Thursday, April 30, 2009

Third LibDem PPC delivers blow to Clegg

In addition to the news that LibDem candidate for Chelsea has defected to the Conservatives the party faces yet more trouble elsewhere as it seems determined to implode. The LibDem PPC for New Forest East faces calls to quit after being "named and shamed" in parliament for attempting (but failing) to smear his Conservative opponent. And if that wasn't enough, their PPC in Carlisle has quit after it was revealed he was behind a negative attack-site aimed at the sitting Labour MP.

It seems that it isn't only Gordon Brown having a bad week ...

LibDem Candidate: Why I Quit The Party

The author of this letter is a LibDem PPC who has quit and joined the Conservatives. It is a remarkable and frank letter – and a devastating review of the leadership of Nick Clegg. The LibDems on Norwich City Council are a weak opposition and LibDems in parliament, a few issues aside, are largely irrelevant. It is worth reading in full.

Dear Nick,

I writing to you to formally let you know that I no longer wish to be a member of the Liberal Democrats and as a result withdraw as Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Chelsea and Fulham.

I joined the Liberal Democrats when I was 18 years old as a student in my first week of University at the freshers' fair and since then have been actively involved within the party. I was President of the Keele University Lib Dems, have been on various committees including LDYS [Liberal Democrat Youth and Students], WLD [Women Liberal Democrats] and EMLD [Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats], worked as a Parliamentary researcher/assistant including for Paddy Ashdown when he was leader, been in party political broadcasts, and I have also been a PPC in Brent and Battersea.

When I heard you speak at the Operation Black Vote event in the House of Commons a few weeks ago I realised that you as leader and the Liberal Democrats are the not the party I had once believed in and is so very out of touch with everyday life and people in our country. It saddens me to say but that day I lost all faith in you and the party and I can no longer continue to be a part of the Liberal Democrat party of today.

The political party that I want to be a part of would be representative of the people and views of all members of British society and be a modern party both in outlook and its vision in implementing policy. I want a leader who will be dynamic and encourage those people who are feeling disenfranchised to think about politics, participate and join in the debate.

The Liberal Democrats does not do or have any of the above and I am therefore choosing to join the Conservative party which I believe has all these qualities and much more to offer our country today and for the future

Norsheen Bhatti

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Truth About the Play Parks

I was very pleased to note the honesty of Labour's Bert Bremner in the Evening News when he acknowledged that I had voted at council to support Bowthorpe residents with a massive injection of cash into our play parks. I am grateful to Bert, but it is a pity though that this honesty didn't make it into the latest Labour leaflets in the area which make claims about both myself and my colleagues in Bowthorpe. Maybe I could take this chance to set the record straight?

At that meeting we were being asked to vote for a big package of spending which included money for the playparks in Bowthorpe, as well as elsewhere in the City. I had some doubts about the package as a whole but I could not see this vital invetsment into my community be lost. That is why I voted in favour of the investment; in addition I would have spoken up on this too but unfortunately I was not called to speak in the debate despite wanting to.

However Labour seem not to recognise this fact; nevermind that the weak LibDem opposition at City Hall failed to support the money altogether, they must be so worried about the threat that the Conservatives pose that they attack me personally over this issue.

At the time my colleague Councillors were unable to make that vote; it was before the Conservative triumph in the by-election and thus Andrew Wiltshire wasn't elected. Sadly Niki George was very ill on the day of the meeting and wasn't well enough to stay until the end. The fact that Niki dragged himself into City Hall when very ill to oppose Labour's 3.9% council tax hike and rent hikes for council tenants was quite impressive; but still Labour wish to blacken his name by accusing him of deliberately not staying for the vote. You might have thought that given their troubles with Labour trying to smear Conservatives they would have thought this through more carefully.

So I really want the people of Bowthorpe and Earlham to know exactly what their Councillors did and why - honestly and openly. It is sad that Labour cannot find a way to campaign in a positive way; such negative and dishonest attacks only turn people off voting altogether. I want the Conservative campaign in this election to be honest, upbeat and positive about our local communities and what we can achieve together.

Back on the Campaign Trail

The Bowthorpe by-election is hardly behind us and we are already back out on the streets campaigning for the upcoming European and County elections. Our candidates nominations are ready, the leaflets are printed and its time to hit the streets ...

Last night I canvassed in West Earlham and tonight it was Clover Hill; the response was very good for the Conservatives but slightly worrying for politics generally and turnout specifically. A lot of people in the ward groan at the thought of another election and trying to impress the importance is vital. The fact that we have a real local candidate in Bowthorpe has gone down very well and our year round campaigning is appreciated. Early days yet, but it is good to be doorknocking again - a fantastic way to keep up with casework!

In the next few days I am helping out other candidates around the City and will keep you updated with the campaign and the issues being raised.

A Good Day For Democracy

The cause - the rights of the Gurkahs - was a maginificent one, but the glory for today has to go to parliamentary democracy and the House of Commons as a whole standing up to an overly powerful Executive. An amazing day for democrats - well done to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, and to all those Labour MPs who defied the whips.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Labour Member: Morphew Must Go

I am not one to leap up and down demanding that heads roll and resignations must follow each bowt of bad news. However I did, with a lot of media coverage, demand that somebody within the ruling Labour adminsitration take responsibility for the dreadful 0-Star (yes, zero star) rating for Housing. Of course, the weak LibDem opposition are happy to allow Labour to bumble along constantly promising jam tomorrow because they know the state they left the City in was little better.

Interesting that despite Steve Morphew saying that resignations would achieve nothing, today a letter was published in the Evening News (sadly not on-line) from a staunch life-long Labour member in Norwich demanding that Morphew personally should resign to prevent meltdown at the elections and to restore confidence in the council.

When your political enemies slam you, that's the game, when your own members do it ...

Friday, April 17, 2009

How many cars should a Councillor own?

The latest bizarre effort from the "Silent Majority" in Lakenham; which most people have concluded is part of the UKIP effort in the ward; attacks the useless LibDems. However, in its regular politican / councillor bashing, the "Silent Majority" blast:


Ok, Ok, own up - which of Ramsay's brigade owns 2 cars? We know which one uses short hop flights so we may as well know this too! This could be quite funny I suppose (and for the record I own one car but generally walk everywhere).

However, does anybody have the right to know this sort of information about their elected representatives? I suppose if there was hypocrisy involved (Prescott, Ming Campbell etc) then maybe but I don't see what the hypocrisy is here.

And something worse comes to mind; we already struggle to recruit for politics, especially at local government level. If you thought your personal and financial details, which are totally legal and above board, will be broadcast for ridicule by anybody with a photocopier, who would step forward for election? Won't this put people off standing for election? But, on the other hand, shouldn't we be totally open about this sort of thing - and then let the electors decide? Isn't this just People Power taken to the n-th degree? Would be interested in your views ...

Norwich's new Lord Mayor

This is a very good profile of the new Lord Mayor; aside from being an interesting read, it should also serve as notice of what we could miss if the cuts to Archant's local papers go through. Would we really get this from a London - or Cambridge, or Colchester or Ipswich - based hack?

Friday, April 10, 2009

A good basis to start mending our "broken society"

I have always been a little cynical of the phrase "broken society"; because much of society isn't broken and there are a great number of people who care for their families, their neighbours and act in a decent way. However clearly there are great challenges which need to be addressed in this area. I have said for a long time that we as a party need to "seal the deal" with voters and we could do this with some flesh on the bones of our ideas. I am glad that in recent days we have started to see this. Even if the following isn't made into policy (yet) the speech by Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling about youth crime is a very good set of principles to start from. We should be shouting about these from the rooftops.

1 There have to be consequences for every act of antisocial behaviour;
2 Parents must not be allowed to abdicate responsibility for their children's behaviour;
3 A tougher approach to bad behaviour in schools must teach children the difference between right and wrong;
4 Adults encouraging children to be irresponsible - by selling them drugs or alcohol for example - must be dealt with effectively; and
5 Youth engagement in society must be ensured, not least through support for the voluntary sector groups delivering that process of engagement.

I am fairly sure that even our friends on the left couldn't disagree with most of those.

From a soundbite to principle and now onto policy...

UKIP: LibDems are "importing" candidates

After I have done every other conceivable task in my life, I get around to reading UKIP literature. Their latest effort, though, contains something which might just concern us - and, surprise, surprise, it isn't about Europe.

UKIP claim that the LibDems are "importing" their candidate for this year's elections from outside of Norwich - a claim which wa spreviously laid against the Green Party. Interesting, I thought, and given the sudden appearance of Dave Thomas as Bowthorpe's "campaingner" despite showing zilch interest in the area previously and recently moving in from Thetford, I wondered how many other LibDem candidates were newly arrived in the City.

It will be very interesting to look at the background of the candidates when they are announced; because either the LibDems are going to look very cynical or UKIP are going to be very embarrassed!

Clegg's shift on MPs expenses

I am all in favour of people coming around to my way of thinking, but what has prompted this move from publicity-deprived LibDem Leader Nick Clegg we wonder?

After all, Mr Clegg has claimed the maximum allowance for a second home as recently as last year including the costs of doing it up. No doubt Mr Clegg will be happy to pass the profits to the taxpayers, but would he have been happy to have done that if the storm over expenses hadn't blown up? Discuss.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Worried about repossesion?

This very useful document has been produced which may offer some good tips on what to do. I note that today the debt collectors have given people an extra 30 days to sort out their finances before claims are made. The most important thing is to get advice and know your rights.

Listening to Business

On Friday, I attended a business meeting, courtesy of Conservative Business Relations, for local businesspeople to meet with and discuss future policy with Shadow Business Minister Jonathon Djangoly MP at the City College building in St. Andrews Street. It was great to see such a big turnout of local businesses and clearly a sign that many people see us at a govenrment-in-waiting. I made a few remarks regarding changing educational qualifications - such as the Diplomas and Young Apprentiships - and their impact on business. I also spoke about educational achievement in Norfolk and the skills that school leavers require to add value to businesses. From the feedback afterwards I gather that this struck a real chord with businesses.

In addition there was much discussion about Norfolk's infra-structure, including work on the A11, A47, A140 and A12 and the rail network, the growth agenda around Norwich, red tape in business and support for the tourist industry. The businesspeople there were certainly angry with the government, and felt it was actively getting in the way of business in providing jobs and creating wealth. I was glad to see the Conservatives making promises to, for example, apply business rate discounts automatically instead of making firms apply for them.

Afterwards, along with fellow PPCs George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) and Chloe Smith (Norwich North) we did a video for the Chamber of Commerce about the event and future Tory policies on business which will go up on their website when it is ready (I will provide a link when it is ready).

The most important part of the meeting was listening to what business want and need from a future Conservative government; low tax, simplified regulations and an open market. Many businesses - such as some of the hotel owners from North Norfolk - reported good trading, but mant remain concerned about the future. That is why it is important that we stick together, listen to business and work our way through tough times together.

The Day The Shed Came Down

When you are snowed under with survey canvass returns, leafleting Bowthorpe, canvassing in Eaton and campaign planning, when is there a better time to start dismantling the garden shed? To be fair, like a certain government, it was rotten and - also maybe like the government - was going to collapse fairly shortly of its own accord. Why is this worth blogging? Because the shed is the last part of the original garden that we bought back in 2005 - now it is totally unrecognisable from the day that we bought it. Every room decorated in some form or another; I don't know why, but now I feel the stamp is on the house. I should also record my thanks to Cllr Wiltshire who did somethings with a hammer that ought never to be blogged...

Talking of which, I recieved a very interesting letter from a gentleman living in Thorpe Hamlet who said that he lived in our house in the period 1933-35; This man and his family don't seem to be on any register so it helps to explain a little mystery of who owned the house between it being built, in 1933, and the first registered owners in 1935. I am writing to offer him the chance to come back and see it again if he wishes - and when and if he does then he will see exactly what kind of home we have made in our 4 years in 138 Trafford Road.