3 July 2015

Friday favourite 140

Stumbled across this the other night.  And what's not to like a Quebecois rockabilly cover version of Blondies' Call Me...


29 June 2015

A Farron victory is necessary, but it's not sufficient

I've voted for Tim Farron. 

It was a pretty easy choice - Tim clearly understands a different direction is required.  One that builds from the grassroots up. 

In contrast Lamb is campaigning as if we narrowly lost out in the election and with a bit of refining our messages, government is again around the corner.

But strangely if the party had just narrowly lost out and some of the party's big guns had held on - Steve Webb, Ed Davey, Lynn Featherstone etc - a leadership contest would almost certainly have been held involving one of more of them, Tim Farron but probably not Norman Lamb.  He's only in the race because of the lack of other credible candidates.

Back in 2012, I first warned of the existential threat the party faced if it carried on in government as it had been doing.  It sadly did.  And it was routed as a result. 

The Lib Dems are now a minor Westminster party - scrabbling around with the DUP and Plaid Cymru for time and traction.  Its profile as a national political force has gone and the credibility it had in appearing to challenge to win parliamentary seats has been lost.  A Westminster insider strategy won't magic that back and merely not being in government any more won't win back the lost voters - witness Labour gaining another Lib Dem council seat in a by-election in Cambridge last week.

The party needs to park its Westminster ambitions - use what's left of its troops to fight a guerilla war on the green benches and make as much nuisance as it can to the big parties.  But all the party's resources need to be focussed on building a mass liberal movement - using the opportunity of the Euro referendum to make the  liberal political case across the country - just like the SNP used the indyref for the nationalist cause.

But although I think Tim realises the scale of the challenge the party faces I remain unconvinced he knows how best to go forward - the pull of the Westminster establishment is strong - witness his recent appointment of those arch policy wonk insiders - Duncan Brack and Neil Stockley.

Changing policies is simply rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. 

The party needs to reinvent politics itself - finding new ways to communicate and building the skills and expertise of its members and supporters to enable new political solutions, policies and organisational structures to emerge.

It's year zero for the Lib Dems and whoever wins the leadership needs to understand things will never be the same. 

27 June 2015

My favourite Farron endorsement...








I suppose if we're in a fightback we better get some tats...

Norman Lamb's Greville Janner problem

Simon Danczuk - Labour MP for Rochdale - is a typical northern Labour tribalist who can see no good in his political opponents.  However he has worked tirelessly to uncover allegations of child sexual abuse in high places - even though the alleged perpetrators are dead in the case of Cyril Smith or demented in the case of Greville Janner. 

But earlier this week he claimed that Janner had sexually assualted boys in the Palace of Westminster in the 1980s.

Now whether this timing is deliberate or not, it does mean that Lib Dem Leadership candidate Norman Lamb will be asked what he knew given he was, bizarrely, Janner's research assistant for a year at the time the abuse was alleged to have taken place in Westminster.

There is, of course, no suggestion Lamb was involved, but given David Steel is still quizzed about what he knew about Smith's alleged activities, Lamb if he wins won't be able to ignore similar probing..

25 May 2015

Kim Jong Un is guest editor of Lib Dem Voice

Well you would have thought so from this pathetic article defending those responsible for the party's election disaster by using the excuse of legitimate concerns about staff welfare. 

What Caron Lindsay and the Lib Dem Voice Team are failing to realise is that by letting Ryan Coetzee, Tim Gordon, Hillary Stephenson and other senior (and highly paid) exectutives avoid legitimate criticism of their decision making, they are doing the party a big disservice.  Those at the top are not 'party staff' - they are executive management and it was their actions and decisions that determined the Lib Dem campaign.  They were the people carrying out the 'comfort' polls, writing the messaging, and advising the leadership on what to say and when.  In short they were responsible for the failure of the 2015 campaign.  And they should take responsibility and resign (like the Leader of the Party).

One final thought - if Coetzee is such a shrinking violet and unable to take criticism why then would he write a superficial and frankly deluded article for the Guardian (and reproduced by LDV) basically saying he ran the best possible campaign and wouldn't even change it now knowing its result. 

If you're foolish enough to try and  polish a turd in public - then don't complain when several buckets of the stuff get thrown back in your direction.

22 May 2015

First test train on Borders railway

The reopening of the Waverley route proceeds apace with the first test run along the entire length of the line. Borders Rail has some footage.

An interesting question for any railway anoraks out there.  The locomotive is number 37 604 and a quick check on Wikipedia  says they were built between 1960 and 65 and were frequently used in Scotland.  Therefore the question is - had 37 604 ever run over the Waverley route before this journey?
 

12 May 2015

After the rout...

Last week's results weren't a complete surprise to everyone - as far back as May 2012 I postulated that without a change of srategy the party faced an existential crisis.

The result on Thursday and the hole the party now finds itself in is a direct result of the strategy pursued by those at the very top of the party - both at Westminster and at HQ.

Nick Clegg to his credit (and in some style) has done the decent thing; taken responsibility and resigned. Now is the time for his coterie of incompetents to do the same. Tim Gordon, Hilary Stephenson, Ryan Coetzee, Tom Smithard et al should now resign too – taking responsibility for the disaster they caused and preventing any more of our membership fees going to waste on over inflated salaries. Doing this will also make sure the junior staff and volunteers – who were not responsible for the strategic decisions – aren’t blamed for their bosses failings.

And with more than 10,000 new members since Thursday - they if no-one else - deserve to have their subscriptions spent on a clean slate.