Friday, March 16, 2018

Our recent tabloid

Birtley tabloid Jan 18 p1-page-0

In January and February Gateshead Lib Dems delivered tens of thousands of copies of our tabloid across the borough. There were five editions which focused on significant local issues. Generally it was well received (except by Labour!) I've included images of the five different front pages in this post.

Low Fell tabloid Jan 18 p1-page-0

Pelaw tabloid Jan 18 p1-page-0

Ryton tabloid Jan 18 p1-page-0

Whickham tabloid Jan 18 p1-page-0

The will of the people - queues at our borders

One of the biggest cries from Brexit campaigners was that leaving the EU would allow us to regain control of our borders. It was one of the promises that, if implemented, would create far more problems than solutions. One consequence will be that there are more extensive checks at the borders with ramifications for businesses and the flow of goods as lorries join long queues while border bureaucracy is carried out.  This is, of course, the will of the people.

Now, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is claiming there will be no delays at our borders as there will be no checks. Somehow all the checks will be done in the ether, in the virtual world of the internet or somewhere in hyperspace. As with so many other matters, he is offering a pain free world which in reality cannot be achieved. Nevertheless, the people voted to take control of the borders and Grayling's comments indicate that, like so many other issues, implementing the will of the people comes at an enormous price. The Government simply proceeds by pretending there is not a cost or problem.

So, to implement the will of the people, there should be extensive border checks for the whole of the UK (including Northern Ireland). Other services will have to be cut to pay for the customs officers and officials who will be needed to police our borders, but that is the will of the people.

Of course, the will of the people can change. And the people should be given the opportunity to change their mind once they've seen what needs to be done to implement the will of the people as it was in June 2016.

Dunston Hill and Whickham East Action Day

I had to miss conference at Southport last weekend due to my friend Richard's emergency heart operation (I am his carer). The good news was that I was able to help at the Dunston Hill and Whickham East action day in Gateshead where we are hoping to pick up the seat of the former Labour mayor on 3rd May. We shifted a large quantity of literature. The video was shot on the day.

Gateshead Lib Dems first "party political broadcast" - cutting councillors rather than street cleaning

This is Gateshead Lib Dems' first "party political broadcast" for the local elections in May. It features on of our "Six to Fix" campaign issues - cutting the number of councillors by a third in the borough with the savings of £250,000 a year used on street sweeping and litter clearance.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Video diary: missing conference

I had to miss conference at Southport last week as my friend Richard (I am his carer) needed an emergency operation on Friday afternoon. Thankfully it was a success. Sadly, I was not able to rescue my conference hotel booking. I had to pay for night. Happily, the hotel did not try to charge me for the 2nd.

Video diary: the best data destruction technique

Due to my friend Richard's recent visits to hospital (and two heart operations), I've been out of time to keep the blog up to date. But I've continued to record my video diaries. Now that Richard is back home, I have the chance to catch up. This video was my diary from 8th March. I attended a meeting about the new personal data regulations that come into force in May. At the meeting, the officer asked us how we safely disposed of papers that contained personal data. I have the most effective and original way. It involves a shredder and pooping animals!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Labour campaigning on the wrong issues

Julie Elliott is the Labour MP for Sunderland Central. A relatively recent arrival in the Commons (she was first elected in 2010), Ms Elliott represents a constituency which has been Labour for as long as people can remember. Such security can generate a degree of complacency and throughout Sunderland, complacency is rife in the Labour Party. They run the council with a whopping great big majority and their Parliamentary majorities are rather steep. Campaigning and communicating with voters is not a Labour priority in the city. Or at least, it wasn't until January when Labour faced the prospect of losing a safe seat (Pallion) in a council by-election.

The rather decrepit, rusting, dilapidated Labour machine therefore swung into action. A street stall was set up in the city centre and a petition was launched. People were invited to sign it. Sunderland has high levels of unemployment, poverty, poor health, low incomes, there's the impact of Brexit and so on. So which of these important, relevant issues did Labour and Ms Elliott take up as a campaign?  Errrr, none of them.

Instead, members of the public were invited to sign a petition calling for Nick Clegg to be "stripped" of his knighthood. (He hadn't even been knighted at that point!) One of our members witnessed residents parting with a few choice words about Labour's choice of campaign subject.

You will be pleased to learn that Labour lost Pallion on 1st February to the Lib Dems. Our vote rose by 49%. I'm almost tempted to suggest a knighthood or damehood for the person in Labour who came up with their campaign idea!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Vlog 27th February 2018: the Beast from the East

My 2nd vlog, filmed on Tuesday 27th February. The Beast from the East had arrived so the day was dominated with tackling snow problems - from feeding the goats in the morning to driving past road collisions in the evening.

A policy designed to fail

So, once the fanfare of Corbyn's announcement on a customs union died down, we were able to see the details of the deal he wants to strike with the EU. One telling statement made it clear right from the start that this was a policy designed to fail. Corbyn demanded that even though the UK is leaving the EU, the UK should still have a say on the trade deals the EU strikes with other nations. This is another example of politicians offering something that is not in their gift to give and which offers lots of rights but no responsibilities. Having your cake and eating it is now all the rage.

Labour's position is that we leave the EU club, retain the benefits of club membership and even continue to have a say on the rules of the club we have left. I can imagine what the rest of the EU thinks of that. They are likely to tell Corby where he can put his cake!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Vlog 26th February 2018: Covert or Overt

For the past 28 years I have kept a diary. I started off writing it by hand. After 14 years technology caught up with me and my diary was written on my laptop. Technology is catching up with me again and I'm experimenting with a video diary. This is my first attempt, filmed yesterday. Half the day was spent in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where my friend Richard has had a major heart operation (I'm his carer). In the early evening I was at Gateshead Civic Centre considering a report on surveillance. I was interested to know whether checking someone's Facebook activity counted as overt or covert surveillance. the answer was that it was both (depending on the circumstances).

Monday, February 26, 2018

About bloody time

So, at long last, Labour have come up with a Brexit policy that is not simply a repetition of the Tories' plans. Time to celebrate that there has been a small step away from the fence on which Labour have been sitting since June 2016. As I write this, Corbyn is yet to make his speech so we will have to await the actual details. Given his anti-EU history, expect any customs union outlined by him to be limited. It must not stand in the way of the socialist revolution and must not block the road to Utopia. Also, expect the same tone to be employed as that adopted by Tory Brexiteers: the EU will give us this, that and the other. Ever since the referendum campaign, Brexiteers have chosen to speak for the EU negotiating team and have made all sorts of pronouncements about what the EU will give Britain. None of these are based on anything the EU has said. Brexiteers are simply offering rights without responsibilities, a cherry-picking exercise in which the UK resigns as a member of the EU club but still enjoys all the benefits of being in the club without abiding by the rules. To be fair to the Brexiteers, politicians offering something for nothing has been a common theme for decades and was especially rife under Blair and especially Brown. It was an attitude that carried over big style into the Corbyn general election manifesto last year in which 90% of the population was offered everything they wanted for free, paid for by a handful of rich people.

So, watch out for this something-for-nothing attitude flowing over into Corbyn's speech today.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Come back Nigel, you're bad judgement is needed

While Lib Dems in Gateshead were running our action day on Saturday, we made the occasional check on news websites to find out how the Kipper fight was going in Birmingham. After the last tabloids went through the doors, we still had no news. I returned home, had a cuppa, switched on Sky News and there it was - Henry Bolton had succeeded in being UKIP's longest serving leader in the last 2 years but had now succumbed to the urge of Kippers to have constant leadership elections. Odd that the same people don't support a second referendum, but contorted posturing is a UKIP skill.

So, Bolton is gone, leader number 7 takes over and work begins to wash the blood from the walls of the Birmingham conference centre. But don't write off UKIP yet. They may be in a state of collapse, but they still managed to get 1400 members to an emergency conference at short notice. That said, I doubt they will be fielding many candidates in the May local elections and those UKIP Councillors who do defend their seats are likely to have more time on their hands after 4th May.

One noticeable point about the UKIP bun fight was former Kipper deputy chairman Suzanne Evans who went on tv to say Nigel Farage's judgement was seriously bad but she wanted him back as leader despite this. The Kipper comedy continues.