Sunday, April 30, 2006
We've had visits from the Party Leader, from the Chair of the Parliamentary Party, from the Party President and from our Home Affairs spokesperson but, better than all of those, was the visit from my cousin Kim, all the way from Wellington, New Zealand (although she's staying with my parents in North London at the moment).
And of course, as I had deliveries to make, I got her to join in. In a spirit of reciprocity, I did make dinner for the two of us, grilled salmon with a creamy lemon and dill sauce, potatoes, green beans and a bottle of wine, with strawberries and cream for dessert. Yes, I can cook (a bit). Now if I could only master housework...
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Long hours at the office, long hours on the campaign trail, the occasional hour of sleep, 4 May can't come soon enough...
It does seem to be going well though, although you won't drag a prediction of victory out of me, be it in East Dulwich or Village ward (remember, vote for me and I won't turn you into a frog, or Kim Humphries for that matter - and let's face it, the frog has greater integrity...), I am confident that we've fought the best campaign we can fight.
And now I'm off to get some sleep... it won't be enough but...
Friday, April 21, 2006
And anyone who wants to defend their stance can start by asking how a bunch of people who came into government talking about an ethical foreign policy, a Bill of Rights and a cleaner political environment became the people who support by-passing the United Nations, have stripped away more of our civil liberties than any other government and assume that giving rich people a seat in Parliament in exchange for money they're too embarrassed to admit to publicly is anything other than moral and ethical bankruptcy. And then, perhaps, they can talk to me about their commitment to civil liberties, democratic politics and a society where respect and ethics are uppermost.
It becomes a moral duty to drive their messengers out of office and, regardless of what happens on 4 May, I hope that Labour candidates across the country understand that it isn't about them, it's about what they are representing. And get this, your leaders don't even respect you. In fact, they don't like you much either. And worst of all, and even the more naive of you must be beginning to wonder about this, they're willing to sacrifice you to stay in office. Good luck, and sleep well. Just don't think about the leaflets you're delivering...
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Cold and wndy it may have been, but people seemed to be very friendly, and I had an opportunity to make small talk with a representative of the Greens, who had a stall just down the street. To be honest, I have no real problem with the Greens who, for the most part, seem like a decent bunch who really care about their community. A bit naive, but then that's part of their charm. An old Young Liberal friend of mine who resigned over merger with the SDP is now leader of the Greens on Kirklees Council, where they form part of the administration. I'm confident that he's taken up the message on community activism and does things like proper canvassing and genuine doorstep politics. It works...
And then back on the increasingly cold, wet streets of East Dulwich, bringing our message of positive change to the voters. Given that Labour seem determined to scare everyone into locking themselves into their homes and cowering behind the sofa, I'm confident that our strategy will work. Besides, all of this leafletting is beginning to have its effects on my less than svelte figure!
Friday, April 14, 2006
I admit that leafleting in Village is rather more than a gentle stroll, especially given the lengthy drives and garden paths on any walk you care to pick. A walk that would take 75 minutes to deliver in East Dulwich takes twice that in Village.
One feature of campaigning in Dulwich as that the locals are quite discreet about their political favours. Posters are rare, to the extent that even the two Labour candidates have yet to put up a poster in their own homes! Of course, being a Labour candidate in Village ward isn't easy, as Barbara Portwin has already discovered in her now suspended blog.
One curious fact that I recently uncovered was our performance in Village ward in the GLA elections. Yes, we came third, but it was a remarkably good third, the full result being:
- Conservatives 26.6%
- Labour 24.5%
- Liberal Democrats 23.5%
- Greens 15.3%
- Others 10.1%
Now if that result were to be repeated, I might be very close to getting elected...
But enough of that, it's time to kick my shoes off and have some dinner!
Monday, April 10, 2006
- Keep council tax down - our minority administration has taken Southwark from the seventh highest Band D charge in London to the eighth lowest (out of thirty-two). That's better value for those who suffer from low incomes, especially pensioners, whose income hasn't kept pace with utility bills.
- More powers for wardens - Southwark now has the largest team of community wardens in the country - reclaiming the streets for everyone and cracking down on anti-social behaviour.
- Three new secondary schools - now that control has passed back into the hands of local councillors - Labour's record was so bad that they had control taken away from them by a Labour government! And to show that we have the interests of the whole borough at heart, they'll be placed in the north, centre and south of the borough.
- Double recycling - recycling trebled over the past four years. We'll aim to double that over the next four years. Less rubbish in landfills saves us all money and enhances our environment.
- 3,000 affordable homes for local people - I know so many people in the twenties and thirties who can't afford to buy a home near their workplace - teachers, nurses, public servants. We need to enable people to remain in their own communities and not be driven out by high housing costs.
- 21st century leisure centres - if we're serious about improving the health of the nation, we need to provide facilities that people want to use. That means updating those leisure centres we have so that they meet the standards we all expect.
I'm proud to stand for these core commitments, and I know that my fellow candidates are too. Local government can play a key role in improving the lives of our communities and Liberal Democrats have already demonstrated our commitment to Southwark residents over the past four years. So, if you're convinced, vote for us on 4 May. If not, but you have questions, get in touch!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Ironically, the solution I've found is to tidy the house, which is beginning to have an impact. The kitchen looks like you might be able to prepare food without the risk of getting food poisoning (alright, I exaggerate how bad it was somewhat, but you know where I'm coming from), and even the living room looks vaguely acceptable.
When the campaign day comes to an end, I am able to get out and deliver my rounds. It was nice to get out in the sunshine and meet a few voters, most of whom were at least friendly and some of whom were very supportive. I even found time to do some vital food shopping (cats have to eat, you know!).
Meantime, it would appear that the mystery of the missing Green candidates has been solved. Apparently, there was some sort of cock-up with their nominations. Whilst I regret that they haven't been able to take part - they were a pleasure to work alongside at the General Election count (Kim Humphries take note...) - it does take some of the complications out of our campaign. At least, from the perspective of Green voters, our team of candidates are genuinely committed to environmental issues, and have a track record of achievement, especially Richard Thomas.
More developments as they occur...
Friday, April 07, 2006
Frankly, my only question is, "Why she is a Conservative?". She seems like a rather nice person, on the basis of the brief conversation we had on 2 February. On the other hand, Kim Humphries... well, words fail me. The claims of Dulwich Conservatives in terms of their impact on the effectiveness of Southwark Council are laughable, and perhaps I ought to remind Kim that there are twenty-eight Liberal Democrat councillors to six Conservatives (one of whom defected from us...). Their attacks on Labour are fascinating given that they voted for a Labour mayor last year. Contrary, or was it simply revenge for our beating Kim into third place in Dulwich & West Norwood last year?
Meanwhile, I note that one of my Labour opponents, Barbara Portwin, has suspended her nascent blog. Having had it brought to my attention by a friend, I did enjoy her discomfort on being challenged about Iraq. She did come across as a bit wet and I'm really sorry that she thinks it unfair to be challenged on issues beyond those related to Southwark Council. As my primary school teacher said so cogently, "Life isn't fair.". If you represent a political party at any level, you should expect to be challenged on any element of their policy, especially in a ward with a highly articulate electorate. Besides, if your entire campaign is founded on making people afraid, you deserve everything you get.
I wasn't expecting this campaign to be as much fun as it is turning out to be...