Thursday, 26 April 2012

We can conquer unemployment

The. Liberal Party......pledges itself to find immediate employment for those now out of work on works of national utility and development, many of these works, like electricity, telephones, housing, roads, and railways, being long overdue. It is surely better, instead of wasting our substance by spending £70,000,000 a year on 'doles' for which there is no return, to lay out this enormous expenditure in providing work on plans which will leave the nation richer and more efficient for its tasks. The details of these plans are set forth in the liberal pamphlet 'We Can Conquer Unemployment'.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


An on-line petition was recently launched in Southport to demonstrate the level of support for Sefton Council introducing doorstep collection of cardboard and plastic has already attracted over 1000 signatures.  Birkdale councillor Simon Shaw, Sefton’s Cabinet Member – Environmental, has said a big “thank you” to all those who have signed.

The petition was started as part of a plan to secure a share of Eric Pickles’ £250m “Weekly Collection Support Scheme” in order to fund the extra cost of adding cardboard and plastic recycling to the current paper, cans and glass weekly collections.

Councillor Shaw said: “The response so far has been absolutely fantastic.  I’d like to thank all those who have signed the on-line petition.  For those who have not yet signed, the petition is still open.”

“Local Government Minister Eric Pickles made it clear that this Scheme is intended to help councils deliver what local people want.  The 1000 signatures already submitted clearly show the level of ‘credible support from local people’, in the Government’s own phrase.”

“If Sefton Council ends up being successful in its bid then this Government funding would go a long way towards covering the £1m a year extra cost of a doorstep collection of cardboard and plastic.”

The petition can still be signed at  

Monday, 16 April 2012

The second snippet of the BBC Horizon programme on the Mondragon Co operatives. This clip concentrates on the role of the local Catholic Priest and the inspiration he found in the writings of Robert Owen. It also looks at the role that Sydney and Beatrice Webb in turning the Labour Party against Producer Co-ops -an antagonism that has lasted for nigh on a century (which is well worth recalling when some Labour folk suddenly try to claim that they aways supporte them.) Their Party most decidedly did not!

Friday, 13 April 2012


Lib Dems in Southport have been in the forefront of the campaign for a fairer deal on public transport locally.  At the 28 March meeting of the Southport Area Committee, Cambridge Ward’s Pat Keith raised the issue of the 40% increase in Arriva Child Bus Fares.  She successfully persuaded the councillors to unanimously back a motion calling for Arriva to rethink the massive increase.

Now my Birkdale Ward colleague Councillor Shaw has carried out an investigation which reveals that Arriva charge higher bus fares in Southport and Formby than they do in Liverpool.

“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful.  Our local Arriva bus fares are clearly excessive,” comments Simon.

“A single journey from Hillside to Southport town centre is now £2.30 for an adult, or £1.50 for a child.  In Liverpool, Arriva would only charge £2.00 adult or £1.30 for a child for the same length journey.  Why are Southport and Formby residents being discriminated against?”

Councillor Shaw points out that Arriva’s Southport buses are anyway likely to be some of the most profitable in the company.

“When I was first elected as a councillor in the 1980s I served on the Passenger Transport Committee when the buses were publicly operated by the MPTE.  The Committee used to get regular financial reports and they always showed that the Southport Division had the lowest net costs in the whole of the MPTE.”

“The simple fact is that Southport is an ideal shape to run a profitable bus company – it’s long and thin, so that you can run lots of efficient routes starting at one end of the town and ending at the other.”

“I’m convinced that Arriva are using their near-monopoly position in Southport to rake in excessive profits at the expense of local passengers.”

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

lessons in economic justice for today

Jo Grimond and Robert Oakeshott visited the Mondragon co-ops in the late 1970's and returned to write books about the lessons they had learned.  Below is the first part of a documentary about the Co-ops that date from the same era.

Southport Lib Dems back Pugh on Internet privacy

There can be no doubt where Southport MP John Pugh stands on Theresa May's attempt to widen the Internet snooping powers of government. He was one of the signatures of the letter published in the Guardian and Independent last week which began:

Letters Liberal Democrat MPs stand up for data privacy

Liberal Democrats have a proud history of defending civil liberties, both in opposition and more recently in a coalition government. We successfully opposed the Labour government's undermining of data privacy in 2009, and since taking office in 2010 we have turned back the tide of Labour's erosion of these liberties. So far we have destroyed the ID cards database, halted the indefinite retention of innocent people's DNA, turned off the ContactPoint database, stopped the mass fingerprinting of children without permission from their parents, and ended child detention for immigration purposes.

Just a few months ago at our spring conference in Gateshead, we reaffirmed our commitment to "undo the damage done [by] Labour's assault on basic freedoms". We called for stronger safeguards on existing surveillance measures to guarantee that the balance of power is firmly in favour of ordinary citizens. We asserted the Liberal Democrats' long-standing tradition of protecting human rights, and agreed that it is our "duty … to safeguard basic freedoms against the encroachment of state power". Liberal Democrats all over the country have sought to reverse the substantial erosion of individual freedoms, as the government committed to do in the coalition agreement in 2010.

This follows an angry briefing from Special Advisers to Lib Dem Bloggers and Cleggs intial appearance on BBC radio all trying to suggest that this was an issue of 'messaging etc.-see two examples here  and here.

Given the strength of feeling in the party it is not surprising that there has been some rowing back. Tim Farron either on his own initiative or as part of a rescue package has been doing a tour of the television studios pledging to 'kill the proposals'.

Cameron on his flight to S.E. Asia has let it be known:

..... that senior Lib Dems were "round the table" when plans for powers to monitor internet communication were drawn

We have been here before. The list is getting too long where the Quad have agreed policies which so offend Lib Dems (and are not part of the agreement) that the party has to distance itself from them.This issue is discussed in Jonathan Calder posting and he comes to the rather charitable conclusion that those advising Clegg are out of touch with the party. Others may think that there are many excellently well qualified folk who are in touch with the party who were not chosen to advice! It is a bit like a GP who employs a 'dragon' as a receptionist to protect him/her from patients. The one who does the choosing is responsible.

It is not necessary to accept all of Professor Grayson's analysis of the coalition to recognise that what we have here is a political problem where the Quad may be more united as a group than the Leadership is with the party.

the swift action of the Lib Dems MP's in writing to the press and gathering at short notice 17 signatures at least headed off the disaster that would have befallen the party if we'd started to argue in public about something so central to our purpose. Nevertheless the serial lack of political judgement of our leaders and the power of patronage could, I fear, have produced an ambitious MP desperate to be a Minister who would have been willing to go and defend the proposals. Thank goodness we were spared that!

Jullian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, has started a petition to gather support for the Liberal view on this issue. There is now a Southport version which can be signed here:

Monday, 9 April 2012

finally got the spuds planted

I just managed to get the potatoes planted on Good Friday-the traditional day for planting spuds. This is not because of some scheme of lunar planting but rather that with the introduction of Avebury days allotment holders had a holiday at about the right time to plant potatoes.

This year we are sticking with Red Duke of York and Kestral.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

On iplayer -If you get the trivia question about William Wallace boy chorister BBC Radio 4 has the answer

If you get the trivia question about William Wallace in a Lib Dem quiz one evening BBC Radio 4 are broadcasting all the possible answers on Tuesday

Now on iplayer same link


Last month I reported how my Birkdale Ward colleague Cllr Simon Shaw was pushing for Doorstep Cardboard and Plastic Collection to be introduced – with financial help from the Government’s £250m “Weekly Collection Support Scheme”.

Now Simon, who is Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member – Environmental (that’s ‘Bins Czar’ to you and me) is calling for residents to show whether they support the bid via an on-line petition at .

Simon explains: “We are just at the start of a lengthy three stage process run by Eric Pickles’ Department for Communities and Local Government, with the final bids being due in mid-August.  I have always been aware of strong public support locally for the idea of the Council collecting cardboard and plastic.”

For certain bids the Government’s own guidance asks for Councils to confirm that they have ‘credible support from local people’ and that’s where local residents can help by signing the on-line petition.”

“If Sefton Council ends up being successful in its bid then this Government funding would go a long way towards covering the £1m a year extra cost of a doorstep collection of cardboard and plastic.”

“Eric Pickles has made it clear that the Government Scheme is intended to help councils deliver what local people want.  That’s why I hope as many as possible will sign the on-line petition – a minute is all it takes.”

The petition can be signed at