Monday, November 30, 2009

Who is reading this blog?

Apart from you, right now, obviously.

I have just got to grips with the data provided by my Stat Counter and it is very interesting; although the sort of stuff that I shouldn't look at too much for fear of becoming obsessed.

Wading through everything, it turns out that I am getting visitors from the House of Commons, European Parliament, CCHQ, UEA and - biggest group - Norwich City Council!! Maybe they are keeping an eye on me!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Labour's Ipswich Choice for Norwich Seat

If Labour shot themselves in the foot by ousting Ian Gibson, then smacked themselves over the head with a mallet with their amateruish by-election campaign, they have done some almost medically impossible with the choice of John Cook (click here for more) as their General Election candidate.

Proving that all parties have issues with selections, Cllr Cook is an Ipswich Borough Councillor who lives and works miles away and whose association with Norwich is a decade old. Now rather than being able to take the fight to MP Chloe Smith, I understand Cllr Cook has already run his campaign into a brick wall as questions about his living and political arrangements surface.

Does Cllr Cook plan to move to Norwich, in his own property, and if so ... when?

If he doesn't, this must surely show that he doesn't believe he can win and won't commit to the City.

Does Cllr Cook plan to move his family with him when he does this to make Norwich his full time home?

Again if he doesn't and simple lodges or stays with somebody then how can he really claims to stand up for local people without understanding our City or its services?

Does Cllr Cook intend to stand down from his Ipswich seat now so he can focus on the campaign ahead in Norwich?

If he doesn't then questions may be asked about how he can represent one area miles away from campaigning in another. Will Cllr Cook continue to claim allowances in Ipswich whilst seeking to be elected in Norwich?

I am not saying Cllr Cook is a bad candidate but he certainly isn't a clear clean choice. Labour will have to spend the first few weeks of this campaign sorting out those issue during which time Miss Smith (not only to let the moss grow) will be consolidating her by-election lead.

What do we think young voters care about ... and what do they really care about?

I don't usually reproduce other posts in full but this one from the Speccie about a BBC Politics Show poll is well worth reading:

The Politics Show conducted a fascinating poll into the concerns of voters aged under 20. The Recession Generation are primarily concerned with, well, the recession. Economic recovery, public spending and tax came top of their list of priorities, closely followed by health and education. It’s clear that younger voters have exactly the same concerns as the wider population, and encouragingly for the Tories, those polled prefer David Cameron to Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg by a clear margin of 8 percentage points. The Liberal Democrats attracted only 18% of voters, indicating quite how damaging their tuition fee u-turn has been.

Popular myth dictates that younger voters are consumed by tackling climate change. Intriguingly, climate change came towards the bottom of the list of pressing concerns. Has emerging scientific contention engendered a more general scepticism? Have economic realities created a sense of realism? Or has the relentless noise of Green campaigners initiated ‘green fatigue’? As the great Copenhagen shindig draws near, and ever more ludicrous soothsayings about the world ending next Tuesday are made, the political consensus seems out of touch.

When I did a meeting at the UEA last week I said that in my discussions with students, fees actually came a long way down their agenda behind the economy, jobs, crime and transport. Too often politicans, and the media, decided what they think young people ought to be ineterested in - often its the environment, drugs and international aid. This poll appears, and I realise its only one survey, to reject that suggestion and say that young people focus on the same things that other groups do. I must admit to being very surprised that climate change came so low amongst young people but it shows that the people set the agenda rather than politicans.

As for the voting intentions that didn't surprise me at all; most students I have met both in formal meetings and in the Square/Hive tell me they are as fed up with Labour as everyone else and will be voting Conservative to make sure we are rid of Brown and Clarke.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rumbling on ...

The debate over "real life experience" rumbles on. Today after work I had a very productive hour with the Sabbs at UEA discussing student issues - from housing to student finance and back to parking at the UEA. Aftewards leaving campus I met a gentleman who not only recognised me (!) but had also read the posts below. I believe more-or-less word for word here is what he had to say about it:

"I want an MP who has recently worried about bringing up kids and how to pay their mortgage. No political party is perfect, I don't agree totally with any of you, but at least we can pick the candidate who know what life is about."

To balance up the arguement, an email I ahve recieved:

"Your attack (I, by the way, deny this is an "attack") on other candidates who don't have jobs is a nonsense. The question is, will our next MP have the right instincts when it comes to voting on going to war, tackling climate change and child poverty. Political instinct is worth more than any job you might hold for the moment."

Interesting stuff. Keep it coming.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

PB's Super Six on Norwich South

There are very few people left who really believe that "only the LibDems can beat Labour here" (including very senior LibDems who say to me privately that they don't expect to win). I was speaking to Costessey residents in the last week who desperately wanted Labour out - surely a good target then for the Libs? No, they wanted a proper change and were voting Conservative. You can only be sure to get rid of Brown by voting Tory, they added.

And now PoliticalBetting.Com's Super Six Predictors have had their say; these are the best political tipsters on the site.

2 say it will be a Conservative gain; 1 for Labour, 1 Green and 1 LibDem.

Hardly scienfific and hardly authorative but nobody can say this is anything but a wide open race. People who say otherwise are deliberately misleading the voters.

What experience do Green Councillors have?

There is a very funny and mischevious letetr in today's EEN (sadly not online) which encourages Rupert Read to stand to be the new Green Leader on the basis it is only right that a philosophy lecturer can top the experience of a politics graduate who has never held a proper job (!)

That got me thinking if a party leader should have what we now fondly call "real life experience" to do the job properly. I'd like to hear what you have to say on that issue.

But a glance at the publicly available register of interests for 2009 show the following as the professions or jobs for the 13 Green Party Councillors;

Cllr Janet Bearman - no job
Cllr Tom Dylan - Employed by the Green Party
Cllr Bob Gledhill - Full Time Green Party Councillor
Cllr Adrian Holmes - Software Developer
Cllr Howard Jago - no job
Cllr Samir Jeraj - Admin support for another Green Councillor & UEA Student
Cllr Tom Llewellyn - Development Manager at Norwich Buddhist Centre
Cllr Stephen Little - Full Time Green Party Councillor (also on Norfolk County Council)
Cllr Ruth Makoff - UEA Student
Cllr Peter Offord - Tutor
Cllr Adrian Ramsay - Deputy Leader of the Green Party
Cllr Rupert Read - Lecturer at UEA
Cllr Claire Stephenson - Teacher

I wonder which of these people think has the experience to be the next leader?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ramsay Resigns as Green Leader

I would have thought that the resignation of Adrian Ramsay as Leader of the Greens at City Hall would have made more of a splash in the media; he has, after all, led them now for many years and has taken the Greens from a rump party to the official opposition.

Adrian has made the Greens into a very acceptable organisation; his successor would well be the type of person who undoes years of work in under a day. I understand, from somebody who knows the inside of the Greens, that the party remains very much split between 2 factions - those who wish to keep the public face of the party and those who believe the ideology is what matters. We note that Cllr Rupert Read has ruled himself out of the race - Ramsay believes the next Green Leader will also be the next Leader of Norwich City Council (I'm not convinced by this) so this could matter a great deal and could, so I'm told, lead to a swift reversal of his position. If his party pleads, will Read answer that call?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

X-Factor Breaking News:

Great stuff from CCHQ; I bet they've had this one on file for a while!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Defection to the Labour Party (by Libby, aged 2)

Do you believe in "signs" ...

Imagine being a Tory Councillor and the local PPC, when you walk into your dining room to find out that your darling, sweet, gorgeous 2 years old had gotten hold of your "lucky" Conservative rosette (the one you wore winning each of the last 5 local elections) and had coloured it in using a felt-tip pen.

Then imagine - as you react calmly and lovingly to this incident - discovering she had coloured it with a red felt-tip pen.

Top to bottom red scrawled over the blue, the logo, the lot ... it is as bad as you think.

So either a sign of my impending defection to Gordon's tribe - or I have a very naughty toddler - and I know which it is!!

"Mechanical Failure" sinks blog

Thank you to the (two) people who emailed to ask if I was still alive as I had stopped blogging. I am alive and well, which is more than could be said for my laptop which apparently had "mechnical failure" (sounds nasty). However it is now fixed and service can be resumed.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Exclusive (biscuit) poll says Gordon set for landslide

Forget the real polling, tonight I have the results of a new and exclusive poll which shows Gordon Brown set to have a landslide fourth term and the LibDems almost wiped out of the Commons.

At tonight's ND Sixth Form open evening I asked visitors to eat the biscuit which represents their favourite and which thus represents the party leader they are most aligned with.

Whilst Dave's biscuit choice has a steady trickle, Clegg's biscuits remained almost entirely in place and Gordon's flew off the plate.

If Gordon is as in touch with the country on other issue as he clearly is with biscuits, I can strongly predict a fourth Labour term and maybe even a Labour Gain in South Norfolk? Who knows...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Clarke claiming more but doing less?

The expenses row has turned the spotlight onto our MPs, how much they earn, how much they claim and what work they do. So it is only right that we look closely at what our local MPs are up to. Is Charles Clarke providing value-for-money?

According to the research done by, Mr Clarke is yet to speak in the House of Commons during 2009 and his only parliamentary contribution was in a Westminster Hall debate about the local government (unitary) review in Norfolk. In addition, Mr Clarke has not tabled a single written question and served on just one select committee - Labour's controversial East of England Committee. Mr Clarke's voting behaviour doesn't hold out to much scrutiny either, voting just 66% of times which is below average according to "publicwhip".

And all this is at a time when Mr Clarke has held company directorships, been paid to give speeches, write articles for newspapers and go on overseas fact finding trips.

During this time Mr Clarke has claimed over £160,000 - making him one of the highest claiming MPs in the House.

I have made honesty a major part of this election. I have said I will hold no other paid job than being an MP and that I will be a value-for-money MP claiming less in expenses than Mr Clarke. What's more, I will ensure I am speaking up for the people of Norwich South in the chamber and asking key questions of Ministers.

It will seem to a lot of people that this is Mr Clarke claiming more but doing less. Maybe Mr Clarke knows his time in parliament is up, but he ought to be doing what people elected him to do and stand up for the City.

I think the answer for all this is for the Prime Minister to call a General Election and give the people of Norwich South the chance to vote for a Conservative MP who will work hard them, not a stay-away Labour MP.

Statistics detailed here: