Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Pugh and Hegelian state worship

John Pugh has ignited an important debate about the role of the state in Liberalism. In his article for Lib Dem Voice  John sought to reconcile a policy of deficit reduction with support for the idea of what he described as a 'strong state'. The posting has attracted a large number of responses and the discussion has broken out in other parts of the blogosphere notably over at Liberal England.

John would have excited less reaction if he has used the term 'democratic state' rather than 'strong state'. Liberals are suspicious about any concentration of power whether that is in state's or private hands. After years of New Labour abusing civil liberties or aggrandising state power liberals have sharpened up their critique of the state, it is therefore not surprising that there has been a reaction against the implication that can be drawn from John's piece that a strong, powerful state is good. As Lord Acton famously said to Bishop Creighton 'power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. All the checks and balances that we seek to impose on the state -democratisation, decentralisation, separation of powers, law etc are all to guard against the legitimate fear of what a strong state could do.

As Jonathon points out :

However, even in some future Lib Dem utopia with PR and proper local control of public services, I would be wary of talking about the state having aspirations. People have aspirations - often widely differing aspirations - and it is the role of the modern state to allow them to live in harmony while seeking to fulfill those aspirations.

To attribute aspirations to the state or to argue that it can meet all human ambitions strikes me a sort of Hegelian state worship. Rather than encourage reform, it tends to mystify the nature of government, which is a tendency that will appeal to traditional Conservatives but should not appeal to us.

Liberals have always been keen to that the State should not occupy space which the citizen can control. J.S. Mill strikingly expressed the view:

A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.

And so it is that Liberals have always felt-even in the context of the democratic Utopia that Jonathon describes- that the state is not the same as the community or the focus as the only form of collective action that free citizen can be involved in, hence we have campaigned workers' common ownership, friendly societies etc and pluralism at every possible turn. Beveridge was very angry when the post war Labour Governement turned its back on his proposal for an enhanced role for friendly societies rather than a state monopoly in administrating and developing the welfare state. The essence of community politics is that citizen should 'organise themselves into communities to take and use power' not that they should put their trust and invest their hopes in the state.

All of which does not detract from the view that their are things that the state can do, especially in the economic sphere that we should not turn our back on. I, for one, wish to see deficit reduction done but only in the context of an economic policy that has as its guiding light the objective of producing full employment. In the coming months this will become important as the public sector-locally and nationally -sheds tens if not hundreds of thousands jobs. When this is combined with the VAT rise and the impact that might have a the recovery there needs to be a plan B. More information about a programme for energy consevation on a scale not previously imagined and house building could be componets of plan B but deficit reduction even combined with the 'fairness' initiatives we have seen is not enough.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Liberals should and support a strong state.............................

For those of our readers who do not regularly read Lib Dem Voice you maybe interested in a posting there by Southport MP John Pugh . I don't know if it is the stimulus of the coalition or the significant increase in his majority but John certainly seems fired up in this parliament as readers who recall his amendments on the Academies Bill will testify.

Ashby Canal Restoration

As readers will know this time last week the Disgruntled Radical and I were plying our way along the Ashby Canal. We got as far as the supposed site of the Battle of Bosworth (who knows where it was fought?) The canal never reached its objective of linking Ashby de la Zouch to the network and stopped at Moira. Mining subsidence forced the section between Donisthorpe and Moira to close in 1944 and second section closed in 1957 down as far as Illott Wharf, south of Measham. In 1966 local residents and anglers and waterway enthusiasts unsuccessfully protested against the closure of a further stretch, north of Snarestone. It was out of these protests that the Ashby Canal Association was born. This year their website reports that a section has reopened around Snarestone. sadly we didn't get to see it on this trip but if we go again it will certainly be on the itinerary.
Photos from their website

Liberal England: In which I find Jonathan Meades's Severn Heaven

Liberal England: In which I find Jonathan Meades's Severn Heaven Liberal England has a very interesting post on cotter's homes or plotlands. Colin Ward wrote a passionate advocacy of this type of settlement in his book 'Cotters and Squatters' reviewed in the Independent here. The type of settlement Jonathan is talking about is also briefly featured in Winifred Holtby's novel South Riding in which a group of ex servicemen back from WW1 are trying to make a living in such a setting. South Riding is being televised by BBC1 later this yaer and it will interesting to see whether the adapter, Andrew Davies, keeps the plotlanders scenes in-they are after all uncomfortable for those Counrty File viewers who see the land neatly laid out and tidy. South Riding is obviously the BBC's novel of the season as it was recently broadcast on Radio 7. It is one of the few novels that is set around local government and of the few it is, I think, the best.
And finally in this posting another example from Wales. The painting is by Stan Rosenthal and called Red Pembrokeshire Cottage as the artist writes 'it is a tiny cottage at the side of the road between Haverfordwest  and Dale. It is very typical of many little cottages which used to be seen in the area and Known as 'Tai Un Nos'. These were dwellings built on common land, which if started one day and having smoke coming out of the chimney by next morning, was deemed in common law, to be rightfully owned by the builder and his family. It was not uncommon for a tiny cottage such as this to be home to a family of five or six in the C19th and early C20th.'

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Southport 1 Altringham 0

Last night I went along to Haig Ave for the first time this season to see Southport take on Altringham in the Premier League of the Conference League. I must admit I will go more often if the standard is as high as it was last night. This is the top flight of non league football-next stop Division 2. I was impressed that the passes found their man and Southport played some neat possession football. Altringham, perfectly understandably, set out their stall to defend and rely on break away counter attacking. Southport had clear chances especially in the first half, especially with the wind behind them. The second half was more even until 10 minutes from the end Gray played a 'one-two' and beat the keeper.

The crowd of well over 1000 were in good spirits and certainly those around me were happy with the performance and the result. The Visiter's report is a little more down beat. The result-taken along with the victory away to Kidderminster and the draw at Cambridge-suggest that Southport has what it takes to establish themselves in this league.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Dolce Vita

Put it in your diary now; Monday 27th September Birkdale and Ainsdale Wards are combining to host a meal at the Ainsdale restaurant Dolce Vita. Tickets are available from Haydn Preece 01704 5780689 or can be reserved via this website. It promises to be a great night.

Monday, 23 August 2010

big decline in Southport Tory membership

Thanks to the investigative powers of my colleague Simon Shaw, I am able to bring you the full graphic details of the decline in Southport Tory membership all drawn from published sources. We believe that this is the lowest membership since the Constituency was formed in 1884 to go along with the smallest share of the vote achieved by Mrs Porter in the 2010 election. The big drop was in 2007 and there are no prizes for guessing what happened in that year!
Modesty prevents us show the Lib Dem graph for the same period, suffice to say that 'cross over' was achieved in this period.

Southport Flower Show update and photos

By any measurement Southport Flower Show was a great success this year. Broadly speaking the weather was fine, the trains ran -even Northern Rail seems to have got its act together. Hotels and resturants did good trade and the 'glamping' offer was well patronised.

The show itself was excellent with record numbers of entries in the competition sections. Personally I still think more could have been done for the younger gardener.

The food village has expanded and the increased number of trade exhibitors were very well recieved-with my personal favourite The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse almost selling out of kippers!(we'll forgive them for bring Morcambe Bay shrimps to Southport)

The Bloomin Book Festival got off to a good start and the breadth of entertainment had built on previous successes.

I was surprised at the limited nature of the 'Allotment' exhibits given the massive surge of interest in people growing there own. In fact my impression is that last year was better. The Floral Arts exhibits were amazing and designed around the theme of the coast.

There are more photos if you click on this picture of Tess Gerritsen speaking at the Bloomin Book Festival:

flower show '10

Twisted sex, female victims and serial killers............

according to American author Tess Gerritsen speaking at the Bloomin Book Festival at Southport Flower show on Sunday these are the components that her readers want! Apparently most US readers of detection fiction are women and they want to identify with the victim-she had no explanation for twisted sex or the fascination with  serial killing.
Ms Gerritsen is on a UK Tour including a visit to the Edinburgh Festival. The Sunday Independent featured her last week and published her schedule but managed to exclude details of her trip to Southport. Not withstanding the Indy's indifference to the event it was well attended and certainly the women sat next to me thought it was the highlight of the Show. Mind you even Ms Gerritsen's own website doesn't mention the Southport Flower Show

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Ashby de la Zouch Canal

The destination for our canal trip is Bosworth Field. The Battle was fought on 22nd August and we intend to be well away before anyone arrives to re-enact it. We have plied our way along the Oxford Canal passing through the Newbold Tunnel, navigated the challenging Hawksbury Junction on to the Coventry Canal and thus via Marston Junction on to the Ashby Canal.

The photos show the Newbold Tunnel lit with money from a regeneration programme (which also included restoring the tow path) evidence of sustainable energy on a barge (all the windmill are called Rutland 913) and the crew preparing to go to the pub.
Tomorrow we should reach Bosworth.

Monday, 16 August 2010


On my way to my holiday I stopped off at the Ryton Organic Gardens  run by the HDRA. I first joined this organisation when it had their HQ in Bocking in the south.They  moved to Warwickshire and set up some demonstration gardens, which in my memory, were a lot better in the early days. Anyway they have an excellent cafe , the sort of place you get a weeks supply of your 'five a day' in one sitting.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Esterson becoming a liability?

Despite the honeymoon reporting in some quarters of the local press the man from Kent who came to be the Labour candidate in Sefton Central does seem a tad accident prone.

Just thought you might be interested to know that Labour lost Esterson's council seat at Medway Council in a by-election held yesterday. Mr Esterson has been reported canvassing in Kent. I hope he went to the correct constituency!

617 Con
544 Labour
104 Lib Dem
45 Green
39 BNP
33 English Democrats

Not only does he not appear to know who runs Sefton council there is legitimate concern over whether he knows which neighbourhoods he represents-if you listen here at about 23min 18 sec in you'll see what I mean.

But most concerning of all is a recent ruling by the judge who is the information commissioner. Unite and Mr Esterson have a close relationship and reports of their involvement in the general election campaign have raise concerns.

Mark Pack reported some while ago about the abuse of personal data held by Unite:

Charlie Whelan’s recent interview with Left Foot Forward confirmed what’s been widely reported elsewhere, namely that Unite are running a phone canvassing operation where they are asking their members how they are intending to vote:
We’ve talked to tens of thousands, almost hundreds of thousands of people in the last couple of years and there are a proportion of Unite members who are Tories. But the current telephone canvassing we’ve been doing of Unite members shows that it’s only 8.5%. I expected it to be higher than that.
However, if you are asking people their voting intentions and then recording that information, there are special data protection rules which apply in order to protect such sensitive personal data. Yet on checking Unite’s data protection registration with the Information Commissioner, it looks as if Unite has not met these legal obligations.
That Labour simply do not get issues of personal liberty is not a new revelation-the ends justify the means. The  Commissioner has now ruled on Unite's actions following a complaint and it will surprise nobody to know that Dr Pack was correct and his complaint was upheld. 

Now what was I hearing about mass phone canvassing in Sefton Central..................

as any councillor will tell you the issue most frequently raised by the public..

That is right; dog fouling. It is therefore with great pleasure that I am able to report a new initiative in  Southport.
The Park Ranger Service's Dog Fouling Strategy which is designed to both publicise the Service's recently acquired powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for Dog-Fouling, and to serve to further educate Southport's park users/dog-walkers on the problems associated with allowing dogs to foul
our parks and greenspaces.

From August 16th-20th the Park Ranger Service will undertake an 'Operation Collar' exercise in conjunction with our colleagues from Environmental Protection.  We will be asking dog-walkers if they are carrying poop-scoop bags with them.  If they do, we will collect their details and send them a thank you letter.  If they do not............

In the process of talking to dog-walkers we will have the opportunity to discuss with them all of the issues around the problem and hopefully receive useful feedback to help us in our fight against the poop.

The plan also highlights two Dog Micro-Chipping Events (17th @ Hesketh Park; 18th @ Hatton Hill Park), and again this will also serve as a means to communicate our ethos and the illegalities of irresponsible

Thursday, 12 August 2010

New Labour MP must do more homework

The new Labour MP for Formby, Crosby and Maghull, Bill Esterson, has obviously picked up a lot of bad habits as a long-term councillor in Kent. In a recent letter to the Formby Times and Crosby Herald he made the strange allegation that Labour had no role in the running of Sefton Council, saying this:

“The Tories and Lib Dems run both the government and the council and are the only ones who can either make the cuts or stop the cuts.”

 The Porter Parry Tory leadership have often relied on the Labour party on Sefton Council  as we have previously documented at length, you do rather wish that Mr Bill Esterson MP had done more to acquaint himself with the political history of our area.

Anyway my Birkdale Ward colleague, Simon Shaw, has written to the Formby Times and Crosby Herald in the following terms to put the record straight:

Dear Editor,

In his recent letter (Formby Times 28.7.10; Crosby Herald 5.8.10) new MP Bill Esterson refers to Sefton Council being “run by the Tories and Lib Dems”. Not so!

In fact the Council is run by a three party administration with a Cabinet of 4 Lib Dems, 4 Labour and 2 Conservatives.

I appreciate that until a month or so ago Mr Esterson was a councillor in Kent, and is understandably poorly informed, but he would be well advised to check his facts before putting pen to paper.

For example, just last Thursday, Labour and Conservatives councillors voted together in Sefton’s Cabinet (over Liberal Democrat opposition) to spend £7 million the Council doesn’t have on two schemes – one in Southport and one in Bootle.

These two schemes (one a market redevelopment, the other an activity centre) were perfectly desirable. However, the simple fact is that Sefton Council will have to make even larger cuts in the near future in other areas because of the profligacy shown last week by Mr Esterson’s Labour councillor colleagues and their Tory friends.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Simon Shaw (Lib Dem, Birkdale Ward)

Monday, 9 August 2010

Sarah on data bases

It is a day for Sarah's on the blog, firstly Sarah Tisdall and now Southport Liberal Youth chair (and Birkdale resident) Sarah Harding who has an article on Lib Dem Voice

Sarah Tisdall in our Golden Dozen

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

I got an email this morning from a regular reader alerting me to the inclusion of the a posting on the  Birkdale blog in this weeks 'Golden Dozen'  over on Lib Dem Voice. It was not the sort of week when we expected such an accolade as we have been chiefly concerned with the allotment on Sefton Council-those types of posting attract a lots of hits but not via Lib Dem Blogs.

Looking back at the stats for the last couple of weeks we have had a increase in hits from USA and Europe-it's good to see our readers are keeping up with us whilst on holiday. We have picked up a couple of regular readers from Maine and Mountain View, California.

Undoubtedly our most popular post ever is the one on the Civil War in the Southport Tories, but the one that most regularly appears in the stats and seems always to feature in 'search engine' enquiries is the one about Sarah Tisdall  back in November O8. the BBC News mentioned her six months later.

Ms Tisdall was the junior civil servant who blew the whistle on Michael Hestletine's plans for the deployment of Cruise missiles and for her pains got a six months sentence. the YL's elected her as a Vice President.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

More allotments for Southport?

We continue our effort for more allotments in the borough. I was particularly pleased with the news that the may be expansion on the Town Lane site. Soil samples have been sent away and we are awaiting results which are due soon.
In the meantime a little photo of two heads of garlic grown by me on the Birkdale Irrigation site. It is that time of year when plot holders have lots of crops /surpluses to give away. Garlic is a very easy crop to grow and with so many varieties suited to the English climate now available it is well worth putting in  a row. I usually  plant in the autumn and get my supplies from the Isle of Wight Garlic farm-there are frequently  special offers in Kitchen Garden Magazine and the like. These two found their way in the the pot along with a shoulder of lamb, some veg and a bottle of red wine and shoved in a low oven (160) for 5 hours. 

Friday, 6 August 2010

2pm Birkdale Library this Saturday

Our regular monthly advice surgery will be held at Birkdale Library this Saturday 7th August at 2.00pm. All three Birkdale Councillors will be present.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

It this were a tweet I'd retweet it.

I like this, not just because I might need the Disgruntled Radical to come and do some lock labouring at short notice-but because it minds us all about the essential nature of the Labour Party

'My friend Simon McGrath has reminded us of Jim Callaghan's defiance of Boundary Commission recommendations in 1969 which would have cost Labour at least 10 seats. Actually it was worse than that. Callaghan failed to lay Orders in Council before parliament as the law required. Instead he introduced a bill to give effect to local government changes in London which he liked but also to absolve himself from the duty to lay the orders for parliamentary boundary changes which he didn't. The Lords passed the bill but with wrecking amendments. Ross McWhirter started a court action for a writ of Mandamus to order Callaghan to carry out his statutory duty as Home Secretary. In the end Callaghan laid the required orders before parliament but made sure the Labour MPs were whipped to vote against them. Consequently the 1970 election was fought on 1954 boundaries. Labour lost anyway.'

More of the story here. I remember it well.....................

Lab and Tory keep spending

At Sefton's cabinet meeting this morning Labour and Tories ganged up to keep spending money we cannot afford on pet capital schemes. It does make us laugh when the Sefton Central Labour MP keeps going on about a Con/Lib deal on Sefton. It doesn't look like that from where I'm sitting. But he's new to the area and we must give him a moment or two to find his bearings.

I have written before about the grandiose plans to for our market hall. The policy of all parties on the council was to sell the hall to a market operator as we had neither the capital to invest in it or the expertise in house to run it. At the last moment a reputable firm of market operator pulled out confirming our view that the scheme was not financial viable. Since then no private sector interest has been shown in putting up even a penny of the multi million pound required and so the full cost will fall on the council and as the officers report says there is ' substantial risk'.

Having run a populist campaign to 'keep the market' the Tory leadership feels they have to carry on with the spending -indeed to hear Mrs Porter speak you would have thought she had been persuaded to adopt Gordon Brown's economic policy. She has ,of course, previous for being a spendthrift. When the last Chief Exec proposed cutting senior managers the Tory Leadership lined up with Labour to keep the highly paid, top heavy bureaucracy. No convincing arguing has ever been produced by the Tory Leadership for their actions. There is much speculation. Our new Chief Exec is again looking at cutting down the management and it will be interesting to see how the Tories will vote. There have been a number of retirements since the previous proposal. If we had gone ahead with the original suggestions we would have save £1m.

And the cost of the market? Well todate, without a brick being laid, we have spent well over a quarter of a million pounds, almost £100,000 on one consultancy. And because of this mornings decision we will now have to pick up the borrowing costs of the multi million pound borrowing that Lab and Tories have approve.

The most regretably bit of all is that we will have to make deeper cuts into services which have a greater priority..

Many of us would like to see us have a street market in Southport. We already have a sucessful farmers' market and some brilliant continental markets-altho there was some initial oposition to those from the usual suspects. Chapel St offers an excellent venue for such an initiative. It would be good to use some of the imaginative ideas that have come forward in such a venture.

It may not have escaped your notice that Mrs Porter holds the record for the lowest Tory vote ever in Southport.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

£63k for Labour Councillor

News is just begining to leak out of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority that suggests Labour Councillor Mark Dowd is collecting £63k a year-a figure which I think excludes expences. Further details to follow.

Sefton green flags

Mike Booth over on Kew Focus has just posted a story on Green flag awards in the borough. There is even a picture of Meols Ward Councillor David Rimmer-now that is a collectors item.

If this is Left David Milliband lets have more of it..

No Left Turn?
The leader in the Times this morning beseeched David Milliband to reconsider the direction of his leadership campaign.
I thought that this was going to be another article telling Labour that if they wanted to be fit to govern then they ought to turn their attention to making themselves attractive partners for a coalition with the Lib Dems. The Times suggests that Milliband D has endorsed a series of priorities which 'suggest that he is heading decisively towards the left'. My eyes raced along the column to see what policies Milliband had championed. Imagine my delight when I discovered that his sin was to endorse a Mansion Tax and wider industrial democracy. It seems to me that the older Milliband may just have begun to sus what policies might appeal to a wider electorate looking to endorse a genuinely progressive coalition. No wonder The Times is unhappy.

Of course there is still along way to travel. I have yet to hear a convincing apology from the Labour Party for its decade of abuse of our liberties or the knee jerk centralising instincts of Gordon Brown. I guess we shall wait still longer for them to acknowledge the need for an ethical foreign policy along the lines that Robin Cook would have endorse, but it is one small step toward a policy position that makes it possible to believe that some in the Labour hierarchy recognise the direction along which they need to travel-even if The Times cannot see it.

Lib Dem Gardening Society

Roy Connell has emailed me (see below) he and Beth are part of a fast growing band of back garden allotmenteers which have sprung to life in recent years. Amongst their number are folk who are now putting their names down for allotment sites. I know my colleague Mike Booth is keen to expand the provision available and I have heard talk of the site off Town Lane being expanded. Kropotkin would approve. Anyway back to Roy. He has sent in a far superior picture to the one I posted yesterday. I am very impressed by the variety of crops they he and Beth are growing-and it is certainly brave to be growing carrots without them being covered up. I can only conclude that Ainsdale does not suffer from the ravages of the carrot fly in they way that the rest of the town does. Here is Roys mail:

'Just read today's blog and the story on your beans(painted lady) and yes
I agree with your daughter the photos from your phone are lousy !

I am attaching one that I took the other week from our little allotment
(at home ) this was Beth's idea but I have been drawn into it , we have
been going for a few years now and getting better all the time ( thanks
to advice from Dave Sumner and Pat) . We normally grow Potatoes , runner
beans , onions, carrots , cabbage if we can find the space, and this
year some leeks . Its very rewarding , and its amazing what crop you can
get from a small patch of land.'

We should add that the Southport Flower Show has a 'Grow Your Own' section including a demonstration allotment.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Southport Flower Show tells me to pick my beans

I'm still getting a hang of this tweeting business. Southport Flower Show tweeted this afternoon, or strictly retweeted, the advice for allotment holders published in the Observer this weekend. Now I take the view that most advice published on such topics in our national newspapers is aimed at the SE of England so the suggestion that I should do this or that is usually a tad early. I was browsing round a second hand book shop the other day and I came across the first volume of Gladstone's diaries which cover the period1825-1832. He was living in what today is Sefton and he notes in one of his first entries on 3rd August 1825:

'weather rainy. This country not near so burnt up as in the south-crops not so generally ripe'

And so it proves today 185 years late, it is still raining and my beans are not yet ready for harvesting. But I did pop in to the allotment and get a few French beans for tea. As the Observer says:

The negligent harvester's dream plant is the French bean. Known in China and Japan as the 'three times bean', sandomame , it can be eaten podded out like peas after the bean stage or grown for dried beans for winter eating. If left for a few weeks after that it is a good candidate forseed saving.

My daughter is always telling me how rubbish the camera on my phone is -and I guess she has a point- but it was good enough to record my little harvest and also a picture of the flowers on my runner beans. the variety is Painted Lady and they were grown in Gladstone's day not for their beans but for their delicate flowers

The Liberal Hundred Thousand

Well logically there are another 99,999 of these certificates around somewhere. Has anyone else come across one? This one belonged to Mrs Shollick  who was a stalwart of the Gladstone Women's Liberal Association in Southport and active in the Sussex Ward-now part of Norwood Ward. She handed the certificate over to canvassers in about 1975 including Norman K Jones a long time Southport councillor who moved to Cornwall on retirement and actively supported Andrew George. His widow Barbara still lives in the West Country. Norman's father was a leading Methodist Minister in Southport. 

The Gladstone Women's Liberal Association continued to flourish well into the the 1960's and held a weekly Whist Drive. I have their account books for the period 1960-1968 and I can reveal that in this month in 1960 they held four Whist Drives and raised £3.7s 0d as well as collecting £1. 1s 0d in subscriptions (surely that should read 1 guinea). In the same period they paid out £2. 4s 0p in prizes and for 11/6d paid for a share of a teapot-some tea pot!

The Liberal Party had 're-united' in the 1923 General Election, the so called Free Trade election, under Asquith. In Southport Sir John Brunner (junior) won the Southport seat for the Liberals. I once met his agent whilst canvassing! The Liberal Summer Schools were at their height with Beveridge, Keynes, Ramsey Muir, E.D.Simon and the  redoubtable Margery Corbett Ashley -a   leading campaigner for women's suffrage who went on to help found the Townswomen Guild and stood several times for Parliament-were in the vanguard.The following year,1928, the Yellow Book -Britain's Industrial Future was published. This formed the heart of the most progressive manifesto at the 1929 General Election. The shorter version was called; 'We Can Conquer Unemployment.' It's two key themes were the restructuring of industry on the principle of partnership and secondly the belief that central government cannot and should not try to control every aspect of policy. There is still much to achieve. 
I think the policy items picked out in the Certificate are of interest-Temperance, Land Reform. the League of Nations, Disarmament, Equal Laws for Men and Women and Progressive Local Government-whatever that is?
Thanks to Michael Braham who was in that canvassing team with Norman Jones for lending the certificate to the Birkdale blog 

Lib Dem blog of the Year Awards

Helen Duffett launches the Lib Dem blog of the year awards over on Lib Dem Voice. Send in your nominations by email to helen@libdemvoice.org and remember to state which award category you’re nominating for, in each case.
She writes this year’s awards are as follows:

Best new Liberal Democrat blog (started since 1st September 2009)

Best blog from a Liberal Democrat holding public office (The Tim Garden Award)

Best use of blogging / social networking / e-campaigning by a Liberal Democrat

Best posting on a Liberal Democrat blog (since 1st September 2009)

Best non-Liberal Democrat politics blog

Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year

To be eligible for ‘Best blog from a Liberal Democrat holding public office’, a blog should be written by a councillor, elected mayor, assembly member, or parliamentarian.

The ‘Best use of blogging / social networking / e-campaigning award’ recognises the expanding role of both blogging and the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in politics. It’s a deliberately open category: you might want to nominate a good campaigning YouTube video, or a particularly interesting Twitter feed.

The Best non-Liberal Democrat politics blog winner will be chosen by you, dear reader (should you choose to take part). Once the judges have chosen their shortlist, these blogs will be put up for public vote here on Lib Dem Voice.

Here’s this year’s judging panel, (who aren’t eligible to win, by the way, so please avoid nominating them):

Prateek Buch, who blogs at consider, evaluate, act

Jonathan Calder, who blogs at Liberal England

Lee Chalmers, co-founder of the Downing Street Project, leadership consultant and blogger at Lee’s random blog: Leadership, politics and women’s stuff

Ryan Cullen from Lib Dem Voice, who also runs Lib Dem Blogs and his own blog at The Artesea

Helen Duffett (that’s me) from Lib Dem Voice and also my own blog

Costigan Quist, winner of Lib Dem Blog of the Year 2009, for Himmelgarten Cafe

Mary Reid, former Kingston Upon Thames councillor, who continues to blog at Mary Reid

Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire

Ros Taylor, Deputy Editor of the Guardian’s Comment is Free

Andy Williamson, Director of Digital Democracy at the Hansard Society

Well obviously the Birkdale blog is written by councillors and it might be of interest to you to know that the most visited posting is the one about the disintergration of Southport Tories:

Saturday, 30 January 2010
Southport Conservative Civil War-the story so far

'It is hard to keep pace with the civil war in Southport Tories. Newspaper headlines like: ‘Angry Rift leaves Town’s Tories in Crisis’, Former Tory MP backs Lib Dems, Feuding between Southport Conservatives leaves Brenda Porter's campaign in disarray, ‘Cameron puts Southport Tories in ‘Special Measures’ or Respected Tory ex Mayor Suspended, or Former Tory Leader (Tom Glover) Suspended, or 'Former Tory Leader (Les Byrom) leaves Party', they keep coming.

The full story is still worth reading

Sefton's capital programme

Even before the present financial crisis Sefton Lib Dems have been anxious that the capital programme that the council was following was unaffordable. this led us to move ammendments to last years budget to review some schems. Sadly the Tories voted with Labour and things have gone ahead, We have another round of reviewing the capital budget at the cabinet meeting on Thursday and I hopwe that at least one other party on the council will see sense.

Readers will remember that our Tory leadership have not been conspicuous in demonstrating thrift and when the former Chief Exec proposed removing a number of senior posts and stram lining the council's management they ganged up with Labour defeat the suggestion.  You can read more about those events by following the stories tagged below.

Birkdale attracts the stars

We've had quite a rush of sporting activity in Birkdale. Lancs CCC 2nd XI have been to play and last week we had the Women's Open Golf. I went along on Saturday afternoon and followed the eventual winner, Yani Tseng, around the closing holes.
It was good to see some many people there. I'm not sure how much this event is worth to the local economy but wandering around I met  many locals who has picked up jobs and the hotels and guest houses must have been full. There were the usual crop of stories of local letting out their houses to caddies and journalists.
The event itself was a success despite the vagaries of the weather. The crowds were good and it was comfortable to walk round-sometime at the Men's Open the crowd is really 'oppressive'. I am always amazed how quickly the 'village' springs us with its hospitality tents, retail outlets and media centre.
there was excellent media coverage especially on BBC2 and on ESPN. I'm in no position to judge the quality of the golf but I was impressed with Yani Tseng's shots off the tee. She seem to effortless hit the ball prodigious distances and one long distance putt in particular had the crowd gasping.
Now of all the pictures I have seen of the links course the one I like best is the one on the Bruichladdich special edition-surely a dram to rival Auld Johnson!

Next year, we understand, Birkdale may once again be hosting Lancs County Criket Club in possibly two four day matches. The wicket at Old Trafford is being relaid and turned round 90%. This will mean that the Ist XI will be on its travels and returning to the likes of Birkdale and Lytham St Annes-whether they will go to that bit of Lancs across the sands that is now in Cumbria I've no idea.