Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm getting married in the morning!

Well actually Thursday morning. I am a very lucky fellow as Sue has agreed to marry me. So that means that short of imminent nuclear conflict or City signing Wayne Rooney there will be no blogging for a couple of weeks. My son and Daughter will be flat sitting and we will be away.

Leadership Hustings

Travelling around the country and discussing things with members its clear that there is a real desire for discussion about where we are going and the leadership election.

Members want to meet the candidates and hear their opinions. They want to meet them in the flesh. Thats why I have been pressing for at least one official hustings in each region- its the least the members can expect!

To be honest though, even that wouldn't really be enough. Regions can be very big things. Its a long way from Exeter to Bristol or Aberdeen to Glasgow.

Thats why I have written to all candidates encouraging them to get round the country as much as possible. Members want to meet the candidates and have written to me saying so. Thats why I thought it would be a good idea to put the members in touch with the candidates. I have offerred to put any candidate in touch with members in towns up and down the country who are desperate to meet them.

I have also asked the party nationally to make a DVD of one of the debates-allowing party members to organise showings.

The lesson of this selection is that there is areal desire for proper political debate within the Party

Friday, July 09, 2010

Liverpool July 9th Lib Dems-The coalition will wipe us out

The pigeons are coming home to roost in Liverpool!

Following the Governments announcement that 26 Liverpool schools are to lose the £350m promised for re-building and re-furbishment the former LibDem leader said he felt physically sick when he heard the news and it"was the straw that broke the camels back" and that the coalition will deliver nothing to the Lib Dems except total electoral decimation.

Cllr Warren Bradley said" I give you the absolute guarantee that we will be wiped out by Labour in the North and the Tories in the South..."

The only bit I would disagree with him on is that it will be Labour doing the wiping out in the South as well!

NEC Sub-committees-Tuesday July 6th

Tuesday was sub-committee day in London. It started with the Womens, Race and Equality committee in the morning. We had another in a series of detailed and very useful reviews of the General Election. As we know we did well in some areas of traditional Labour Strength-Scotland, Merseyside, inner London and other metropolitan, multi-ethnic areas. We did badly in others-Midlands industial areas, some of the former coal-field areas (Yorkshire, Mid-Glamorgan) Shire Towns and the industrial corridors and dormitory towns along the M4 and in North Kent. Our biggest loss of support was amongst the C1/C2 voters- skilled and semi-slilled private sector workers in non-metroplitan areas. We need urgently to assess the reasons for this.
We also discussed the implications of the Tories gerrymandering of Parliamentary Boundaries. We don't have all the details yet but they are proposing to cut the number of seats from 650 to 600, raise the average electorate to75,000 with no more than a 5% deviation (apart from Orkney and Shetland and the Scottish islands) which will lead to a widespread disregard for county and local authority boundaries (and possibly ward boundaries) and to rush these changes through by 2013-before an anticipated election.
The estimated seat reductions are as follows:
Wales Down 10 to 30
Scotland Down 7 to 52
England Down 30 to 507
Its not clear if Northern Ireland will lose 3 seats or stay as it is.

In England the seat losses will be concentrated in the North and Midlands and the nett effect of these changes could cost Labour 25-30 seats.
We then had a discussion about access to the political system for people with disabilities. I have been charged with preparing a report on this-working with our affiliated unions and the Labour Party members disabled group.
At Mid-day we had the Disputes Committee. Very much a working committee where we try to resolve disciplinary issues.
Then in the afternoon we had the Organisation Committee. The big issue was the procedure we use for Selections. We considered the role of postal votes, the length of time it takes and the possibility of caps on expenditure. A paper will be coming back to us.
I made the point that we need to move very swiftly on this as this Coalition could well collapse next year-I am not saying it will only that it could! If it does we need to be in a position to fight it and that means having candidates in the field. The longer candidates have to build a relationship with the electorate the better and we don't want to have a rushed procedure or impositions at the last minute. It's better to be ready for an election that doesn't happen than not ready for one that does.
We also agreed that NEC nominations be published on the members website-so CLP's can check when they arrive.
Two hour wait for the off peak train means I can catch up with a couple of pints before the train.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Nec Sub-Committees-Election alert

I will be going down to London on Tuesday for the Sub-committee meetings. The Organisation committee will be looking at a report on the election and our candidate selection procedure. I will also be bringing up the organisation of the Leadership campaign. I am also conscious that the referendum on voting changes could well bring this coalition down. As a party we need to be conscious of that and take the step necessary to ensure we could fight an election if we had to-that means beginning selections as soon as possible and beginning a policy review as soon as we have a new leader

Unite Hustings Leeds Saurday July 3rd

Saturday saw the UNITE hustings in Leeds with a good turn out to hear all 5 candidates. They received a good reception but the format of short answers to questions does make it difficult for candidates to develop distinctive arguments.

The party's procedure committee could do with looking at ways of refreshing the format.

It was interesting to see the way Leeds has developed over the past few years.

Ipswich Thursday July 1st

Down to Ipswich to do an NEC report and get Feed-back from the members. Ipswich is a great place. I was the assistant agent there in the 1980's when we had p[robably the strongest Labour Party in the country. The people are great, the town is very attractive and really prospered under a dynamic Labour council.

In recent years the town has been run by a Tory/LibDem coalition( due to end next May, I suspect) and at the General Election we lost the seat by two thousand votes- proof that even incredible hard work doesn't always win elections.

The meeting was good and lively with plenty of contributions from the members. Members are unhappy with the lack of a hustings in the region and are lookig to arrange one with Norwich members.

Plenty of questions and well up for the fight.

Signed up a new member in the pub afterwards-always have them forms with you!