Sunday, January 31, 2010

Iain Dale: Churlish or Rattled?

Iain Dale, failed Tory candidate in North Norfolk last General Election, frequently uses his EDP column to attack the Liberal Democrats (no sour grapes of course!). In particular, he has often tried to score political points by drawing attention to the fact that since April Pond was selected to fight the Norwich North by-election, the Lib Dems have been without a PPC in the neighbouring and nominal target seat of Broadland.

It is no suprise then that to date, Dale has failed to acknowledge in blog or column that the Liberal Democrats have selected well-known local campaigner Dan Roper to be the party's PPC. Dan will bring vigour, freshness and radicalism to the campaign. His commitment to local communities and alertness to the needs of the wider county of Norfolk make him a tough opponent for suprisingly low profile incumbent Tory MP Keith Simpson. Iain Dale has proved that sometimes he can be a pundit above party politics. Dan Roper's selection provides the opportunity for Iain to show his support for high quality local people offering themselves for the noble calling of public service. Not to do so could be seen as being churlsh or rattled..

There is still much to play for in the coming months-the public dis-satisfaction with the Brown Government which seems to be running out of time and ideas,has not translated into an upswell of public popularity for Cameron's Conservatives. This is not 1997. A hung Parliament is a distinct possibility. The Lib Dems in general and Nick Clegg in particular, are gaining in confidence and appeal. The choice in Broadland? Another Tory MP from the past or Dan Roper, a man for the future? Norman Lamb in North Norfolk shows what a difference a Lib Dem MP can make to county and community.

It will be a privilege to campaign for and vote for Dan Roper. A genuine choice and positive campaign should engage the public and make the first battle to elect an MP for Broadland a memorable one.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I promise to Vote

I have today answered Premier Radio's call to pledge my promise to vote in the 2010 General Election.

The UK Social Attitudes survey released this week show a marked decrease in those seeing voting as a civic duty (now just 56%) so it is time for us to remember and recommit ourselves to the political process as a vital part of what it means to be a cohesive and caring community.

This pledge to vote is a good first step.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Drop Haiti's debt

Drop Haiti's Debt: Sign the petition online now

Christian Aid is responding to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, they have launched an emergency appeal and are working with their partners in the field to deliver aid.

At a time when Haiti has been hit by the worst disaster in its history, it needs long-term support as well as emergency financial assistance, not loans with strings attached, if it is to ever rebuild.

Please join their call for the full cancellation of Haiti's debt of $890m, and for all emergency and development funds to be given not loaned.

Drop Haiti's Debt: Sign the petition today

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greens show true colours

The Conservative Home website is running the somewhat suprising story that the Ian holman, the Green Party Candidate for Great Yarmouth is standing down in favour of his Conservative oponent, Brandon Lewis. The Green Party leadership may posture to the left, but clearly some party members march firmly in the other direction. This move may cost them hard in their nearby target seat of Norwich South.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Nick Clegg New Year Message 2010

2010 will be an important year in politics and it is hard to predict where we will be at the end of it. It is more than possible that we find ourselves in a significant realignmet (or hit the political re-set button) in UK politcs, under which, the Liberal Democrats may well find ouselves in a position of real power and politics.

I am impressed by the big picture and small picture thinking and strategy outlined by Nick Clegg is his new year message which I am pleased to reproduce below.

"I have a confession to make, 2009 tested my belief in politics to breaking point.
I remember once looking round the House of Commons during another Punch and Judy session of Prime Ministers Questions. In the real world, youth unemployment had just reached its highest level ever, our brave soldiers were facing extraordinary dangers in Afghanistan, the bankers were still gorging themselves on bonuses, and the economy was in the middle of the worst recession in generations. And what were the politicians doing? Yelling and guffawing at each other as if the world outside didn’t exist.

So I don’t blame anyone for feeling a sense of despair about our clapped out political system. You are being taken for granted by the people in charge. Big money is hollowing out politics with some rich donors not even bothering to say whether they pay full British taxes or not. And to top it all the expenses scandals exposed some MPs as spivvy property speculators and tax evaders rather than public servants.
This whole set-up has to change. That’s what 2010 should be all about. Big, permanent change for the better.

People’s faith in politics may be dented, but I still believe in our ability to learn from the mistakes of the past, and set things on a new course.
2010 must be the year we press the political reset button.
But that will only happen if we do things differently. More of the same won’t produce anything new.

Of course both Labour and the Conservatives have learned to parrot the language of change. But where’s the proof they mean it? Despite all the hot air about fixing politics they have both voted against giving people the right to sack MPs who’ve seriously broken the rules. Both have refused to clean up the rotten system of party political funding. Both refuse to give you your say by introducing fair votes to the House of Commons. And both refuse to shake up the City of London, so that bankers can never again play Russian roulette with your savings.

Some people say, what’s the point of voting when the same old parties always win? I say: vote for what you believe in. If you like what the Liberal Democrats stand for, vote for it. If you want real change, not phoney change, vote for it. If you think things should be different, vote for it.

At the end of the day, politics should be about what you believe. What kind of Britain do you want to live in? What kind of world do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in?

So as the countdown to the next General Election finally begins, I have a simple question for the other party leaders: what do you believe, really believe?
People don’t want leading politicians clinging on to power for its own sake, or just telling people what they want to hear. There’s got to be more to it than that.
I have one belief above all others: a belief in fairness. Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats have been working on new ideas to make Britain the fair country I believe most people want it to be. We want to raise standards in all of our schools by giving specific help to the children most in need, and by making class sizes smaller. Soon we will be publishing new ideas to turn our economy away from its over dependence on the City of London to a new, green economy where hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created as we rebuild our transport, energy and housing infrastructure. Above all, we are now the only party with a detailed plan to make taxes fair – removing all income tax on the first £10,000 you earn, paid for by asking people at the top to pay a bit more.

If we as Leaders want people to turn out to vote at all at the next General Election, we have got to show people our convictions, not just dividing lines, our beliefs, not just soundbites.

I hope in the coming months even more people will get a chance to find out what I believe in, and the beliefs of the Liberal Democrats. If enough people share our convictions, our beliefs, then 2010 really can be the beginning of something new.