Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Interesting email from COMPASS



Richmond By-election

Dear Iain, 

A progressive alliance isn’t something we build for the future, but something we can create right now. Zac Goldsmith has given us a chance in Richmond Park – we must take it. Today Compass is issuing the following statement calling on Labour and the Greens to give the Liberal Democrats a clear run in the by-election:

The Richmond Park by-election is a huge progressive opportunity. Zac Goldsmith ran a racially divisive campaign for the London mayoralty, and was staunchly in favour of the Leave side in this year’s referendum. Now, his decision to trigger this latest contest – in which he is the de facto Tory candidate - offers a chance to reject the politics of division, reduce the Tories’ already slender majority, oppose “hard” Brexit in a seat that was overwhelming remain - and show what can happen when progressive parties work together, not against each other.
This is why we are calling on the progressive parties to get round the table and agree which has the maximum chance of defeating the Tories. The Lib Dems held the seat until 2005, and in 2010 won 43% of the vote – and the result of the Witney by-election suggests they could win in Richmond Park, if other progressive parties agree not to run competing candidates that simply wastes votes and let the Tories in.
We call on the Liberal Democrats to select an anti-third runway candidate and reflect the pro-European views of the 70% in the seat who voted for remain. There now needs to be active negotiations between the Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens that includes a reciprocal alliance when the next appropriate local or national election occurs. This is the best way to ensure competing candidates do not run and let the Tories in.

We know this is tough on local parties that want to use by-elections to become more visible. The need to act this way is entirely the product of our toxic electoral system that ensures the majority of voters are now simply ignored. There are some occasions when bigger issues are at stake.

There is a precedent. Such an alliance worked in Tatton in 1997 when the progressive parties put the national interest before party interest and stood down to defeat the Tories. It is such a moment once more.
This is a huge political moment and we urge you to get the message out – please Tweet and get on Facebook - the Tories can and must be defeated In Richmond Park.
If you live in Richmond and are interested in helping Compass organise a local meeting ahead of the by-election, please get in touch. And if you can, please donate to support us in building a progressive alliance. 
Very best,

The Compass Management Committee

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Thursday, 6 October 2016

Birkdale Liberal Club remembered on the anniversary of Baron de Forest's death

This morning the Liberal History Group tweeted: ON THIS DAY 6th October 1968:

The Baron fought one of the 1910 elections in Southport where his Jewish antecedence played a large part in the Tory campaign Their candidate was a Col White, so you cannimagine the use that was made of his name in contrast to the foreign sounding Maurice de Forest.  

The postcard picture of the club was found in the Grosvenor Road garage  of a  Mr Williamson some years ago. I think his father was on the committee of the Birkdale Liberal Club. (The garage also had a copy of Lloyd Georges 1929 Manifesto We Can Conquer Unemployment which has featured on the blog before) The Coulton’s bread shop will be familiar to  people in Birkdale . A delivery boy  with a large basket used to deliver a loaf to local residents each week. The children in the area used to run after him shouting” Coulton’s Bread is as hard as lead people who eat it drop down dead “ I think the bakery was in Upper Aughton Road.
Birkdale Liberal Club 1910 General Election
The reference to CB on one of the posters  is Charles Brumm who was a leading Birkdale Liberal whose German ancestry caused him to resign the Presidency of the party in  September1914.

The Birkdale Liberal Club did not sell intoxicants but I think there was an arrangement whereby those wanted to could bring in alcohol.

The Birkdale Nightingale, National Poetry Day

The Birkdale Nightingale

On Spring nights you can hear them
two miles away, calling their mates
to the breeding place, a wet slack in the dunes.
Lovers hiding nearby are surprised
by desperate music. One man searched all night
for a crashed spaceship.

For amphibians, they are terrible swimmers:
where it's tricky to get ashore, they drown.
By day they sleep in crevices under the boardwalk,
run like lizards from cover to cover
without the sense to leap when a gull snaps.
Yes, he can make himself fearsome,
inflating his lungs to double his size.
But cars on the coast road are not deterred.

She will lay a necklace of pearls in the reeds.
Next morning, a dog will run into the water and scatter them.
Or she'll spawn in a footprint filled with salt rain
that will dry to a crust in two days.

Still, when he calls her and climbs her
they are well designed. The nuptial pads on his thighs
velcro him to her back. She steadies beneath him.

The puddle brims with moonlight.
Everything leads to this.

Crosby U3A visit to Bootle Town Hall

 Crosby U3A (University of the third age) visited Bootle Town Hall recently. These tours of the Mayoral corridor and the Council Chamber are very popular with local history groups. Bootle Town Hall has a lot history recorded in the gifts that the Council has received over the years. My experience is that  the U3A bring a extra local knowledge with them that adds to our understanding of history of the building and the borough. This visit was no exception as among those attending was the redoubtable Brenda Murray whose long life has been spent studying the history our area.

I met Brenda again later in the week when we both attended A Night at the Opera hosted by Sacred Heart Catholic College and performed by Una Voce. Brenda proudly told me she was the college's oldest old girl having left in 1942.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Suspended Southport Tory Councillor disowned by former colleagues after Police deny bizarre claim

Claims made by Councillor David Barton at (21st September) Southport Area Committee that an unnamed officer from Merseyside Police sanctioned his plans for a ‘private army’ to patrol the streets of Southport has prompted a senior Lib Dem councillor to call for an inquiry.

Birkdale Councillor Simon Shaw is Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Police Panel which oversees the work of the Police Commissioner.  He was written to the Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, asking her to ensure that “Merseyside Police investigate to establish who is telling the truth here.”

Last week suspended Conservative councillor David Barton announced his controversial plan for a ‘private army’ to patrol Southport’s streets and this provoked much discussion at the Area Committee meeting.

Local police inspectors attending the meeting expressed their concerns about the proposal and said that they had not been consulted.  However Cllr Barton then proceeded to read out a prepared statement in which he claimed that Merseyside Police had “sent out a detective from head office” who allegedly told him that “there is no issue with adopting this approach.”

However suspicions were raised when Cllr David Barton refused to give the name of the officer who he claimed had sanctioned the move, saying “it would be inappropriate at this time to disclose that officer's name”, despite Cllr Shaw asking him twice.

Cllr Shaw condemned the secrecy, saying: “Cllr Barton’s claims about what this ‘secret policeman’ said are highly dubious.  As he is implying that someone in the police is not telling the truth, I think it is essential that his claims are fully investigated.”

“In particular I am concerned about his bizarre jibe addressed to the local police inspectors who attended the Area Committee when he said ‘if you don't know about it, maybe there's a reason why not’.  It’s all very suspect.”

“That’s why I have written to Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy, advising her of the facts and asking her to ensure that Merseyside Police investigate who, exactly, is telling the truth here.”

The following is a transcript of Cllr David Barton’s prepared statement:

“I have read Merseyside Police's and Southport BID's comments where it is claimed that they knew nothing about security patrols.  I can inform you however that the Force did send out a detective from head office - if you don't know about it, maybe there's a reason why not - I can however assure you that discussion was had on this very matter.  The reply I received was that there is no issue with adopting this approach to tackling anti-social behaviour and that anyone can have a security firm on the proviso that they are fully vetted and licensed.  It would be inappropriate at this time to disclose that officer's name; it is not the time to discuss a private conversation of an operational nature.  It is strictly speaking a contract between local businesses and the security firm.  And the response to Southport BID: with all due respect, sir, you have had over 18 months to deal with this issue of anti-social behaviour.”

David Barton
 Conservative Councillors, Terry Jones, Pat Ball and Harry Bliss, have recently discussed the issues regarding a private security firm being recruited to patrol Southport. This has raised some key concerns.

Cllr Harry Bliss, also Chairman of Southport Conservatives, says ”Cllr Jones, Ball and myself and the Southport Conservative Association are disappointed with the recent actions of Independent Councillor, David Barton and his unwillingness to take expert advice.

We are disappointed that Cllr Barton decided not to enter into any sort of consultation with those responsible for securing the safety of our town. We did not have any prior knowledge either”.

He continued “Rather than just launch this ‘private’ initiative, we believe a consultation should have taken place to identify any specific problems and then agree the best way to tackle them”.

Cllr Jones added “We wish to make it very clear that we do not support or approve of the actions taken by Cllr Barton. We believe the safety of residents, visitors and businesses is a priority. We will do our utmost to gain the correct support that is needed to make this happen. We are meeting with the necessary organisations to ensure everyone is safe within Southport”.

The Liberal Tune Book 1910

The Liberator Song Book brought out a new edition (again) this year. There are some new songs and one or two from the back catalogue of the 1960's and 70's. One such 'For all the Trots' -a song which one can't but help feel has some contemporary relevance-was included despite the editors failure to track down the tune. I was able to help out, it was set to the tune written by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1906 for the hymn 'For All the Saints'  which he called Sine Nomine (literally, "without name") in reference to its use on the Feast of All Saints,. In common with all their songbooks the Liberator editors had unearthed some songs from a hundred years or more ago.

This brought to mind that my old colleague Bill Leathwood who had given me a copy of a Liberal Song Sheet from 1910 that had been his father's. You can read about Bill in a posting that I wrote when he died aged 92 in 2011. He had been our Chief Whip when I was on Cheshire County Council