Friday, 27 June 2008

What leak?

There was some rich entertainment at last night's Sefton Council Meeting. Leaving on one side the collapse of the Lab/Con coalition we had the ritual abuse from the Tories. They seem to think that if they keep repeating a statement it somehow becomes true. For some while they have been asserting that Lib Dem councillors are leaking confidential information. To the the best of my knowledge that is not true. We finally got a little fed up with this smear and confronted the allegation asking for evidence. Up pops the Tory leader all smiles and confidence to point the finger at Cllr Fred Weavers. This was the only allegation she presented. There was a little intake of breath and stunned looks around the chamber. Fred? Now Cllr Weavers is an ex-Marine trained to kill with his bare hands, the only councillor skilled in withholding information under torture. I am 100% confident Fred leaked nothing. His guilt is confirmed in Cllr Parry's mind seemingly because he was quoted in a newspaper article that did contain a leak. But there is NOTHING to link Fred to passing the confidential information. We await an apology. Maybe it would be best if Cllr Parry followed the advice given on the night by a rather statesman like contribution from the Labour Deputy leader Ian Maher, namely it is time to move on. I would rather hope after that rather embarrassing episode Mrs Parry would think twice before she allowed her colleagues to keep repeating smears that they can produce no evidence to support.
Sadly given the way she treated her colleague Cllr Pearson our confidence is not high that she has a firm grasp of the principles of natural justice. It is a funny old world when you have a Tory MP resigning to uphold the freedoms granted under Magna Carta on the one hand and yet here in Sefton we have a bunch of Tories who seem to think it is ok to assert someone is guilty of a misdemeanor without the need to produce any meaningful evidence. One or two of the existing Tory group have explained to me that this is the way she operates. To silence opposition first she isolates the victim and then she convicts them on flimsey grounds. Cllr Pearson I understand was advised by the then Tory President Jermey Myeres a local solicitor. He got him off, maybe we ought to retain his services now he has more time on his hands since he and 3 others have resigned from their positions with Southport Tories. Oddly I've come to believe that first she convinces herself she is in the right and does everything with the complete conviction that she is right. A little self doubt on her part would not go amiss.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Melt Down at Tory HQ

That was the headline in the Champion this week and the Vister also carried the story. This has little to do with Comrade Les Byrom's defection to Lab but illustrates the depth and complexity of the the local Tories' woes.

Follow the links for the stories and I am reliably imformed that there is more to come..

Monday, 16 June 2008

Sefton Tories fall out again and again

Since Les Byrom's departure to the Labour party much has been written. A lot of it not worth reading. Iain Dale the top Tory blogger revealed how much Les's expences were and predictably all the outraged of Tumbridge Wells and their friends and relations wrote in to pile unpleasant comments on Les. He didn't say that the Tory Leader who arbitarily sacked him claims about the same amount of expences! Anyway we all know that the back stabbing in Sefton Tories has reached blood bath proportions if Les-a natural and convinced Tory- was prepared to walk. He leaves behind two very vulnerable colleagues who will doubtless now suffer the brunt of the Tory knives.

Les 'opened his heart' to John Siddle in Fridays Visiter and it is worth reading

Jim Hancocks, the doyen of political correspondents in the NW, wrote a bit in today's Liverpool Post and that is interesting as it confirms the view that the Local Labour party are none too happy.

The upshot of this is that is one less Tory on Sefton council. I would guess that most of his former colleagues back Les over the failure of the Tories to support the governments move to allow 42 days detention without trial. And we have a by election in Yorkshire over civil liberties-well a few civil liberties. David Davis has a poor record on Gay Rights, the death penalty 2 cheers for his stand. I wonder how long the Tories will honour his pledge to repeal the legislation if they come to power?

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Iain Dale on Les Byrom

It is worth taking a look at the top Tory blogger's view of Les Byrom. Already many folk have suggested that the nasty Tory in fighting will result in a similar bit of investigation being done into Sir Ron Watson's expences.........

Les Byrom leaves squabbling Tories

The Southport Visiter confirms this afternoon what any honest observer has known for a long time, namely that Sefton Tories are riven with the most vicious bout of back biting and squabbling. Les Byrom has crossed the floor and joined the Labour Party and so becomes the first ever Sefton Labour councillor from Southport. Unless something shifts this is the end of Les's political career I doubt the Labour Party offer him a safe seat in Bootle-unless he has done some sort of deal for a quango seat?

His fellow councillor David Pearson-regarded as a genuinely decent man-was suspended from the Tory group and their new leader told the press that she wished him and his wife Barbara a happy retirement! David is made of tough stuff and successfully fought his corner was reselected for his ward and won a landslide victory. Wendy Jones another former Tory Mayor got the boot rumoured to be because she dared to suggest that Debbie Jones wasn't the right candidate for Sefton Central. Many have suggested that Sir Ron Watson a former Tory leader is the real bete noir of the odd assortment of the new Tory leadership and their hangers on who turned up in blue rosettes at the count.

It must have been terrible to drive Les into the arms of a Labour Party that is at a 30yr low in the polls. This blog has long identified the three Dukes Ward councillors as the target of the tiny Tory faction that has taken over the local party. Les is a natural Tory. He still takes every opportunity to praise the glorious years of Thatcher. We wait and watch now to see whether David Cameron acts after Les-who was one of the Tories most senior people in Local government in England-contacted him yesterday.

Here is the Visiter story:

Former Tory leader Les Byrom defects to Labour - UPDATE

Jun 10 2008 by Andrew Brown, Southport Visiter
FORMER Sefton Conservative leader Les Byrom is to defect to the Labour Party - after becoming disillusioned with internal wranglings within the party.
Cllr Byrom, who has served Dukes Ward for the Tories since 1985, informed David Cameron yesterday of his decision to resign from the party.
The Ainsdale resident said he had been “let down” by Sefton Conservative Group after leader Paula Parry removed him from Merseyside Fire Authority - a position he was awarded a CBE for.
Cllr Byrom has previously put himself forward to contest Southport and Wirral South as a prospective Conservative MP.
Speaking to the Visiter a few minutes ago, Cllr Byrom said: “No doubt people will say I have let them down, but I have been let down by people who should know better.
“Having been a Conservative for 35 years, this is a truly momentous decision that I have been forced to take.”
For more details about this story, don’t miss this Friday’s Southport Visiter.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Love bombing the Tories

One of the most nauseating spectacles at the Crewe by election was the site of Tory Eric Pickle's MP 'love bombing' Liberal Democrat voters. He praised us and our policies and activism to the heights and then implied that the Tories agreed and that they were a better bet to implement such liberal views. If you oppose ID cards then Vote Tory, if you want Gay Rights Vote Tory, if you want an enquiry in the Iraq War vote Tory, if you want green policies Vote Tory etc..... This is deeply cynical stuff as we well know that such policies are abhorred by rank and file Tories.

At least in Southport we will spared such nonsense. How on earth could the Tory Parliamentary candidate honourably stand on such a platform. On Sefton Council she was one of only three Tories who voted against the motion opposing ID cards that Cllr Shaw and I moved. As a candidate in the Ainsdale by election her literature included a pledge to oppose the repeal of section 28 -the anti gay bit of Thatcher's local government Act. Some of us who canvassed in that election will not quickly forget some of the homophobic tirades were were treated to by some of her supporters clearly motivated by her stand. I moved a motion opposing the Iraq War and like Tories in parliament she failed to support our stance when it mattered and when it comes to green policies, well words would fail me if she honestly tries to suggest that she would support any of the controversial measures required to make a real difference.
So in Southport it is as it always was; if you want a liberal vote Liberal Democrat.

House price crisis

I’ve been struck by the reaction of some people to the impact of the housing price crash. Their instinct is to blame those who are suffering –it’s their fault for borrowing too much and they list the extravagant activities they think they must have used the borrowing on: holidays, extensions and other frivolities. And anyway, these new puritans argue, we want lower house prices.
This desire to blame the victims is clearly deeply engrained in humans. I was taken with a radio broadcast I heard a while back by the Dean of St Albans-there is a man who has experienced more than his share of unwarranted blame. He recalled an incident from his boyhood in Wales:
‘In my childhood I also had a naughty great uncle, a man who very uncalvinistically drank and smoked and swore and womanized. He died a happy man, as you might imagine, but at a rather early age, of cirrhosis of the liver. His funeral was the first time he'd been in Chapel since his wedding. But the really memorable thing was the sermon, and the gasp of disbelief as the minister took a text of appalling relevance: Psalm 55, verse 23, "Y pechadur ni chaiff fyw hanner ei ddyddiau"…; "The sinner shall not live out half his days, for thou Lord shalt bring him down to the pit of destruction".’

This model of terrible retribution could be extended. Let us stop treating folk who smoke, or motor cyclists who crash, or any of the cancers that result from lifestyle choices. These people knew the possible consequences when they chose to spend their holidays sitting out in the sun. If they’ve now got skin cancer they should not expect the rest of us to bail them out.
It is, of course, the poor who will suffer most. They should have known that the oil price was going to reach $140 a barrel and that it would impact on their energy and food costs. How could they have been so naive? After all the government and the regulatory authorities were on the ball-well possibly not. The failure of the Bank of England, the Government, and the FSA, not to mention the sub prime lenders in the US or the Federal Reserve- but it is the poor person with their house repossessed who has to bear the responsibility.
The awful truth is that the innocent are going to be slaughtered as a welcome price adjustment turns into a serious economic dis location
Government and bankers in the UK and US have kept interest rates artificially low for more than a decade. As savings have declined this policy has led to debt being piled on top of debt all secured on house values. How often have you heard people say-house prices always go up in the long term or the confident assertion that if the market stuttered the Bank would reduce the interest rate and all would be well?
Soon it will not just be the victims of house repossession that will be suffering. A large part of our nation’s economic prosperity is based on the activities of the City of London and financial services industry. Already J P Morgan is telling us that 40,000 jobs are about to go in that sector and it will not stop there. After years of plenty the new Puritans have forgotten what it is like to live in a economic down turn. Their children may not be able to get jobs to buy the cheaper house that come on the market as lenders demand bigger deposits and only lend 3x their income.
It is time step in and for government to start managing the situation. The Housing Corporation could start buying repossessed properties and offer them to their occupants for rent-thus reversing the disastrous decline in the social rented sector. An independent assessment of financial circumstances could be insisted on before repossession and options like shared equity statutorily explored.
Part of the picture has been the long held belief that there is a housing shortage. In part this has been fuelled by immigration –in part but by no means entirely - from the E.C. But with the British economy failing and the pound falling fast many of those European immigrants are returning home. If you couple that to the number of the baby boomer generation who are now entering retirement who may now sell their family homes to maintain their incomes and move into some of the empty apartment that are all over our towns and cities it may just be that the housing shortage is not so great many have imagined.
The Dean of St Albans was a lot closer to the truth as he answered those who wanted to punish those who face misfortune. His talk went on :
‘Even on a personal level we seem to have this instinct that good fortune or bad must somehow depend on how good or bad we have been. Something awful happens and what we do? We look up to heaven and say "What have I done to deserve this? - as though divine rewards and retributions really were immediate and automatic.
There's a much-ignored passage in Luke's Gospel that tells us very clearly what Jesus thought about this theory of retribution. The disciples come up to Jesus one day and tell him about two recent events in the Palestinian news. In Galilee Pilate had just staged a massacre of some sectarian Jews who had been holding an illegal sacrifice; he had actually had them burned along with their offerings. And then in Siloam, a suburb of Jerusalem, a tower block had collapsed and killed l8 people. The disciples were very excited about all this and distinctly inclined to gloat. These people had got it in the neck, so they must have deserved it; besides, they had just been to Jerusalem and Galilee with Jesus, and those people had refused to listen. So plainly they had it coming to them. But when Jesus replies, what the disciples get is a wonderful smack in the mouth. "Do you really think the Galileans were worse than anyone else because they suffered? Or do you suppose the people in Siloam were greater sinners than anybody else?’