Monday, 28 December 2015

Southeastern and Wettons lost property

I'm not one to complain *chortle* but this morning I had a very concerning incident involving my beloved Gillingham football scarf which I in haste left on the train at Victoria station. (it was the 8.58 from Gillingham to Victoria arriving on platform 8)

It didn't take long to realize, in fact I had only walked from Platform 8 to the Swatch kiosk on the concourse. I ran back and the Southeastern barrier guard very kindly let me back through. I ran up and down the train frantically searching for it. This sounds silly, I know, but this scarf holds a great deal of sentimental meaning for me. It was my first piece of Gillingham kit God knows how long ago from my Granddad - who hated football but was trying to indulge my interests.

I was frantic as it could not be found and I was resigning myself to filling out the lost property and, to be honest, its total loss to oblivion when I saw it.

It is unmistakable and to be honest there are not that many Gillingham fans! It wasnt on the chair I'd been sat on or in the floor - it was cruising past the window in a rubbish sack!

I jumped off the train and politely asked for its return before scuttling off. I thanked the barrier staff again and they asked me if the cleaner had given it to me.

I'm very grateful for the return of my scarf and for the help provided by the Southeastern staff but I am concerned that the lost property was in fact thrown away and when it was given back to me it was wet and covered in cold coffee and it worries me that other lost property may be being disposed of rather than being taken to lost property.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

English Democrat "Reprisal" is murder

There has been some interesting fall out (excuse the pun) from my last blogpost about the suggestion by English Democrat candidate for the Crime Commissioner post Steve Uncles that the Western powers should threaten Daesh (ISIL) with a Nuclear strike on Mecca the next time there is a terror attack in the West.

In the follow up of the debate on Twitter there were questions about my ancestor’s political affiliations and what I would do with Cyril Smith… The most disturbing seems to be Collective punishment.

A simplistic way of putting it is what happened to my Grandfather at school when the head teacher caned an entire class because someone had drained the radiator to fill their water pistol and as he lined them up he said “The innocent will suffer with the guilty.”
I will let you interpret the tweets for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion as I have;

What do you think?

My interpretation, added to the original post about nuking Mecca during the pilgrimage as punishment does concern me greatly and leads to this “Collective responsibility” and took me to thinking about other examples of this in the past.

First one that popped into my head was the village of Lidice in the Czech Republic. Three Czech “terrorists” assassinated the German governor of Bohemia & Moravia Reinhard Heydrich on the 27th May 1942 (he died on 4th June). In reprisal for this terrorist act and to try to stamp out similar acts the German authorities liquidated the village of Lidice including executing all of the men, most of the children and sending the women to concentration camps. Buildings were flattened, animals were executed and even the dead were disinterred and their remains destroyed. In total 1300 people in the protectorate were killed in these reprisals.

Another example, sadly again from the World War Two era, are the executions of civilians for each German soldier killed ten local civilians would be shot. This happened in Greece (where whole male populations were liquidated) and notably in Russia with these duties falling to regular Wehrmacht troops not just the Nazi SS.

Although Mr Uncles has distanced himself by saying We can all agree that National Socialism is a terrible thing. I still cannot see the difference in the reprisal by nuclear weapon killing innocent civilians and the Karbiner 98 rifle shooting innocent civilians…

In the United Kingdom we have our own sordid past with the rounding up of women and children in South Africa during the Boer War, their property burnt and their internment at concentration camps where many died from disease and poor conditions. There is the reaction to the 1857 rebellion in India which saw British subjects, military and civilian being murdered and brutalised was avenged by British troops bayonetting civilians (including women and Children) in Delhi;
These were not mutineers but residents of the city, who trusted to our well known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were disappointed reported the Bombay Telegraph.

Another report stated;
The orders went out to shoot every soul… It was literally murder… I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I have witnessed yesterday I pray I never see again. The women were all spared but their screams on seeing their husbands and sons butchered were most painful… Heaven knows I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that of a man’s heart I think who can look on with indifference.
All in the aim of ending “Terrorism” and protecting British/English citizens and rule.

In my mind, and I leave it up to the reader to make a final decision, there is little difference between these lamentable periods of history and threatening to launch a nuclear strike on Mecca as a reprisal for a terrorist action in the West.

The one constant between the Lidice, Feldpolizei, Indian Mutiny and Boer War examples AND a strike on Mecca is that a large/extreme number of people face or have been MURDERED in reprisal for actions carried out by a few.

My family have been involved in Policing for over a century with my Great Grandfather Walter joining the Metropolitan Police in early 1914 and the immutable faith in the notion of Justice has been passed down from generation to generation and the ultimately the biggest nuggets of knowledge have been –

1.) Don’t make idle threats
2.) Two wrongs do not make a right

Murdering civilians in their hundreds of thousands during a pilgrimage in Mecca is ethically and morally abhorrent and is on the same scale as the terrorist who blows up a bus of commuters and the Oberleutnant who orders a nearby village levelled because one of his men was shot by a terrorist. 

As far as Mr Uncles is concerned, the only difference is that ISIS are not signed up to the Geneva Convention so are seemingly exempt from its protection. I'm sorry to say that this is not how the convention works a

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

English Democrat calls for Nuclear strike on Mecca

I have studied war and all of its incarnations since the age of eight when I first picked up the Ladybird book of "Soldiers" and
started asking questions of my grandfather.

War is undeniably one of the great evils that mankind has unleashed upon the world and sadly the one thing at which we as a species excel at. Aggression breads technology and at the very top of the tree are the nuclear weapons.

Many people argue that Nuclear weapons are necessary.

They have never been necessary.

The excuse of ending World War Two quickly is touted too quickly but the truth of the matter is everyone knew Japan could not physically hold out much longer and that conventional bombing methods would have sufficed. Indeed the RAF and USAAF had proved that over Europe where 25,000 people in three days in Dresden of saturation bombing in 1945 and Hamburg had suffered 42,600 killed in the firestorms of Operation Gomorrah in July 1943. With Germany defeated the bomber fleets were free to relocate to the Pacific.

At the turn of the 20th Century the greatest weapons were Artillery (and Dreadnoughts) by 1915 the horror weapon was poison gas, by the 1930s it was the Bomber especially if carrying gas and by 1945 it was the A-bomb. The only reason to use it in 1945 was to show the Russians that the West had them and was not afraid to use them should they be pushed as Churchill (succeeded by Atlee) and Truman knew that Stalin would not have hesitated to use them if he thought he had the upper hand.

In modern times though there is a small clique of states who have nuclear weapons all eyeing each other suspiciously... However who is the major threat?

A lose alliance of Islamic extremists who have no state and whose ability to use a nuclear device is, for the moment, limited to a dirty bomb for which the only defence is keen Military intelligence.

Should one of these devices go off in central London the effects would be ugly and a lot of people would be irradiated and killed with many dying from the effects for years afterwards.

English Democrat and former Kent Police Commissioner candidate (I think I heard he is running again in 2016) Steve Uncles has an answer to this... A retaliatory Nuclear strike on Mecca after ANY terrorist attack on the West.

Mr Uncles argues in his blog that the heart of Islam, within Saudi Arabia, will be full of Muslim pilgrims. He states:

Massive retaliation works on the same principles as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), with the important caveat that even a minor conventional attack on a nuclear state could conceivably result in all-out Nuclear retaliation.


This threat to of massive retaliation of 1 million Muslims and the destruction of the most holy Muslim site in the world, if a further "civilised" life is taken on respective sovereign territory, may be the only answer to eliminate Islamic Terrorism.

My first response upon seeing this was... What... the... actual.... F**k?

My more reasoned approach is this;

First off the bat:

In 1914 the Sultan of Turkey decreed a Jihad against Britain and her Allies, for all Muslims to rise up against the West and come to the aid of Germany and her allies. Apart from a few scattered uprisings including some rumblings in Persia and in the Far East the majority was limited to just the Ottoman Empire.

In 2015 the same is true. Despite the call for a universal Jihad the number of Muslims fighting the West is, on the grand scale of things, a small number. Should the Holy shrines of Mecca be destroyed by the West then there will be a massive uprising of Muslims worldwide and who could blame them? Their Holy places destroyed in one blast would cause horrific hatred and rightly so.

As would the slaughter of a million innocents. How can anyone legitimise the murder, and it is murder, of all of these people? How many will be terrorists or support terrorists? These people will have come from around the world and may even be citizens of your state on a religious pilgrimage - how can you kill all these people?

If it happened we would be no better than the terrorists.

Thirdly is the prickly ball of Saudi Arabia. Yes there are sections of their society who probably funding terrorism but they are also pro-West and supply a vast swathe of the much needed crude Oil. Should anyone Nuke Saudi Arabia then that vital line is lost and the West is somewhat dependent on it at the moment. There is also the Saudi investment in the West and its business, their withdrawal could cause absolute chaos in the business world and financial markets.

The terrorists and their strategists know this and know any threat on Mecca is a paper tiger - it would cause more harm than good and is morally and ethically wrong. It is akin to General Amherst reported suggestion that blankets from Smallpox hospitals be distributed to the Ottawa indians to quell Pontiac's Rebellion.

What frightens me the most about all this though is that there will be many who agree with him.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Corbyn ushers in new style of PMQs

Today marked the begining of the Corbyn era of Prime Minister's Questions and I must say that I have been really impressed.

Many of my regular readers will know that I have not a big fan of the Labour party over recent years and am still dubious of many of their policies/MPs etc however I thought Mr Corbyn hit the nail on the head.

Charles Kennedy wrote in his book "The Future of Politics" that the House and indeed PMQs was stuck in a rut of like a Rugby game with two sides vying for supremacy and scoring points. Indeed over recent years it has become about bluster of;

"Thireen years of Labour government.... blah blah."
"More of Flashman... Same old Tory Party."
*knod* *knod* *knod*
Ultimately it did nothing to encourage any support for either party and was generally seen as an out of date process with people who should know better acting like school children on a long bus trip and being paid a large amount of money to do so. There also became a penchant for commentators of stating who had won or lost PMQS and often with a goal line in publications like the Evening Standard which trivialised the whole process

Mr Corbyn had a very different approach and had asked the General Public to submit questions which he and his staff (more likely the latter) had whittled down to a much smaller number of the most numerous.

Siting examples he asked calmly and collectidly about housing policy and benefits caps. The Prime Minister was forced to abandon his usual flashy displays and spouting and had to answer in a similar style.

Although I am always distrustful of siting an individual's experiences and passing them off as fact, something my Historian trained mind rejects as dangerous. One person's experience is not always everyone's nor is it fact. In this case however it does make the point that he has asked the public and real people are speaking through the new Labour leader.

It was a much more refreshing and dare I say it "grown up" approach to actually conducting business and actually holding the Government to account from the electorate rather than Political point scoring.

It is a style of politics that the public (myself included) can get on with and I look forward to more of the same in the future.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Corbyn as leader is definitely a good thing!

A new direction for Labour under Corbyn?
In case you have missed the news Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as leader of the Labour Party and this is something to be celebrated.

Celebrated? Really Chris? Why would a LibDem be celebrating this?

A fine set of questions to which the answers are; Yes, really and it is a long complicated rant so buckle up....

Firstly, I am a big fan of democracy and political theory - it is one of my vices and I'm a HUGE fan of Hobbes "Leviathan". I studied the evolution of Political theory at university for a semester and found this evolution fascinating and for a time I flirted with Marxism. To be fair I worked for MacDonald's at the time and it seemed to be a fair leap.

Anyway - at this point I was ripe to be attracted to a strong Labour movement and the Labour Party there was just one thing in the way.... New Labour.

New Labour has always struck me as a Diet Tory movement which was geared to winning elections and that was it. Throw in my opposition to the Iraq War and other policies such as ID cards etc and I found myself realising that beyond my radical reaction to my employer I had no real socialist beliefs and that liberalism was where my heart truly lay.

However I have always maintained that the Labour party should be a working class party and that for me and many others it had long ceased to be that.

Can I back up this assertion?

Why yes.

The rise of third (and fourth) party politics is a massive clue to this. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats attracted a large amount of votes from people who were looking for something different rather than the two same old parties who seemingly offered us nothing different. In 2015 following the Coalition that saw us being lumped into the same boat as Labour and the Tories the working classes flooded to UKIP seeing Farage as someone new and out of the Westminster bubble. Indeed according to our intel, streets that had been historically Labour were turning to UKIP instead. Why? Because Farage seemed to be voicing the working family's fears and beliefs rather than Westminster protocol and edited press statements.

What has this got to do with Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn is of the old school of Labour, a genuine Left winger who will (hopefully) steer the party away from the middle ground and actually represent the working classes again. No more of this abstaining on key votes as they did under Harman recently. The Party membership are obviously vexed with this New Labour fad and want to return to their old core values, the values the party were founded on, the very values and voters who were that much more extreme than the Old Liberal party back in the 1920s that saw the party rise to prominance. This is the same shift again almost a century on.

Finally there will be a gulf between Right and Left which will give the voters something to get behind.

There have been a lot of smug Tory tweets claiming walkover in 2020 and that we are looking at another five year term of Conservative government based on today's Labour leadership result. I wouldn't be so sure... After all if Corbyn can steer the party left and actually start representing the working classes again then they will draw a massive amount of support away from UKIP (always a good thing) and if he stands on anti-austerity (and means it) then he will gain even more votes and we could see the rise of the Labour party.

It also means that dissatisfied centralists in the Labour party may come looking for a centre party and join the LibDems(?).

So what about Medway?

Well on the council level it is too early to say. Many people have predicted the Conservatives losing seats in the last two elections and they've still walked away with a massive majority. I think it is too early to say for 2019.

I will predict that Corbyn's tenure (if done right) coupled with the absence of Mark Reckless, will see the end of Medway UKIP's showing on the council and (hopefully) see a massive fall in their vote share across the wards.

For the LibDems locally it won't make that big a difference with us still campaigning on our strengths and strong work ethic.

As for the 2020 General election - it is way to early to call that... IF the right candidate (and my money is on Naushabah Kahn) is against Rehman Chishti then we could see a swing to Labour. Sadly I fear the same might be true in Chatham & Aylesford IF the right candidate comes along and the voters of Chatham go back to Labour rather than UKIP then not even Tracey's record could save her but that is a pretty BIG IF!!!!

Though these predictions are, as Joey from Friends once said; Moo ("Its like a Cow's opinion - it doesn't matter"). I stand by my belief that Labour will now return to its roots and represent its core supporters - the workers which can only be a good thing for British politics having a clear divide between Red and Blue.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Forrester's & Livingston Planning continued...

There are many times where an original text goes before an editor and is changed for numerous reasons and although I agree with changes I also feel I should post the original article in its original tone. Here is the text that went onto the Medway Libdems webpage.

This weekend there has been a furious response to Tony’s letter in the Medway Messenger regarding Planning Committee. They feel it is an unjust personal attack on and that events did not play out the way they are described.

First off the bat I should describe the planning issues.

Forrester’s Hall on Sturdee avenue had been abandoned not long after my daughter’s third birthday in May 2013, the caretaker said that when we booked the hall that it was for sale. Since then it has been boarded up and derelict. Neighbours on Sturdee Avenue and Valley Road had noticed that it had been used by local youths as a squat come drug den and has not only been vandalised but also set on fire. I was deeply saddened to have to report this to the Police myself back in January when I found it broken into and the level of damage inside. The property has been since been bought by a developer who is proposing to build four bedroom houses on the site. The big concern for residents on Valley road is that these new houses are set back on the land and will now be overlooking their gardens and back windows effectively compromising their privacy.

The second issue was the now derelict British Legion building on Livingstone Road which is likewise to be demolished and have houses built on it. The big problem with Livingstone road though is parking. Although to Council officials and enforcement officers will note that during the day time there is no excessive parking they will not notice that in the evening and weekends the pavement becomes impassable with cars parked upon it. It is something I have written about extensively on my blog and is a constant annoyance for families like mine who cannot pass the parked vehicles with a pram or indeed with my disabled daughter’s walking frame and we are forced to cross the road on the bend to get to an easier path. Basic road safety tells you that that is not a good idea and with the rate of knots that some people drive down Livingstone road it is only a matter of time before there is an accident. I raised my objection for the development based on a worry that there would be less adequate parking and that pedestrians like myself would suffer. It was a complaint echoed by other residents.

Both issues were discussed at length at the Valley Road PACT before the election in May and objections logged with the council before the deadline in April.

The big complaint that Labour have got is that no one told them and that they had not attended the meetings prior to the election and that the issues were not discussed after the election.

Firstly, the candidates would have known about the PACT meetings as the first meeting I attended was chaired by Gillingham North’s very own Pat Cooper of Labour, who was invited to subsequent meetings but failed to attend. I would have thought it would have been in the interest of any prospective candidate to attend such meetings and get a feel for their area and with the open nature of the forum I’m sure they would have been more than welcome. The other issue is of course the planning complaints were not brought up at the last meeting (the first since the election in May) as the deadline for lodging concerns had passed and it was “old business.”
Parking on Livingston road

Secondly; I find it hard to believe that the new Councillors didn’t have the ability to look at the upcoming planning proposals before the meeting on 30th June. All upcoming planning proposals were on the website with complaints/comments posted and would have been available to Councillors by officers beforehand. If, again, they had done their homework they would have seen what was proposed in their ward, what issues were raised and by whom and they would have had the ability to contact residents with issues.

There will no doubt be accusation of “Sour Grapes” because we/I lost the election in May but in all honesty I and the resident who helped Tony draft the letter and gave their approval, are just annoyed that genuine complaints have not been addressed because of seeming apathy.

I welcome any positive feedback from the Labour group answering these concerns.

There are a couple of criticisms that have been levelled that I should clarify.

There is a lot of history between the Medway LibDems and Councillors MacDonald and Stamp and I'm sure that there will be claims of personal attack and part of an ongoing hatchet job.this of course is untrue in my case. I joined the group after whatever happened happened and I can count the number of exchanges I have had with them on my hands.

I have no interest in what happened nor in continuing any perceived grudge.

The other thing is that I have been accused of hypocrisy for not lodging a complaint about not lodging a complaint about the Forrester's hall development - ignoring the one i put in about Livingston. Also that I am supposed to be representing my community.

Well first - I didn't lodge a complaint for the simple reason - I forgot. Working 39 hours a week, a 4 hour commute to London & back every day, three children and a ton of proof reading meant it slipped my mind. Had I been elected though I would have quit my job in London and I would have looked at the concerns on the planning application.

As for representing the community - I was not elected and do not pretend or attempt to represent anyone but the Sams family. Representing the community is your job Councillors.

I'm guilty of many things; Poor memory, putting the rubbish out in my pants and a t'shirt, loving Runaway bride and having a guilty love of the music of Taylor Swift but hypocrisy is not one of them. I was brought up with a strict moral code and belief in honour which I think has come out in my blogging - if someone does soomething good I'll commend them. If they do something bad I'll criticise no matter which party they are. I got into politics not because I wanted power or to be a councillor but to do good and help people, if I had wanted to be a Councillor as my primary goal I would have takne Vince on his offer and joined Labour back in 2012 or the offers I had to join the Tories... I am a man of principle

Take this on the chin and learn from it.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Daggers down please

Yesterday I managed to see a snippet of Norman Lamb and Tim Farron's discussions with LibDems and members of the public on BBC. We have got two very good candidates for leader and although I know who I will be voting for I'd be more than happy serving under the other should they win.

Unfortunately there are some ruptions on social media between hardcore members of each camp. The leadership contest is something that is meant to bring members together in healthy debate and discussion on where we want the party to go and what we want to achieve. 

Sadly I have seen rival factions arguing on Twitter (yes there is a difference between arguing and debating) and there can be a lot of pro X or Y tweets fired about. Yes I am a little guilty of the latter but I made the conscious choice to take down my banner and keep the pro X or Y tweets to a minimum concentrating on other things... Did I mention I've written a book? 

This is not the time for petty infighting and squabbling. We were almost were destroyed in Westminster a month ago and were in councils across the country like Medway. 

Yesterday's TV segment proved the scale of the uphill battle we will have with the tumour of Tuition fees still festering in our chest and the big question being;
"How can we trust you again?"

I think Tim hit the nail on the head about trust needing to be early and this is definitely going to be the long game with no rapid turn around in five years and it is going to take A LOT of hard work together.

So let's put the daggers away and concentrate on the future of the party we all love and think of her future. Yes debate, no to squabbling and let us all decide as adults, get this done and move on together and rebuild.

Monday, 18 May 2015

My post election introspective

On the 7th May as we all sat down to the count in the usual venue I hurriedly began sorting out a problem I had forgotten about - my membership to the Liberal Democrats had lapsed a couple of weeks previously. I'd been meaning to renew but the election had eaten up so much of my time I forgot.

At 11PM all seemed right with the world and none of us believed the exit poll and although expecting losses never in our darkest moments imagined the levels that were to pass. The Local election just added to the woe as we were wiped out.

After 19 years of service Cllr Geoff Juby fell and 21 years Diana Smith. Even in Gillingham South a ward where a Conservative vote was considered a wasted vote the blues scored high, not as high as UKIP and Labour but higher than us.

I looked at my rosette and began to wonder if my renewal was a little premature.

Though I pride myself on a near Teutonic rigidness to follow orders mixed with the Pullen stubbornness and Sams pigheadedness of not admitting I'm wrong I, like rational human beings have to question my course from time to time.

Maybe signing up was a little premature and the party was dead. Suddenly the family motto of Dum Sperro Spirro (Whilst I breathe I hope.) wasn't enough.

Whilst at the Local count I was offered a Labour membership form twice which I politely turned down, mainly because of who asked me, had it been someone else I may not have been so polite(!). There are many things that could attract me to Labour but the parliamentary group really put me off, they had no policies, no direction and no charisma and failed to provide a credible opposition.

As for locally... Well what really got under my skin was a leaflet put through my door the night before the election calling on people to oust Clegg and his acolytes who had voted for tuition and bedroom tax before urging them to vote for the Gillingham South team. That poisoned the well for me. Geoff, Tony and I had absolutely bugger and all to do with those issues and neither did Medway Council. If anything I almost quit the party in the wake of tuition but after much soul searching I thought I should invest in our work locally.

Then I looked right. As the saying goes; If you can't beat 'em...

It is true that I am a big fan of Tracey Crouch's work and the idea of a new caring Liberal Tory party was quite alluring. The grey lines of the Coalition had got very confusing...

Problem was that as I looked around the room there was a lot of smugness and self congratulation and if there is one thing worse than a bad loser it is a bad winner (this includes you Cllr Bowler (Lab) strutting onto the stage and air punching is a tad undignified). It is enough to put me off, I can be quite shallow sometimes, but ultimately though with the direction this new Conservative government is taking... It is probably a "nah, you're alright" from me.

My beliefs and membership is not up for grabs sand despite the pros (and cons) of the other parties I cannot abandon my principles, there are more important things than being elected.

The Liberal Democrats are where my heart lies and where my beliefs are strong. I have been a member for six years through quite literally the best of times and worst of times and will still be knocking on doors and delivering Focuses for years to come even if I'm the last LibDem standing in Gillingham. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The LibDems' Titanic revival

Five years ago I made a prediction about the fate of the party in the General election in 2015.

Sadly, I was right.

Early last week I made a prediction about the fate of the Medway LibDems in the local elections which drew heavily on a metaphor of von Spee's fleet with the two Councillors leading the three candidates and despite wild inaccuracies from our opponants we were out gunned despite a valiant show went down with all hands.

Sadly I was right again.

Last Friday night as we sat waiting for the Local vote mulling over the General election the Titanic soundtrack came onto my I-pod and I pictured the scene where Thomas Andrews, Titanic's
designer  was explaining to Captain Smith, Bruce Ismay and collected deck officers how the vessel would sink.

She would go down by the head with water flowing over the water tight bulkheads - There would be no stopping it.

This got me thinking about the National party. Clearly we have hit a big 'burg and after the loss of a swathe of very talented MPs we were going down by the head and it would only be a matter of time before people were abandoning ship enmasse and only a few loyal members would go down with the ship still tirelessly working in the Engine room.

This prediction is looking, thankfully, to be unfounded.
Greg Mulholland MP - Fighting back

Over the weekend whilst I was mulling things over and having these dark thoughts the strangest thing happened.

Out of nowhere thousands of supporters rose up and joined the party, including my friend Caz and I'm working on my wife still. These people are angry at the treatment of a party who had given so much in government and was being punished for Tuition fees and for putting party before country and joining the Tories in a Coalition to reverse a horrendous financial deficit. They were also the compassionate side of the Coalition for the most part having passed many reforms and measures (such as 20 free nursery hours, free school dinners, income tax threshold etc) to help working families.

The big question of who to lead us is also hanging over us. With so much talent lost to the parliamentary
party there was an inherent fear that there would be a vacuum but this is not the case. Tim Farron, former president and one of the leading lights is being touted as a serious leadership challenger as is Norman Lamb who has worked closely with Nick Clegg over the years. Behind the scenes as well is Greg Mulholland who is tweeting frantically about change within the party and getting leaner, keener and meaner as well as getting up out of the dust immediately and pushing forward with all its might - a sentiment shared by many of us!

This party is not deceased, nor is it mortally wounded. It has escaped the fate of Titanic and is looking like the engineering crew will get her back afloat and going again and I am very excited to be a part of this!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Bye-Bye Liberal Democrat dreams

I reworded Don McLean's "American Pie" a few years ago so that it would be about the possible dissolution of the party in the 2015 election.

Last week I tweaked it in case of... Well... What happened on Thursday night.

Any way, here it is...

A long long time ago

I can still remember how Nick Clegg made me feel,
An' I knew that if I had my chance,
That He could make a difference 
An' maybe we'd be happy for a while.

But 2015 made me shiver
With every Focus I deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried 
When I read of the rise of Nige,
But something touched me deep inside,
The day our party died.

So bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

This will be the die that you'll die.

Did you read the Orange book?
And do you have faith in Clegg and co?
If Libdemvoice tells you so.
And do you believe in liberalism
Can Gladstone save the country's soul?
And do you still lament Lloyd George?
Well I know that we all agreed with Nick,
Because I saw it on your Twitter feed,
We wanted him to win,
Cos' we're not sure of Cameron's blues!
I was a lonely Liberal Democrat
With a yellow rosette and orange book,
But I know I was outta luck in May in 2015,
I started singing,

So bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

This'll be the day that you'll die.

Now for five years we've been on our own,
And Labour have been throwing lots of stones
But that's not how it used to be,
When Nick Clegg was on our TV
With a speech he borrowed from Paddy
And a voice which came from you and me,
And while Gordon Brown was left to frown,
Nick Clegg stole Cameron's thorny crown,
The country was adjourned,
No Government was returned!
And while Liam Bryne wrote that note
The Tories gave us a ruling part
We started cheering for Clegg
The day, the Coal'tion came

But they were singing

So bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

This'll be the day that they die.

in that summer swelter 
Some of us fled to a fall out shelter
The deficit was high and raising fast
We pulled unemployment to the grass
The Tories tried for a tuition rise
With Nick Clegg on the sidelines in a gag
The outside world held its breath
Surely we'd uphold our pledge?
We all got up to shout
But the MPs never threw it out
As the students tried to take the field
The Tories & Clegg refused to yield,
Do you recall how you felt,
The day that Cleggo lied?
Labour were singing;

bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

This'll be the day that they die

And there we all were in one place
Liberal Democrats lost in space,
With no time left to start again,
So come on Clegg be nimble,
Clegg be quick,
Nick Clegg lost out to Nige's UKIP
'Coz of the whole student thing
An' as I watched Nige on the stage,
My fists were clenched in balls of rage,
No angel forged in hell,
Could break Farrage's spell,
An' as their polls rose high on the night,
Our party was a sacrificial lamb,
I saw Labour laughing with delight,
The day, our party died
They were singing;

bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

This'll be the day that they die

I met a girl who ran for the Blues,
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away,
I went down to the Gunwharf count,
Where we would see if we'd got in,
But the council result was already out,
In the street the children played
Whilst the Liberals cried and tried to dream,
Not a word was spoken,
They say our pledge was broken,
And the three men I admire the most,
Clegg, Danny and Doctor Vince
They found themselves outta luck
The day, the party died,

And they were singing

So bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

This'll be the day that they die

And we were singing;

So bye-bye Liberal Democrat dreams
Got the party into power 
But it all got messed up
And Labour lords were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that you'll die.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Two more local Tories defect to UKIP

Today the Medway UKIP were proud to announce that they are now the third biggest party in the Council having leapfrogged us (LibDems) having gained two new councillors via defection.

Yep, Councillors Vaughn Hewett and Tom Mason, both former mayors, have joined UKIP. No one seems too surprised at Mason but Hewett has raised a few eyebrows.

The big question is; Is this a prologue for May’s elections?

Hard to say at this point, all that can be said is that two people have swapped party, they were not selected by the people and their constituents in their wards will not get a choice until the May local elections.

The other thing is that these two former Conservatives have been close to the cabinet and the failings of the Conservative administration in Medway over the last God knows how many years. UKIP like the rest of us opposition parties is to defeat this incompetence with fresh voices and faces not bring those same faces back under another label.

Some might say that they have swapped sides because they saw which way the winds were blowing but that is just probably the ramblings of a bitter cynic isn’t it? After all if you are going to defect you should do so for your convictions and beliefs and that the new party represents our outlook more than your old party right? I’m sure that was for that reason, there has been quite a bit of desquite in the Local Conservative party with a long running split between the Rainham and Rochester branch and definitely between backbenchers and the cabinet.

It also makes me wonder about the disinterest and/or distrust of traditional parties that has grown to the point that people will vote UKIP even if they stood a pot of lard.

All that I can say is that Medway’s political landscape is going to change, maybe not the personnel but the colour of their ties and rosettes.

Enough of this Tories are bad with railfare BS

With my book deadline pushed ack to the end of the month and still a lot of work to do but I have taken ten minutes (odd) to question this latest Labour Tweet, the second of which I've seen in the last two weeks:

Rail season tickets in Chatham have gone up by 100% since 95. Tory complacency on economy as real pplfeel sting >>

— TrisOsborne (@cllrtrisosborne) March 18, 2015

Firstly I should state when it comes to rail fare I am completely neutral as I have been commuting for the last seven years and have watched my monthly Season ticket raise exponentially to the point that I am losing 33% of my wage which is somewhat unsupportable. It is something I have written about at length over the last five years feel free to browse.

I, like many commuters (the people that the tweet is aimed at in the hope of garnering support) know the history of the rising railfare.
The good ol' days of Cheap travel only 20 years ago!

Yes - the Tories privatised the railway. Was that a good move? Debateable. The people of Kent have had some bad franchises - Connex were awful and Southeastern, although debatably  *improving*, are still not a British company and a lot of their profits are being ploughed into the German railways and seemingly not into ours. Other franchises have been more successful on other networks. The reason for privatisation are at this exact moment beyond my memory and as mentioned earlier if it involves reading something that doesn't have a vessel sailing under a flag with an Iron Cross and Eagle on it then it is a waste of my time until the 2nd April.

The big point is that yes since 1994 the fare rise has gone up a significant rate but is it the Tories fault?

Let's consider who was running the country between 1995-2015. So John Major was Prime Minister up until 1997 (2 years) and the Coalition from 2010-2015 (5 years) which comes to 7 years of Conservative rule. From 1997-2010 we had 13 years of Labour Government in which the fares really started to go up with the introduction of RPI+3

Now when the government decided to construct HS1 from Ashford to St Pancras, you know that really expensive way to get to the wrong side of London that wasn't quicker than the other services from Medway (that's why the fast service to Victoria now stops at Meopham), you know the one that you can always get a seat on as it is too pricey? Anyway, they decided to spread the costs and so Labour came up with the escalator of RPI+3 (like they did for petrol) which ultimately is the Rate of inflation plus 3% so roughly your train fare would come up by 8% a year and they wrote it into the franchise contract so it could not be easily removed.

There was a fare freeze in 2010 (election year) I grant them. What did the Gillingham-Rainham MP do about it? Bugger and all as Paul Clarke (their candidate for 2015 for the same seat by the way) was a junior transport minister at the time. Thanks.

I'm not saying this government has been perfect either. Despite the remonstrations of Mark Reckless, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti the government has done not much to improve it. Indeed the letter I received form the minister at the time Theresa Villiers basically was the written version of a shrug and a meh.

Yes prices have still gone up (though not always at the full RPI+3) this government but it hasn't been as bad. In fact for a percentage break down of 2004-12 which is telling check this out.

Basically to effect a movie/Star Wars metaphor ->

John Major's government came up with the idea of making Prequels to the popular Star Wars trilogy an arguably good/bad idea but sadly we got Phantom Menace.

Tony Blair/Gordon Brown's regime came up with the idea to make Phantom Menace that bit more appealing and make more money to fund episode II so they came up with the idea of the highly marketable Jar Jar Binks which ultimately made everybody's life gradually more unbearable.

Cameron's government have basically said Well it is made now  and we're releasing this but we'll throw in some more R2D2 will that make it better? No ah well....

So what are the solutions? I have no answers the only thing I can say is that;

1. This is a problem that ALL governments, both Labour and Tory, are responsible for this mess and something needs to be done and agreed on by Parliament as a whole before everyone but the rich are priced off the railways.

2. This kind of patronising political comment not only insults commuters, who are painfully aware of how we've got to this level of pricing, and is so opportunistic it actually stings my eyes to read it.

I had responded to a similar tweet a week ago asking about RPI but got no response. There is no need for this kind of BS and it is why people are turning away from blame the others style of politics of the big parties and turning to *Shudder* UKIP...

Right back to work, I have 6000 words on SMS Konigsberg to write before Saturday.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Poor economic recovery in Medway???

Today the Medway Labour twitter feed posted the following tweet and graph.

Now I'm not an economist, nor am I a mathematical whizz especially as it took me 3 attempts to get a C at GCSE having wracked up two Ds on the higher paper. One thing I did learn was graphs, in fact I love graphs and they can be used to show anything without resorting to dull tables.

What I see when I look at this graph is falling unemployment in the Medway towns across 2014. See the Orange line slowly descending? 

When we get to January '15 it does raise, I'll give them that, but only a small amount considering the number from which it fell in January last year.

What can we tell from this? Not much. 

We don't know if this is a continuing trend as February's figures aren't out yet. It could be a case of seasonal workers who were employed in retail expressly for the Christmas period, which now apparently starts in August or September, have been let go. I certainly would not say that this was a true indicator of a poor economic recovery in fact looking at this graph alone all you can say for certain is that unemployment is still down on what it was last year.

Is Labour trying to find a cloud on a silver lining? 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Letter to the Messenger about Policing in Gillingham South

My letter to today's Medway Messenger regarding the anti-social behaviour and policing in Gillingham. This is the letter in its original format.

There is growing anger in the Residential areas of Gillingham where residents are feeling abandoned by the local police. Time and again there is antisocial behaviour on Sturdee Avenue, Valley road, Franklin road and on the High street. Alleyways are haunted by youths smoking and under aged drinking and sometimes worse.The Forrester's hall on Sturdee Avenue was broken into and vandalised regularly and this has been reported to the Police on more than one occasion including by myself on 5th January.

However it took the neighbourhood watch meeting, which I attended as a resident, and the pressure of LibDem councillors Diana Smith and Geoff Juby that the council has acted. More importantly a WPC and PCSO were spotted securing the property on the 28th January the day after the meeting!
I tend to agree with one of the residents that if we were living Rochester then the Police and indeed Council officers would have acted more swiftly and attended the neighbourhood watch meeting in the first place!

The people of Gillingham South ward deserve better from both the council and police.

Chris Sams, Sturdee Avenue