Thursday, June 29, 2006


Tonight the polls have just closed in the Bromley and Gwent by-elections. These are difficult fights for all parties. LibDem Lord Rennard thinks that they may have won in Bromley. I suspect that the Tories will lose their deposits in South Wales and that Labour have lost out on winning the seats back, but we'll see.

St Peter & St Paul

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation so I started by going to mass, taken not by St. George's own Father Tony but by Malawi's visiting priest, Father Henry. It is the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul today. It was also Year 8 Parents Evening and I have spent 5 hours being a proper Head of Year. I like to see my role as "meet and greet" but I fear it always turns into "meet, greet and be disappointed with progress". I never get to spend time with the overwhelming majority of nice pupils and their parents. Time management dictates that I have to focus on those with academic, social or behavioural problems. Turnout was 82% - more than any recent election - and I did to meet most parents as they came in. It was a highly successful night.

Good news is that the dumping-house I highlighted previously is to be cleared up and a report prepared for me about why it was left to fall into such disrepair. Tomorrow I am representing the ward at a Safer Neighbourhoods Meeting and then onto a NAIL2 meeting and finally (if I get there) a friend's engagement party.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cambridge Labour left wanting

The Labour search for a PPC to take on the LibDems in Cambridge next time is getting nasty. The seat - the first to select in the 2005 parliament - is meant to be the party's top target nationally. Yet, word from their own horse's mouth suggest everything isn't going to plan. Oh, dear. According to leading local Labour figure, and blogger, Kerron Cross, the party cannot even send an e-mail without getting it wrong. Despite strong local links, Cllr Cross couldn't even ask for a template CV without being given the brush off and then being told the person running the selection is on holiday. Will he apply? Don't hold your breath!

3 figures in property development

I am a total Sarah Beeny fan and absolutely love the Property Ladder programme on C4. It is the only "homes" style programme I'll watch because of the clash between know-it-all first time developers and the masterful and highly successful Ms Beeny. Tonight's show was a classic comparison between one couple who took her advice and made 74k and another who didn't and lost 48k. The best thing is the arrogance of the people who says things like "I like to think that despite losing my house, bankrupting myself and suffering a nervous breakdown that this development was a total success." Where do C4 find these people from - all LibDem members perhaps?

Blogging Full Council

The monthly ritual of full council – effectively the supreme decision making body of Norwich City Council – is so important and yet so misunderstood. That’s why I thought I’d do a fairly simple blog run through of what happens to let people know how we spend three hours of a balmy Tuesday evening.

As always it begins with the Lord Mayor’s announcements. Normally a joyous canter through the many civic duties of our Lord Mayor but this month it was her sad duty to report the death of LibDem Councillor Vic Elvin. A few moments of silence was observed in tribute to Vic, who was described by the Lord Mayor as a “community champion above a party politician.”

Next, newly elected Council Leader Steve Morphew (Lab, Mile Cross) read out a list of aims and ambitions for our new Labour-led authority. Speaking from well-prepared notes, Cllr Morphew explained the roles of his new look executive but also took the time out to blast the previous LibDem administration. Interestingly he fed on the media scramble and announced his sudden opposition to the Costessey Incinerator (cue cheers from the public gallery). However, declared Cllr Morphew, this is no way means any kind of pact with the Green Party (cue cheers from the Tory benches). Apparently Labour will focus on tourism, housing, business and the environment – more or less everything the council does then. Brilliant, Steve! The thing about Cllr Morphew is that he is a very rare thing – a Labour politician you want to listen to. Everything he says sounds so reasonable it is almost painful. In reply, ousted Council Leader Ian Couzens (LibDem, Eaton) made an absolute hash of his reply. Cllr Couzens isn’t the world’s greatest public speaker and not that good replying on the hoof either. He week willed defence of his administration raised a few eyebrows and a few laughs too. Still, at least his contribution was mercifully short. It was left to young ‘en Cllr Adrian Ramsay (Nelson), the Green Party Leader, to stick both barrels to the Council Leadership. Cllr Ramsay’s speeches are often very good but far too long and increasingly far too complex for the “bear’s with little brain” that make up the rest of the Council. Whilst Cllr Read (Green, Wensum) nods furiously, everyone else starts to think about their shopping list. In fact, one Green and one Labour Councillor that I will not mention both were very much on the verge of the land of nod on several occasions during Cllr Ramsay’s contributions. Still, what he had to say was important. He lambasted the period of time without a full council meeting and said that the Council had great aims but had to see them through. For the Conservatives, making my first submission to council, I asked that the Council keep its promise to be “open, accountable and democratic” in its decision making processes. That included, I added, “behind closed doors when the day-to-day management decisions are being taken as well as in the council chamber.” I fear that, coming fourth, a lot of what I would have said had been covered – especially by Cllr Ramsay – and that my remarks passed by largely unnoticed. Cllr Morphew responded and said his administration wouldn’t let people down. We’ll see.

Public questions often fascinate me. Firstly that people can work out how to put them down because the council rarely advertises it (hence the number of non-elected political hacks that do it) and secondly that members of the public have to face off with professional politicians. Rarely do the public come out on top but they can (and do) often humiliate the politicians. Two questions from NAIL2’s Rob Whittle and Nicole Tabor set the scene for the Incinerator debate. Old Labour warhorse Cllr Brian Morrey (Lab, Catton Grove) batted both back – although, along with other answers, the blame or the solution always lies with somebody else. LibDem candidate for Mile Cross, Carl Mayhew, complained about speeding in his area but I feel that the Labour benches contempt for him was barely concealed. Poor lad got crushed but the immense experience of Cllr Morrey. If he comes back as a Councillor he’ll have to do better.

Onto the petitions. One focused on the overhanging bushes around Lakenham Way and contained over 300 signatures. Clearly the residents have worked very hard on it. The second was one from Cllr Rumsby (Lab, Bowthorpe) about a crossing at Wendene. This disappointed me as I hoped we could have worked together. I have worked hard on this for a long time and it seemed more sensible to join forces, but Labour are worried in Bowthorpe so perhaps not. Cllr Rumsby made a sensible and measured speech. However she did insist on mentioned that I nearly got run off the road at that very junction last Wednesday that caused some mirth around the chamber and wry wit Cllr Bert Bremner (Lab, University) to observe, “bugger, it missed?!?”.

Questions for Councillors fall into three categories – the local knowledge questions, like mine on the bus lane, Cllr Rumsby’s on housing policy or Cllr Read’s on speeds on the Dereham Road. The second lot are questions about general council policy like Cllr Collishaw’s (Con, Catton Grove) on parking fines or Cllr Ramsay’s on consultation times. The third is the political mischief making, which very include Cllr Cooke’s (LibDem, Lakenham) on the life story of a plastic bottle – which was designed to demonstrate how expensive recycling plastic is and that’s why the LibDems voted against it. Luckily the response from Cllr Morrey was suitably rude and dismissive of the enquiry. The Greens heckled on as Cllr Cooke failed to get his point across. Oh dear. Most questions tonight were for poor ol’ Cllr Morrey – or “Councillor Morrey Question Time” as Cllr Ramsay put it. Even that Lord Mayor, when calling on Cllr Waters (Lab, Crome) to reply said it “doesn’t feel right” to not be calling on Cllr Morrey. Cllr Morrey is old Labour to his core and his answers were often incomplete and downright obstructive in some places. But then again, that might be revenge for having so many questions! Nothing much to report from the supplementary questions. I’m glad that popular new Labour Councillor Sue Sands (Sewell) asked a good question but failed to follow it up. However the new Greens were much less impressive. Because you only get to see the responses as you walk in the chamber, your supplementary questions need to be good and topical. Cllr Altman (Mancroft), Cllr Stephenson (Nelson) and Cllr Llewelyn (Wensum) all had open goals and didn’t take them. In particular Cllr Stephenson managed to get Cllr Brociek-Coulton (Lab, Sewell) in a right state – she panicked and when pushed on policy fell apart. Note to exec members – being on top of your brief is important and blubbing that you’ll get back to us isn’t an answer. As ever the award for stupid question of the meeting goes to Cllr Couzens for what Cllr Water called his “revisionist history” of his time on the Council. According to Cllr Couzens there was no financial blackhole after all! Hurrah! The chamber fell about laughing – the LibDem rehabilitation is quite far off…

Not even Cllr Water’s amusing introduction could save the dullness of the Best Value Performance Plan. Once again, Cllr Couzens short and dull speech missed the point. Cllr Holmes (Green, Wensum) made an effective job at taking it apart. I pointed out that the document was “dry to the point of being unable to read, so it was the perfect political document to hide unfortunate statistics.” I asked the council to clarify if the targets were aspirations or SMART – I got no reply. When I complained about the level of council tax collection, where the target is still below the England average, naughty Cllr Read stepped in to argue that the difference was 0.01%. Statistically I was right, but Cllr Read clearly sees the Conservatives as more of a threat than his boss does. Cllr Read made cheeky and fatuous remarks about Conservatives and the speeding debate too. Of the “serious” Green politicians (Read, Gledhill, Holmes and Ramsay), Cllr Read is the one who is universally disliked across the political divide. His aggressive tone and dismissive nature can’t have anything to do with that, I’m sure.

Onto Councillor Lubbock (LibDem, Eaton) and her motions on waste and speed limits. The LibDems want everyone to have a one bin, one box collection per fortnight thus cutting down the amount of waste each household can produce. Now that’s OK if you want to force people into environmentalism, but I foresee more fly tipping and a certain amount of civic disobedience over this. It doesn’t help that the LibDems only discovered this idea in opposition. I mean, what are the chances of you holding power for 4 years and then trying to implement a policy like this just as you get kicked out? Poor Cllr Lubbock got torn to shreds. Cllr Morrey was the first onto it, pointing out the cost and practical obstacles to the plans. Cllr Ramsay said he agreed with the principle but not the methodology. I told Cllr Lubbock she had won “cheek of the week, every week” and that she clearly “took the same amnesia pills as Cllr Couzens.” Norwich has a poor record of recycling but is this the way to get our record to match those of fly-away recycle champions Broadland Council? Clearly not, we should “encourage not enforce”. Cllr Morphew said he’d be happy to support it as long as it had a “trial in Eaton”. At this point, unluckily, both fellow Eaton Councillor Brian Watkins and Ian Couzens shook their heads. Oh dear, Judith. Cllr Morphew suggested it went to the Waste Committee – “who’ll report in 2007” yelled Cllr Lubbock across the chamber. Cllr Lubbock declared that (after 4 years in power) they wanted action and said, “I thought this was a can-do council.” Yes, I replied, “We can produce a thoughtful, achievable and cost effective solution” but not with the “back of an envelope LibDem proposals.” When we voted to refer the motion, the Greens, Labour and Tories all voted in favour. The LibDems split right down the middle, with Cllr Lubbock being excluded by her ward councillor colleague and leader Cllr Couzens.

The came the easier subject of 20mph zones across the City. The only real difference here is that the LibDems believe that 20mph “culture” will stop people speeding whilst the Greens believe you need a network of traffic claming et al. Cllr Ferris (Lab, Bowthorpe), the Deputy Leader of the Council, thought that Cllr Lubbock’s timing was “suspicious” and had “more to do with a certain by-election coming up.” Whatever can she mean? Cllr Collishaw, Tory Transport Spokeswoman, asked the Council to consider enforcement very carefully, whilst I pointed out that Portsmouth spent £475,000 on their version and where would the money come from. Cllr Morrey agreed with the motion but obviously blamed the Conservatives for everything. The best bit of the night came at the end when the Greens successfully amended the motion to include traffic calming. That upset the LibDems – so should they vote for or against their watered down motion? When the vote came, half voted yes and Cllr Lubbock kept very still. The heckling started and built to a crescendo of calls for a recorded vote. Cllr Lubbock then started shouting back “Ok, Ok, I’ll vote for it.” Too late, a combination of Green and Tory Councillor (i.e. me) got their way and the vote is on record.

Three hours well spent. Cllr Lubbock well and truly politically beaten up, the LibDems have a long way to go before people start taking them seriously, Cllr Morphew makes a good start, the Greens are flexing their muscles and I ensured that we spoke on everything we could and in one night we made more speeches than the Tories had managed in the last eight years. Be warned – the Tories are back in City Hall!

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Thank God Norwich rode for peace"

I'm told there is a wonderful old cartoon of two contented people sitting in a perfect rose cottage, no doubt enjoying a G&T and listening to the cricket on the radio, whilst around them the world turns into a nuclear holocaust. "Thank God", reads the caption, "that we declared ourselves a nuclear free-zone."

Which naughty Councillor believes this cartoon accurately reflects the "Norwich Bike Ride for Peace"?

I'm told that maybe one day, perhaps in the EDP, we'll see a cartoon of Party Leaders Adrian Ramsay, Ian Couzens, Steve Morphew and myself, sitting on the steps of a serene City Hall whilst all around the WMD go flying above our heads and the caption will read: "Thank God Norwich rode for peace"?

p.s. Although I am officially allergic to any exercise that doesn't involve putting leaflets through letterboxes, I think anything is worth a try...

Steve Morphew's biggest fan?

It seems like die-hard Labour activists aren't the only ones celebrating the return of the red tide in Norwich - but new Labour Council Leader Steve Morphew shouldn't get too excited, because his newest fans are those true-blue Tories in County Hall. Conservative County Councillors are celebrating the demise of the LibDem regime hoping that Steve will be easier to work with than his predecessor LibDem Ian Couzens.

However it might seem that this is all damp praise - one top Tory Councillor pointing out that with the LibDems you never knew where you stood, but with Labour you always know where you stand - "their barking mad, but we at least we know they are."

Mile Cross Line-Up

Assuming no late entrants and no nomination form cock-ups, this should be the choice for Mile Cross:

CURRAN, Susan (Greens)
JAMES, Barbara (Labour)
MACKIE, David (Conservative)
MAYHEW, Carl (LibDem)

Interestingly, given my post below about former LibDem Councillor Dawn Castle-Green's sudden conversion to the Green Party, it should be pointed out that Susan Curran is a former active member of the Labour Party like Ms Castle-Green. So it would seem that neither Labour nor the LibDems can hold onto their members. I wonder how long the Greens will hold onto either of them?

Labour Whips: Can it get any worse?

Welsh Conservative MP David Jones has highlighted fresh internal discipline at the Labour Party which has brought further embarrassment to the UK Government.

Beleaguered Constitutional Affairs Minister Vera Baird was obliged to resort to a 30 minute filibuster to save the Government from yet another defeat in a Westminster committee considering the Company Law Reform Bill.

Only seven Labour members turned up for the start of the meeting and were outnumbered by seven Conservatives and two Liberal Democrats.

It meant that the Government was in danger of losing a vote on an opposition amendment concerning the use of sensitive words in company names.

Ms Baird’s filibuster ranged from a consideration of the words “international”, “British” and “European” to a discussion of Welsh cakes, Eccles cakes and Pontefract cakes.

The Government’s bacon was saved by harassed whip Steve McCabe, who hustled a late and flustered Kitty Usher into the committee room, and by committee chairman Eric Illsley, who rescued the Government with his casting vote after a 9-9 tie.

During the debate, normally somnolent Labour Members attempted to assist the Minister by making more interventions than they had throughout the previous eight hours the Committee has sat.

The episode was the second time Labour whips have been found wanting since the Standing Committee began its consideration of the mammoth Bill.

Last week, the Government lost the vote on the programme motion – again, because Labour members didn’t turn up - the first time it has ever happened in Parliamentary history.

Clwyd West Conservative MP David Jones, who is serving on the committee, said: “This might have been amusing but for the serious issue of the Government not giving us enough time to review the Bill.

"Now we have even less, simply because their own back-benchers can’t be bothered to turn up.”

Former LibDem Councillor jumps ship to Greens

Apparently Dawn Castle-Green, who was LibDem Councillor for Mancroft up until her sudden resignation last month, has quits the LibDems in favour of the Greens. Political roundabout Dawn has now been a member of three parties - the lucky other lot being Labour, not the Tories.

Dawn's resignation, on the grounds of ill health, came as a bit of a shock to her colleagues, and subsequently the Greens won her seat off the LibDems. Cue massive strop-on from her former council friends because they could have really done with having her vote in the chamber.

She now claims that the LibDems aren't very nice people and she disagrees with them all anyway. How lucky she suddenly found all this out - I've known that for some years. Now she is happily supporting the Greens in anyway she can.

A note of caution for the cock-a-hoop Greens though, apparently Labour only knew she'd quit them for the LibDems when they found her telling for her new party one election day. "They're welcome to her," said one LibDem wag to me tonight.

Norwich MP sticks the knife in

Norwich South MP and former Home Secretary Charles Clarke is set to make a dramatic attack on the core of New Labour on tonight's Newsnight. Mr Clarke, whom I failed to oust last May, is one the biggest beasts in the political jungle and his attack on new Home Secretary Dr Reid is so vicious it may even make the crime statistics itself. Borrowed from Iain Dale here are the best bits:

CC I have some regrets about what I did or didn’t do in those circumstances but it was a sad thing, and I regret it very much, but at heart, the key issue for me as Home Secretary, as I discussed with the Prime Minister when I was appointed in 2005, was to really carry through the massive reforms which are necessary, and I think I set out on that path with some success.

CC When we met and he asked me to continue in that office after the 2005 general election, I said to him, and he agreed, that it would take, in my opinion, certainly 2 or 3, possibly 4 years to make the changes which were necessary...He said he didn’t want me to continue as Home Secretary, so I said well I’m not ready to take another job. He did offer me other jobs, I’m not going to go into the detail but he did, and I felt I shouldn't accept them because I had pledged myself to myself first of all, but also to the Parliament and to the country that I would resolve this problem. But also, Mark, because I felt frankly that the reform agenda on which I was engaged was a long and profound agenda and I wanted the opportunity to carry that through.
INT Looking at your political career, at all your efforts, and indeed what you felt had been an undertaking from the Prime Minister to give you the time to make those reforms work, there must have been a deep frustration the way things have turned out.
CC I was very frustrated. I regarded…
INT Were you angry with him?
CC Angry is a funny word. I felt angry with the situation, I didn’t feel particularly angry with him as such, even though I thought he took a wrong decision. I was angry and frustrated, as you say, because I felt that this massive task.. an enormous task, a great privilege to be asked to be Home Secretary at the general election, needed to be carried through over, as I say, a 3-4 year period, and I believed I could do that, I believe I should do that and I wanted the chance and opportunity to do that. And so yes I was angry and frustrated when that chance was removed.

CC If you're going to reform the Home Office over a three or four year period, there are going to be a large number of issues which are controversial and difficult … But we have to carry through that reform programme. If we simply say there’s a media campaign, we just cave into it whenever it comes along, that’s a very, very bad state of affairs for our democracy.
INT Are you saying that the Prime Minister caved in to a media campaign?
CC No, I don’t think that was it. What I think he did was look at the issues in the round, the local government elections and the general pressure there was and come to the view that he thought it would be difficult for me to continue carrying through my programme of reform.
INT But it was political expediency rather than long-term reform, wasn’t it.
CC That’s a criticism I would make. I think there is some truth in that.
INT When you left the Home Office, when you cleared your desk, did you think you were leaving a department that was unfit for purpose?
CC No I didn’t. I thought that was absolutely not the case.
INT John Reid was absolutely clear, wasn’t he, that this was a department that was unfit for purpose, your leadership was incoherent and there was a failure to ensure accountability. He was talking about what you'd done.
CC Er…. Let’s… I think John was wrong to say that.
INT Do you feel hurt about the way John Reid described the Department personally?
CC No, I don’t feel that. I think he came in as every incoming Secretary of State is entitled to do and said it as he saw it. It’s just that I don’t agree with his analysis of what he saw. It is a department which had a fresh official leadership, a new Permanent Secretary, new senior officials, which had a very clear reform strategy in place in each of its key areas. It was a department which had its problems. But I think the a department whose problems were being addressed, and could easily have been solved over the kind of couple of year timeframe that I described. The overall picture of a department not fit for purpose in any of the respects he described I think is and was fundamentally wrong, and I think John was wrong to use those descriptions as I told him before he gave evidence to the select committee.
INT The criticism is that you were unwilling to carry out that wholesale transformation.
CC Well if that was his criticism, and by the way I’m not sure that’s what he meant by it, but let’s assume it was, it certainly is not true. … I think most people would say, and I certainly feel myself, that I was a reforming Home Secretary committed to making the reforms that were necessary... I don’t think that’s a correct belief, this idea of some kind of woolly lack of substance in the immigration nationality directorate. These are some of most hard-headed people you can imagine. They’re dealing with very difficult cases. I understand that complexity, but just to confuse that with woolly liberalism or with a lack of determination to carry through what’s necessary in my opinion is wrong.
INT: In terms of style it would appear that there is a big difference between the way that you conducted yourself as Home Secretary and the way that Doctor Reid conducts himself.
CC I used to describe myself as tough but populist…. I beg your pardon, tough but not populist. Each Home Secretary has to decide their own style.
INT Do you think that John Reid is perhaps tough and populist?
CC I don’t know. You'd have to put that question to him.
INT He upset some members of the judiciary when he questioned the sentence of a paedophile by a judge. Is that something that you would have done?
CC Decisions are taken by parts of the Criminal Justice System which the Home Secretary of the day is routinely asked to comment on and either criticise or support. I made it my practice not to do that.
INT So he was wrong to intervene at that stage?
CC I’m not going to make it a specific criticism, I don’t know to what extent he looked at the case in detail and how he carried it forward, and it’s certainly perfectly appropriate for a Home Secretary to comment on the overall sentencing position or an overall police policy of those areas, and I believe…
INT But you wouldn't have done it on a specific case?
CC I wouldn't comment on a specific case but I just think you have to be careful in making the point you're trying to make here Mark, because I’m not clear myself what John actually said on this particular case.
INT Having ruffled the feathers of the judiciary, Dr Reid then found himself criticised by the police - this time for appearing to respond to a News of the World campaign by asking for a new assessment of the law the tabloid demanded. The paper wanted legislation allowing public information on where convicted paedophiles live.
CC I don’t know if his timing was influenced by the News of the World campaign or not. I haven’t spoken to him about it so I can’t tell you. If it was then I would criticise it. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.
INT There’s always a pressure, isn’t there, from the media, the media will always be on the Home Secretary’s back.
CC Always they will be and that’s right, and I think it’s important to resist that pressure a lot of the time, but I don’t want it to be confusing here. Some, maybe most, of the media criticism is justified and fair. I think they often are speaking to people's genuine concerns, but I agree with the implication of your question, that the Home Secretary of the day should not simply be running on the band wagon of some particular media campaign... It’s very important that the Home Secretary does his very best to give the confidence to the country that the Criminal Justice System is working properly and effectively and well. I very much hope that John and the way that he does it will stand up for ah… creating a system in which people can have confidence right across the range rather than simply responding to a campaign.
INT Last week, John Reid announced that his predecessor’s carefully negotiated plans to restructure the police in England were being put on hold.
CC I regret that John has decided not to proceed with the orders before Parliament for four of the regions of the country forces that we propose. I understand the need for time, there’s always a need for time. He has, however, been very, very clear that he agrees with the policy I set out on the basis of the advice from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary
INT He may agree but he’s kicked it into the long grass, hasn’t he?
CC I don’t know how far the long grass is. Of course I think it’s wrong to delay it. I think we’ve got a timetable which was the right thing to do and I don’t agree with his decision in that area. I’m not going to take responsibility for all the crises after I left. Some of them are as a result of decisions, as we’ve discussed in this interview, made by the current Home Secretary. I do believe that there are major issues which need to be resolved in certain areas and John is going about that, I’m sure, very well. But I also believe that the foundations are very much in place.
INT You’ve made your criticism of John Reid clear in what you've just said, at a time when the government is trying very hard to convince the public that things are now back under control. I mean what you've said today is not going to please Downing Street, is it.
CC I don’t know. What I decided to do, Mark, after I’d been moved from the government was to reflect on the position. I then decided to give a couple of interviews of which this is one, dealing with the history, and then simply put that to bed. You wont find me after the World Cup is finished, talking about Home Office matters again. I won’t be discussing those things.
INT Can you come back from this politically?
CC I don’t know what you mean by “come back”. Certainly…
INT Well, do you want a front line job?
CC Not specifically. What I want is to contribute to making the process of change in the country and the party which has been what I’ve been involved in for the last 25 years. I believe that…
INT Would it matter to you if you never had a seat at the cabinet table again? You feel that might have gone now.
CC It may well have done and no it wouldn't matter to me. I mean what matters to me is to have a government, a Labour government which makes change and carries things through in the interest of the country. It is not a condition of my life that I should serve in a government again in any form.”

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Where will Anne go?

There is something most bizarre about the internal workings of the party when an MP of some years standing and a member of Cameron's frontbench finds herself without a parliamentary berth at the next election. Anne McIntosh is currently the Member for the Vale of York but her seat disappears thanks to the all powerful and totally unaccountable Boundary Commission. The successor seat is Selby, which recently chose local businessman Nigel Adams instead - so what of Anne's chances of being returned at the next general election and how can the party justify hanging an elected member out to dry like this? I hope she finds a winnable seat very soon.

Lazy Sunday

For some bizarre reason I had a spurt of energy at 9pm last night and mowed the lawn. Hmmm, must stop that. Hence today was pretty relaxed. We had Deputy Chairman John Wyatt and his beautiful wife Eileen over and then in the afternoon I attend first holy communion at St. George's Parish with the ever-holy Father Tony. Great service and the signing was bad either! From there to a BBQ and footie-athon, although I fear the cooking outdid the soccer. Tonight there is a special Spitting Image so between that, Big Brother and a large bag of Smarties, I'm sorted!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


LabourHome goes live and is a rather pale immitation of the rather better ConservativeHome. However, give them their dues - first posts include thoughts on the selection of the Labour PPC in Cambridge, a claim that Labour is set to win the Bromley by-election, a declaration of Labour's favourite blogger and an appeal for help in the double by-election in Blaenau Gwent...

Whoops, they've done it again

Politicans trying to be trendy (see my post on Sir Ming's makeover, below). This time it's Tory Theresa May who gets here bands mixed up during a Commons debate about the BBC cutting Top of the Pops. Firstly, how on earth did TOTP get into the Commons debate and secondly, why bother when you know somebody will pick you up on your mistakes? In this case, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright pointed out the Shadow Commons Leader's error when she got the Kaiser Chiefs and White Stripes mixed up. Oh, dear.

Mile Cross candidates

With Thursday being the deadline for candidates in the Mile Cross by-election I am pleased to say that the Norwich North Tories have selected Dave Mackie as their man. Dave has a pretty srtong track record in the ward. Now obviously we find this area more of a challenge but Dave is well known and always polls well, so who knows?

As reported earlier in the week, in contrast to Dave Mackie, the LibDems have selected the rather young and inexperienced Carl Mayhew to fight their corner. Both Carl and Dave fought the seat last May.

No news from the Greens as yet.

Labour were out selecting their candidate last night but no news, although a little birdy tells me it won't be Robin Taylor (for whom I have a lot of respect) because he is a bit busier these days...

Late night...

Last night I was at the Year 11 Prom being held at Carrow Road's "Top of the Terrace". I did a Euro conference there once with then Education Secretary Charles Clarke and then Tory MEP Bashir Khanbai. Both have since led charmed political lives!

Anyway it was a lovely evening (not a patch on last year, but hey...) and some of my colleagues wore some quite fantastic outfits - you know who you are, "Jessica"!

Felt a bit worse for wear today but that had more to do with the 2am finish than anything else. Sigh*

Today I was over doing various site visits around North Earlham, in particular visiting residents in Wilkins Court, Peto Court and Gilbard Road. Next week there is a full council meeting, sports day, my mother visiting, a Group Leaders meeting, a NAIL2 meeting, parents evening, an environmental inspection aufit, Pastoral Board and a "safer neighbourhoods" meeting. Will do my best to blog it all - bet you can't wait!

Ming the Great Commoner?

Iain Dale is reporting that the LibDems are attempting to portray their Leader as a common man of the people. Hardly likely. Pin-stripped Sir Menzies Campbell shortnes his name to Ming - isn't that common enough? Now LibDem MPs are leaking that he likes fish 'n' chips and watches trashy BBC programmes (as, shamefully, do I). Only problem is that the programme he claims to watch wasn't being broadcast when he claimed to watch it. Rather like footballers Blair watched play who he couldn't have watched playing and flights to destinations he couldn't have stowed away on because Newcastle Airport didn't go there. Hague's 14-pints gaffe is actually the most likely of the recent politican boasts - and thats saying something! (Although, having seen Hague in a conference bar, I wouldn't bet against it!). Why do they do it? Why must politicans feel the need to fib when claiming to be one of the masses?

Particularly Sir Ming, who is always going to be percieved as more upper-class than even Eton-educated David "Dave" Cameron. Give up LibDems, find whatever Sir Ming's strengths are and play to them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Blogging Question Time

1. Brown's Takeover: A great opener from Kennedy. Don't see how a lot of the answers address the question, they were asked about the transfer of power not the issue of Trident. Greer plays the audience well. Johnson is a good performer and a relaxed and hunourous start from Letwin. Late disaster for Johnson - he badly fluffs the parliamentary vote issue. Win for Greer.

2. Government by tabloid? Greer is getting her knickers in a knot on this one. Johnson makes a reasonable case in the government's defence but both Letwin and Kennedy point out that this is a government relying on gimmicks. Kennedy needs to sort some of his thoughts out. Lovely quote ripped off from the No 10 website from Letwin. Win for Letwin.

3. Kennedy Comeback? A gracious response from Johnson, although a bit creepy. Kennedy does well, even under slight pressure from Dimbleby. Leaves open the door for a return. Letwin fluffs the attack - wy not mention the 300+ Tory election gains compared to the 1 gain for the LibDems? Kennedy hits back nicely. Guy in the audience is a complete pratt. Audience does seem very very pro-Kennedy if not pro-LibDem. Surprising because Kings Lynn is a Tory seat with a Tory Council! Win for Kennedy.

4. Abortion Laws: Thoughtful responses from Greer and Kennedy. Johnson seems very well briefed. Letwin and Kennedy agreeing again. Johnson very sensible to bat the issue back to a free-vote backbench bill. Score draw.

5. PMs jet: Populist answer from Greer. Sensible answers from Letwin and Kennedy but make them both look a bit ignorant of the issue. Johnson says it like it is. Win for Johnson.

6. BBC Programmes: Rather pathetic all round, I genuinely think none of them watch TV. Best answers from the audience! Finally, a Tory audience member ... and a lovely quip about the BBC backing Labour. Win for the audience.

Johnson was very impressive - where has he been all this time? 8/10
Letwin was a bumbling Tory but I warmed to him - 7/10
Greer less annoying than usual - 7/10
Kennedy - it was his show and he was on good form - 8½/10

Tory Councillor hits out at council house "disgrace"

A local Councillor has criticised the Council for having an empty council house that is being used for dumping rubbish.

Residents nearby complained to North Earlham’s Councillor Antony Little about the property at 41 Gilbard Road, saying that the deserted property was being used by some people to dump their rubbish. Local people claim that rats are now the only things living in the property.

Cllr Little said: “This property is now full of rubbish which makes it a nightmare for local people to live near. Rats are an issue for environmental health and this needs clearing up as soon as possible. One resident has told me that he reported this some time ago but nothing was done – the Council have now assured me that they will take action.”

“The more serious issue is why a council property is not being utilised when there are thousands of people on the waiting list for a new home. I am working with some very vulnerable people in need of immediate housing and the council sit on properties that could be used.”

“It is disgraceful and I have asked for an immediate reply as to why this house has been left empty and when it can be used again.”

Mile Cross By-Election

With, in my view, untimely haste the Mile Cross by-election caused by the death of LibDem Councillor Vic Elvin has been moved for 27th July. Judging from the EEN Letters Page, the LibDems will be standing May's loser Carl Mayhew. No word on the Labour candidate yet but I should imagine that former Mile Cross Councillor Robin Taylor is in the fray. Tories due to select this week - more later!

Tories spend £91,000 in Moray

Amazingly it has been revealed today that the Conservatives spent £91k losing the Moray by-election, compared to £42k for the third-placed LibDems, £33k for the winning SNP candidate and £10k for the dismal Labour result. I would love to see the breakdown of those costs and what they spent the money on. It really does make you think about election spending, what to do with limits and so forth. I know that our association Chairman Trevor Ivory complains yearly about election expense return forms!

Kennedy's Comeback

I'm a bit stressed at work at the moment - paperwork, needless to say, is causing it so give me children and their issues any day of the week - but I suspect not as stressed as Charles Kennedy.

The deposed LibDem Leader is on QT tonight, following in the footsteps of fellow disgraced LibDem Mark Oaten last week and Sir Ming Campbell a few weeks earlier. This is the first time that Mr Kennedy has really faced the media and the public, although give him credit for a continued presence in the Commons itself.

I suspect he'll be treated very lightly by both the audience and fellow guests Tory Oliver Letwin and Education Secretary Alan Johnson. Kennedy will be polite and charming as always, but when his comeback is established I think that he'll defy predictions of a frontbench relaunch in favour of an explosive reveal-all book or newspaper interview. Kennedy is a scorned man - worse, a scorned politican - and he still very much blames Campbell for his undoing. Also don't expect Kennedy to serve alongside those LibDem MPs such as Teather and Davy who wielded the knife.

Could Labour have won Bowthorpe last May?

Funnily enough I have spoken to two key Labour members this week and the subject of my win has come up both times. With the prospect of a by-election in Mile Cross, Labour feel they could have been on 18 Councillors if it hadn't have been for "a slip" in Bowthorpe. I disagreed, I feel that Bowthorpe and Earlham voted for a candidate and a party likely to put them first rather than a party line.

Anyway, one Labour bod said that they knew throwing resources into Bowthorpe wouldn't have made the difference, but they might have lost their wafer thin 14 vote majority in Lakenham if they had have done. The second said that if Labour had played a Get-out-the-vote Games they could have still beaten me. I think not - I was there in May and Labour's vote simply wasn't coming out whilst the Conservatives had their tails up. No amount of GOTV would change that.

So why, said one, could they win back Lakenham and University but not hold Bowthorpe? Well, if they can't work that out, I'm not telling them.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Idle tittle tattle

The LibDem Leadership called a group meeting during the England match yesterday which was about as popular as a blow-up Peter Mandelson doll. Of course, not everybody minded. One top LibDem Councillor proclaimed he could only be bothered to watch if England make the semis.

Executive, Partnerships and Relaunches

After a tiring day at school measuring tie lengths (oh yes, 10 inches it has to be) I then went down to observe the Executive Meeting at City Hall. The controversial proposals to redevelop flats on Barrack Street was up for discussion and a couple of dozen members of the public turned up to voice their feelings. You cannot help but have sympathy for people for their circumstances and the Council must do what it can for the current residents. But I do believe things move on and this redevelopment is great news for the City as a whole. Admittedly it means 6 less from council house stock but the new homes will be to a much higher spec and demonstrate greater care for the environment.

Politically it was interesting to see Labour take their “tough choices.” As always, Cllr Morrey led the way in blunt honesty and Cllr Ferris led the way in blaming the last LibDem administration. I won’t tell you what former LibDem Council Leader Cllr Couzens whispered under his breath at that point… well, not unless I get very drunk one night and blurt it out on this blog!

The people who demonstrated tonight are Labour’s core vote – true believers in council house stock and one of them told me how socialism meant, for him, being looked after in the council’s care. The Executive did vote to proceed with the plans despite being pitched against Labour’s own core supporters.

Next it was off to Bowthorpe for the AGM of the Community Partnership under the direction of the excellent Christine Sexton. I’ll feed back later some of the issues which arose but let’s say we’ve only just finished the meeting! At these meetings I do my monthly feedback as a Councillor too. Subjects under discussion included road safety, the police, environmental changes and trees.

It is always a pity that more people don’t attend these public meetings though, I wonder what is required for them to “make a comeback”?

On the national side, Cameron did Blair over again at PMQs and (if I do say so myself) another woeful performance from Sir Ming. Apparently Kennedy is back on our screens on QT tomorrow – should be well worth watching!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two votes in the bag

Back to Big Brother I'm afriad. I do know of 2 votes that have been cast - mine for back-stabbing Lisa and Grace will no doubt have voted for Imogen (did you see her and Mikey?!?). I cannot believe Lisa did that to Nikki (knowing that she either stabbed her friend in the back or faced eviction herself). Nikki then engaged in the diary room entry with the mst swear words in it ever ... nice, family television.

Calling all politics students (and politics teachers)

I have set up a blog HERE which I hope to use to make exemplar AS Politics essays available. I also plan to upload my resources and schemes of work and I am encouraging other people to do likewise by sending them to me at the usual e-mail address. It'll be active come September so spread the word!

Another LibDem defection cheers Tories

Eagle eyed watchers of Welsh politics will note that former Norfolk Area Campaign Director Matt Lane has bagged his second high profile defection. A former Labour AM quit to join the Tories recently and she has been followed by the young former LibDem PPC for Swansea (a target seat I might add.)

Judging by the recent mystery quotes competition on it shouldn't surprise people that the "sensible wing" of the LibDems may find themselves more at home in a compassionate and progressive Conservative Party.
Attendance Register

Do you know that there wasn't a single Green or LibDem Councillor present at tonight's police merger meeting? Even the odd Labour Councillor who attended left half way through. One wry wit at the meeting remarked that the Greens only attend meetings that interest them - "no trees in law and order, are there?" - and another very senior member noted that the LibDems seemed to have given up on life and democracy all together.
Overt plug of the day

Goes to Allen & Bocking on Norwich 444888 who did a fantastic job on our washing machine at a reasonable price. Service good too!
Mergers, meetings and marking

This morning I attended my first governing body meeting at Notre Dame and I was pleasantly surprised by the level of genuine debate that happened. As a teacher you get the impression that gov bodies still together and "no through" a lot of policies. The standard of thought was quite reassuring. A long meeting though after which I turfed out to teach two lessons and then into a Tutor Team Meeting. My Tutor Team are a quite remarkable group of professionals but stick them in a room together and the buns start flying. Trouble is, I agree with most of the directions of the buns! Planning assemblies maybe not the most gripping topic in the worl but it keeps us entertained.

Straight after that it was onto City Hall where I took the opportunity to meet with Norfolk's Chief Constable and Central Area Commanders to discuss, amongst other things, proposed mergers of police forces and the new neighbourhood policing strategy. I am naturally conservative and feel that the mergers are a political tool of a Home Secretary who isn't "fit for purpose" but you have to take seriously the warnings of senior police officers who say that the whole system of policing in this county could collapse by 2009 if action isn't taken. Apparently Cambs have ruled it out and Suffolk want to join with Essex, so the whole thing could take some time to resolve.

The neighbourhood policing plans look excellent if they go through. Dedicated teams, directly accesible to the public holding morning and evening street meetings - it could just work, you know!

The home for the World Cup Match and a passing regard for my wife. Lovely day.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The "No" Party just keep saying NO!

The Greens - now officially known as the "No" Party around City Hall - are set to oppose the redevelopment of Barrack Street. I am very much in favour of this for two reasons - firstly the site desperately needs regeneration and secondly the cost of bringing these properties up the scratch must be huge. However, the Green Shadow Housing Spokesman, Tom Llewelyn (whom as it happens I have a lot of time for) seems to think that reducing the housing stock is not a good idea. Are the Greens therefore pledging the cash to rennovate these properties - and all run-down council stock to give people a high standard of living? Have they told the Finance Director about this massive financial pledge ... or more importantly the people of Norwich?
Incinerator Campaign

NAIL2 have launched a campaign website - you can visit it here. Gave an interview with the Evening News about it this afternoon. This campaign is really going places!
Feeling better

After my disastar at the dentist the other week (see below), those incredible people at Treetops, on Pottergate, have sorted me out and I now have root canal work booked in for the 3rd July. Nice. I have to say that the surgery is the best I've ever been to - I hardly knew the dentist was doing the work! Clean, efficient, on-time ... amazing service all round. Very impressed.

What's been happening since I've been ill? Well, Sir Ming has tried to re-lauch his leadership by promising to cut tax. I'm all in favour of tax cuts in principle but I do think that:
1. This looks rushed, a bit desperate to be honest.
2. Who can tell three years away from a buget what tax requirements might be
3. It all looks like it was done on the back on an envelope - including the reliance on Green Taxes.

Meanwhile, Blair and Reid line up against the judges, rather foolishly in my view. David Cameron absolutely crushed Blair at PMQs and Francis Maude is trying to re-work Tory membership rules.

On Norwich City Council I have been working this week with fellow Tory Councillor Eve Collihsaw on questions and motions for the first council meeting. More to follow. On Monday I went to the first Group Leaders Briefing and on Wednesday had our Environmental Inspection Pre-Meeting. I must admit to rather respecting Anna Graves, the Director of Development ... and not just because I teach her daughter. She is bright, articulate and seems to get things done. Just what the City Council needs.

On the other hand, it was amusing to recieve a letter addressed to myself at City Hall ... posted from City Hall. Oh yes, 22p to leave the building, go to the mail sort and come back again.
World Cup and Big Brother

Is there anything else on the TV at the moment?!? Well, as an all-powerful Tory Councillor I don't get the chance to watch much at the moment. England may have won both games but both rather unconvincingly I'm afriad. I am a flag-haning-out-of-house kind of fan, but I am approaching Tuesday with some dread. As for Big Brother, Richard is starting to annoy - the way in which he bullied thingy he now has the cheek to accuse others of bullying! I like Nikki a lot and think Grace is for the chop. What will Mikey do? Maybe adopt a personality...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday's Best of the Blogs

What's worth reading today? Tory Iain Dale says that the LibDems are in trouble for paying canvassers during elections which is illegal, Ellee Seymour thinks that latin love has come to the Fens, that cheeky monkey questions Angela's age, James Cleverly asks if Cameron is the hier to Kinnock, Iain Lindley turns down a freebe weekend away and Leah Fraser takes apart the government's health strategy.

What's more there are now websites for all of the serious candidates in the Bromley by-election - Bob Neill and the two losers. I'm sure Chad has a website too but I can't even be bothered to find the link.
Neighbours at war

Whilst on the streets of Diss canvassing for Tony Palmer this morning, I happened upon a LibDem counterpart who told of a “Berlin Wall” forming between South Norfolk and Norwich South LibDems.

On 4th May, the same day that the City LibDems were fighting for their lives to keep control of City Hall, there was a by-election in the Humbleyard division of Norfolk County Council. Humbleyard, which includes Cringleford, was the seat held by former Council Leader Alison King and is one of our safer county divisions. The LibDems, who genuinely and rather egotistically, believe they can (and should) win every by-election going set about Humbelyard with gusto. The result? Tory candidate Judith Virgo was elected with a decent – if reduced – majority. At City Hall the same night the LibDems lost six seats and control of the council to Labour.

Apparently Norwich South LibDems believes they could have held onto at least three (if not more) of the six with a little bit extra help from across the border – the help, of course, never came as they were busy trying to cut Judith Virgo’s majority a bit more.

A few weeks back, one City LibDem Councillor told me it was crazy for the South Norfolk LibDems to try and cut the Tory majority at County Hall by one whilst seeing a whole district authority slip through their fingers next door. Now that comment makes sense.

My Diss friend says that the relationship between the 2 groups is now something similar to that held by the USA and USSR fifty years ago. Oh, dear, I hear you think, how awful.

It gets worse, of course. Next year the LibDems have a pretty easy ride here in Norwich defending only 3 council seats. Across the border, South Norfolk has all-out elections. The worry is that Norwich South will let South Norfolk suffer on their lonesome in the same way that Norwich South suffered last May. And with John Fuller’s Tories on the march, who’s to say that this row won’t cost the LibDems control of another authority?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Why no blog?

In order that I remain Norwich's most honest politican I think I owe the millions of international policy makers who visit this blog, winner of Blog of the Year 1972, an explanation.

My tooth hurt. Oh, yes.

But more. I went to the dentist and had an aborted extraction. Half way through.

I was prescribed drugs to help with the pain. Yes.

I didn't read the leaflet and drank somethink I shouldn't have and caused a massive amount of pain and distress.

I was prescribed drugs to deal with the pains from the last prescribed drugs. I failed to read the second set of instructions. And accidently overdosed.

And that's why I've been too ill to blog.

Sad, but true, dear blog reader...

Moral of the story - read those tiny size-4-font-on-a-bit-of-paper-the-size-of-a-postage-stamp things you get in medicines. Or else.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Cameron takes ten-point lead

What is interesting about Labour's response to opinion polls is how each milestone isn't really a milestone at all. First Cameron drew level and it didn't matter. Then he took the lead. Of course he would, say Labour. Then he took a five point lead. Obviously! Now he's ten points in the lead, and what do Labour say? He should really be 15 points ahead ... I wonder what they'll say when he is?

The other interesting point is just how badly the weakened leadership of Sir Ming Campbell is doing. Poor LibDems, if they weren't so "wicked" and "shameless" locally I might feel sorry for them!
NAIL2 meeting

I was pleased to represent the people of Bowthorpe at a NAIL2 meeting tonight, against the Costessey Incinerator. The result in May was in part due to my stance on the incinerator and I intend to use every means to oppose this.

The meeting was extremely well attended - probably just shy of 50 people to a public meeting, which is incredible in this day and age. Despite a slow start the discussions were very useful, especially those on how to further the campaign. I'm pleased the Evening News attended, but they missed the best bits of the discussion by clearing off early. NAIL2 is now setting their sites on stunts, mass petitions, letter writing and more tactics within the Council chamber. They seem a really committed and hard working group of people and they really do deserve success.

Their stories of the failure of both Norwich City Council and LibDem run South Norfolk Council to help out the campaign were quite schocking.

I also got to meet several of my constituents in Bowthorpe and was very pleased that this blog got a mention and also my campaigning work. Despite my dental work I though I spoke well on the subject and one lady from the community said that I knew what I wanted to say and put it across well. She's nice - she can come again!

I'll do what I can to support the group and if you want to help out e-mail me and I'll pass your details on!
"Wright Watch" Part V

And the answer is...

...4.2%, because that is how Cllr Wright described North Norfolk District Council's recent council tax rise. Nice to know that a moderate rise in tax under the LibDems and Cllr Wright will only be roughly twice the rate of inflation!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Day Out

Last Wednesday I went to support Tony Palmer in his bid to be the new Conservative Councillor in Diss and today I trotted out to Lakenheath to support the wonderful Colin Noble. Both candidates are white, middle aged men. Not very Cameron 'A' List I hear you cry! But both are fantastic candidates - both live in their wards and have long histories serving local people. Palmer is a former Mayor of Diss, Noble runs a family business in Lakenheath. Both are so well known on the doorsteps that it is quite scary. Most people today were telling me the name of our candidate before I could. We've had great receptions in both. Interestingly today people were pulling up alongside Colin - or shouting across the street - to indicate their support. Same sort of things were happening in Diss too. I know that just mutual aiding you get a wonky look at a campaign, but rarely have I seen such organisation, such good candidates and such large teams of helpers on the streets. Perhaps the Tories have finally learnt something? I don't know what the results will be come 8th and 15th June, but both campaign teams get a big thumbs up from me!

p.s. Trevor Ivory reports from the Holt by-election here and here.
You knew it had to happen

Do you know what? The Bromley by-election is a two horse race ... knock me down!
"Wright Watch" Part V

The question is today, what does Cllr Wright consider to be a "modest" Council Tax rise?

Answer tomorrow!
Why this blog will continue to be honest

I’m afraid to say that Nick Bishop, one of the more partisan and less nice Green Party members, has been joining LibDem Cllr Simon Wright in trawling blogs to find politically embarrassing information. In the case of Mr Bishop – whom incidentally I absolutely crushed in the recent Bowthorpe poll – he failed to do so and yet has written to both local newspapers complaining that I am seeking a parliamentary seat and am a councillor. I do not see that this as problem and I would be interested in your views on the comments section. He questions if I have aspirations to be an MP – I clearly do as that is why I stood in the 2005 General Election. Perhaps Mr Bishop is also one of the less bright Green members as well?

As ridiculous as Mr Bishop and Cllr Wright continue to be, their actions throw real doubt over the future of blogging politicians. These are more than just on-line diaries; they are journals of our thoughts and ideas. I have always sought be honest here and give my views on national and local events. They should be taken as personal views not party ones. Mr Bishop and Cllr Wright are encouraging bland, pointless party-orientated diatribes that don’t move politics forward. I could have kept quiet about wanting to be a PPC again, but why do so when I can help people to understand how the system works and my views on it.

I happen to know that a large number of people enjoy reading my blog and others because you can be guaranteed that it is all 100% genuine. It shall continue to be honest, as shall I.

In 2004 one young guy who came to vote in Clover Hill said to me that he was supporting me because he could see on my blog what I was up to and I made an effort to keep in touch using IT. He said he was fed up with reading the normal party propaganda and found the blog easier in understanding what I was really about. If my blog helps to engage just that young man then it has served its purpose.

(And for the record, Mr Bishop – I got three times the number of votes than the Greens got in 2005 and five times the number you got last May. So there.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

"Wright Watch" Part IV

Today we question Cllr Wright's political judgement. My thanks to Iain Dale for putting us onto this little gem in which Cllr Wright jets off to Germany in order to further the cause of liberal democracy ... by supporting the uber-Thatcher FDR party. Oh dear, I wonder if all those Liberals out there in Fakenham know that they have supported a right-winger who'd make even the Orange Bookers beards stand on end?

Either Cllr Wright has very mixed up political views or he doesn't understand basic political theory.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ding Dong

One of the strange recent shifts in politics is that people seem much more able to make comebacks. Peter Mandelson did it, David Blunkett did it, Boris Johnson did it.

However, despite the rubber-ball nature of our senior frontbenchers, until recently very few leaders have done the double. However on councils and political groups up and down the country it seems that even leaders are getting a second chance. Former Tory Leader William Hague, the current Shadow Foreign Seceratry, is touted for a return to the leadership at some point. And today we learnt that euro-fanatic Diane Wallis is to lead the LibDem MEPs for a second time, following the decision of former Leader Chris Davies to resign in disgrace.

I say good on her - not least for beating Eastern Region MEP Andrew Duff to the leadership. Well done!
Best of the Blogs

What's worth reading today? Iain Dale comes to the defence of Tory 'A' Lister and international gay icon Adam Rickett, Dizzy finds out that the government are now sacking people via the internet, James Cleverly looks at the claims made by the Bromley LibDems, Ranting Guttersnipe writes the rudest thing I have seen about John Reid in a long time (not for the faint-hearted) and the wonderful Mr Eugenides says that US soliders are to get extra training...
"Wright Watch" Part III

This is the biggest response I've had to anything I've done on my blog - and the good news is (well, not for Cllr Wright but for the rest of us) that I have enough for a weeks worth of this!

As we all know, Cllr Wright lives in Norwich but represents Fakenham. But has he told his electorate that? It has been kindly pointed out that on the North Noroflk District Council website he lists his contact address as being Norman Lamb's office in North Walsham! Not a problem using an office address? It is if you are the only Councillor not to publish their home address on the website and people might just conclude that he ahs something to hide.

So,come on Cllr Wright - let's be honest with the people of Fakenham about where you live and honest with the people of Norwich about who you are and where you represent.

More tomorrow!