Friday, 30 December 2011

Ed Miliband; doomed to lose the next election?

Three months on from my first blog post on Ed Miliband's leadership it is being questioned by the polls and there are warnings that 2015 won't go Labour's way in a pamphlet warning of "Cameron's Trap" unless they change tack quickly.

Lets start with the Leadership;

According to the ICBM poll carried out for the Guardian 48% of people believe David Cameron is doing a good job, second on 33% Nick Clegg is doing a good job and finally on 32% Ed Miliband.

A further blow is that 44% thought Cameron/Osborne were doing a good job of managing the economy compared to 23% who would like to see Miliband/Balls doing it, this is a gap of 21% which has grown from October's 11 % lead for Cameron/Osborne!

Could Cameron's lead have been extended by his stance over the Euro? Or the further strikes including the Tube strike on Boxing day?

All we can do is speculate but in a time when Austerity is biting down on the people of Britain and with every passing week we hear how the Chancellor is mismanaging the economy and how Vital public spending is being cut, you'd think the opposition party would be receiving more support.

Ed says; I'll carry on being what I am. I think that's what people want

I think he is right, people want substance in a leader rather than flashy showmanship, although they seem to like to vote in the showmen. I guess they're not sure that Ed has the substance but as I have said before, he is still relatively new in post and he has not been able to show any potential and leadership.

Which brings me to the Cameron Trap, no it isn't an awesome new Computer game, nor a Mills and Boon story based on a young Liberal Democrat leader joining a Coalition...

Gregg McClymont MP, the shadow pensions minister wrote in a pamphlet about the fear that Labour could easily fall into a trap that caught Neil Kinnock, Michael Foot and even the respectable Ramsey MacDonald. At times where Conservative governments have been carrying out harsh spending cuts that affect the country and rising unemployment they have won more and more elections returning Stanley Baldwin to parliament consecutively and even Margaret Thatcher offering enough prosperity for enough of a time to convince the electorate of the Government's credibility, in fact McClymont speculates that the Conservative line of;
It's tough now but under Labour it will be WORSE!!!
May have won them the 92 election!

Indeed the trap itself is that if Labour continue to support the failing Public Sector and Public spending rather than appealing to a vaster Middle ground of people they will lose public confidence.

This is true. The strikes have had a lot of public support but at the same time people are being hit in their pockets as they are forced to take days off work to look after their children or rearrange their busy lives. Other strikes like the RMT strike on Boxing Day are seen as unnecessary and Bob Crow is disliked by a vast swathe of London Commuters who face more arduous journeys as the already well paid Tube drivers seem to haggle over yet another rise. If Labour were to cling to this then they will certainly fall into a trap.

An easy Conservative retort would be that if Labour got in they would raise spending and ring fence more Public services and thus forcing other cuts over a longer period of time.
The Coalition wants to say in 2015 ; Job done. Then they can offer tax incentives and relief to people in their manifesto.

Ed Miliband has already moved to try and head for the middle ground and in a very Clegg way said;

We need a more responsible Capitalism, a new approach to our economy and our society.

Anyone else hearing Nick Clegg April 2010? Still it is true that Capitalism needs to change, greed has badly affected the nation polarising it to Victorian levels.

Ed Miliband also has warned in his New Year message that the Government's measures are reminiscent of the 30's Conservative Government's measures and;
When politicians shrug their shoulders in the face of other people's despair, they are not just abdicating responsibility, they are making clear choices. That is as true now as it was in the Great Depression during the 1930's.

Just a quick History lesson;
1. Stanley Baldwin may have been a Conservative Prime Minister but he was PM of a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT with Ramsey MacDonald the Labour leader and previous PM as his deputy so it wasn't all the Conservatives crushing the people - Bear in mind that Labour were a lot more left wing in the 30's.

2. Britain's economy never sank to the levels of Germany in the early 30's where Deutschemarks were near enough worthless and had fully recovered in time for the Second World War.

Also another observation. A true leader, a real leader in military and political terms has to be hard. Tough decisions have to be made to help the people and the nation. It is sad but sacrifices have to be made for the greater good and you do have to shrug your shoulders at the plight sometimes and keep on going, however tough it may be.

It is suggested that Labour should come up with better plans to encourage the private sector growth than the Conservatives as encouraging growth rather than spending cuts will attract votes in the same way that Clement Attlee did in 1945.

Also if they were to concentrate on the Coalition's regressive charging mechanisms and focus on Labour's plans to cut tuition to £6000 pa.

As the authors of In the Black Labour have said, Labour need to stop this vague economic plans and actually pull a white rabbit out of their hats and show that they can be a credible party on the economy with actual policy that will actually work rather than "Not the Coalition's way".
As for Ed as a leader, only time will tell and I don't think one poll now necessarily means that he will not win in 2015, after all that is still a long way away and anything could happen.

Afraid I can't find my link to the Guardian's story but here is a link to the Sun's article on the poll.
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/4022470/New-poll-blow-for-Ed-Miliband-Voters-favour-Lib-Dem-leader.html

Thursday, 29 December 2011

School Dinners to compete with Takeaway

The nation is getting more and more rounded as time goes on. I'm guilty of it, I can't say no to a KFC dinner with Miss Bell or to a Double Cheese Burger after work on my way home, this coupled with pass times that don't involve me leaving my house and a job where I spend my day sat down has led me to put on a bit of weight. Obviously when Sophie gets older and I'm chasing her boyfriends up the street wielding a rolled up newspaper regularly I'll be a bit more spry!

Seriously, it is an affliction that is hitting the nation as fast and convenient food and a lack of time for good old home cooking is leading to people having bad diets. How many times have you thought as I have;

Bugger it, I can't be bothered to cook I'll go to the Fish 'n' Chip shop/Chinese/Curry house/ order pizza... ?

A few ideas have been bandied around including a Fat Tax on high calorie food or a start up tax on take aways and even tighter Zoning laws to keep take aways at a further distance to schools to protect the young.

Obesity and the health complaints related to poor diet is hitting the NHS hard and an already stretched budget is struggling to cope with all of the calls on its time and resources and with growing levels of youth obesity the Government has stepped forward to assist using the good old Liberal ideal of competition in the market place.

In 1980 Margaret Thatcher's government removed the minimum nutritional standard from school dinners meaning that schools could turn out any food they chose and that the meal did not have to equal a main meal of the day for kids. This was turned around by Labour in 2004 after exposure from Jamie Oliver's expo Jamie's school dinners.
The problem is that kids are still finding a portion of chips down at the chippy is cheaper than a proper meal at school. Even a Big Mac meal is around £3.50 where as you could easily spend £5 on a school meal.

Under current legislation for schools to vary the prices for their dinners they need to appeal to the Secretary of state for education to do so which is obviously a long process that is a waste of time.

Cue Sarah Teather MP, Lib Dem Children's minister.

School meals beat takeaways hands down on the quality of food they serve but until now they have struggled to compete on price. Getting Children into the school canteen is vital - the benefits of healthy school meals are clear.

 Now Meal Deals can be pitched by the schools and they can compete. Offer a main course with a selection of drinks and a dessert for £4's and it might tempt kids to eat in rather than trudge out.

Other initiatives such as moves to let parents pay for the children's dinners on line means that parents can keep a track of their children's habits and also remove the need children to carry money which is easily lifted from them by bullies. As a mouthy ginger kid at school who attracted a fair amount of unwanted attention I can agree with that.

Will the schools over price their meals?

It is a fair question and one that the more sensible and thrifty parents will ask. It is a possibility however the aim is to get people off the streets and back in the dining hall and the best way to do this is to keep the prices low. As far as I can see this is a win win for schools (who will drum up more business) and the consumers (as more healthy options mean healthier children).

The only downside is that Michael Gove has had an 80's throw back moment and has removed the obligation of Academies and Free schools to provide a basic nutritional standard. Jamie Oliver has already attacked this decision and with a growing number of Academies it would totally undo the moves by Ms Teather if only half of the educational establishments did offer healthy meals.

Source; Richard Gardiner Schools to offer Pupils meal deals to combat lure of cheap takeaways, I, page 4, 29/12/2011

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

News From Gillingham South's Councillors

Councillor Juby, Leader of the Libdem group
Well, another batch of Focus' for me to deliver in the new year arrived last week and here is a review of what Councillors Geoff Juby and Shelia Kearney have done for you... the lucky people of Gillingham South!

Well lets get the more mundane, less interesting but necessary stuff done first!
Road re-surfacing in Canterbury Street, Balmoral Road and Duncan Road all of which needed serious attention. Rubbish clearance from Lock Street and Canterbury street and an alley way cleared between Balmoral Road and Franklin Road.

A Salt bin has been approved and placed by us at Windmill Road's junction with Canterbury Street after resident's complained that last year Medway Council didn't salt some roads and paths.
Two benches have been provided in Rookery fields Park from the Ward improvement funds. Sadly I must report that I've noticed they've been heavily graffittied by the School Kids who've gone past in the past few weeks but a bench is a bench still!


The Bridge as it was

I can also report a success story too. After 13 years of campaigning the Railway bridge outside Gillingham Station's footpath has been widened! Before the Station's refit the path could fit two people abreast which was problematic for wheel chair users, buggies and prams or at the traffic lights if there were a lot of people waiting to cross.

Now, with a bit of road re-direction and change it is now around four people across and is much easier for the people of Gillingham who are trying to get into the town.

As for Parking, which is another on going problem in Gillingham and in fact most of Medway.
Medway Council are only going to do reviews if they can be funded externally due to the budget cuts due to the Budget cuts and lack of money and, sadly, none of the developments being undertaken in Gillingham currently warrant a Section 106 which would mean they have to pay for the review.
Geoff and Shelia have pushed that the parking fine revenue earned should be used to pay for a review. Why not cure the problem with the benefits?

The Conservatives have refused.

Another interesting thing is the "Better for Less" streamlining of the telephone services to the Council. The aim was to cut down the number of operators and lines for residents to call however Geoff and Shelia have said that there have been many complaints from residents saying that they have found it very difficult to get through to the person or department they need and that problems are taking weeks rather than hours to solve. Is this another policy rushed through with out proper thought and implementation by the council?
The promise was that Customer's would come first still but it looks like a rocky start!

If YOU have had trouble getting through and are a resident of Gillingham South, please contact Geoff or Shelia and they will continue to up the pressure to make sure the system will work.

Finally, and I will be writing about this properly in the New year, the proposed merger of Medway Maritime and Darent Valley Hospital Dartford. As I've said in the past we as a group are worried about the merger, especially for the secrecy that seems to have overtaken the proceedings. The Consultation meetings are pretty much being held behind closed doors unless you are a member of LINK(?)
The big concerns are the sharing of certain services. Front line services are being kept at each hospital but specialist things are being shared out but Darent is dificult to get to by Public transport, (in fact it is easier to get to London hospitals!) especially as Medway Maritime covers the Isle of Sheppey also which is a fair old stretch to Darent!

Well, that's the news so far from Gillingham South. If you are a resident or have met with the issues I've mentioned feel free to email me or Geoff and Shelia on the above links or you can attend one of the Ward Surgeries held on the Second Monday of the month at St Mark's Church or the Third Saturday at Salem Church, Nelson road (opposite the Bus depot).

Happy New Year From Nick

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Orange Book 2???

I've been reading After the Coalition by a mixture of Conservative MPs and it has made me think about what we're going to do after the Coalition.

What are the Lib Dems to do?
After all there are two inescapable facts:

1:) We haven't agreed with all the policies implemented by the Conservative led Government.

2:) We have to differentiate ourselves from our partners so that the Public can see who we are.

It is true that we have not always agreed with our Coalition partners, it is to be expected as we aren't the same party or have the same ideological identity.

We need to be able to be critical of what the Coalition has done, much as the writers have, but similarly support the aims. After all we have got some of our major policies through.

One of the great criticism's of the Party has been that people don't know who we are or what we stand for and the danger of the Coalition is that we could be seen to stand for exactly the same thing as the Conservatives,

Now would be a good time for the Orange Book II the revenge... or a similar style of "Who are the Lib Dems?" with essays outlining how WE would improve on current policies and how we could make the state better.

We need to be serious about our aims and plans, no more promises that we don't know if we can keep, the party cannot again be linked to disasters like "Tuition" and another move for electoral reform should not be on the agenda for the next parliament.

But sensible Liberal ideals and approaches to the NHS, optimising public services and spending, making the tax system fairer, how we can help the squeezed middle and the 99% that find themselves under constant attack.

Tough Liberalism will help with showing our identity, if the national media don't crucify us at every murmuring of discontent but is it enough?

The Conservatives and Labour have finally realised there is a middle ground and they are marching down from the Left and Right to take it from us, the ground that we have always held and known of. Liberalism has always appealed to the centre ground, people who look to improve the state through discussion and democratically rather than looking to the markets or the unions and now this may be lost to us.

Ok that may be an over simplification and a generalisation of the other two parties... However they are talking a lot about the centre ground which lets face it is what we are all about.

When it comes to 2015 the pessimist within me fears that there will be one loser and that will be us unless we begin damage limitation now. Some kind of detail as to what we stand for and where we want to be would be best to come out sooner rather than later.

I really don't want my prediction to come true...

Friday, 23 December 2011

"Them" and "Us" Politics


Tracey Crouch MP Chatham & Aylesford

I like Tracey Crouch. Regular readers will not be surprised by this. Indeed at work those who watch me beaver away over the Medway Messenger, writing notes and typing up blog posts on my lunch hour have a theory that I'm secretly blue.

I must say that rumours of my imminent defection are completely unfounded.

I admire the way she works for and with her constituency and represents it in Parliament. She is hard working, isn't in it for an easy ride, goes to local events and works very positively. She also provides a positive role model and is working hard for causes close to her heart in the form of women and young people in Sport (especially football), the elderly especially their care and dementia.

She has attracted plaudits from many political neutrals, Conservatives and even Lib Dems (other than me obviously).

I feel comfortable with in my own party loyalty and myself to say that of her.

I honestly believe credit where credit is due and Tracey deserves credit in my humble opinion.

However there are some, in all parties who cannot complement someone or mention their good work just because of party allegiance - as if to say that someone has a good policy or has done a stirling job getting a key debate or representing their community is some how treasonous.

It isn't at all.

These people, and there are many in politics, define themselves by what they aren't rather than what they are.
Within Parliament we have Lib Dems who define themselves as "Not Tory",
Conservatives who define themselves as "Not Lib Dems."
Labour MPs who are just "Not the Coalition."

Indeed every party has tried to define itself. We started the ball rolling with the Orange Book which has divided our party some what but still it provided policy ideas and for  those who were interested, a way of seeing what direction we wanted to go in.
Labour have followed suit with their Purple Book which I've just started to read, and is about picking up the pieces of last year's defeat and redefining a post Blairite party and I have no doubts it will cause similar divides in their party as well as provide a useful tool. - Though it is interesting to note that Ed Miliband's introduction does sound more like a Liberal Democrat intro, perhaps by Nick Clegg, than a Labour leader... Does he agree with Nick?
A few Conservative MPs have also written After the Coalition to give an idea as to what Conservativism stands for in the modern era and what they should aim for in the 2015 election as well as to redefine their belief's against Liberal Democrat influence in Coalition.

These are useful exercises and one that every party should do from time to time. A sort of reality check to make sure that we are all agreeing.

Still we get politicians and politico's defining themselves by what they aren't or disagree with rather than what they do believe. How many times have you read a blog post, letter to the paper or press release and thought;
You don't/can't believe that... Do you?

 They shout and scream blue (or red!) murder every time that a Councillor or MP does something that, although is a good thing, should be opposed or "isn't good enough" even though it is the best that could be done of the situation.

Like the rail fare rise. Our MPs have done all they can but because the fares still increased that is some how their fault.

Some of it boils down to Political point scoring. If you point and shout loud enough about failings and say "My party would have done this that and the other..." then you will attract votes whether or not it would have made a difference in real life or not.
I can do the same, look;

If we were in Government, separate to the Conservatives we would have scrapped tuition, Trident, Nick would have walked across the channel and saved the Euro and we would all have Monkey butlers. 
It doesn't ultimately mean anything.

To congratulate or to praise a member of another party could possibly lose you votes and a vital currency.

I may be being Naive... and I admit that I am probably, maybe I'm a little too open and nice for the whole political game- I just think that if someone is doing a good job you should say it.
If you want to criticise what someone or a party is doing you should do so constructively, with reason and not tired repetition (the same is true of the National media as well.) and making everything into a Political battle of wills of "Us" vs "Them." and trying to politicise everything.

An Authority's initiative's aren't designed as a direct attack on the opposition Parties and their principles.
Take the Coalition's deficit reduction schemes, I don't agree with all of them but I understand the aim but when listening to some Labour MPs attacking the Chancellor or the front bench you would think that every policy was directly aimed at destroying Labour as a party.

True some moves have been personal, such as Michael Gove overturning Ed Ball's pilot scheme the day he came into office and it had been something he vehemently opposed in opposition.

But Politics is about the People, the Electorate, you and me... their problems that need solving.

Now all problems need to be approached and different people have different approaches to coming up with a solution. Those with similar approaches have banded together to form parties. It is not to say that any other party's way is wrong just because it isn't your way, unless of course you can prove that it is detrimental to a group or many, or environment etc etc...
Then it is up to discussion and mediation before a final answer can be come to. The next election should be based on;
"Well the Lib Dem Council brought in Monkey Butlers, we argued that it was a bad idea and that Monkey's can't pour tea but after a week of debate we were out voted and they didn't listen to your complaints... Vote Green to rid your city of Monkey faeces and return to sensible policies."

Or am I just being niave and silly?

Grown up politicians and indeed adults should not squabble the way that some do in National and local politics across parties and the country. My message is to grow up, decide what YOU stand for and oppose things that should be opposed and not those for opposition's sake, avoid politicising EVERYTHING -it's not all about you or scraping another four or five voters, and give credit where credit is due - even if that means eatting humble pie and admitting you were wrong or praising an MP from another party on the good work that she is doing.

Oh... and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

High Streets lose £200 Million this year

Chatham High Street
As people charge to do battle in our town centres this time of year and manners and courtesy are forgotten in a frenzy of last minute shopping, £200 Million business will be lost nationwide from town centres.

This isn't directly due to the deficit and crunch times and people not spending money - it's people like me who have taken their money to the Internet.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts I cannot abide shopping - except for book shopping which up until I got a kindle for my birthday, was a major vice. I can't resist the pull of a book shop, the feel or smell of a new book that - any way moving away from that...
I don't like fighting through crowds and being jostled. I've made two trips to Chatham and that was more than enough for me.

Clearly others feel the same way and been estimated, according to the Metro, £200 Million has been sent on line with companies such as Amazon offering up to 70% off!
Not only is the Internet quick, quiet it's incredibly cheap and gets delivered to my door!
There's also the added bonus of not having to use public transport and car parking, in themselves painfully expensive and awkward. I hear nothing but bad things from drivers trying to navigate or park in Chatham. I must report that I used the Dynamic Waterfront Bus Facility yesterday for the first time and was fairly non-plussed but can see what people mean by walls ending short of the ceiling and it being exposed to the elements.

Internet companies can afford massive deals because they don't have the overheads that shop keepers have. A warehouse with a massive stock can be run with limited power, few staff and postage is paid by you. A shop holder has to buy stock, pay utilities, rents and taxes and live on the profits.

So what does this loss for the High Streets mean?

Well the bad thing is for small businesses who aren't part of a chain and cannot set up an Internet company. They tend to make money from overflow and people drifting in looking for bargains but if people aren't in the streets spending money they won't get any business.

Some of the models that I've painted

No where makes this more apparent than the Trafalgar Centre at the far end of the High Street. My favourite shop Maynes has closed down so now I have to go to Maidstone or Bluewater to get my Games Workshop fix. The rest of the centre is devoid of other shops, short of a newsagent, Tattoo parlour, Medway financing, a couple of random units and an Airfix model shop. The rest is a lifeless shell, even the toilets are out of order. It holds so much potential but there is nothing going on and no money coming in. The climate is not right for start up businesses and no one wants to risk their money, understandably.

The other people who make money from the Shopping season, food outlets, coffee shops, fast food eateries will also lose out on trade.
Is this a natural shift though? As I postulated before people don't have time, nor the desire to battle through towns to spend money when the with Amazon et. al. you can place your orders on your lunch hour at your desk rather than doing what I had to do on my Lunch hour- power walk from Lambeth to Westminster to get a Mug from the Parliamentary bookshop and then power back.

Needless to say though that Chatham High Street was rammed yesterday with a lot of Primark bags being carried and Debenams, Card Factory, MacDonald's, KFC, the Pentagon all very busy- even a queue to see Santa!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Train Fares to rise.

First of the month? Time to pay the fare!
So a wave of Railway companies have announced the January rise for commuters with an average of 5.91% across Southeastern trains.

Well... It is better than 8% but only delays the inevitable.

5.91% comes to about an extra £18's a month. Not much but about £216's a year and my pay rise of 1% (if it comes at all) = £200 P.A.
Effectively I'm paying out an extra £15's this year so a manageable increase?
It is certainly something that I can absorb this year IF you were to take out increases in utilities (mainly electricity as my house has no central heating and we rely on electric spot heaters.), Nursery fees for our daughter and without worrying about spot repairs or necessary work on our ageing house.

I.e. we need fresh carpeting in the Bathroom, may need a new toilet soon as ours is 30 years old and the flush is dying, a new roof for the conservatory as the old one has massive holes in it, paying off the new washing machine.... It is endless.

Another concern is that fares will rise again next year by a similar amount and I read a story on the Telegraph website that said fares could rise by a total of 24% of their current price over the next four years so that would be a rise of £75's per month extra by 2015!

This sort of increase is unsustainable for people on the bottom rung such as myself. I read in the Evening Standard that Boris Johnson was proposing keeping certain fares low so that people who work in the support and service industries won't have to pay as much as others. This is fair as Security staff (me), cleaners, council workers, ambulance staff, catering staff etc... all on £10-25,000 P.A cannot afford to have ever increasing chunks taken from their wages and sooner or later they will have to abandon working in London and look for elsewhere to live or work. As anyone who has played Jenga will tell you - if you remove the supports and the bottom level of any structure IT will collapse.

It isn't just the Season ticket rise that is the problem. It is the casual day trippers who are getting hit by even higher prices as the network is limited to an average rise of prices. Some lines will pay more. I heard recently that Tunbridge Wells to London was projected as a higher increase than Medway to London. My wife bought an all day Travel card to London for the cost of £33's  where as a Return to Winchester was £34's a much longer journey. There is certainly disparity and it is forcing people off the relatively Green mass transit railway in favour of their cars. Soon Working and the squeezed middle won't be able to afford railways.
The Metro drew a Pie chart showing where the pounds were going with only 3% of every £1 going to profits:

48% to Network rail (the guys who maintain the lines and disrupt our weekends)
4% energy and fuel
11% leasing trains.
17% Staffing
17% train maintenance, administration and contractors.

Last year though Network Rail made profits of £438 Million's... yep £438 Million pounds... More than my family has made since it landed in these lands in the 13th Century and more than we will earn (short of Sophie being a genius!!!) before the 33rd Century.

A feeling of hopelessness has befallen me and many other commuters. We've got no one else to turn to.
We've written to the Train Companies to no avail.
We've written to our MPs - Tracey Crouch, Mark Reckless and Rehman Chishti have done all they can and with the new secretary of transport managed to convince the Chancellor to keep a cap on it (reducing RPI+3 to +1) but any further restrictions would require money out of the public purse and that is being pulled to support services and the NHS etc... slightly more worthy causes.
I've written to the Deputy Prime Minister but heard nothing and he is a busy man and could not do more than our MPs really.
We've campaigned in the press.

What more can we do?

Something must be done before the prices become stupidly high and we cannot afford to go to work!

To quote Edmund Blackadder; "I'm starting to feel like a Pelican. Everywhere I look there is a large bill in front of me."

Monday, 19 December 2011

Nick Clegg's speech and Lib dem aims for Society

For a full text of the speech click here!

Today Nick Clegg gave a speech at Westminster Methodist Central hall to Demos and the Open Society Foundation and spoke on the need for Social change and the creation of an Open Society.

The main thrust of the speech is to look at Tony Blair's comparison of an Open and Closed society. Nick then puts it into context with today's society and how we, the Liberal Democrats want to (and are trying to) make this a much more open Society with fairness at its heart and that social mobility is possible and actively encouraged.

The Coalition is putting more money into funds to increase the young's chances;

That is why I have made clear that intergenerational social mobility is the principal objective of the Coalition’s social policy. And why I have been so determined to increase our investment in the vital early years, including, recently, by extending the new two-year old offer to an additional 130,000 toddlers in working families.

There is also a further £1bn going into the Youth Contract scheme, a large amount of Government funds especially in this day and age.

Nick pointed out certain disparities within other disciplines. Things that I'm sure the 99% find frustrating.
The example he uses is the legal profession;

More than two thirds of all high court judges and top barristers are privately-educated. Nine out ten QCs are men. Nineteen out of twenty are white.

This is indeed a shocking statistics and shows that someone low born has a very very low chance of making it to High court judge as well as the opportunity to learn at the same institutions. How is this fair?
Liberalism wants to level the playing field so that everyone has the right and opportunity to climb the social ladder which is something I truly believe in. I want Sophie to be all that she can be, go as far as she wants or is able to go and not be stopped by glass flaws.

The party also wants to move towards more personal budgets in health or Social care which gives us the power back. This again is great as I want to be able to chose my services rather than be held in the rigid frame work with no choice that have "always" existed or "Must" exist.

Then Nick moves on to Localism. This is a policy close to my heart. I truly believe in Localism and  its advantages to local people. If a Local Council or governing body has a way to improve things for its citizens that it can implement and it is happy that it has the support of local people then why not do it?
Why wait for National Government to implement an idea? You could be waiting forever!
Also for National Government its legislation will be across whole areas and what is good for Kent is not good or Merseyside so Medway Council would be better placed to bring in a procedure or reform for the people of Medway.

Then comes the big thing, one of our policies from a Century ago that still needs to be implemented. The reform of the house of Lords. This second house, an unelected body of 500 or so that is governing and altering laws put forward by an elected body needs reform. A second house is in itself a necessity to act as a brake but it should be elected to represent the needs of the masses rather.

Attacks on Banker's and executive's bonuses, greater power for shareholders to stop the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer by paying for their mistakes. The Call for a "Responsible Capitalism" rather than a continuation of this Victorianesq style. It may seem like a stretched metaphor but it is true. The poor are still living badly whilst the rich continue to be paid telephone number salaries and bonuses and live in the lap of luxuries.

There is also talk of freeing the press, something we as a party have been in support of a long time. Recently the Murdoch Empire has begun to crack, brought down by its own corruption. Before your chances of election or for the success of a policy depended on how Mr Murdoch felt. Indeed if the Murdoch press turned upon you it could indeed bring down a Government. This is NOT right!
Government policy, indeed Elections should be based on a fair appraisal from an independent press and let people make their own minds up.

Nick also argues that the Nation needs to drop its artificial divides of North, south, developing etc... We are one nation and we need to work together as one Society and we are all equal.

There is also... Well, I've spoken about it before ...

As a Party the Liberal Democrats are trying to redefine ourselves against our Coalition partners. This is not a dig at the Conservatives or indeed the Coalition really but is an attempt to remind the electorate that there are TWO parties in Coalition.

Nick makes a subtle jab at the Conservatives moves in Europe and at Euro scepticism and warns that this is a sign of a closed society;

History teaches that, at times of deep economic uncertainty, societies become more exposed to the forces of division – populism, insularity, separatism, an ‘us versus them’ mentality.

Rather than remaining open to the world and facing the future, societies can begin to turn inwards and lose confidence in progress.

The danger in the UK is that the forces of reaction and retreat overwhelm our instinct for openness and optimism. That we succumb to fear - the greatest enemy of openness - in these dark economic times.

Indeed this "Us vs. Them" mentality can be drawn to cover National politics. At the moment Labour and indeed aspects of the Coalition are drawing lines between
THEM; This is what they want to do isn't it wrong/immoral 
and
US; We don't want to do that or are opposed to that.

This isn't the way forward. Its not about party colours or lines when it comes to the making a better place for everyone. The nation doesn't need it. Where there is consensus there needs to be consensus not pointless opposition for the sake of it and political point scoring and where there is division there needs to be healthy debate.

Needless to say, having read the speech; I agree with Nick.
I honestly think that Society does need to change, to better itself and to put its faith in people, not institutions or the past, not to have blue prints but to adapt and mold itself as it progresses to what the people want or need. The 99% are tired of life being pre-ordained to a lesser or greater degree they want to have all the opportunities that they deserve and that life is not a battle.
Lets have this open Liberal society.

Winter is coming...

As I watched the snow try to lay in Gillingham on Friday and the ice on the cars first thing Saturday morning I began to think, and worry, about the up coming winter and the possibility of really bad weather and my mind wandered to a past time when it was truly cold. I'd like to paint a picture of this winter for you.

The snow's had been of no real surprise, in fact they had been expected by some and preparations had been sparsely made by some groups to keep them and their employees warm as the weather turned from warm summer to the icy cold that was winter.

The Snow fell and the temperatures dropped.

Roads that had once been buzzing highways, vital for the transport of goods and food to the areas that needed it petered out into nothingness. The temperatures were so cold that petrol froze in its tanks and fuel lines.

Men froze out in the open and over night where they lay, to touch bare metal would cost you your hand and frostbite and exposure became a major strain on the health providers.

To keep aircraft in the air mechanics would be roused at 3 or 4am to begin heating the engines so that they would be available at first light. Special heaters were provided that would sit inside cowlings to keep the petrol from freezing. Vast armies of men worked all morning and through the day to keep the runways clear of snow and ice so that the planes could still leave and land.

Yet the trains still ran, aeroplanes still flew and vehicles still got through.

This was the German front in Russia 1941. The temperature reached as low as -20 C.

That is cold.

According to the Met office, the mean temperature of the British Winter in 2010-11 was 2.4 C and the country ground to a halt. Airports were closed, the motorways ground to a halt and the railways were out of action for long periods of time. Despite the coldest winter since the 1970's occurring the year before no one seemed ready for it or done any preparation.

Southeastern seemed to grind to a halt. No passenger information was available and commuters took pot luck as to whether they got home or not. My work was sending those of us who lived quite a distance home as soon as the railways looked like they were going to close up.

London terminus's differed in busyness depending on the day. Sometimes the stations were dead as people just hadn't even attempted to get into London, others trying to board a train was like trying to board a lifeboat on the Titanic, people pushed and shoved and wedged themselves onto any train that was even half going their way.

This year Southeastern have laid on special emergency kits in trains including foil blankets, glow sticks, torches in case of breakdown. They're also heating more rails and running more trains to keep the tracks warm. They've also promised to keep passengers better informed of any disruption.
This said, in the last few weeks there have been delays caused by "Adverse Weather conditions" which were wind, on one day and rain on another. Both of these weather conditions are both exceptionally common on this island and if rain and wind can cause such chaos then when the snows come I fear another network shutdown.

Medway Council has provided a leaflet in Council run buildings about "Keeping our roads safe this Winter." which provides a lot of helpful information and reassurance that within 24 hours of snow and ice the primary routes will be salted, A and B roads and major bus routes as well as danger spots.
Pavements will not be salted until the snow and ice is starting to lay. This however probably only applies to main routes and high streets as well. Still it is reassuring that the Council has plans and is there to help.

If you have any queries they suggest you should telephone 01634 333333 or go to
www.medway.gov.uk/saltingroads
The view from Gillingham Station February 2011

As for my winter preparations?

Having read a lot about the Wehrmacht in the snow I always try to keep a realistic idea of what is cold and what is chilly but I also am clinging to the motto of be prepared. My boots are by the door, a couple of spare uniforms are stored in my locker at work with some changes of clothes and I think I'm going to take my sleeping bag and stowing it just in case I get stuck at work. As the credit crunch bites I cannot afford a hotel for an indefinite period and I know work cannot afford to help cover the costs.

Winter is coming, the question is how prepared is everyone?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Curse of Nick Clegg

It is a story fit for the Ancient Greeks. Such as Helen of Troy's gift to always be correct in her visions her curse was to always be disbelieved. For the time whence Nick Clegg was considered to be universally correct and everyone "Agree(d) with Nick" the Gods became angry and cursed him so that from May 2010 he would always be wrong - No matter what he did!!!

The most recent one occurred but yesterday. Nick Clegg blasted a French Minister for his criticism of the British economy as unfair and wrong.
Moments later a tweet appeared featuring Mr Clegg saying words to the affect of; "No Mr Clegg this is unfair and wrong." with a picture of Nick signing the pledge against Tuition fees.

Indeed Tuition fees is where it all began going awfully wrong. The Lib dems had originally run with and supported the plans to drop Tuition fees and make University free for all those who want to go - In fact *cringing* it is still the long term aim of the party, whether you guys believe me the party or not after last time.
Unfortunately we, as a party had signed on to follow the suggestions of the Brown Commission and therefore immediately became hamstrung. The party did its best to make repayments more attractive so that if you did go to University and failed to get a well paid job, as I and many of my peers have, the threshold went up... but to no avail.

The first mistake was considered to be the formation of the Coalition, something that HAD to be done for the good of the Nation to sort out the nation's failing economy. A delegation was sent to hear Labour's offer as well as the Conservatives and it was decided that the Conservatives had won and Labour were not serious about negotiations.
Nick Clegg the white?
It was not, as some Labour activists would suggest, a pre-ordained deal or one of two like minds. I get the feeling that some portray it as the Union of the Two towers and that Clegg stood before his Palantir and muttered;

The world is changing, who now has the strength to stand against Cowley Street and Millbank? To stand against the power of Cameron and Clegg and the Union of the Two towers? Together Dave, we shall rule this Great Britain.

It was genuinely the right decision to make and one that the majority of the nation supported at the time. So why now is it considered to be such a jolly big mistake?

As the Coalition has wound on though Nick has come under a lot of fire for sitting at the Prime Minister's side nodding vacantly. I have to admit that I have sat and shouted at the Television during PMQS;

Why are you nodding Nick? You don't/can't agree with this!!!

Issues like the NHS reforms and the attacks on the Human Rights act all seemed to be just humbly accepted.

Then POW! Tough Liberalism!

Nick announced that we as a party would stand up for ourselves in Government and for the things our party, parliamentary and grass roots believed in. He had been heavily criticised before but now he would make a stand.

Thus when the Prime Minister used his veto Clegg rode forth with the party line of Pro-Europe and openly criticised Mr Cameron's move. He tried to defend the Party's values but has been nationally been lambasted.
He has been criticised by the press and the Electorate for defending the indefensible i.e the collapse of the Euro and the EU trying to save its collapsing economy - which will have MASSIVE repercussions to the British economy if it does.

David Cameron also criticised him publicly in the house by saying that he had done "what I said I'd do."
Yes you did, but what Mr Clegg is upset about is that you said you would use the Veto if you needed to, but he, I and a quite a few Lib Dems feel, used it too soon.

Anyway, that aside, the point is he stood up for what he and we believe in. The Sun on Monday 12th December ripped him apart for daring to criticise him. In the "Sun Says" they even suggested the PM should send his Deputy to bed without any tea. Also in the Sun's survey it showed Clegg was the least trusted party leader on Europe policy. Really? Compared to the David Cameron who also has to placate some really anti-European MPs as well as the electorate, Ed Miliband who would criticise the Government even if they followed his suggestions or someone who has been an MEP, who can speak Russian, German, Dutch, Spanish... Someone who understands and has written about EU... Yeah good job, I wouldn't want Nick Clegg any where near Europe!

Nick did the right thing by not attending the PM's explanation to parliament on Monday. His presence would have been a distraction from the main event and ultimately helped no one. More importantly he did not agree with what was done. What happens? He's accused of sulking or skulking off to his office. What was he meant to do?

Indeed the Gods have been cruel. I predict that in 2015, after a somewhat inevitable mauling in the polls, Nick will have to stand down as leader which is a shame because whatever you think of him, he has been a great leader of the party. He has led us in a very good election campaign, led us into Coalition, got vast swathes of our manifesto put into law to the benefit of millions, forced a referendum on Electoral reform, we've got Localism, pupil premium, Free schools, boundary reform.... the list goes on and yet every step he has taken is judged to be wrong by the media and the public at wide.

Well, I still agree with Nick... most of the time anyway.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christian values to save the nation?

In a speech at Oxford Christchurch to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Mr Cameron out lined that Britain, as a Christian nation should turn to the Bible to help combat Britain's moral collapse, he also went on to say;

We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.
Let me be clear: I am not in any way saying that to have another faith - or no faith - is somehow wrong.
I know and fully respect that many people in this country do not have a religion.
And I am also incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities, who do so much to make our country stronger.
But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.

There was quite a strong reaction on the Twittersphere about this and many people were angered by the Prime Minister's comments. After all we are a multi faith nation and why should the Bible be taken as THE source of moral law? What of atheists and the secularisation of society? Is it this that is causing the moral collapse?

To quote Mr Cameron again; Calm down dear.

At this point I should point out that I am not a Christian. I was very young when I lost my faith and nothing I have read since has given me reason to believe that there is a God. I've always been taught to follow reason, law and logic.

That said, I do agree with Mr Cameron.

Firstly, Britain is a Christian nation. According to the 2001 Census 72% of people are Christians of one denomination or another - that said many also signed it as Jedi.
The nation, like it or not, has been one of the leading lights of Protestantism in the Western world for centuries, we fought wars over it and defined ourselves as Protestant against Papal France and Spain.
Christianity has always been at the centre of society although saying that any religion's text will outline similar rules and guidelines on behaviour such as law abiding, good to your neighbours etc etc

It would be fair to say that modern society is broken. People are rude to others and impolite, murder and crime is on the rise and something is lacking from modern life. A return to GOOD Christian values seems to be a good step.

Just a couple of thoughts on that though.

Despite our rose tinted view of history, it would be fair to say that these problems have always existed. In the slums of Victorian England or in Tudor and Stuart times the levels of drunkenness and surliness already existed. The number of murders and sex crimes were high even then and have just continued through - and this was a time when Britain was deeply Christian.

Britain is moving towards a certain amount of secularisation, removing any one Religious group's control of the media, education etc. Despite Mr Cameron's assurances I'm sure there are groups of Muslims, Jews etc who are displeased with comments saying that the Bible holds the key, as well as many angry atheists who feel they are under attack for not being Christian and possibly the cause of this moral rot. Families collapsing is in some ways a good thing, for it is better to divorce than to stay in an unhappy home or with a potentially violent spouse out of a sense of duty especially if Children are involved. Yes some people get married and divorced far to easilly at the drop of a hat but that is their freedom to do so.

Also, behaviour and manners should come with good parenting and not from a fear of wrath from the all mighty. During the Middle-ages people lived in fear that sin would be met with fire and brimstone in the fires of Hell but now-a-days there is not that fear. I was brought up to be polite, courteous and respect the law but many don't seem to be. Just people watching in Gillingham high street or at Waterloo station will demonstrate that. Who should this fall back upon? On religion? The State? The schools?
The parents.
Yes, I'm sorry but you will have to start to teaching your children to be good and to respect others etc... I know it's a new dynamic twist but there it is.

In a nut shell, I can see what Mr Cameron was trying to say. Society needs more Moral fibre, more of a return to stronger ethics and in the context of his speech I can see why he said what he said but I don't think that the Bible is the way. Any social historian worth their salt will tell you that society has always had these problems.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Greed and threats to Santa

Today's Metro yielded a surprising story about Christmas and shows the terrifying side to culture in this country and greed (also in my opinion bad parenting.)

Makeeda Austin wrote to Santa with a wish list including a Blackberry and the real life Justin Bieber.

Awww...

She's 13 and she knows Santa doesn't exist.

I don't really believe in Santa anymore but I was angry because I thought I wasn't going to get all the presents I wanted this year.
I want all these things and I don't see why I shouldn't get them.


What?

Maybe I'm old fashioned but I'd never get away with crap like that! Lumps of coal or nothing. Surely her Mum has something to say?

When I first found the letter, I thought it was funny. Now I think I'd better get her what she wants. The last thing I want is for her to kill Santa!

Oh yeah I forgot to say if Santa doesn't bring AT LEAST two of these things he dies and she'll hunt down his Reindeer and
Cook them and serve their meat to homeless people on Xmas day.
Remember Two things or you die.

What the hell?

Kaley Cuoco, if anyone wants to get her for me that would be swell


I want to be king, have a new laptop so I can write on the train, I'd love to have the real life Kaley Cuoco around the house but y'know...
It concerns me there are people out there who think like this and worse parents who let them think like it.

Similar attitudes were taken during the riots where people felt that they were entitled to the items in the shops... I really wonder what is going on in people's heads. We all want stuff but you have to work for it and save for it. It is one of the great unfair things about life but its the truth.

Some people may find this story amusing but I sincerely find it a scary insight into modern mentality.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Nick Clegg's Email to the party over Europe

Dear Chris,

Support for Europe has always been a cornerstone of what our party stands for. Recent days have been tough for pro-Europeans in our country, but I am clear that it is in Britain’s national interest to remain at the heart of Europe.

As I have made clear since Friday, I am bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last weeks summit, which ended with the UK in a minority of one. There is now a real danger that over time the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the EU and as a consequence, our influence in the world will shrink. That is not good for jobs and growth; and will do nothing for struggling families across the country.

There is no doubt that we were in a difficult position because of the refusal to compromise from some member states and the eurosceptics in the Conservative Party. It was clear that some combination of guarantees on the operation of the single market, including in financial services, was necessary if we were going to ensure the safe passage of the package through Parliament. I regret the negotiations failed to arrive at a compromise, as I had hoped.

It is important that we now look to the future. That's why I, as a Liberal Democrat in this Coalition Government will do everything I can to make sure that this setback does not become a permanent divide. I am determined that we redouble our leadership on things like the single market, the environment, foreign policy, and defence - all the things that we need to do at a European level.

All my political life I have believed that Britain is stronger, better, greater when we lead and when we stand tall in Europe. Now, more than ever, we need a strong Liberal Democrat voice inside government making this case.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister

Lib Dem reactions to Veto.

This is not a statement about whether or not David Cameron was right or wrong at the negotiations table last week just a review of what the fall out and party line is.

Nick Clegg coming out of the dark on Europe.
I regret that last night it proved to be impossible to find a way forward as a group of 27 on European  Treaty change.
The demands Britain made for safeguards, on which the Coalition Government was united, were modest and reasonable. They were safeguards for the single market, not just the UK.
What we sought to ensure was to maintain a level playing field in financial services and the single market as a while. This would have retained the UK's ability to make tougher, not looser regulatory action to sort out our banking system.

Nick Clegg, Friday's Evening standard.

I gather Cameron phoned out illustrious leader before he decided to do this. There must have been reasons. I don't see them at the moment.

Loreley Burt, Chair woman of the Lib-Dem parliamentary party.

It is a black day for Britain in Europe.

Lord Oakeshott, Lib Dem Peer.

Britain will suffer outside the EU deal-making room.
...
If you get out of the deal-making room as he has done over the last year, you end up losing influence.

Ed Milliband, Labour leader in the Standard.

The Liberal Democrats have always been pro- European, it is in our very make up. The ideals of Liberalism and Democracy are an ideology that can be used in the greater European scale. As a group the Party voted with the Government against the call for a referendum in November. When David Cameron rightly or wrongly wielded the veto on Friday many Lib Dems were outraged, not just at him but by Nick Clegg's seeming support.
Was this a case of Nick Clegg just agreeing to another golden tenant of the Liberal Democrats being consigned to the waste paper bin for the good of the Coalition and another solid Conservative aim being put ahead of ours as well as a possible violation of the Coalition agreement?
More Lib dem grass roots found themselves looking at Ed Miliband and the Labour party and wondering if they were in fact in the wrong party...

Then at some point this weekend Nick woke up...

Now he has come out all guns firing and exercising Tough Liberalism and reasserting the Party's identity. According to Toby Helm and Daniel Boffey in their article Clegg is tired of being the Coalition's whipping boy and is indeed defending his policies and against ones he and the Party disagree - after all how can the party stand in 2015 on issues we had backed down over.

Party big hitters such as Lord Ashdown had said the Coalition "Must" survive but the damage done by this was enormous

Shirely Williams also said;
It will diminish our influence far beyond Europe, in Washington Beijing and New Delhi, Capitals that value the influence they believe we have in Brussels.
and finally Lord Oakeshott has stated;
Many of us were shocked and stunned on Friday. But we are now finding our voice. Nick Clegg and our Liberal Democrat leaders must force Cameron back to the negotiating table to fight for our vital interests in Europe, not leave an empty chair and Britain isolated, impotent and ignored.
On the Andrew Marr show Nick Clegg stated;
I'm bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last week's summit, precisely because I think now there is a danger that the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the European Union.
I don't think that's good for jobs, in the city or elsewhere, I don't think it's good for growth or for families up and down the country.
Also vowing elsewhere to Fight tooth and nail to keep Britain involved in Europe.

The media, as always, are ready to paint this as another great rift between the two parties of the Coalition and to be fair it is a pretty big ideological gap. The thing is, as Nick pointed out, the Coalition is more important and should it split then there would be serious problems for the country at a time that it really needs a strong Government.

This is, to my mind, an example of Nick and the other Libdems demonstrating an obvious Ideological difference and standing up for what WE believe in rather than the Conservatives. This is an example of Tough Liberalism and showing our true colours. Something we should have done over Tuition fees and the NHS... in Europe the party has taken its stand and Nick has shown real leadership to stand up and define us rather than nodding alongside David Cameron on another issue that really deep down he doesn't agree with.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

National Vs. local politics

On a cool crisp but bright morning in Whitstable, a Conference hall full of South Eastern Liberal Democrats voted that when it came to Local Politics and Focus News Letters - we were allowed to disagree with the Coalition and its policies. Not to do so would be deadly for local Liberal Democrats and Councillors doing good ward and Council work (as we saw last May) and we don't actually agree with all the Coalition does.

After all the Government is not a Liberal Democrat one and the majority is formed of Conservative MPs. If we agreed whole heartedly with David Cameron and the Conservative manifesto then we would be Conservative party members and not Liberal Democrats.

I'll say it one last time for those critics of the Parliamentary party and indeed the Coalition. The Government is made of two parties and neither party will get its' way all the time and we, as the smaller party, will rarely get our views across.
So it is NOT a case of selling out but of compromise and our bargaining chips are not worth all that much which means we have to pick and chose our battles... We are getting a large percentage of our Manifesto put through as it is.

So..if you still don't grasp this or publicise to the contrary you are either being deliberatly misleading or stupid.

However it does mean that we as Liberal Democrats are tied to the mast of this ship that is destined to hit the rocks of the 2015 election locally and nationally.

But Political parties are two headed beasts.
Imagine the two headed monster from the film Willow. Together when facing the same foe they're formidable, one cannot survive without the other. But there are times when they get in each others way and sometimes and contradict each other.

What is in the National interest may not be in the Local interest and Vice versa.

For example take Boris Island.

The national press and indeed National MPs of both the Labour and Conservative parties support the notion that a new Airport is needed as current capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick etc. will be inadequate by 2030. A new proposed hub airport would be the best thing as local residents and environmentalists have blocked all attempts to expand the current Airports.
A man made island in the middle of the Thames estuary seems perfect. It would generate vast amounts of wealth and put Britain back on the map and show we, as a nation were serious about being on the world stage.
It would generate and encourage local construction and job markets, a new railway network and massive re structuring of North Kent's roads and rail networks. In short, on paper it is a bold new and acceptable strategy that could have so many bonuses for the nation and the capital as a whole.

BUT:

The local political parties are up in arms about the whole thing, and rightly so. The environmental impact will be astounding and threatens the very delicate ecostructure on the Gillingham and Rainham marshes and the RSPB reserve on the Hoo peninsula. This coupled with Medway being in a flight path, thus lowering house values, pollution of our airspace, and the cost to the local authorities in restructuring Medway absolutely phenomenal.
The three local MPs; Mark Reckless, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti have all campaigned against the "Boris Island" and have asked the PM, and written to and questioned successive ministers of Transport on the constituents behalf. If anything all of the local parties have been consistent in their opposition to the project and against Boris Johnson.

However because the National Party are supposedly now showing an interest; George Osborne made a remark in his Autumn statement that has terrified everyone in Medway into thinking the Island WILL go ahead and the opposition parties are now calling local Tory MPs and Councillors "Two faced."

Personally, I can't see it. The local party and associations have been consistent, even the MPs have kept their word and even now are still lobbying for a halt to it or clarification as to what is going on.
Nationally David Cameron may have changed his mind, George Osborne, who as far as I know has never really voiced an opinion either way, may now be in favour of it but then the situation in the nation's finances have changed but that is their prerogative. Locally no one has been two faced and attacks on those in power who are doing something, to my mind is counter productive. We should unite together as divided we will fall.

It is easy for National Parties to see local Parties and Council's as NIMBY's and not in touch with the bigger picture but and with its pursuit of "Bettering the nation" upset a lot of local activists and constituents but they also forget where their grass root support is and often they accidentally pour weed killer on strong lawns by not heeding Local parties.