Monday, September 28, 2009

Investigators and Itches

Four of my work colleagues at the Local Government Ombudsman , all investigators, leave on Wednesday. It’s always sad to see colleagues go (although they never appear sad themselves) but there should be a good party on Wednesday night.

I myself have applied for an investigator position three times but instead they recruited people who left within a year or two. I’m not bitter, of course.

But I digress. Always good to have a party and a few beers and wish our colleagues well.

The other event this week is my wedding anniversary on Friday. Seven years! I am now waiting for Marilyn Monroe to move in next door.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

'Democracy is great' - Letter to East Kent Gazette

With eight months to an election, the opinion polls are all putting the Conservatives on around 40%, with a healthy lead over the other parties. David Cameron and his colleagues are quietly preparing for government. Based on the turnout usually seen at general elections, this makes approximately a quarter of the electorate.

Wait a minute. After 12 years of Labour, with a massive recession, with a government in disarray, with the economy in turmoil - still only a quarter of the adult population want to see a Conservative government.

Sadly because of our corrupt electoral system, a quarter is all the Tories need for a thumping majority in parliament. Tough luck to the other three quarters.

Democracy is great. I hope one day that we try it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vote for the President

There has been talk of a European President, as set out by the Lisbon treaty, and the front runners include Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, and Jean-Claude Juncker (hands up if you know who he is) as well as various foreign politicians that most of us have never heard of.

The post is for a two and a half year term elected by the various heads of states and governments. But we are missing an opportunity.

The European Union in the UK has a poor image – as indicated by the large vote for UKIP in the European elections and the Conservatives adopting Eurosceptism as a policy. In my view, this is because people don’t know much about the EU – and we always fear what we don’t know. If we had had referendums on Maastricht, Nice, the Euro and so on, we would have had an open debate over the years and appreciate the benefits. We would by now be playing a fuller active role, throwing our weight around, and UKIP would just be a dozen ex-Tories with loud voices. But I digress.

Why don’t we elect the European President? The electorate in all 27 countries could have a straightforward vote using the Supplementary Vote system (as in the London Mayor vote) to ensure the winner has a majority.

Advantage: the candidates would then campaign in all the countries – so we will know more about them – even Mr Juncker. The European people have a greater say in the EU. And with a mandate behind him/her the President can sort out some of the nonsense that the EU has to put up with.

But, I hear some people cry, surely everyone will just vote for their countryman and the President will always be German. Poor Mr Juncker (the Prime Minister of Luxembourg since you ask) wouldn’t have a chance. However under this theory everyone in the UK would vote for Tony Blair – which somehow I doubt.

Balloting 500 million people would take time but if we want everyone to be more Europhile, we must trust them with making these sort of decisions.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bournemouth - good training - not so good beggars

Just got back from a couple of days in Bournemouth. Over two days I have never had so many people approach me asking for money - also in the pubs I would be approached by someone who had clearly had a few. According to my taxi driver, this is a problem in Bournemouth. Advice is to avoid the area round the station and stick to crowded spots in the town.

On a brighter note, the weather was good and lots of people enjoying themselves. Arcades have got a lot more bigger and modern since 1983 so I stick to what I know, play the quiz machines, and invest the winnings in Harry Ramsden's for lunch.

I attended five training sessions - the main two for me were in media training covering TV/radio interviews and press releases, which were both excellent and should be useful in my preparation for my parliamentary candidate list application. Others I attended out of interest, including getting new members and on communications. Recruiting new members involved a bit of sales work - which reminded me of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross - 'ABC'. Alas, I have no experience in sales so will seek advice on this.

Finally, having been told off by one's little sister, will try to update blog more often. There is, after all, a lot to talk about.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Off to Bournemouth

Apologies for not updating for a while.

This weekend it is conference time and I am off to sunny (I hope) Bournemouth. The main items for me will be the various training that is on offer which I hope will strengthen my application to join the approved parliamentary candidates list - and as this is the last conference before the election there is lots of training on offer.

Despite what Alan Duncan may think, the job of MP seems quite attractive to me - and although the chances of becoming a Lib Dem MP are very slim (and the chances of being very slim are also very slim) the prospect of running for parliament and campaigning at a general election sounds great fun. I will be attending an evaluation day next month to give me a grilling to see if I am up to it - hence my desire for training.

My only previous visit to Bournemouth was a family holiday in 1983 when it was very sunny and I spent a lot of time in the arcades. The town is a favourite for conferences, like Brighton and Blackpool, due to its being by the sea. I wonder if they still sell rock?