This is my last entry of 2012 so I am using it to review the year gone by.
The highlight of the year was
the London Olympics. I took two weeks off to follow TV coverage, visited
various events on five occasions, and thoroughly enjoyed it all.
The highlight of my five visits was taking my wife to
Wembley Stadium to her first ever football match, where we saw Team GB Ladies
defeat Brazil 1-0 in a great atmosphere. We also met some Brazilian supporters
at a volleyball event in Earls Court and the colour and enthusiasm they showed on
both occasions convinces me that the next Olympics in Rio 2016 should also be a
The low point of the year was the death of my best friend,
Adam, in October after a long battle with liver disease at the age of 42. We
had been good friends since meeting at university in 1988 and even now it is
hard to comprehend that someone younger than me has gone so soon. As someone
told me, remember the smiles. And with that spirit, I think back to the good
times and to many Christmas and New Year events which we enjoyed together with
other friends over the years.
Politically, it was not a great year for me but then chances
were limited. There were no local elections in my area, although we had a council
by-election in March which got me back into the campaigning spirit. I aimed to
be an MEP candidate for the Liberal Democrats in London and, while enjoying the
six week campaign, was disappointed to fall short of the final list.
Blog-wise, my most read entry was back in January with ‘Be
loud and be proud. The Liberal Democrats are the party of the poor’ which, having
thought about it, makes a rather misleading headline – it should mean that the
Lib Dems are the best representatives of the poor, and not the fact that the
party is very poor itself – although that is not too far from the truth.
I argued that by taking a million people out of paying tax
completely, cutting taxes for every basic rate payer, bringing in the pupil premium
to invest billions in under-performing schools, and restoring the pensions to
earnings link – all of which are measures that would not have happened under a ‘pure’
Conservative government nor a Labour administration – that it is to the Liberal
Democrats that the poor can look to for support. To add to this, we can point to the fact that we are vetoing over-the-top Conservative measures to cut the benefits bill. The bill needs to be cut but fairness should be the watchword. I hope we can do more to get this
My favourite entry was in July when I talked about the ‘war
of two coalitions’. In my view, it is a fact that the Conservative and Labour parties
have an unofficial unwritten alliance to ensure they keep all the power between
them, and that other parties (of whom are growing support all the time) should
be kept in their place. This is chiefly why both parties are so angry with the
Liberal Democrats rather than each other for daring to get into government.
This point is further strengthened by the year’s biggest political
disappointment – the failure of the House of Lords reforms. Labour decided to
betray their great forefathers and ally themselves with the right wing Tories
in order to protect privilege and patronage in the Lords against democracy – a once
in a century opportunity – which just displays the emptiness and vanity of the modern
Labour party. Who would ever have thought that the Conservative party
leadership would be more reformist than that of the Labour party?
As for the Liberal Democrats, I am pleased to see us pursuing
our policies on tax, education and the environment. I am concerned that our ‘differentiation’
strategy has started too early – we are only halfway through the parliament and
I would much prefer both parties getting on with the job. We don’t need to
lower ourselves to the yah-boo spoilt-child level of Peter Bone, Nadine and the
others on the Tory backbenches.
If the Conservatives can exert some discipline and keep
their loony element quiet then it is quite possible the two parties can work together
up to and through the next election to sort out the economy, bring in social
and political changes, and keep Labour out. This, however, would be up to David
Cameron. If he continues to show weakness and fails to exert discipline, it may
not be long before Ed and Ed are in Numbers 10 and 11 – and then we are all in trouble!
Come 2014 we can think more about differentiation. But I want
to see more co-operation and productivity in 2013. If we are worried about the council
elections, we should remember that Labour did very badly in 2009 – so we will take
a hit and Labour have a good result regardless.
My last act of the year in my blog is to thank you all for reading,
whatever your views and whichever party you support. Without the Olympics or
the Diamond Jubilee, 2013 will undoubtedly be a quieter year but I am sure we
will all have just as much to talk about.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New