that gets them to their destination on time (preferably with a seat), stops at the stations it is scheduled to stop at, that the staff are polite, and that the toilets are clean. If five years of the highest increases in train fares in the country cannot deliver that then we have more than a problem of simply being an additional squeeze on the wallets of commuters.


I will also be making further representations to Government Ministers to try and ensure that the plus 3 formula is reduced in the South East before other parts of the country

(for the full post; )

Instead of criticising her and the others we should be supporting their efforts to abolish RPI+3, after all as Miss Crouch has says, we've paid our share of HS1. The Medway MP's could try and table something but in the grand scale of things who will vote for more tax payers money to go to subsidising the railways when it is needed else where?

Also most commuters don't mind about the prices going up if the service was to improve or went up with inflation, after all Southeastern have to cover their running costs.
BUT when our services are dirty, late, cancelled, overcrowded etc...

It is interesting that the question of what would a Labour MP or what more could our MPs do better has been left unanswered.

Forgetting my party allegiance and friendships with other party members and councillors - I'm a commuter, husband and father who needs to be able to afford to support my family, this is not the time for party political opportunism or fighting in which we, the middle is forgotten and lose out again. From my dealings with Rehman Chishti, he has passed on my humble communication to Ms Villiers ( and responded ( I have also written to Nick Clegg asking for representation not only as head of the party, deputy prime minister but also as champion of "Alarm clock Britain." ( Unfortunately I do not believe there is any light at the end of the tunnel for suffering commuters and I for one may be forced to give up my job and work closer to home.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Boundary Changes and its affect on Medway.

Rehman Chishti, Tracey Crouch, Mark Reckless MPs for Medway
One of the many progressive policies we as a party have brought in is to trim Parliament to a more efficient 600 MPs representing 72,000 to 77,000 voters.

At the moment there are people working diligently pouring over maps and drawing lines and marking up new or re sized constituencies. In Kent we are set to lose one MP.

But... This arbitrary cut and slice may be a touch too arbitrary.

For example one proposal for Medway was to cut the Hoo peninsula and Isle of Grain away and put them into Gravesend and Gravesham, combine Rochester and Chatham town with Cuxton and Halling passing to Maidstone. Gillingham would swallow up the river ward and Brompton but Rainham would be joined with Lenham ward in Maidstone!!!

With our current MP's (pictured above) it would look like Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch would lose her seat to a more Labour leaning Chatham but then again the loss of Conservative rural areas may be replaced with the Cathedral city of Rochester's conservative voters. OR she could lose out altogether as Mark Reckless is already holding the seat of Rochester for the Conservatives and thus she may face redundancy.

As for Gillingham, Rehman Chishti will lose support from Conservative stronghold Rainham but instead gain those down in Brompton but it would negatively affect his majority.
There is also the consideration that the heart of Gillingham remains Liberal Democrat/ Independent group consisting of ex- Liberal Democrats.

This could severely eat into his majority and could tip the scales in favour of Labour or he could get in again on the split left vote.

Another suggestion could be, if there is a swing against the Conservatives and Austerity cuts that could lead to Vince Maple or Tristan Osborne as MP for Chatham and Rochester and Me (yeah right!!!) or an esteemed Libdem colleague, or Andy Stamp or even the very talented Jacqui Berry for the TUSC party in Gillingham.

In short, I doubt it!

A plan has been put forward by the Medway Liberal Democrats- which I am not allowed to discuss unfortunately. However we I can say that it readdresses the harmony of Medway and keeps Rainham and Gillingham together. I can tell you that Kent Lib Dems have accepted the proposal. It would be a ridiculous decision to separate a chunk of the community from Medway especially when Rainham councillors would still sit on Medway council.

On the 8th of August the Medway KM ran a story on the commission and their academic sources suggested that again Hoo will go to Gravesend, Cuxton, Halling and Aylesford will go to a new constituency MidKent and Gillingham and Rainham swallow up the river wards. According to their projections Labour will take Rochester and the Conservatives will hold Gillingham.

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, director of the Boundary commission said that they wouldn't be deliberately partisan and that the lines would be drawn in as balanced a way as possible.

Also; "As far as we know this is the most detailed attempt to map out how it could look."
(Of course this is up for review every five years.)

Despite all the conjecture and suggestions, yes even my ill informed predictions, it will not be visiting until November to get residents views on the matter. Hopefully they will size up the communities and see that lines on a map do affect people and their representation. Hopefully they will also listen to the local parties suggestions, not in a partisan way - which is difficult- but to their constructive arguments and criticism.

As for Tracey Crouch...

 "I will be disappointed if Chatham and Aylesford is the seat that is abolished.

"We won't know the outcome of the Commission's review until early September, but we do know one seat in Kent will go."

I know I'm on on dodgy ground by saying this but... I like Tracey as an MP, she was on the streets of the Chatham the day after the riots and she was there all day. She gets involved in local issues. More importantly as a Lib dem I admire the fact that she voted against Tuition fees, something that half our party cannot say, she also stood up to the Home Secretary to combat the Government closure of Social Networking at a time of civil disorder whilst Nick had looked on earlier as David Cameron had spoken the same words. I know that elections see a lot of good MPs lose their seats due to the knee jerk reactions of the electorate who don't think of good constituent MPs but who will be PM, but I can honestly say that it will be a massive shame for her to go out like that.

Back to the point though. The commission will of course make its suggestions to parliament and it will be debated. I agree that the constituencies do need to be made uniform and that parliament's constituent parts need to be examined for the first time in a long time. However I hope that they do talk to the residents and listen to the concerns and thoughts on the shift. I really hope that Rainham isn't separated from Medway, it is a part of these towns and an MP from Maidstone may not represent their needs as much as someone who represents that town and Gillingham solely.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Letter to Tim Farron & Nick Clegg; Don't allow evictions or Government attacks on liberty.

Dear Nick and Tim,

        I trust you are both well and that your holidays, however brief, were good.

I'm writing to you concerning a worrying injustice that has begun taking place in the wake of the horrific civil disorders that struck our nation.

I should make clear from the beginning that I am in no way an apologist for what has occurred and believe unswervingly in the rule of law and order.

However evicting people from council housing is not the justice of the twenty-first century - rather it wreaks of the vengeful eighteenth century landlord evicting tenants they don't like. This is a knee jerk reaction and beyond the normal line of judicial punishment. 
It is not up to the Government to punish these people but the courts. Moreover the is already a strong dislike of for the Government and its functions - Evicting families will only make the situation worse.

Retribution should be calm and measured and not in the heat of anger. As Nick said in his speech yesterday (  the problem needs to be dealt with;

Ruthlessly but thoughtfully


Resisting in overnight policy

Yet according to Grant Shapps' Twitter stream are already underway! There is also an unfairness in that it seems to be only those in Council housing and not those in privately rented accommodation who are the only ones affected. I know that the government cannot touch the private residents but it adds a further layer of contention as it is the very poor who are again suffering the most when law is meant to be blind and treat everyone the same.

Maybe a better path would be to get them to work for their benefits by cleaning up the mess they have made in the community and seeing first hand what their anarchy has brought and see that it isn't the rich that have born the brunt but the hard working people like you and me.

What I'm driving at though is that instead of curing the problem we will be perpetuating it and persecuting the poor. We're the party that listens, the party that cares and this is doing neither. The measure is highly illiberal and I don't think we should have any part of it.

This is also true for the measures to close down social networking sites during a time of crisis. In its most simplistic stance we would be stifling freedom of speech.

Yes social media is used for spreading word of riots... so are mobile phones and word of mouth and these two are used to stop rumours of rioting. In Medway there were rumours of Primark being burnt to the ground and streets filled with rioters, Maidstone too was meant to have descended into chaos. Twitter accounts from residents and Kent Police helped to stop these rumours. Rail commuters trying to escape London could still use Twitter to navigate along the railways and let you know where was open.
A good account for this, and one I agree with can be found here; 

Again this is a scary illiberal move and against what we as a party cannot agree with or be a part of it. I'm know I'm not a lone voice in this. I'm asking you as a party member, as fellow Liberals to please do all you can in your power to moderate or walk away from any reform that does have negative effects on peoples freedom and discriminates between groups.

Yours Faithfully

Chris Sams

Friday, 12 August 2011

Parliamentary Knee Jerks- Are we endanger of making the situation worse?

Yesterday, with the return of Parliament David Cameron and the government have begun laying the foundations of restoring Civil order and the rule of law to be imposed but... and I don't believe that I am asking this... Are some of the knee jerk reactions going too far, not curing the problem and even making it worse?

A big cause of the civil unrest was the inability to listen to the people in the streets and a growing feeling of separation between the Government and ordered society with this separate culture that has grown up. As questions flew from around the house it was becoming obvious that retribution was the main theme along with compensation for those who lost property etc.

Now I completely agree with this. Those who had their property and business' damaged completely deserve compensation and I fully support the Government's policies and aims to help them. I can't imagine the hardships that are in front of those people, to be made homeless and lose everything and have to rebuild their lives. They do deserve justice and those that are responsible do deserve to be punished and shown that society has laws, whether you acknowledge the rule of the society's law or not. However the truth of the matter is that the Prison system cannot handle the massive influx of prisoners that will be put in and in the long run the revolving door policy will mean many are back on the streets by the end of the year. The prison system has long been in need of reform and reworking and now when it really needs to have space for a large influx there is none and it won't get fixed overnight.

Other punitive measures were bandied around such as the removal of social housing and benefits. This, on the surface seems fair, yet at the same time turfing the already poor out onto the street will solve nothing and if anything will cause those who already hate the government and law hate it even further. The same would occur with the removal of state benefits. After all they will get their money one way or the other through nefarious means if necessary. It would be better to show clemency at this time or even an alternate form of punishment. Would it not be better to get them to pay their debt to society by making them perform community service and clean up duties for their benefits so that they still get paid what they need, get punished and the community that they helped to destroy has hands to repair it?

Another question that worried me, and was nicely sidestepped by the Prime Minister was;
"Will those that were involved in the riots and are not to British citizens be deported?"
"Those who do not have a right to be hear will indeed be removed." - meaning any illegal immigrants will be removed.
The scary face of it was that anyone who isn't a British citizen, does that count for Commonwealth citizens or EU citizens?
I'm undecided on this issue. After all if you don't want to take part in British society and the way we live then yes Dover is that way...
However, this is someones home and I fear it as a right-wing knee jerk to get rid of Jonny Foreigner and that pushes me back the other way but that may be a reaction to my lifelong studies of Germany 1933-45. As I say, I'm undecided.

The one that I thought Nick Clegg would stand up and say something on, was the threat to freedom of speech. During the riots there was a brief freeze on Blackberry instant messaging to slow the coordination of the riots. Now there is talk of policing or banning Twitter and Facebook. This would be a direct attack on our freedom of speech. Yes it is awful that social networking and media has been abused by those who want to bring terror and crime to our streets but what of the rest of us who watched on in horror?
What of the commuters who are reliant, in Southeastern's ineptitude, on Twitter for update on travel information? Or Kent Police on dispelling the rumours and lies about riots in Maidstone and Chatham?
It was up to Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, to be the voice of reason and point out how Twitter and Facebook had helped to dispel these rumours. surely the majority of innocents should not suffer because of a handful of trouble makers? It is as if the Government feel that social networking sites are to blame for the riots and that before Twitter there were no riots. How were the riots in the 80's or Poll tax riots coordinated? What's next? Banning Mobile phones?
I think maybe keeping an eye on what is being said and preempting the rioters is a good thing but again there are times when the wrong end of the stick could be grasped by the authorities and a well meaning jab at sarcasm could be seen as inciting.
I once said to my baby daughter; If you break Daddy's model tank he will kill you - It doesn't mean I'm going to commit infanticide!

Other measures, such as giving the Police more powers to get groups to remove their hoods and masks, although an attack on freedom of action is clearly necessary. The Liberties of the individual have indeed outstretched the liberties of the group. The needs of the one are outweighing the needs of the many which is wrong.
The Police have come under a lot of stick in the past, if they are too gung-ho they are being oppressive, if they hold back for fear of public persecution they are being cowards and ineffective. Clear lines need to be drawn up and used so that they can react accordingly as the situation dictates.

Tracey Crouch MP
It would also seem that these people have no respect for the state and why should they? As Charles Kennedy has said, British Parliamentary democracy is impenetrable to the average citizen, even for some of us who are interested in it! For many all the parties are the same and Westminster filled with dry old grey suit wearing old men who have little interest in anything other than lining their own pockets.Politics needs to go back to being for the people and MPs need, like David Lammy, Tracey Crouch, Mark Reckless even Nick Clegg and David Cameron did, go out on the streets.

More importantly these people need to be shown what society is and that it includes them and that they can no longer do what they wish. It must start in schools where for too long pupils have got away with doing nothing if that is how they choose. I remember from my time at school that some pupils who didn't want to work got detention, if they didn't go to that more detention, if they avoided that they were suspended - a free week off! Something needs to be done to encourage kids to pull their own weight. Also Parents need to take an interest and be involved with their kids, they seem to just let them run the streets or get away with not doing home work, being rude to elders or people in authority. It is like society in parts of Great Britain have degraded. A cause must be found and treated like rather than lopping the head off this Hydra only to find in a year or two another one pops up.

It is easy to swing to the right on issues like this. I'm urging instead of swift and terrible justice, the careful considered approach that with a hearts and minds aim will win back this lost group to society and the rule of law rather than alienating them further. We must understand the cause so that it will never be repeated.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Big Society and New Politics; have they failed?

As London continues to burn and imagery reminiscent of the Luftwaffe raids on London are flashed across the media this morning. Many people are forced to ask if the aims of the  Coalition have been proved a failure and that Politicians are too far removed from the situation on the ground that such a reaction was inevitable.
It was a warning that Nick Clegg put forward last year ( Thanks to Dr Keevil) that austerity measures would lead to this situation. People are angry at the cuts, angry at services being removed - they don't care about the national debt, or the collapse of the eurozone - they want to keep their services. For them Westminster is full of corrupt millionaires who are trying to line their own pockets. There has been no change in Politics in this parliament or in any since 1945.

As for the "Big Society." it could be argued that Society has collapsed if it ever existed in the first place. Local communities are torn down the middle as gangs of youths and criminals are more than happy to rampage through streets breaking and entering homes and setting fire to personal property of neighbours or family friends. Its not just big business  like MacDonald's or Sony that are being hit, in Croydon a furniture business that was 150 years old was completely destroyed. Society has failed these people and now they are striking back, they don't feel part of anything, they aren't confined by the law or fear the Police. What have they got to look forward to? Ordered around government that doesn't represent what they want, forced to work long hours for little pay and for what?

Communities have broken down. Big society relies on people working together as neighbours towards a common good and helping out those in need. How many can honestly say that they know their neighbours or name four people on their street these days? How many people stop to help someone who looks obviously lost or looks like they need assistance? Its probably a staggering minority. Most of us put on our Ipods and keep walking as there is always the worry that you will get stabbed or robbed or you just simply don't have time. In the wartime/post war societies that Big Society is trying to recreate this simply wouldn't be the case and community spirit was when  for helping each other. People also understood the needs and pressures on the government. Who could blame the cuts or government measures when the Germans were set to roll in and remove their rights?

Politics is changing, it takes time for such changes to come about and the Coalition has only been in power for a year. Certain MPs like David Lammey and Tracey Crouch have visited the disaster scenes and are reassuring the people what is going on. One of our Councillors, Vince Maple, tweeted that he was on the phone to Kent Police at 1am for a status update on his ward and riots in Chatham! Politicians are returning to our streets to help and work with the communities they represent.
As for Austerity, maybe the chancellor does need to look at the situation and see if salves can be applied to the cuts to calm the fraid tensions. People don't understand the need for the damages to their way of life when investment bankers are still unscathed.  They also don't understand, nor want to understand why these measures are being made. Its not a physical enemy like the Germans but a theoretical enemy of bankrupcy and all that flows with it, no one has ever seen Britain bankrupt. What is in the Public interest is rarely in the public interest. Things need to be explained more clearly.

Society is rallying around in the way "Big Society" wants. Groups are forming and on Twitter the #riotcleanup has begun and people are returning to damaged areas to help those in need. Already in Gillingham the Socialist party are organising a meeting Thursday night about the Riots and assisting a better future for young people to solve the crisis in the long run. On top of that charitable donations for those who have lost everything are being made. There is also the growing condemnation of those involved and anger at the damage done to this country's capital, major cities and Medway.

Big Society was always going to be difficult to enact, the way of life that David Cameron and Nick Clegg envisioned has slowly dissolved over the last half a century to the point that it is almost an implausible dream but still communities are working together through this hardship and I trust that people know the minority are in the wrong, maybe not in their beliefs about austerity or frustration but in their actions. We also have to look at the way Government works, there are good constituent focused MP's and councillors who are out there trying to help and making themselves accessible but the whole of Government needs to do it and take part. It is seriously time for one of David Cameron's "Stop, listen and think again" moments before a permanent schism occurs in society.

Medway riots - More to come?

For a good report on it see the KM website
(photo credit to the KM too.)

So last night the touch paper was lit in the heart of Medway as 15 trouble makers brought London fire to the streets of Medway causing limited damage to property and
the destruction of a few cars.

Luckily the powder was dry and failed to ignite last night but will it happen again and would the result be different?

Medway is a large urban conurbation with a great mixture of people, many of whom earn less than £30k p/a per household (Ours is one) and have similarly hit by the cuts. We have bored kids and youths on the streets, a small gang culture and large open highstreets with alleyway escapes all around. Medway is ripe for riot and civil disorder should the paper be lit if these were the only criteria.

However, despite a certain dislike for Medway council in recent months and for their poor spending record they have done a fairly good job at reducing the impact of the cuts so far. With only £15m cut over four years they have so far tried to reduce the impact to the citizenry. Youth services are still running well and engaging people. Our Borough councillors are engaging the people and appear out with them at things like the Medway Mile, or local events such as Cllr Osborne and the Labour team out at the Luton and Wayfield funday. Politics is that much more accessible in Medway and so people feel they do have more of a voice.

The youth and gang culture isn't as well established in Medway as it is in London. Yes there have been incidents of organised fights and graffiti tags in Medway (notably the Chatham Boyz) but in reality they aren't that big a problem yet and more about fighting each other than organised crime. However they should be managed now before they do grow. At the moment Medway kids are happy to just hang around and cause small amounts of damage, maybe have a ruck with away fans on football days especially after a few beers but this is fairly well controlled by the Police and there hasn't been a serious incident for quite some time.

I'd like to say that there is a great attachment of the community to their pubs and businesses in Medway but there is in Tottenham, Hackney, Enfield, Croydon et. al. It is a small minority that are causing the problems in each of these cases. It is possible that they could be egg on a larger group. If anything it'll be a group from London or elsewhere who will start it hoping that Kent Police will have its reserves tapped to assist in South east London.

Finally, Kent Police are not the Met Police. They handle things differently and, yes I did say the other day that you rarely see Police on the streets of Gillingham but in this case it is probably going to pay off. There are few stop and searches, no Police shootings, no one group feeling oppressed by the Police and so have no problem with them or a desire to give them any trouble.

Despite all of Medways problems and it sharing a lot of problems with London boroughs I think Medway will not suffer the same fate as London and Birmingham. The council and the local Police do need to maintain a steady hand and keep an eye on the situation but real leadership needs to be shown on the national level and I'm interested to see what Theresa May and David Cameron are going to do to make sure there isn't a fourth day of violence on the streets of Great Britain.

On the London riots.

I was going to try and spend today writing a balanced piece about the riots on Saturday but instead I have been watching BBC News 24 and following the Twittersphere as the riots and disorder spread across London and now as far as Birmingham and are threatening to spread around the country. I'm even taking precautions in my own home and Medway is not a likely place for the disorder and I am hoping we are far enough out of the city centre that if it does kick off we will be shot of it. Also if any would be looter is thinking about hitting my house, fair warning; You will get a bat to the face.

The streets of London have very rapidly descended into  mob rule. Police cars have been burnt, residences and businesses have been burnt down, 215 arrests have been made, railway stations closed and everyday citizens are losing their livelihoods and homes. What are the causes of this and what are the solutions?
The initial trigger to the initial disturbance in Tottenham was a peaceful protest over the shooting by Police officers of Mark Duggan, 29, on Thursday. Currently the information in the public sector is that police acted on information from Operation Trident and stopped a minicab. Three shots were fired, two by police, the one by Mr Duggan struck a police officer's radio. Members of the community and family of Mr Duggan organised a protest and request for information at the local police station. As time went by tempers freyed and a small minority torched a couple of parked squad cars and then it all flowed from there. There were arguments that this was caused by elements who felt that they are victimised by the Police and even on the basis of race and frustrations just boiled over. Who could say?
Now... Enfield and Brixton were struck last night now Hackney and Peckham, even Bromley, Croydon and I received a text from a very good friend in Lambeth has text me that riot police have just moved into Elephant and Castle. Now violence is opening up in Birmingham and there are unconfirmed rumours of things happening in Leeds. I have been forced to ask;
What the hell is going on in this country?

I've been trying to wrack my brain for reasons why this is happening and how things have got this bad and I've listed them below. What I can say is this...
Now is not the time to be partisan about this and look for who is to blame, be it the Coalition for their cuts, Labour for causing the financial situation, the Liberals for backing down over EMA and tuition... none of this matters. What matters is that society has obviously failed a whole generation who are so detached from what society and community should be that they think that what is going on is completely acceptable and THIS has to be tackled across parties and by all parts of society.

So what has caused this?

Lets talk about the cuts first. Now I know the Austerity measures are tough, I suffer them and I know many who do.Communities across Britain have been asked to give up vast amounts of money and time and it is hard. It isn't a task that any Government wants to undertake but it needed to be done. The problem rises from the fact that Westminster seems so removed from the city streets and households, most of the cabinet are millionaires and don't have to suffer the privations of the everyday citizen... How can they understand what we are going through?
Others find Politics so impenetrable and dull that they feel it has no relevance to their lives, something Charles Kennedy warned us about in his book; The Future of British Politics.
People are angry and feel frustrated that they don't have a voice and that even their local councils, which they elected this May also don't seem to be listening. Could this frustration and rage have overflowed into the riots?
It is indeed possible BUT at no point has any placard been waved or cause announced short of the original demonstration.

What of this lost generation? Now, it couldn't have escaped your notice that when you wander through town centres or on estates you'll see large groups of youths just hanging around. I've seen them, at work and at home, when I grew up I did a similar thing at times. Where I work we often get youths just coming in to pass the time, others and a specific group come in regularly, cause damage and antagonise our staff. This isn't necessarily because they are bad kids or are urban criminals its just they don't have anything better to do and so act out of boredom. I grew up in a very rural village and there was literally nothing to do most days so when I wasn't playing on the PC or reading a friend and I would go out and walk around the public footpaths and relax in the sun on various bridges and chat so I can sympathise with them in a way. However my thoughts never turned to acts of crime!
Still the majority in this case see something exciting happening and immediately want to jump in and get involved. They saw how easy the protests were in the autumn, saw Laurrie Penny's "People's riot" on Oxford street and more importantly they saw how powerless the Police were to deal with it. One ex Police officer also referred to the revolving door justice system of the UK. How many of the 215 will serve any kind of sentence? The prisons are overflowing and re offending is becoming frighteningly common. Lets be honest its only the ring leaders who will get a stiff sentence in a media fuelled frenzy and then in a few years time, with barely a whisper of condemnation they will be released early.
The mob knows this. What have they to fear?

On top of that they also know the Police are in a tight situation. A Police officer has to think twice before striking a member of the public. Job and pension are on the line. When my Grandfather was involved in a riot he was guarding the truck and was attacked by a couple of protesters and he was forced to lash out in defence and struck them with the starting handle of the truck! His Inspector at the time was impressed. Now he'd have lost his job and may have been arrested for ABH and assault. Also the Police don't know the areas well and groups are able to hit and fade in a guerrilla warfare style. At the moment actions are taking place across London and already officers are being drafted in from elsewhere to assist the situation.
Also coming back to problems with the Policing in their community. I have a friend who is stopped regularly in Brixton because he's of Afro-Caribbean origin, drives a black sports car with tinted windows, he has many friends who suffer the same. Some communities feel that they are victimised by the Police and when one of their own is shot and there is a five hour delay on simple answers to the questions of the community then yes anger will come out. Something Claudia Webbe was talking about on BBC Radio 4.

At the centre of all of this is the beating heart, the cold calculating brain, the criminal. Its one thing to be caught up in the mob mentality or acting out of boredom knowing that there is no line of recourse. Its another to be organising this sort of thing for material gain or just for the sake of doing this just to cause trouble and have a go at the Police.
On the 7th August Liam_1993 ( self described as Post Capitalist. Student Activist. Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalist. Lazy Bastard.) tweeted the following:

apparently #Enfield is kicking off, remember to mask up if your gonna join in, if your arrested, no comment.

I don't think I need to say anything further about this, except to echo David Lammey (MP for Tottenham) in saying that the most horrendous acts are not being carried out by locals but an outside group. This may not necessarily be true of Tottenham but definitely Enfield, Peckham and Harrogate.
There has also been reports of preprinted documents handed to looters and rioters of how to avoid arrest and what to do if arrested. Others have had petrol bombs which means that they have prepared for action this day and haven't acted on the spare of the moment.
 Yes the communication revolution has helped organise these things quickly but it is merely an aid not a cause.
There are also extreme incidences where a photographer has been bottled;

marmite_ marmite
Just seen a photographer being deliberately bottled, horrible. #hackney via @billykenber #LondonRiots (tweeted about 8pm)

Others, appearing on BBC news have talked about cameras being smashed and been threatened with weapons for valuables like telephones. Shops like Currys, Aldi, Lidl, MacDonald's all ransacked and broken into and not just the big companies that can afford it but little off licences and corner shops are having their lifeblood taken from them.

Who suffers from all of this? The Community. Family businesses will not be able to afford to reopen. Housing prices will drop, other buisnesses will not want to rellocate there, some will not rebuild their lost shops. More importantly the everyday civillian who has lost everything at the hands of the mob have no reason to stay. The minority are ruining it for the majority.

So what can be done? As I said earlier, now is NOT the time for party politics or points scoring. Comments like Ken Livingstone's ("I'm not trying to politically point score but its all the government's fault") or Dianne Abbott whittering on in the I about cuts are not helpful. What needs to be done is a cross party solution where we all sit around the table and actually listen to the communities, to the local councils and Police commanders as we try and figure out what the cause is and what solutions are available and not jump on a bandwagon and sally forth to vanquish another foe and getting it completely wrong.

Now is not the time for knee jerk reactions. My first reaction was to call for the army to reinstall order. This was done a century ago when rioters took parts of London and Liverpool, in fact in Liverpool a Navy Gunboat sailed up the Mersey and opened fire on strikers. This is not Syria though and if we started rolling APC's and Tanks down Peckham Highstreet then surely something would be amiss?
On the other hand it would send a clear message. After the LA riots a 7pm-7am curfew was installed with a shoot to kill from the military as a deterrent. Maybe such a curfew for the duration of the emergency is needed but that is up to the policy makers.
There were also compelling arguments for water cannons. Not just for their ability to disperse the crowds and allow the Police, Firefighters and Paramedics to do their jobs and help those in need but also to help put out the fires in shops, in cars and remove these focal points for the mob.

Ultimately it is a temporary solutions. What needs to be looked at is the youth of the country and what they want to do or not do. Their subculture has become so distant and removed from civilisation and society that scenes like this are OK, that taking part in actions like the riot is acceptable if not wished for! How could we have come to this? Something desperately needs to be done to reach this doomed youth.

The new Politics, the one we believe in, the more open and understanding politics that isn't overloaded with party rhetoric and tribalism needs to come into play and we actually need to listen to the people, what they want and what the government and councils can provide.

We also need Justice to prevail and be reformed so that those who break the law or conspire to public disobedience at this scale are punished properly and fully.