Archive for March, 2010

Meetings around the constituency

March 30, 2010

During the month of April there will be a meetings all around the constituency:

Tuesday 6th 7-9pm Hearth Hall, Horsley
Friday 9th 7-9pm Village Hall, Corbridge
Saturday 10th 7-9pm Haydon Bridge Community Centre
Wednesday 14th 7-9pm Humshaugh Village Hall
Friday 16th 7-9pm Ovingham Reading Room
Monday 19th 7-9pm Centre of Britain Hotel, Haltwhistle
Thursday 22nd 7.15pm Hexham Abbey with Evensong (18.30)
Sunday 25th 5pm Forum Cinema Hexham – Film and chat
Tuesday 27th 6.30-8pm Prudhoe Community Church

Do come along to any of these that are convenient to where you live. Others will be arranged in due course.

The Darling, Cable and Osborne Show

March 30, 2010

The consensus seems to be that Cable was the nation’s favourite and he did have a few good lines. Osborne was the least at ease and least convincing.

Overall, I thought the exchanges anodyne. Little was revealed that was not already in the public domain and most of the questions were handled in the usual obtuse political way.

Will the three set pieces between the leaders be different?

The level of cuts in public services seemed to be the most acute concern of the evening. The notion of ring fencing individual budgets was squashed – the impression created in me was that, despite protestations to the contrary, nothing is sacrosanct. This is a welcome whiff of honesty but still doesn’t tell us what is going to be hit or how hard.

In the area of health, simply eliminating the internal market in it’s entirety would liberate approximately 10% of the total budget. Scrapping SHAs would add to the pot of funds available for reallocation. Revising the purpose and scope of the NHS would permit funds to migrate toward those new and very expensive treatments for serious illness which are often the focus of concern.

The use of VAT was skated over very superficially in the debate. The scope for the exploitation of ‘double effect’ taxation measures is great. Why have the conventional parties not cottoned on to these yet.

As I have stated elsewhere in these blog entries, Mr. Cable does not constitute a one man government and, to judge by his book ‘The Storm’, his economic world view remains flawed at a very fundamental level.

This program is unlikely to have been decisive for many.

Paradoxical climate change

March 29, 2010

Are we enjoying our rather too prolonged winter this year? Have the climate sceptics started to feel a little triumphalist? Is this all rather unexpected?

The answers are, respectively, no, yes and no.

The point about climate change is that it is chaotic. We can point to trends extending over centuries (such as the change in atmospheric chemistry) or global average temperature but we cannot say for sure what the outcome will be for specific areas of the planet.

This week comes news of sustained minus forty degree weather in central Asia with vast losses of domestic animals and simultaneously there is news of a large island in the delta that forms a major part of Bangladesh being finally abandoned to the rising waves – the chief reason for the rising water being the thermal expansion of the oceans.

The areas of greatest warming tend to be in the polar and circumpolar regions where, nonetheless, it remains very cold by most people’s reckoning. Its only a few weeks since a slab of ice large enough to constitute a hazard to navigation in the southern oceans broke free.

That climate change is taking place is incontestable. That it is largely due to man’s influence is incontestable. That the future is only predictable in terms of general trends is incontestable.

We have started an experiment with our planet that has not been done before and we are living right in the middle of the consequences of our own actions. We have no means of altering the course of the experiment in the short to medium term but we can take steps to ameliorate the long term trends for the benefit of distant generations.

This debate has, unfortunately, been hijacked by the typical short termism of politics-as-usual. If we can learn to lengthen our political perspectives on this topic perhpas the benefits could be felt in other areas too.

This is a threat and a learning opportunity too.

Trouble down at t’mill

March 25, 2010

This looks absolutely fascinating: http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk/news/news-at-a-glance/election-sparks-party-divisions-1.84706?referrerPath=/hx_news_and_sport_1_257779

The parties are falling to bits locally and nationally. Hoorah!

The more time passes in this election period, the more it looks as thought here is a process of political Darwinism taking place – the parties are dying spontaneously. This is a healthy development.

The parties have become effete, decadent, corrupt and have lost reason and purpose. The electorate is looking for a choice and in vast numbers of constituencies in the UK they have at least one alternative – an Independent.

Slack jawed with surprise and delight…

March 25, 2010

To date the team has not done much door stepping but this evening we have made a major effort and all those who were out reported back to say that eight out of ten householders were either warm and appreciated a call or were positively, openly and immediately supportive. Even a strong BNP supporter was somewhat interested.

The conventional parties are the subject of almost complete scorn, ridicule or contempt – these being spontaneous unsolicited views.

One or two people had never heard of the ‘Independent Party’ and needed a phrase or two of explanation.

The whole team is enormously energised by this experience but no one is taking anything for granted. Winning a battle is not the same a winning a war.

The Crown at Catton

March 24, 2010

This evening I was invited to attend the Crown at Catton for a chat and questions. This is the first of four sessions that give each candidate an opportunity.

Jim Hick, the proprietor, has made a really cosy welcoming pub out of the Crown and, of course, there is now the added attraction of locally produced beer – there was even a certain amount of thought required to recall just how many beers were being produced at the Allendale Brewery.

There was a good crowd occupying the front half of the premises. A steady stream of questions covering a multitude of issues occupied a couple of hours. A good proportion of the questions had direct local relevance, even getting down to the details of which sort of crops would do well in the local land.

Haydon Bridge High School

March 24, 2010

Huge meeting today at Haydon Bridge High School involving the older students – 16 to 18+. 150 or more present and all clearly interested and listening carefully. The whole event was organised and run by the students themselves.

Myself, Antoine Tinnion and Andrew Duffield each had a few minutes to deliver our warm up introductory remarks and then there was a question session. The first few questions were pre-arranged and then there were several more from the floor.

The range of topics was wide and the opportunity to chat afterwards yielded even more topics. Vast quantities of literature and badges disappeared.

Odds shortening rapidly

March 23, 2010

Ladbrokes can be relied upon to point the way.

Whereas I was at 100/1 to win, I am now at 66/1. That’s a big change and there’s more change coming.

With the latest news of the parliamentary rent boys and girls, the political terrain is getting more and more chaotic. The political class is digging itself in deeper and deeper every day.

The national press is now taking up the story of the growth of Independent candidates – today I have spent the best part of an hour in the phone to one of the national broadsheets and in the next day or two there is a similar session with the Tory’s main supporting tabloid.

This is getting more exciting and more unpredictable. Will the budget allow Labour to pull a rabbit out of the hat or is that an entire squadron of flying pigs just passed between the chimney pots?

Pass the word around and help to stir things up. Use Facebook and Twitter to get things going. If everybody tells six people and they each tell six people…