Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1979 and all that!

A few weeks ago the BBC repeated their coverage of the 1979 election night. Many people were interviewed about what Mrs Thatcher’s new government might bring. The most amusing part (even more amusing that what people were wearing in 1979) was the fact that absolutely no-one had a clue on the various bombshells that were about to hit them.

There was a factory owner who employed 70 people and was pleased and optimistic for the future. Was his one of the many thousands of small businesses who went to the wall as British manufacturing was virtually wiped out?

There was an industrial worker hoping the new government would do something about unemployment. What happened to him as unemployment doubled and stayed over three million for most of the 1980s?

A trade union leader said they were prepared to take a tough line with the new government – oblivious to the fact that the days of union power were now numbered.

Several Labour politicians gave their thoughts - little knowing it would be 18 years before they see Number 10 again (if they were still alive) during which time their party would abandon most of its socialist principles.

There were the smug fat cat Heath-ite Tories, merrily discussing in their clubs about how to control their new PM, little realising their political careers and principles were now out of date.

Above all, there was a fresh faced, 53 year old, harmless-looking, slightly shy lady in a smart blue suit with a big smile waving to her cheering supporters.

Oh if only we knew!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kent County Council - the Hole Truth

Here is my latest letter - published in the Kent on Sunday (17 May).

'With the upcoming County Council elections on 4 June I hope everyone will consider the state of the roads and pavements. People have fallen over, cars have been damaged, and cycling is much more dangerous. Kent County Council's answer is that, after 12 years of Conservative rule, the backlog of pavement repairs will take 226 years to clear. I'm not sure we'll be around to find out.

Instead KCC has spent millions on publicising itself and paying managers large salaries. And that's not to mention a few quid that went to Iceland. All money which could have been better used to improve our safety. The Tories are relying on the Government's unpopularity to retain control of Kent but I hope voters see through it.

If you are happy with the state of the pavements and highways then vote Conservative, or don't vote at all. If you want the county to be run the way the country is run, then you can vote Labour.

But if you want the plans, the people, and the policies to get the condition of the roads back in the right direction then you should vote for the Liberal Democrats.

Keith Nevols, Lib Dem candidate, Swale Central, Sittingbourne.'

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yes to Reform! No to Tories!

It's all been happening in Westminster lately and now we have calls for a fresh parliament and a general election. I have sympathy with these views but there is one major flaw - an immediate election is likely to result in a Conservative majority. And would a Cameron administration bring us the changes our parliament desperately needs? I think not.

Let's have the reforms first - proportional representation, fixed term parliaments, a written constitution, greater powers for parliament to hold government to account, a bill of rights, moves towards an English parliament and setting up an elected second chamber, fewer MPs etc.

Let's put these reforms, or as many of them, in place in the months ahead to set up a modern forward looking 21st century democracy - and then let's have the general election.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The mercy of self-government

It was once said that Italy were the biggest enthusiasts of the European Union, and of closer political integration, because a European government could not be any worse than their own dire administrations.

This week I saw messages by UKIP, BNP and one or two others saying 'let us govern ourselves'. Hmm, the flaw in this argument is that when you look at the Cabinet, and then you look at the shadow cabinet, you begin to wonder if the Italians had a point.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The missing Conservatives

In Sittingbourne we have a mystery. We've lost the Conservative party!!

The county council candidates were announced this week. Yours truly is on there for Swale Central, and the three major parties have candidates in all of Sittingbourne's six wards. The BNP, UKIP and the Greens all have two and we even have a couple of loonies - Official Loonies, I should say.

We have been out canvassing and leafleting and Labour have also been busy. But the Conservatives have completely vanished - we've seen no leaflets nor canvassing - and there's no mention at all on the Sittingbourne Conservatives web site. Click on the link for 'Council candidates' and you get a profile of the parliamentary candidate instead!

Of course this may be a subtle ploy. Maybe the plan is a blitz in the last couple of weeks, maybe there's a lot of quiet canvassing going on, or maybe, with the Labour party being so unpopular, the policy is to be quiet and win by default. Whatever it is, if they win all seven seats then their tactics would be a success.

Hopefully Swale's voters will recall that the Conservative Party have run the wasteful Kent County Council and that only the Lib Dems have the people and the policies to set Kent back on track.

In the meantime, if you see the Tories in Swale, let me know. But there won't be a reward.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sittingbourne campaign update

The campaign continued this weekend with all the papers being signed and some canvassing in Newington. In the Swale West ward we have long-time councillor and our local leader, Elvie Lowe, up against the incumbent, Conservative Keith Ferrin, who, as Kent’s transport spokesman, has been much in the news lately regarding the Council’s failure to prepare for the bad weather earlier this year, the unhelpfulness regarding Rachel Rook’s A249 campaign (see below) and the admission by the Council that to fix the pavement repairs in Kent would take ‘226 years’ (please note to check in your 2235 diaries).

One lady I called on said ‘if that Mr Ferrin comes calling here, I’ll give him what for.’

In my own Swale Central ward we’ve seen the Labour party. A leaflet arrived, wisely not mentioning Gordon Brown or any national issues – and then a lady called asking me to vote for Roger Truelove, but not mentioning which party he is (also wise) nor the fact that as a double ward there are two Labour candidates. I told her I would be voting for me – which took her aback somewhat.

As for the Conservatives, they must be around somewhere but we haven’t seen anything of them. They are defending five of Sittingbourne’s seven County Council seats (the other two are Labour) but no leaflets or canvassing so far. Perhaps they are expecting the seats to drop in their laps.

Four weeks and two days to go!