Expenses, Swine Flu and Domestic Violence

Andrew Duffield (Lib-Dem) had a letter published in The Hexham Courant a couple of weeks ago setting out his position on MP’s expenses claims. Many MPs and candidates are offering competing positions on what they will claim and disclose if elected and, in the light of recent events, this is no bad thing. Andrew offered a direct challenge to the other candidates to state their positions. I replied promptly but, as of last Friday, the reply had not been published. Here it is:
The political world is alive with the sound of MPs and candidates scrambling for the moral high ground. Mr. Andrew Duffield (letters, Courant 10th July 2009) makes a very fair bid for public approval. I am happy to equal or exceed any undertaking to which other local candidates commit themselves.

My challenge to the other candidates is this: Please disclose the full details of the true original source of any and all party resources which are expended in the total course of your campaign.

Or, more simply: who begged what sums of money out of which rich people and in exchange for what actual or unspoken future favours/peerages/etc.? The main parties, lacking significant membership, are effectively broke or afloat on “loans” and “donations”. You don’t get owt for nowt!

Are Hexham’s constituents happy to have their opinions and elections influenced in this way? What we need is a clean, new, democratic class of politicians, not more of the same tainted politics of the past – about which we now know almost too much to bear.

By contrast, my campaign is fully self-funded. Nobody will be asked for money, donations have not and will not be accepted. This candidate is clean and free of all actual or potential conflicting interests. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the generous support that I have received and the work of the growing band of volunteers – you can never have too many volunteers and all are welcomed.

It would be illuminating to know where all the money is coming from for the other lot – wouldn’t it?
Last Saturday a large cheerful crowd turned up at Tynedale FM for a programme of music and local events information – the whole thing organised by the tireless Hilary Carter and hosted by Hans Berges on turntables. Silva quizzed the early participants about Slaley Fair amongst other things.
I offered a summary of current Swine Flu advice;
• Don’t Panic!
• Sudden cough and temperature are common, as are all the usual other flu-like symptoms
• Stay at home if you have symptoms
• Rest, fluids and paracetamol as first aid
• Use the web (www.nhs.uk) and phone line (0800 1 513 513) for help
• Ring for help early if in the risk groups – old, young, pregnant or with existing illness
• Don’t go to hospital or your doctor’s health centre unless instructed to do so
• Do have a flu friend to fetch and carry for you
• Catch it – Bin it – Kill it! Keep your secretions to yourself!
Tynedale FM has attracted a lot of support. Let’s hope it gets its next license soon.
The sad case of Amy Leigh Barnes, murdered by her boyfriend, after enduring an abusive relationship for some time, high lights the sad fact that domestic violence remains very common. We really need to be doing more about this.
There are many sources of advice, guidance and refuge nationally but only one that I have been able to locate close to Hexham is: Cease24 – speak to Steph Golder on 01665606881
Also try:

http://www.refuge.org.uk/
http://www.womensaid.org.uk/
angela.dixon@cheviothomes.co.uk – for Northumberland
This is a service that we need to have close to every population centre.

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