Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Just a quick note to wish everyone a healthy and happy 2007 before we head for the party circuit! Children in bed, red wine open and ready to go...

2006 was a very eventful year - in terms of national politics, my own political experiences here in Norwich and for my family. I wonder what 2007 will hold?


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Great new blog

Want to combine Tory politics with allotment know-how and gardening tips? Easy, click here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Blears should resign

I believe in Ministerial responsibility. I believe in Collective responsibility. If an MP doesn't agree with a government policy or its application then they should resign from that government. So why is Hazel Blears (and, for that matter, a few more besides) still in office whilst campaigning against their own side. I'll say nothing more but leave you with Blears-hunter-in-chief Cllr Iain Lindley here and here.

LibDem trio defect to Cameron's Conservatives

LibDems has better reach for that sherry bottle again as news breaks that three more LibDem candidates quit their party and join the Conservatives. Most pleasingly - for Cameron and the Conservatives that is - is that the three make up a union steward, a doctor and the man who wrote the LibDem LGBT manifesto. In a statement that must stick in the throats of all LibDem activists, one of them calls Sir Ming a "has been" and warns that the party is in "reverse gear". Furthermore, another says that only the Conservatives can help the NHS.

This makes seven LibDem candidates to join the Conservatives this year, in which some LibDem blogs have been calling their "annus horriblis". However, I have yet to find a single LibDem blogger who has commented yet - as Iain Dale points out, if this was a spate of Tory defections the gloating would be deafening.
I said that the polls didn't matter for the LibDems but the trend does. This latest news certainly adds to that trend. Sir Ming might yet be in trouble.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How festive are the party websites?

I know that is the question that we have all been asking over our turkey sandwiches. Just how much of a festive theme has each main party thrown into their on-line campaigning?

The LibDems are the party who desperately need a sherry-fueled episode to mask their dismal 2006 - a year in which they have dumped a leader and end up rock bottom in the polls. Yet their website - here - seems to have totally ignored Christmas altogether. There is one story about the number of people eating turkey on their own this year but precious little else. You will be aware that I feel the national LibDem website is awful when compared to some really rather better local efforts, but this really is rather poor. Festive rating: 1/10

I am greeted at Labour's site - here - by a pop-up which asks me to join the party so I can vote for the new leader. I wasn't aware that Blair had resigned, but hey-ho. The frontpage has a lovely big festive message that offers us "best wishes for Christmas and the New Year". There is also a flashing graphic of Christmas tree lights that then displays an achievment of the current government. Pretty good, fitting with the current party image, contemporary design. Festive rating: 7/10

Is Christmas too traditional for the modernisers at Cameron's Conservatives? Hardly as their site - here - includes a very flashy graphic which shows snow falling over the hill sides which are littered with Christmas trees. It is a shame that where you would normally expect a message to pop up (like "Merry Christmas") it doesn't and you end watching the graphic waiting for something to happen which then doesn't. A bit disappointing but it is the most technical of all the sites and, somewhat ironically, the most traditional. Festive rating: 7/10

Oddly there is no festive message on any of the sites from any of the party leaders - the Conservatives lead on Labour Chairwoman Hazel Blears challenging her own party's health policy, whilst the LibDems stick to a story about Iraq and Labour advertise their programme of Spring Events.

Come on parties - let's have a bit of Christmas cheer about you all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

The presents are wrapped, the turkey is stuffed, the stockings are hung and a certain little girl is looking forward to a midnight visit from a very special man.

Merry Christmas everyone and may tomorrow be as wonderful as you dreamed it would be.

LibDems down to 15% in latest YouGov poll

I don't believe individual opinion polls *at all* and I put my faith rather more in the trends of pollsters. However, the sight of LibDems across the blog-o-sphere squirming about the latest YouGov is too much for a blue-blooded Tory like me to resist.

For a party that stands for "winning here" and being the "growing party", such a rebuff to the dynamic leadership of Sir Ming must be hard to take.

Seriously though my little LibDem chums - calm down, take stock, this is one poll so don't panic. If a 6 or 12 month trend shows you in the 15-18% box you can panic then, but not now.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My top 7...

Iain Dale has tagged me to answer the blog poser - "7 best things I've done this year." I'm only allowed 7?!?! Here goes...

1. Created life - bringing Olivia into our world.
2. My first act as Councillor was to get a family in which the Mum was severely disabled re-housed from a totally unsuitable property in Clover Hill into a purpose built DDA access bungalow.
3. Proved that Conservatives can win in council estate areas ... if we campaign right, work hard enough and prove ourselves to local people.
4. Achieve the best value-added score in our department (again).
5. Change my first fuse on a plug (unbelievably so)
6. Buy a Family ticket to Wroxham Barns.
7. Set up and run the first Government & Politics course in Notre Dame.

I am now tagging Linden Parker, Iain Lindley, Antonia Bance, Gavin Ayling, Norfolk Blogger, James Cleverly and Ali Miraj.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ming's reshuffle

Ey, gads! You take a couple of days out with the family, you then find out that in your political absence a major political reshuffle had taken place ... oh, no, sorry it was Sir Ming's LibDems shuffling a couple of people you've never heard of around in jobs that didn't matter.

Professor Steve Webb (anonymous rating: who?!?!?!) has been asked to write their manifesto - this is, despite the thick trowl of sarcasm, very significant as Prof. Webb is very much considered to be on the left-leaning SDP wing of the LibDems.

Webb's old position as LibDem Health Spokesman is taken by North Norfolk's Norman Lamb (anonymous rating: haven't I seen you somewhere before deary?!?!). This is a good move for the LibDems as Lamb is one of their better performers but it could be a bit of a poision challace for Mr Lamb as his own constituency faces some pretty deep NHS cuts.

Lamb's old job as Chief of Staff to Grandpa Sir Ming goes to youthful Kingston MP Ed Davey (anonymous rating: ah, it's thingy...). I had heard whispers that Ming was a bit fed up with Lamb's apparent pisspoor efforts and this may be the result of that feeling ... Lamb has certainly failed to give any spark or drive to Ming's leadership but to fair that is a pretty tough task. I don't know if this is true - Lamb does seem pretty good at any job he turns his hand to, but you never know what goes on behind closed doors ... especially LibDem doors.

Davey's old job as Trade Spokesman goes to Susan Kramer (anonymous rating: hmmm, looks familiar but no idea who she is) and her old Internation Development job goes to newly elected London MP Lynne Featherstone (anonymous rating: nope, no idea).

So totally underwhelming then, just like poor old Ming himself.

Anyway what has got my goat a little is the continual use of the phrase "LibDem Shadow Health Secretary". Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I think not, my little deluded yellow chums. Check the official definition of shadow cabinet or shadow positions - reserved for the principle opposition party, which is ... ah, the Conservatives!

Delusions of grandeur methinks. Get it right LibDems!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tragic ... very, very tragic

I got all the answers on the Guardian Political Quiz of the Year correct. Am I more ashamed of being a political junkie or reading the Guardian website? Try it here.

Greens are "ill informed" claims Clarke

Charles Clarke doesn't write to the Evening News often so when he does, it is often on a politically sensitive or crucial issue. Today his letter dominates the paper with a quite remarkable attack on the "characteristically ill informed" Green Councillors.

Labour have, for quite some time now, plodding along ignoring the Greens whilst our eco-friends destroyed the LibDem vote and stole their seats. Labour are in power in City Hall now because the Greens have won over a lot of traditional LibDem areas. So for Mr Clarke to bite back like this is quite remarkable - maybe a few jitters over the next parliamentary election but far more likely is that political heavyweight Mr Clarke is fed up of the Greens being allowed to get away with peddling any old nonsense without being held to account.

The Greens now hold 9 out of 39 council seats and, if experts and polls prove to be correct, they will at least hold onto those and maybe even grow again in 2007. They are a major political force in Norwich (at least) and we should scrutinise what they have to say. I know that the LibDems find it hard to attack the Greens, so maybe this Clarke letter is the start of a Labour offensive against City Hall's third party?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brown's snap election?

The BBC, amongst others, is current speculating about the posibility of a snap 2007 poll following Brown's coronation as Labour Leader. Labour Chairman Hazel Blears - currently engulfed in her own fight to be selected in a parliamentary seat following the abolishion of her current Salford berth - has even put out the feelers to Labour workers that it could come sooner rather than later. I'm very dubious about this - not for historical comparisons or anything of that like, but for one very simple reason.

Money. Labour doesn't have it and neither, to be totally honest, do the other parties. Labour would have to be fund raising much faster (and selecting PPCs too, but that is another matter) than they are at the moment to fill the finanical gap. I have always argued that Brown's best chance is by using the post-Blair bounce that is bound to happen - but a few housekeeping realities may stop that from happening.

Party finances need stability - and that is why all parties run in four year cycles. The bureaucracy loves regularity and snap polls could give a few party accountants heart attacks (on all sides). As money and finance become a bigger and bigger part of each subsequent election campaign the choosing of the date is more a question for the Treasurer than the Prime Minister.

The money men would much rather have fixed term parliaments and, I have to say, that is where my thinking is taking me too.

Last Day at "Skool"

I have been laid up for the last 48 hours as the latest victim of the whole Winter Vomiting thing. Apologies if calls and e-mails have gone unanswered. I was, however, back at school for the last day - if a little like being dragged from my death bed. Now I have just the fortnight to recover! Today is always a special day in schools and most of us with have positive memories of the last day of term. At ND today we had a kind-0f-mass and a carol concert ... always roof raising stuff although for the seven hundreth year running I ballsed up the words to "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt

If politicans have to stop pretending to be cool then pop stars should stop pretending to be intelligent.

The latest celebrity to enter the complex world of politics is Cheryl Tweedy, of Girls Aloud, who said Cameron should stop trying to be something that he isn't. She then went on to treat us to the following words of wisdom with regards to her own political views:

"There should be adverts in the breaks during Coronation Street spelling it out in bullet points: This is what the Conservatives stand for. This is what Labour stands for. You know that basically Labour is the working class and the Conservatives are kind of upper class, and then everything else is... I have no idea ... I only vote Labour because me mam does."

In the same way that I'd never suffer the nation with my signing I wonder if Miss Tweedy could save us all her pathetic rantings on politics in future? Or even better, our media could not report such stupidity. Cheryl ... this says more about you than it does about David Cameron.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shaving foam bra (or my first day back at work)

Thanks to my part-time paternity leave, for which I am most grateful, I returned today to work in order to keep up the pressure on (er, I mean, teach) my exam classes. Year 13 were pathetically invovled in something called "panto" ... an excuse for boys to wear makeup and take off their clothes if you ask me. So I launched myself into my Year 12s and got an unexpected treat for my hard work (the title of this post should give you some ideas.) Glad to be home to the relative normality of two screaming babies and, of course, the news of the day!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hands-on Dad

Day Three in the world for the new Miss Olivia Little and I rather feel that I haven't seen much of her. Various visitors monopolise her time and even I cannot compete with the lure of her food source. I got a good cuddle this morning and a lovely one this evening but most of my day has been dedicated to Emily who, I fear, is feeling a little bit shoved to one side. Not so, I cry, for she has Daddy on hand 24-7.

Yesterday we went to the Toddlers Christmas Party at St. Albans Church Hall and it was absolutely brilliant. Today we went to Louise's baby club lunch and I finally got to meet some of Emily's friends. Between going out for lunch, changing library books and obsession about advent calendars the day has flown by - and I admit that I have loved every moment.

My two observations for the day are...
1. No wonder sometimes Louise (and other Mums) get little done around the house - playing is far more fun and the washing can (and does) wait.
2. How long is takes to do everything. Even a wander down to Tesco Express take a lifetime when you stop to look at every dog / flower / Christmas decoration on the way.

Louise remarked of me today that I have been much more hands on with Olivia and Emily now than I was when Emily was born. Am I more confident, a bit older and wiser or do I just realise how fast they grow up and how each moment is precious? Even Olivia's nappies seem a treat to me...

LibDems want to abolsih competition in school sports

LibDems around the country who want to be taken seriously as a force in British politics - even one that is a third party - must hold their heads in their hands and weep everytime something like this happens.

From the party that wanted rights for fairground goldfish comes the notion of abolishing competition in school sports, just as the rest of the nation finally agrees it is a good thing.

LibDem MP Sandra Gidley made the point in a recent House of Commons debate and I hope that the leadership of her party make her suffer for this. Why, I hear you think?

I am about the only person in my school who doesn't think that sport is the absolute cure-all for every problem in the system - including under-achievement and poor behaviour. I think PE is a nice run around a few hours a week, helps towards health and fitness and gives the kids a much needed laugh. I was the fat kid who was always last to be picked - but I didn't care because generally I enjoyed the sport despite being absolutely awful at it. But that aside I think the one thing it does teach the pupils is that you can't win all the time ... unlike academic subjects where "deferred success" has replaced "failure" in our lexicon, PE remains a bastion of reality. You win some, you lose some. Fact of life, etc etc.

Only the LibDems, who are becoming increasingly illiberal on such issues, want the blandness of "everyone wins a prize" to be injected into school sports.

I wonder what former Olympic runner Sir Ming Campbell would have to say about this...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Addition

Whilst I was typing the post below, my wife was in fact having contractions but failed to inform me of this. When she did inform me of this I failed to believe her thinking it was cramp / indigestion / phantom contractions. By around 11.30 Louise was getting one contraction roughtly every 5 minutes and by 12.30 this was down to one every 3 and a half minutes. It was then I lept into action.

Following a mad dash from Drayton to Trafford Road, the in-laws bravely came round to ensure that the child we already had was safe and sound, whilst Lou and I trundled off to the N&N.

Apparently most women worry about going to hospital in case they aren't really in labour and end up wasting people's time. We were determined not to be those kind of paranoid parents who think that the first twinge is the onset of labour and launch themselves at every passing medical practioner. This could, after all, be the start of many days of unpleasantness and we wouldn't want to block our maternity system. However by the time that Louise had to use the doorframe for support, we thought it best to seek some professional advice.

By 2am we were at the hospital and a lovely midwife called Sue confirmed that Louise was, despite Daddy's best attempts to block this from his mind, having a baby. No need to go home or feel ashamed at wasting precious NHS resources, this was the real thing (copyright, Coca Cola).

Things slowed down between 3am and 8am during which time I was seriously considering some kind of breakfast. Louise, on the other hand, seemed rather more in a hurry than I and decided to get a move on. The poor, unfortunate (but rather good) trainee midwife got the shock of her life when Louise's contractions went on some kind of turbo-charge and by 10.15am the baby was ready to be born. Cue lots of plastic things, a gaggle of women in the room and pain so bad that Louise actually bit the end of the gas'n'air tube off.

10.26am and baby Olivia Grace Little came into the world - much quicker, certainly easier but with the same amount of love as her big sister Emily.

Admittedly, she had a sort of Lord-of-the-Rings Orc like quality, but after a wash and brush up she looks just like Emily, beautiful - although slightly smaller at just 6lb 7oz.

Louise and Olivia were allowed to come home by 5pm and here we have snuggled ever since. Emily is loving her "bubba" almost as much as she loves her advent calendar ... but not quite.

Olivia is going what all good babies should - eating, sleeping and being cuddled. I am very proud of our latest addition, but most of all Louise - who after the trauma of last time took all this in her stride (and, for the record, got through the whole labour without resorting to Thundercats Impressions - unlike last time.)

I will post photos when I get them but in the meantime do excuse my sparadoic posts and general inactivity. I have a baby to love.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Overdue Baby

As predicted by absolutely everyone in the world our second baby is now a full 2 days overdue. As Emily was 12 days we aren't holding our breath for an arrival any day soon. Louise isn't as big as she was with Emily but is now at that uncomfortable stage. I am enjoying time with Emily at the moment so really am not fussed, although I think Lou would like it sooner rather than later. If I disappear from this blog, you'll know why ;-)

Do the LibDems know where Norwich South is?

Apparently not.

Now, before I go into this I should say that I did pledge to put less obvious point-scoring posts on my blog and focus more on the work of the council and national politics generally. I have failed miserably on this, and will continue to do so today.

The LibDems appear to have been delivering a newspaper - an awful one to boot - around the place and a neighbour kindly put one through my door this afternoon. Attached was a note which says:

"They don't know North from South and clearly their arse from their elbow."

And ringed on the front of the newspaper, amongst the places this was delivered to (which include Eaton, Bowthorpe, New Costessey etc.) was two words ... Mile Cross.

Oh, dear. Now for the uninitiated, Mile Cross falls into Norwich North, not Norwich South. You might have thought that this was a City wide newspaper then? Well, if that was the case then Catton, Sewell and Crome were mysteriously missing. Only Mile Cross made it into the wrong constituency.

As my laughter drew to a close, after some minutes, I am ready to draw one of two conclusions.

Either the LibDems don't know where the constituency boundary is or the LibDems are as fixated on Mile Cross as Steve Morphew is meant to be. We wonder why ...

Cheap party political point scoring over, begin the angry LibDem posts...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Are we voting for ends or means?

The level of debate in the pastoral office at school has been raisied this week, as we move on from the future of the penny-sweet industry to political ideology and thought.

My good friend, colleague and Eaton resident is threatening not to vote next May. He is classic LibDem fodder (young, caring, pro-environment, basically a bit left wing but hates New Labour) but as I have scratched the surface of his beliefs he shows worrying signs towards authortarian Toryism.

Anyway, his complain was that the parties were "all the same these days." "Nonsense", I declared. I believe that is the lazy answer for people who don't want to think things through. Are you honestly saying, I went on, that all three parties have the same education policies, the same tax proposals or the same ideas on immigration?

"Ah-ha", he quickly rebutted, all of those things are about the micro-management of the system not about broad based ideological differences. Such an arguement got me thinking. In the 80s we had the classic Conservativism versus Socialism debate, personaified (if you like) by Thatcher and Foot. A classic cold-war battle being fought in British politics.

Name any three major party frontbenchers and I'd bet you they'd agree on the projected outcome for the country. We all want a strong economy, good education, a working transport system etc. However, where we disagree is how to achieve that - so politics is becoming about the means rather than the ends.

So, says my friend, he is being asked to vote for slightly differenent versions of management rather than for political leadership. Before he votes he wants to see a real battle of ideas - not the day-to-day policy of school funding, but of where we want British edcuation to go and do.

Maybe he has a point, I concluded. After all, Cameron, Blair and Campbell could probably draw up a "vision statement" on which they could all sign up to. So we, the voters, have no choice about where UK plc is going - just a choice of vehicle to get there.

Any interesting arguement and so much more worthwhile than guessing whatever happened to all those 80s bands you just don't hear of anymore.

She likes the thought but not the reality

Rather like socialism to many people, my daughter Emily has decided that she likes the thought of Father Christmas more than the actual reality.

Today we were up early to queue with the multitudes in Jarrolds to meet the man himself. Emily was happy, looking forward to it and very talkative. She pointed at him through the window, she loved the balloons and the decorations. She grinned manically as we walked through the door. She took one look and ... burst into hysterical wailing and tears. Poor old Santa, I thought. How embarrassing for us all.

By the time we had left and shopped around Norwich, Emily was back to liking Father Christmas and had forgotten all about that nasty moment when her greatest hope become a reality and turned into her greatest fear.

Socialism still exists

Last night I was involved in an investigation of the liscence trade in and around Prince of Wales Road. In order to do this, I had to eat and drink rather a lot and involved myself with as many lisenced premises as possible ;-)

During one of these in-depth looks at the implications of council policy I stumbled (literally, actually) across a bit of a blog fan ... but it turns out he was a Labour member. During our witty, half sloshed, exchanges I asked him if socialism still existed (I'm a hoot after a few drinks) and he told me in great depth about the red-hot beating heart of the Labour Party waiting for the day that Blair leaves office.

Beware Britain - socialism exists and is alive and well hidden in Norwich.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is Martin Amis the stupidest person in Britain?

Novelist Martin Amis has made himself look absolutely ridiculous on several occasions during tonight's Question Time on the BBC. If you don't understand politics, or life, Martin then don't appear on TV pretending you do. You seem to be a rather sad re-tred of life during the socialist soviet era and I had rather assumed that we had moved on. The worst thing is that he has made Ruth Kelly look measured and sensible.

Clarke's hypocrisy on local government freedom

The EDP has an interesting piece today about Charles Clarke's new call for a spirit of freedom to enter local government. In particular he picks out the increased use of referenda as one way of increasing participation and accountability.

So when Norwich City Council had a chance to vote on a referendum on Unitary, the single biggest issue facing the council, which political party voted against?

Mr Clarke's very own Labour Party.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Could a Unitary Norwich be Conservative controlled?

The recent EDP Report that Norwich City Council is trying to include places like Bawburgh, Trowse, Great Plumstead, Little Plumstead, Horsford, Newton St Faith, Postwick, Rackheath, Taverham, Drayton and Thorpe St Andrew raises the interesting prospect that so many suburbs would be included that it would put a massive Tory block back onto the City Council. In fact, given Tory strength in places like Catton, Bowthorpe, Sprowston, TSA and Hellesdon what chance that the Tories might take overall control? And with it being obvious that the Conservatives can beat Labour, even areas like Eaton might fall.

Still, this dream aside, I am still opposed ... politican putting people before their own party ... bizarre.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Simon Wright, honesty & ID Cards

Being in local government means taking decisions that you might not always agree with. You can only refuse liscening applications on the 4 liscensing objectives and you can only turn down planning applications based on planning grounds.

When the ID Card Centre plans came before the committee, the Greens tried to have them turned down on ideological grounds. However the other parties, led by senior LibDem Councillors, spoke and voted in favour of the plans because there were no planning grounds to turn them down.

So why is LibDem Parliamentary candidate Simon Wright trying to claim that the LibDems were against the plans? He certainly fails to mention that his own Councillors voted in favour of the scheme, and in doing so he suggests that his party didn't approve of these plans.

The public would have far more respect for politicans in general and the LibDems in particular if he told them the truth about these things instead of playing politics and spinning the issue.

The truth is that both Conservatives and LibDems are against ID Cards, but both parties had to vote for this proposal because they had no legal grounds to vote it down.

Why can't Fakenham's Councillor Simon Wright be honest with the people of Norwich?

Now Labour split over Unitary bids

The Chairman of Thetford Labour has made the case against Unitary in Norwich far better than I could have. In the EDP Letters on Saturday, he said that Breckland shouldn't go for Unitary because they couldn't exercise the powers they had currently had - let alone ask for more power and more money.

Maybe Thetford Labour should speak to Norwich Labour - because Norwich City Council has a much, much worse record (not least on recycling) than Breckland ... so can we assume that Labour believe that City Hall is as equally unable to command more powers?
The cartoon is from a campaign group, who claimed that Windsor & Maidenhead Council abused their power as a Unitary Council. County Councils and District Councils work as a check on each other - Unitary councils can abuse their power. Absolute power corrupts...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Steve Morphew accused of being bias in favour of Mile Cross

City Council Leader Steve Morphew had an uncomfortable time on Tuesday night as a combination of the public, the Greens and the LibDems heaped pressure on him for allegedly being bias in favour of improvements in Mile Cross as opposed to the rest of the City.

It started when a member of the public, one Brenda Lock, said that the council didn't care about Heathgate Community Centre because it wasn't in Mile Cross and that's where all the money went. A startled reaction from Councillors and the public. Although Steve strongly denied this, it led to some further exchanges later in the evening. Green Leader Adrian Ramsay concurred that a lot of money was spent in Mile Cross, because it was a tough Lib-Lab battleground seat, and LibDem Councillor for Mile Cross Carl Mayhew was also stirring the pot.

At the end of it I feel Steve looked a bit startled by all of this - more from the public than Councillor.

I wonder if it is true - a breakdown of total spending ward by ward would be interesting. Another member of the public told me afterwards that ift felt like all the money went to Eaton. An interesting perspective also.

It is natural to want the best for your ward. We all do it - fighting hard for our communities, sometimes knowing that other areas may suffer as a result. Although I believe Steve hasn't abused his position as Leader of the Council in favour of his ward, I think this line of attack may well come back time and time again.

In response to my Question

You may remmeber that I asked about the Council's work to improve the clearing up of grafitti at Full Council last Tuesday.

The Executive Member for Community told me that the Neighbourhood Wardens are able to spot grafitti and reporting it directly to the council via their handheld technology - including taking photos. They have, apparently, had some success in working with the police to catch taggers. They also say that extended CCTV around Norwich will help. Finally they urged people to call 212112 to report any cases.

I then asked if the council believed that control of grafitti was an option - they said that they were providing constructive alternatives.

(And in case you care here are the other questions...)

Cllr Lubbock (LibDem, Eaton) asked if the Council would provide a small, individually wrapped chocolate to all employees who turned off their computer. The Labour Executive Member said the authority had a good record in saving power.

Cllr Collishaw (Con, Catton Grove) asked about the budgets for Dog Bins. Apparently dog bins are no longer provided and people should use normal waste bins.

Cllr Cannell (Lab, Lakenham) asked what progress the council had made since May. It was the most obvious brown-nosed question ever asked at Council and quite frankly both the asker and the answerer should be ashamed for wasting our time.

Cllr Sands (Lab, Sewell) asked why CityCare collected rubbish at 0615 and woke everyone up. The Executive Member, who is a Labour Councillor, said this shouldn't happen.

Cllr Hooke (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet) asked if the law on cycling on pavements could be enforced. He was told to sod off and do it himself. In a polite manner, obviously.

Cllr Bearman (Green, Town Close) asked what is happening with the land at the corner of Leicester Street and Onley Street. It seemed to me that the council didn't know the answer.

Cllr Read (Green, Wensum) asked if more could be done to get people to Sparks in the Park via public transport. He was told that a lot of people did use the buses and that Green councillors should lighten up and cheer up a bit.

CLlr Llewellyn (Green, Wensum) asked if the bulky items collections were recycled. No.

Cllr Jago (Green, Mancroft) asked about the fence on Mile Cross Road. He was told that Norfolk County Council have the responsibility to sort it out.

Cllr Stepphenson (Green, Nelson) asked about energy saving plans for new homes. She got a lot-done-lots-to-do style answer.

Cllr Watkins (LibDem, Eaton) asked how much it cost to replace one pane of glass in a bus shelter. £313.12

Cllr Mayhew (LibDem, Mile Cross) asked about Eade Road / Patterson Road being made one way. The Council are thinking about it.

Cllr Divers (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet) asked about traffic calming on Ketts Hill. There is no need, she was told.

Full Council: Attendance Watch

2 Councillors absent this time - Brian Morrey (Lab, Catton Grove) and Jull Surridge (LibDem, Thorpe Hamlet). All Tories and Greens present and correct.

The Conservatives are the only party with a 100% record since May's elections!

Who's got the best reycling record in Norfolk? (Clue: It sure ain't a certain City...)

Fascinating statistics released from Norfolk County Council and pass to me via a recycling campaign have led to some red faces around City Hall, I understand. Using the Audit Commission reports from 2002-2005 it plots all of the district council performances in collecting recycling.

In 2002 Norwich City came 4th out of 7 districts - beating Broadland, Breckland and Great Yarmouth. Since then, all three Tory authorities have since jumped ahead of the Labour / LibDem run City Council, leaving Norwich trailing in last place - almost exactly where we were three years previously.

Tory run Broadland comes a clear first, followed by LibDem North Norfolk.

David Cameron has clearly grabbed the green agenda and these figures show why - time and time again it is Conservative Councils that are leading the way in such fields, whilst councils dominated by the left (as Norwich still is) do very badly. The Norwich Conservatives take this subject seriously, so why won't Labour and the LibDems?

They are all talk and no action - and on doorsteps, actions speak louder than words.

Well Done Trevor

I am thrilled to say that the latest Tory PPC to be selected in Norfolk & Suffolk is our local association Chairman Trevor Ivory, who will stand for the party in North Norfolk. I attended the Open Primary in Northrepps last Friday and what a good meeting it was. Trevor and Alan Lockwood, the defeated candidate, performed very well but it was so clear that Trevor wanted the seat badly.

Trevor and I are honest friends - I think that is a really difficult seat and he has one hell of a fight ahead of him. Trevor needs to work 24/7 on this one, but I have total confidence in him to really take the fight to Lamb. Trevor has been very brave taking a seat like this on, after all he follows the class political act of Iain Dale, and I am sure that local people will warm to him. Trevor and Lisa are now planning their move 20 miles North!

Trevor is a great champion of the Conservative cause ... North Norfolk should be proud to have him!

Monday, November 27, 2006

The future of parliamentary debate

After school I organised the first parliamentary debate for my A Level Politics group and I have to say that all of them did brilliantly - more confident, better prepared, wittier and straight to the point. They made a lot of our current MPs look like amateurs! The subject of debate was "Tony Blair's 10 years in power have been a sparkling success" - the motion was lost 7 votes to 5, which says a lot about the impact of Blair on 16-17 year olds who have only really known a Labour government!

Two girls took the role of Labour frontbencher and the Tory Leader of the Opposition. They not only made their own speeches but also took a barrage of interventions from backbenchers and from the other dispatch book. The two whips on either side took on the role of a cross between a cheerleader and a pitbull terrier.

The speeches were thoughful and based upon fact. It was interesting that Blair's fans took his record on crime and public services whilst those who opposed him concentrated on two key issues - Iraq and the NHS. The Labour supporters got rather annoyed by the constant Iraq references. Their frontbencher snapping from her seat: "Don't you lot have anything else to talk about?".

The opposition wanted to stick to Iraq, Labour wanted to move on ... more like real life than you'd imagine.

They soon got snappy as fellow MPs tried to put them off their stride and kept trying to refocus the debate to their point. Just like parliament!

Really this was the best I've seen in many years of teaching and I am now determined to work with these kids and, who knows, ending up at the National Parliamentary Debating Competition?

Best line: Labour whip: "I bet you Tories wish you hadn't had thrown all those mentally ill people onto the streets during your time in power - look, they've all ended up on your frontbench!"

Strangest point to make: Tory Leader: "20,000 years ago there were a fewer people than there are today."

Most disagreements: Labour and Tory frontbenchers: Has crime fallen or risen since 1997? Everyone had statistics to prove their point.

Clarke to stand - and lose - in Norwich South

Here is tonight's press release:

Responding to tonight's news that former Home Secretary Charles Clarke will seek re-election to his Norwich South constituency, Tory Leader at City Hall Antony Little said:

"It is right that Charles Clarke puts himself before the electorate so that local people can judge him on his record as both a government minister and a constituency MP."

"With Labour on the ropes nationally and David Cameron's Conservatives ahead in all the opinion polls, Norwich South will be a key seat at the next election."

Councillor Little, who stood against Mr Clarke in 2005, added: "With the LibDems losing council seats across Norwich and the Conservatives winning again, it is clear that only the Conservatives can beat Labour here in Norwich South."

"If people want to pass judgement on Mr Clarke's lamentable record as our local MP, or on Mr Blair's wasted 10 years in power when taxes have risen but services continue to suffer, they should do so at the ballot box by supporting the Conservatives and David Cameron's message of change, optimism and hope."

"The next election is already looking very interesting."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Council Agenda for Tuesday

Council Agenda for Tuesday, 7.30pm in the Council Chamber at City Hall

Presentation on Peak Oil
Lord Mayor’s Announcements
Presentation of Long Service Awards
Declarations of Interes
Public Questions
Questions to Exec Members
Proposed Vision Strategy for Norwich and the Council’s short term objectives (these focus on CCTV, wardens and the environment)
Budget Update
Capital Programme changes
Gambling Act response
Motion – Cllr Morphew on First Buses
Motion – Cllr Holmes on Climate Change
Motion – Cllr Morphew on Growth Point Status.

Enquiries, question and thought (as ever) appreciated.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ian Gibson won't stand down

The not-very-surprising news that Labour MP Ian Gibson will contest the next General Election would not normally be note-worthy. But the comments of a close colleague and Norwich North resident bear thinking about. She is a Labour voter and big fan of Mr Gibson and yet on hearing the news declared "great, so we get an old, ill MP whose just hanging around to saddle us with the cost of a by-election."

Nice, but with phrases like "going out with my boots on" it shouldn't surprise him!

Capital Programme in Bowthorpe

I have just got the capital budget spending for Bowthorpe. For your interest:

1. Lighting scheme for Smeat Street, Clover Hill
2. Park Improvements for Atkinson Close, Chapel Break
3. New Park Equipment for Clover Hill (tba)
4. 5 a side football goals for Fourways (Earlham)
5. Rejuvenating Clover Hill Community Centre
6. Toad Crossings on Chapel Break Road
7. Road surfacing on Dereham Road (between Wendene and Gurney Road)
8. Cycling Scheme from West Earlham to City Centre
9. Pavement improvements on Rockingham Road
10. Play equipment via 106 money for Chapel Break and Three Score
Views on this welcome

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Question...

Thanks for the suggestions made for my question including those who e-mailed them. I have just laid down this, based upon the first "annonymous" suggestion:

Councillor LITTLE to ask:
The city's street furniture and many of our suburban areas suffer from a lot of grafitti, including much by a few graffiti gangs. Does the council believe grafitti is a symptom, measure and further encouragement of Anti Social Behaviour? Can the Executive Member tell us what the council can do to help crack down on grafitti across the City, including any plans to speed up the removal of it?
Picture is of a grafitti tag in Norwich.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What should I ask at the next Full Council meeting?

Every month each Councillor gets the chance to pose a single question which the Executive Member or Committee Chair responsible must answer. To this point each month I have had an obvious question to ask because of various issues that have arisen around the ward. The question could be about a specific issue which the council had so far not answered (e.g. parking on Bishey Barnabee Way) or about general strategic council wide issues (e.g. time spent to improve run down council housing stock).

I believe in avoiding nasty political point scoring (unlike some Labour and LibDem Councillors) and as this really is the "nuclear option" for finding out information I also think the question should be something you couldn't find out easily any other way.

So, with the deadline looming on Wednesday I'd like to know what you would like answered from the City Council. I can't guarantee I'll choose a question from this blog, but it would be good to ask something suggested by a blog reader.

You can, of course, ask your own question at council by e-mailing it to - you'll even get a supplementary question too! You need to be a resident of Norwich to do so and you'll have to turn up at the Council Meeting on the last Tuesday of the month to ask it. It is however your way of getting an answer straight from the horse's mouth!

Ian Oakley selected for marginal seat

Ian Oakley is one of the nicest people in the Conservative Party, if not the country. It also happens that he is one of the hardest workers and best campaigners too - and that's useful because he's just been selected for the country's tightest three-way marginal seat in Watford.

I worked closely with Ian for many years in various adventures around Hillingdon Council and I know he'll give it 100% and be a real asset to the party as both a candidate and then as an MP. Ian won't be put off because of the tough fight ahead of him in Watford - it'll make him more determined to fight hard and win.

Ian may not be an A-Lister but he knows Watford back-to-front and I am so pleased for him. The LibDems should have been assured of victory in this seat, but with Ian's selection the whole contest is wide open again.

Go for it, Ian!

Anne McIntosh selected for safe seat

The news from is that Tory frontbencher Anne McIntosh has been selected for the very safe and newly created seat of Thirsk and Malton. I have always argued that Anne deserves a good berth because of her excellent parliamentary record - just the sort of MP we need. I am, however, sad that another MP whose constituency disappears - John Greenway - is now left without a seat to fight. 'A'-List or no 'A'-List we need to support those who have given dedicated service to the party. I hope that John is given what he deserves by the powers that be at CCHQ.

But, well done Anne - I'm sure it was well deserved.

Are the LibDems going to drop their opposition to Tesco ... or are they going to play it both ways again?

One of the big issues that dominated the campaign in Town Close last year was that of the proposed Tesco Express being built on the site of the Arlington petrol station on Unthank Road. The Greens, naturally took against the plans. So too, with little impact, did the LibDems. The Greens subsequently snatched the formerly rock solid LibDem ward and left local activists reeling.
Today a LibDem Focus leaflet graces my letterbox - not a particularly good one and now rather irregularly delivered but one story stood out for me. An update on Tesco.

Chris Thomas, the sitting Councillor who faces the fight of his life next year, claims to be pleased that the application was rejected before adding:

I have had letters from residents who are not car owners and who would welcome an opportunity to shop daily at a small supermarket which they feel with complement the specialist shops.

So that's clear then ... not. Are the Town Close LibDems therefore in favour or opposed and, in particular, is Chris Thomas in favour or not? Or, like on so many issues, are they planning to play this one both ways depending on which doorstep they are standing on?

Or is there a more wholesale change on the way? The LibDems have lost voters hand-over-fist to the Greens in the Golden Triangle and many of these residents are unlikely to return to the fold anytime soon. So if the LibDems detect a significant minority in favour of the Unthank Tesco (but who don't like to shout about their opinions) could they switch policies in time for next May and hoover up those votes?

I don't know, but I do know that the Town Close LibDems are desperate.

They may think that the votes of the anti-Tesco lobby are lost to the Greens and political pragmatism draws them to a pro-Tesco position as the only way of holding their seat?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Door Knocking & Bond

Today was a mixed bag with a relative lie-in (well up at 7.30 and back into bed by 9) followed by a trip with the UEA Conservatives to offer some mutual aid to the Norwich North Conservatives. We went door knocking on one of the new housing developments in the area and two things struck me - firstly the sheer volume of property turnover in such areas, much worse than it ever was in Bowthorpe in my humble opinion. And the second was how many people are now willing to stop and talk politics on the doorsteps on a freezing November afternoon. Overall very good for the Conservatives but with a noticeable number of Green voters too - on today's canvass they beat the LibDems for third. Interestingly we had Iraq re-appear as an issue (it had died down) but also the state of local parks, housing and anti-social behaviour are consistently topping the list.

This evening Lou & I managed to get out and see the new (well, re-made) Bond film. We both think that Craig made an excellent Bond and it was a great film. Much less formulaeic than other Bond films with loads of twists and turns - plus a bevvy of beauties and gun fights galore. Obviously I loved every moment, but the fact that Lou enjoyed it too (and she doesn't "do" Bond films) says a lot for how well it was made. Plus you get to hear Dame Judy Dench's opinion of backbench committee MPs...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

LibDems can't agree on Unitary

I enjoy Nich Starling's blog and he has an excellent post here in which he joins me in slamming the Council for spending £27,000 on the Unitary survey. Nich says that few people he knows in Norwich are clammering for Unitary - well said that man.

But the Fakenham Councillor from North Norfolk fails to mention that the LibDems in Norwich are in favour of Unitary and voted for all this money (and much more) to be spent.

The LibDems are all over the place on this issue. Nich, who (shall we say) takes a lot of interest in Norwich and Broadland issues, demonstrates this in spades.

We know that Norwich LibDems are in favour and Broadland LibDems against. So will they campaign against themselves in 2007? We'll have to wait and see!

The way politics works

Blairites hate Brownites. Some Blairites pretend to like Brown because they want jobs in his next government (the one he'll have without the need to win a general election). Some Blairites will just keep their mouths shut. The party looks like it might rip apart.

Then the public decide that they like Cameron more than Brown and Labour people of all shades get worried. They all start to back Brown to try and brow-beat Cameron down. The party suddenly becomes very united and all and sundry say Brown will win by default. Hence Blears saying that Blair will back Brown today.

So what happens now? An unchallenged Brown leadership? No. When Labour feel they've been ghastly to Cameron enough and nearer the time of Blair's departure, all these people who have been nice to Brown will suddenly turn again.

Expect a contest between Brown, Reid, Johnson and McDonnell.

Milton Friedman has died

One of the great men of the capitalist free market economy has died today. has a nice obituary in the way of his quotes here.

12% of people know about the Unitary issue ... Labour claim it's a triumph!

From the gushing press release from Norwich City Council and the equally gushing story in the EEN today, you might be forgiven for thinking that the City has come out overwhelmingly in favour of Unitary status.

However, when you read the small print the story becomes very different. The figure that struck me was that 88% of people who responded said they knew little or nothing about the issue! Shouldn't the council be spending money educating and informing people about this rather than commissioning dodgy surveys?

In fact the survey, with all of its inherent bias, came out 41-25 in favour. But if 88% don't know about the issue, how can we even trust or believe that result?

Answer: we can't. But Unitary is now hanging by a thread and Labour are willing to cling to any straw they can.

Action for Bowthorpe Tree Belts

After a lot of campaigning I was pleased to recieve this e-mail:

Major tree works are planned to a number of tree belts in Bowthorpe this winter. The belts in which we are set to carry out work include:

· Rawley Road to Cloverhill Road
· Rawley Road to Beloe Ave
· Joe Ellis Ct
· Wendene (Both sides including areas covered by Braithwaite Close and Anwick Ct)
· Tippett Close
· Chapelbreak Road oppersite Astley Road
· Rear off Edrich way / The Columbine

Bowthorpe Cycle Way (Inc Stylman Road)
Bowthorpe Park
Chapel Break Centre

The work, scheduled to start later this month, will involve both thinning and coppicing operations. Thinning is the removal of selected trees to relieve overcrowding and to allow for the future growth of remaining specimens. Coppicing is the process of cutting back woody plants close to ground level and allowing the stumps to re-grow. The overall result will be more open, lighter, less oppressive tree belts that are more encouraging for wildlife, and safer, healthier individual trees.

Well Done Norwich City Council!

Proud to be supporting our community

Last night's meeting of the Bowthorpe Community Partnership started to discuss the response to recent tragic events. I am pleased that all councillors, from both councils and both parties, have agreed that the way forward is a mass community petition that asks for a full safety review of all of the major roads - including Clover Hill Road, Chapel Break Road, Three Score Road, Bishey Barnabee Way and Dodderman Way.

It will make a powerful statament if we can make a unified stance on this - and I'm also glad that the BCP agreed to front this. A local man from Three Score is taking the lead and Councillors will be pleased to support him.

Lewis gets going in Great Yarmouth

It was good to hear from Yarmouth PPC Brandon Lewis about his plans to start campaigning for the seat. His website is changing over next Monday but you can read about his reaction to being selected HERE. It sounds like he has some great plans and has already got an action day and a parliamentary event organised. That's some going! I am surprised that the media seem to have overlooked him so far - although I'm sure he'll change that pretty quickly!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Norwich Tories select candidates

Over at the NorwichConservatives.Com site there is a news update with the local government selections.

Sitting Councillor Eve Collishaw will fight for Catton Grove again

Long-time resident and campaigner John Wyatt will build on his best result in Town Close for many years

Popular local resident Vic Hopes goes for Eaton after halving the LibDem majority last time.

Campaigner Niall Baxter heads for success in Wensum Ward...

Also UEA student Kristofer Wilson is standing in University Ward and Carrie Chandler is selected in Mancroft. Lakenham, Nelson and Thorpe Hamlet members will decide on their candidates in the next few weeks.

Never Forget their Sacrifice

Thanks to ConservativeHome for this graphic. A reminder of what today is about.

Today is not about the glorification of war, it is about the sacrific of those who died for freedom.

Different advice

Of all the people that have contacted me about Yarmouth - both through the comments section on thig blog and through e-mail - two stand out as polar opposites about how the party is feeling at the moment. You know how I fele on the issue but CCHQ have to take seriously the issue of what to do with disapplied candidates (those not on the A List) and those who fail to win their "local" seats. Take a look at these two and decide for yourselves.

Antony - the way in which you have handled this rejection shows what an asset you are to the party. Coming from the NE I had never really heard of you but after reading I googled you to see what your story was. You are clearly a dedicated campaigner who has spent his life promoting the Tory cause. We need people like you ... stick to the rules of the party, work hard and you'll get there. I promise.

and in contrast...

Like you Antony I am white, middle class, middle aged, happily married, able bodied and have been a hard working member of this party for many, many years. I am not on the AList and am not allowed to apply for local seats either because of the awkward nature of CCHQ. I spend my free time helping to run an association and run campaigns. Why is Dave Cameron asking so much of me with so little in return? I work for the party but the party doesn't work for me. You ask what you should do - leave them to it. Enjoy your kids for a few years and come back when sanity returns to the asylum that is CCHQ. You don't need this in your life if you don't get anything in return. Not so many years ago hard working meant something in our party. Now it's "what you are" rather than "what you do". Sorry to be so negative but so many of us feel this way.

A record breaking day

Yesterday this blog attracted 5 times as many visitors as normal - thanks to the interest in my reaction to not winning a parliamentary candidature. How many would I have got if I had of won it (fewer, I'd imagine)?

I hope those people will continue to check back in the future. If you want me to add a link to your site, just get in touch.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Yarmouth says "No": So, what now?

Tonight Brandon Lewis, the Leader of Brentwood Borough Council in Essex, has been selected as Conservative PPC in Yarmouth. He's a great bloke and a real campaigner - actually an asset to the 'A'List and I feel confident he'll turn the seat blue. Well Done to him.

However, this certainly has to make me think about the future. You see, as I'm white, middle class, a male, happily married, able bodied and not a celebrity (this blog not withstanding) then I am nowhere near being on the Priority List and hence unable to apply for seats around the country.

I could go on and on about all the fabulous things I've done for the party - candidate, agent, local Chairman, Deputy Chairman, campaign co-ordinator, councillor and group leader. I could talk about how jolly unfair all this is and how I should be given the chance to fight a safe seat.

But the truth of the matter is I did all those things for the benefit of my communities, my country and my party. All three are "bigger" than I am and I shall continue to furrow my ploughs for the Conservatives because I care about why I am doing this.

I, like fellow local candidate Kay Mason, have no right to that seat in the way no candidate has any right to any seat.

One day all this A List nonsense will be seen for what it is - and until then people like me must carry on, because politics matters at every level. Tonight was a shame, but it won't stop me saying loud and proud to everyone who'll listen:

I'm a Conservative. I'm proud of my party and I'm proud to be a Conservative. I back Cameron all the way to Downing Street. So come on board and let's change this country for the better.

Is the Senate the GOPs Wandsworth

So the results are almost in and, if as expected, the Democrats have indeed won the last two Senate races in Vermont and Montana then the Senate will be 49 R, 49 D and 2 I.  Despite being crushed in this poll, the good thing for the GOP is that they will continue to hold the Senate.  Why?  Well the top two parties are tied and existing administration always holds on.  Hence until the 2 Independents official defect then the Democrats will find themselves shut out.  On a day-to-day basis they will vote with the Dems and Republicans will find themselves out-voted.  R with the power but not the votes, D with the votes but not the power – American democracy.


And all this time the GOP says “we held the Senate”.  Single to Wandsworth, anyone?


Monday, November 06, 2006

My Yarmouth Thanks

I cannot reply to you all individually because of numbers, but I would like to thank everybody who, either directly on e-mail or via ConservativeHome or, have sent their best wishes and luck for the Great Yarmouth final this Friday.

Thanks ... and fingers crossed.

US Mid Terms: Can the GOP do a Wandsworth?

All the polls and pundits predict that the Republicans are on for a mid-term drubbing at tomorrow's polls. Certainly the Democrats have a small poll lead - circa 4% - but all American elections turn on turnout.

During the dark days for the Tories in local government, one night the party was slaughtered across the country. However the party held a single council - Wandsworth - against the trend and that single council was proof that the Tories hadn't done badly after all. The Sun even exclaimed that Labour were "poll axed" because of their failure to take that single council.

Given the record of the GOP party machine in winning elections, I wouldn't bet against them holding the Senate and even stemming the losses in the House. But I wonder if they manage to hold an unexpected state if their spin doctors could somehow claim victory from the jaws of defeat? More on this tomorrow...

EDP: Norwich Congestion Charge investigated

When I mentioned the threat of a Congestion Charge over 2 years ago, the reaction of my opponents was fanatical to say the least. They accused me of scaremongoring, they said I was lying and they rubbished my name.

These people can leave their apologies in the comments section - though I won't hold my breath.

ONLY the Norwich Conservatives oppose this madness.

The Speaker is in trouble

The House of Commons as a whole has never had very much respect for Speaker Michael Martin. Elected more or less on a Labour block-vote, breaking convention when it should have been a Conservative, I believe that Martin was the result of a dominant Labour Party in 2000 proving that they (or their majority) owned the House.

I am a strong believer in respect for such positions. Usually I would say that I wouldn't care if a coatstand was elected Speaker - I'd still respect them. But I feel I cannot say that with Speaker Martin.

His outrageous "saving" of Blair at PMQs this week was both totally pointless (in fact Tony got himself out of the situation rather well this week) but also badly handled. Clever Cameron won't make an official complainy but if Tory MPs do either stage a walkout or not listen to him, then what remains of his credibility will crumble. You see whilst Tories make up a significant minority of the Commons, losing the trust of a section of the House could be damaging.

The ever-reliable Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that Speaker Martin only wants 2 things in political life. To out-do Boothroyd in terms of years as Speaker and to ensure that his son, Paul Martin, inherits his Glasgow parliamentary seat.

Unless he kisses and makes up with the Tories, he'll achieve neither.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lazy Sunday Morning (and one hell of a Saturday night!)

Look ... no baby. Louise and I are sprog free this morning. The house is clean, we got up after 10am and may even enjoy a hot, cooked breakfast. Wow, that's something.

All because Emily is at Nana and Grandad's probably having the time of her life away from the parents. Yesterday was a bit of a day for us ...

... the morning we drove to Great Yarmouth and enjoyed a walked along the front looking at the new development there. Emily came with us and rather predictably wanted to collect stones off the beach. Then after we dropped off the babe I went on the first leg of a friend's stag-do (an hour late, tut, tut). As if life couldn't get better we then saw the matinee of Buddy at the Theatre Royal - the last day of the run here in Norwich but you gotta see it at some point! Absolutely fantastic. We then walked into the City and went to the Earlham Park fireworks display. Great fireworks, but who ever was in charge of the music should be waking up with a hangover this morning ... it all went dead half way through!

Anyway, we're off out for breakfast and then off to collect our little one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

BBC: British Youth is very worrying

Drinking, violent and sexual active ... British youth according to a survey. Our youngsters are agressive, rude and disrespectful compared to other European countries. Now compare that to the high proportions of teenagers who only hang out with their mates and don't eat with their parents. It also shows that children with married parents do better than single parents or even those with co-habiting parents.

And all this comes from a centre-left think tank!

UPDATE: BBC reporter said that next week's report on what to do about this won't suggest the normal idea of setting up a youth club! It will suggest that far from spending more time away from home, these kids need to be with their parents or other adults.


Green Policy on Car Parks

I'd like your views on this:

Green Councillors policy in Norwich is to simultaneously reduce the number of parking spaces in the City whilst increasing the price of those left to maintain the income.

Last Nights Votes In Full

Last night we had questions on ..

Eaton Skatepark (Cllr Lubbock, LibDem for Eaton)
Yellow Lines in Three Score (Cllr Little, Conservative for Bowthorpe)
Waiting Restrictions on Woodcock Road (Cllr Collishaw, Conservative for Catton Grove)
Safety on Magdalen Road (Cllr Divers, LibDem for Thorpe Hamlet)
East-West Rail Link (Cllr Couzens, LibDem for Eaton)
City Hall use of recycled paper (Cllr Stephenson, Green for Nelson)
Allotment waiting lists (Cllr Llewellyn, Green for Wensum)
Clarence Harbour site (Cllr Gledhill, Green for Nelson)
Future of Heathgate (Cllr Jago, Green for Mancroft)
Sale of Mariners Lane Car Park (Cllr Altman, Green for Mancroft)
Nottingham Declaration (Cllr Read, Green for Wensum)
Recycling plastics (Cllr Ramsay, Green for Nelson)
Car Parking (Cllr Holmes, Green for Wensum)

If you want to know the answers please just let me know.

On putting £150k into the Unitary bid it was carried 34-2 (only Conservatives opposing it).

On the Tree Strategy it wa scarried 27-0 with 9 abstentions (The Green Party)

The Packagaing and Waste motion was referred to the Waste Working Group by 27-9 (Greens opposing, all others in favour)

Educational Attainment was carried 34-0 with 2 abstentions (Conservatives)

Green Party: One Track Minds?

Rupert Read has never been the most respected political figure in Norwich and his regular outbursts at full council will ensure that he never is either.

The Green Party frontbencher speaking on Transport Issues said this last night:

"Councillor Little spends a long time telling us why he is against Unitary. I'll tell you in two words why I'm for it ... Westlegate pedestrianisation."

He then went on to say that this was his only reason (not that, ONLY) why he was in favour of unitary.

You could say that Cllr Read was willing to financially screw the City and its residents and destroy local services over a piece of road.

Or you could say that he can't cope with the complexity of the issue.

Either way, his contribution did his party no good.

UPDATE: Thanks to an e-mailing friend who points out that Green County Councillors vote on issues that only effect county areas, like Cromer, Great Yarmouth or Diss. If they believe so strongly in the unitary principle will all Green - and Labour and LibDem Councillors - promise to abstain on issues that don't affect the City? Don't hold your breath.

Finally ... an answer

Bishey Barnabee Way is one of the main roads around both Three Score and Bowthorpe. They've had their fair share of traffic problems with the developers and now people parking on the road too. It is on a hill and pretty dangerous. But, seen as there haven't been any accident, nobody will act on the suspicion that it is a dangerous bit of road. I had been asking question, as had local people, about the chances of yellow lines. Nothing came forth other than "no". So I put down a question to full council - the nuclear button for backbench and opposition councillors - and I am pleased to say that I actually got a reponse!

They are going to measure traffic flow after the development has finished and see if there is need because BB Way is part of an important bus route ... short term bad news but long term good news I think!

Anyway it is just good to get a firm answer (for once).

LibDem U -Turn on Unitary Referendum?

The LibDems are hardly known for their political consistency. As a Green Councillor recently pointed out in a council debate, the LibDems don't so much have 2 policies in different areas of the country as 2 policies at different ends of the same street.

Their opposition to my referendum on Norwich's Unitary bid was a bizarre act of political opportunism. A typical Cooke attack of me was launched and the vote was lost. I questioned at the time why the party that was most committed to the use of these votes was against the plans. I never got a reply but it seems obvious now that they would never hand me the political victory.

Anyway, it has been bought to my attention that Andrew Stunnell MP, LibDem Communities Spokesman and political giant, has now declared:
"When it comes to changing democratic accountability in an area, I think there's a good argument for a referendum"

Great news, I look forward to Cllr Cooke's support when I bring this issue back to Council!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NO SHOCK: Government win vote on Iraq

I don't know why everyone gets so excited about the govenrment losing votes. Today's opposition day motion on Iraq, tabled by the Nationalists, was a classic example. First it wins LibDem support then also the Conservatives. Then a few typical Labour rebels play up. Then the bloggers go bananas saying Labour will lose and then the media pick up on it. Everybody goes over the top and ... hey presto a small but workable government majority of 25.

I knew Labour would win this one ... the perenial rebels have isolated themselves and the middle ranking trouble makers haven't got the guts to rebel when they should do. And do remember that there are still hundreds of clones on the Labour side ready to do Blair and Brown's bidding.

So next time you hear the inevitable phrase "government set to lose" ... just calm down and think it'll never happen. Not because of the Labour whips, but because the hearts of Labour MPs aren't in ousting Blair (yet).

Now Hereward Cooke thinks he's an MP

A while ago a LibDem activist told me that he thought that then-Deputy Leader Cllr Hereward Cooke may have bene losing it a bit. The now-Leader of the Opposition thinks he is an MP ... well, given some comments from tonight's council meeting anyway. Take a look...

"This motion bought before the House" - for House, read Council Chamber


"What is written down here on the order paper" - for order paper, read council agenda

A few of us in that council want to be MPs, but pretending you are is going a bit far!

p.s. Interesting that outgoing LibDem Leader Ian Couzens insisted on speaking to nearly every debate as well as incoming Leader Hereward Cooke. Whilst the real Deputy Leader Brian Watkins said nothing. Does Couzens think he's made a mistake?

Great Council

Last night I went to a residents meeting and to a Conservative Campaign Group. Tonight was full council - it was great! However I am now official shattered so will give you all the gossip tomorrow!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Town Close Survey Results

During the last few weeks we distributed personalised surveys to local people in Town Close. We enclosed freepost envelopes and the return rate was well over 25% - not bad for a party political survey. Here are the results (more or less) in full.

Take careful note of the voting intentions - as this survey was sent to people of all political sorts and none. All figures are percentages.

How would you vote in an election tomorrow?
Green Party 30
Conservative 27
Liberal Democrat 22
Labour 21

Are you in favour of Norwich going Unitary?
Yes 20
No 35
Don't Known 45

Are you satified with the state of your local park?
Yes 20
No 80

Do you think that council tax is...
Too High 72
Too Low 1
About Right 27

What should happen to the junction at the corner of Brazengate and Grove Road?
The no-entry sign should be abolished 45
The no-entry sign should be strongly enforced by the police 36
Don't Know 19

Are you concerned about parking in your area?
Yes 37
No 45

Would you like to see your area become a 20mph zone?
Yes 49
No 36

What is your view of the bus service in Norwich?
Good 26
Poor 26
(The rest do not regularly travel by bus)

Where are the local litter hotspots?
These all appeared several times: Tesco Express (Grove Road), Lakenham Way, Brazengate, Trafford Road, Unthank Road

Do you support a twin bin system for Norwich with waste one week and recycling the next?
Yes 10
No 81

I will let you decide which of those are worthy of note, but keep in mind that roughly two thirds of respondants would vote for a left-wing party and less than 30% are out-and-out Conservatives so you cannot say that the response group is biased.

I think the council should note the numbers of people not informed about unitary as a priority (we shall see if this is matched in other areas).

What do you think?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Beer and Politics

My day has been in three very distinct parts today. Firstly I was made to clear out the room which is to become the nursery (again). I did it, with only a minimum of whinging. Then I went off for a couple of hours to a Group Leaders Meeting at City Hall. All very interesting but highly confidential. All I can say is that Adrian Ramsay and I sat in the wrong room for a quater of an hour like a pair of plums - typical City Hall plot! Then when all the serious stuff was over I met up with friends and we went off to the Norwich Beer Festival to enjoy some of the cultural offerings! Crawled home some time later ... although a few people wanted to extend the drinking (much braver than me and with fewer small children). The Beer Festival is one of the best thing about Norwich and is a time when everybody comes together. They should have been proud of their efforts this year.

Those quotas in full

Instead of putting quotas on the religion of pupils in schools, why don't we have a quota on Labour Education Secretaries who are good at their jobs?

Well, actually, a single one would do!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

People are too quick to attack Osbourne

George Osbourne already has one of the hardest jobs in Westminster - being Shadow Chancellor. But to do so when you are young, posh and best mates with Cameron must make it worse. So every utterance of the Shadow Chancellor is analysed and he is being torn to pieces by a press determined to prove that the young turk cannot take on Brown and win.

However the most recent episode - an apparent rebuke for using an F-word about Brown in the Commons isn't what it seems. Whilst the pres sbang on about a lack of judgement etc. I wonder if they bothered to look at this in context.

Osbourne was quoting the Pensions Sevretary John Hutton who had said that Brown would make "an effing awful Prime Minister." Such division is good play for the opposition.

Speaker Martin was right to ask Osbourne to apologise - and, by the way, his apology was excellent ("I withdraw the quote from the Work and Pensions Secretary") - but the press are wrong to persue Osbourne in this way.

Osbourne is a very intelligent guy who is doing a fine job as Shadow Chancellor. I think the media always like to pull down a winner, perhaps?

39-31-16 - vital statistics

I love opinion polls (it's the teacher in me...) and tonight Sky is reporting that YouGov have Cameron on 39%, Labour on 31% and dear old Sir Ming down there on 16%.

That puts Yarmouth and Norwich North into the blue column still but does at least give Charlie a majority of 970 over the Conservatives, according to the Baxter site.

He's still in our sights...

And to think that we pay Bob's wages

Bob Russell is the Member of Parliament for Colchester and has a reputation for being clever and a decent constituency MP. So why does he get involved in stupid things like this?

Bob got upset when a Downing Street briefing referred to the "black market". Bob believes this, like persumably any phrase with the word "black" in it, is racist and tried to make political capital out of slamming No.10.

Bob thinks we should call it the "grey market" - although apparently senior citizens groups are outraged at the LibDem MPs suggestion. Can't think why...

I don't like the PC culture but have to admit that it has benefited the country in many ways. The good work of the PC culture is being drowned out by this nonsense. And to think, we mere taxpayers forked out for Bob's time to make such a silly complain.

Last Day of Half Term tomorrow and to celebrate I am going to a Group Leader's Meeting whilst Emily has her jab at the Lakenham Surgery! I have been very busy with a number of constituency issues this week, in particular the case of the play equipment on Toftes Place and the parking issues that continue in Three Score. I will be in a position to sort through the last of the surveys this weekend and should have some scores on the doors for you early next week. I am also quite worried that my Alfie, our big fat ginger Tom, is being bullied by another cat. Ho-hum!

I knew she couldn't last!

Gillian Shepherd is a politican through and through. Despite giving up her role as a Tory MP and taking on one as a Tory peer, she doesn't seem to have calmed down in the way that a lot of their Lordships do. Iain Dale reports that she has now been elected as Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers. I was at a recent meeting where she was elected President of the Norfolk & Suffolk Area Conservatives too. No rest for Gillian it seems!

LibDems targeting this blog? Don't make me laugh

I do this blog because I have the time and energy to do so. People can log on and see what I'm up to and read my views on various issues.

However recently I have had a lot of comments from "annonymous" people complaining about this, that and everything. That's OK, I love political discourse. The past few days I have had several all of which fall into a certain pattern. It goes like this.

"I have been a Conservative voter for 114 years until I read this blog. You are being so horrible towards those jolly nice LibDems that I have switched my allegance of a thousand years and will be backing Sir Ming and his yellow troops. You are the worst kind of Tory and I hope you perish in as vile a way as possible."

Again, I quite like the cute notion that die hard Thatcherites read this blog and suddenly start trying on their first pair of sandals.

But to recieve that many in just a few days? "Shurly Shome Mistake?"

Well, no ... one of their number has let slip that this is part of a "LibDem campaign to discredit" me and this blog! Oh dear, the e-equivalent of writing a letter in green ink.

Firstly, why bother? And secondly ... why bother?

I'm not so sure that any number of LibDems have the time and energy to do so but if there are any likely lads (or ladettes) out there doing so, I'm glad to waste your time!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

EDP slams Norwich South LibDems for being secretive

The EDP has been stalking Tory selection processes for as long as can be remember and one man, political editor Chris Fisher, has almost made a career of it. In today's column he talks about how positive and open the recent spate of Tory selections has been - after a few jitters, both Mid Norfolk and Great Yarmouth Tories have been open and democractic in their selection procedures including inviting non-Tory members to contribute. Mr Fisher compares this to the secretive world of the Norwich South LibDems where one day, bish-bang-bong, Simon Wright appears as their PPC. The LibDems then have the nerve to complain that the Tories have got loads of coverage and their man got very, very little. Mr Fisher says they would have reported on it if the LibDems had told the press that they were selecting! Maybe Chris had ought to read my blog which had been predicting this for months? Anyway, Chris Fisher then blasts the LibDems for keeping their selections quiet and praises the openness of the Conservatives. Nice to be praised for a change.

However, I can't help this feeling that the reason that the Norwich South LibDems kept their selection contest a secret was because of the man that they were about to select. Simon Wright is not a hard working local campaigner, nor a national 'A' Lister, but a full time LibDem politican in the paid employ of the party. He quit work as a teacher in order to fulfill his political ambitions. He represents Fakenham whilst living in Eaton and has some very fruity political opinions to boot. He is interested in getting elected as an MP rather than serving a community as their MP.

The Tories are open about their selections because our candidates are good, strong, campaigners with positive track records.

The LibDems stay silent about their selections because they are embarrassed about their candidates, their pasts and political motives.