'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Not so much fake news as rubbish wish-fulfilment-reporting

Call me a silly old traditional liberal but I tend to believe much of the reporting I read.

So when I heard that many Republican members of the US Electoral College were thinking of switching sides I thought "this sounds promising". 

I read with interest pieces like this one, asking  

"What does it take to be a rebel, when your instinct is to follow the herd? That's the question that comes to mind when you consider the Hamilton Electors, the growing movement of Republican electors who are choosing not to vote for Donald Trump next Monday".

Or this piece, who's headline stated "This Harvard professor believes 20 Electoral College voters will switch sides"

And just in case you think I ONLY read Fast Company there's.... this one, or this one , or this one

And so the day dawned. and folk gathered on the steps of State Capitals and protested.

And indeed some members of the electoral college did indeed defy the electorate and refused to vote for the chosen candidate.

Not quite the 37 needed. Nor indeed the 20 who had 'indicated' they might switch. In all 9 defied convention (or tried to and were replaced).

But here's the rub.

Just 3 of those who refused to vote for the nominated candidate refused to vote Trump.

Twice as many (6) refused to support ...Clinton. Including 4 in Washington Sate who claimed they were refusing to back her to encourage other Republicans to do the same. Which twisted logic might work if they weren't amongst the last part of the colleges to vote. 

Now I'm not suggesting there's any amount of outright fibbing been going on here. But it does strike me that the reporting does appear to have been an exercise in 'wishful thinking'. After all no one's been reporting an anti Clinton backlash going into the college. But it looks more like that than an anti Trump vote.

The media needs to do much much better.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

So, what's going to happen in a year....

So, Labour high ups seem to think their polling numbers are going to improve considerable in 2017.

It makes one wonder - why might they think that? They're not going to change leader. they're not going to change direction. There are no national elections next year? So what's going to change?

Might this be the answer?

It might not be because they are going to do something. It might be because they are quite deliberately going to do nothing.

The one big thing that we (almost) certainly know next year is that the Brexit negotiations will begin. If they go spectacularly badly, the Tories will be punished. So, quite possibly will UKIP.

If they go spectacularly well  - a scenario which puts us in a tricky position politically, as we'd like them to go well, whatever are beliefs - chances are our poll numbers will drop.

But as things stand, the 'party of the 0%' (what a great phrase that is) can jump either way, when they see which way the wind is blowing.

And that is the game I think Labour are playing - and why we get contradictory mood music from them all the time...

It's a cynical waiting game.

Monday 12 December 2016

Is the Theresa May Trouser's thing a new departure? Not so sure...

A brief word on trousergate. I've noticed 2 things coming up over and over again. That the obsession is a tad misogynistic and also a new phenomenon. But I'm not sure. It strikes me that we have a rich tradition of commenting on our leaders attire - and the gender of said leader is neither here nor there...

PS. Is 'what are they wearing" the new "good day to bury bad news"

Happenstance. Coincidence. Enemy Action

One of the perils of blogging at this busy time of year is you think of a great blog post and then before you get the chance to write it up, the national press nip in first.

So when Diane Abbott answered a straight question with a straight answer yesterday - and said Corbyn had 12 months to close the gap in the polls before questions about lis leadership should be asked - I thought immediately there's a good blog there. Especially when another friend of Corbyn, Ken , followed up with a similar statement an hour later. Sadly, the world and his wife got on while I was still supervising the gingerbread house and balancing the tree out.

Still its only 2 'friends' saying it  and as Ian Fleming pointed out, you need 3 occurences before it's 'enemy action'. But it does look a tad co-ordinated. So we know have 364 days for Corbyn to start closing the gap. And remember - it's just 'start' - not close the whole thing...

Latest opinion poll has it as...

Tories 42
Labour 25

To be honest - it doesn't look overly challenging does it...

Tuesday 6 December 2016

A message from Zac Goldsmith

As politics is just too nasty at the moment, I thought it would be worth posting the dignified note everyone here in Richmond Park has received from Zac Goldsmith this morning. Whatever your politics, Zac has been a diligent constituency MP who has responded to all my missives (and I am one of those people who write to their MP a lot) promptly, and politely, even if we seldom agreed.

I made a point earlier in the year, shortly after the sad events surrounding Jo Cox, to respond to the 'thank your MP' campaign on Twitter, and I'm happy to thank Zac once again this morning for all his work.

Here's his note.

Dear Resident,

As the dust settles following the recent by-election, I wanted to write to you to thank you for the opportunity many of you gave me to represent our wonderful community in Parliament for the past six years.

The by-election happened because I kept my word and resigned over Heathrow expansion – as I had always promised I would. It was not a calculated decision, but I didn't enter politics to break promises or mislead my constituents. Despite everything I still believe it is preferable to lose doing the right thing than to win on a deception.

It has been an immense privilege to have represented my community in Parliament for the past six years. I’m proud of the the things I achieved in that time, particularly in relation to the environment. My commitment to those issues remains undimmed, and I will do all I can to contribute, albeit as a resident and not as an MP.

I wish our new MP, Sarah Olney, well, and I thank you again,

Best wishes,
Zac Goldsmith 

Monday 5 December 2016

Celebrating Sarah Olney's first day in The House

A few pictures from College Green this afternoon

Photographers waiting.

A few famous faces in the crowd - there's Floella

.and Susan Kramer (and yes, that is the back of Gareth Roberts head)

..and Brian Paddick

Former Party leaders start arriving. First Nick..

And then Paddy. 

A few more of the great and the good from the press turn up - here's Kevin Maguire...

And then...they're here! Tim and Sarah

What a bank of cameras looks like from the wrong side...

Obligatory stickers

Four leaders together with the new MP - Sarah, Tim, Nick, Paddy and David

Obligatory random protestor

And then a trip past the Supreme Court - as a reminder what's at the heart of this victory...

Sunday 4 December 2016

People act against their own economic interest quite deliberately every single day...

My latest musing on Lib Dem Voice...

"I’m hearing the same argument uttered over and over again  - ironically by both sides  - in the #Brexit debate.

Remain supporters keep saying ‘no-one in Britain voted to be worse off in the referendum campaign’, on the presumption that folk don’t vote against what they believe is in their economic interest.

Leavers, for the same reason, believe that they’ll get a great deal in their Brexit negotiations because ‘its in the remaining EU member countries economic interests to do so’

Both sides are of course wrong. People make quite deliberate decisions against their economic interest every day. The reason why political folk don’t realise this is because they are brought up in a culture of Fiscal and Monetary economics. The real world works rather more like Behavioural Economics...."

Saturday 3 December 2016

And so, a return to blogging

So after a brief period away while I set up my own business, I'm back . And what better reason to start blogging again than the return of a Lib Dem MP in my own constituency and the home of Ham Common - Richmond Park and North Kingston.

This is my first 'home' by election after 20 odd years living here in Ham, and its been quite an experience. Others have blogged about the amazing number of activists who've arrived from all over the country and have done such a brilliant job (for which of course a million thanks), but here's a few highlights of my own experience in the last few weeks.

First, off, there was the stake in the ground, and getting our retaliation in early. This was my first tweet of the campaign...

And we had a leaflet out days before we'd even formally selected Sarah as our candidate - I was distributing rounds by Oct 26th and delivering my own rounds by 27th.  I think the party delivered or posted 29 different  pieces of literature over the campaign. In truth, I lost count after a while...

And let's not forget - we came from a long way back....

The selection meeting - which sadly I missed as I was away - held at our local school on Ham Street...

...followed shortly after by a visit from the boss

Interestingly The Times called it right and early

In those early days, parties pulled out left right and centre, making it quite hard read as an election..

Though others made a different choice...

And then there was just a lot of campaigning. During the course of the campaign Autumn seemed to arrive and leave again....

2 days before the election we had the excitement of Channel Four news, Michael Crick, Quentin Letts, Uncle Tom Cobley and all on the Common; here's a few screen shots....

And finally, the day arrived. 7 am on 1 December found me armed with a rossette and a clipboard , telling outside the Ham polling station. It was below freezing. The ink in the pens kept drying up. Fortunately the good natured cross party telling operation was in full swing and the nice lady with the Zac rossette even gave me a Mars bar. 

After I finished my stint, I ran into 2 deliverers for the Lib Dems, from Streatham and East Dunbartonshire (!) - one of whom read this blog. So I thought if we win, I know what I'll have to do....

I didn't stay up. I got the news the next day. The party invited me to go to the Richmond Green celebratory announcement but sadly I had work commitments - but I did wander past the waiting media on the way to the station... Oh, the glamour

Good luck Sarah. You'll be a brilliant MP

And in every sense - its nice to be back.