Thursday, 6 July 2017

Do not sign up to a Ruritanian costume drama played out to esoteric rules- a look at my Mayoral year

I have been surprised by the number of people who have asked me to post the contribution I made at the Mayor Making. So here are my notes:

Congratulations to the new Mayor and his wife Wendy

I would particularly like to thank my wife and three daughters who have been a great support

Council staff- esp Mike Hassett. Kevin and Stephen (my immediate predecessors) I know share my view; Mike is conscientious to a fault, 100% reliable, determined to do his best and takes great pride in his work. Amongst all the chaos of the last year, he was the one fixed star, I'm sorry he is not here to hear me say so.

To my chaplain, Rod Garner who gave me support well above the call of duty. He planned an excellent Civic Service which was appreciated by the many people who turned up. Rod also provided the space for me to reflect on the role, sadly he is not here either to hear me say good things about him. 

When I became Mayoral year ago I had a little list of things I wanted to do. I had a vision that the Mayoralty could reach out and confer civic recognition and thanks to people in our community who have often been excluded. I am pleased that I have ticked almost all of them off. I suggest, Your Worship, you do the same, it will help you give some shape and direction to your year and stop you be dragged along on the tide of other peoples’ agendas

Some would like to recruit you into a Ruritanian costume drama played out to esoteric rules. Do not be captured by them. You have been elected not appointed, have some democratic self-respect. We serve the people not some moribund set of rules in a book of etiquette that can be used to intimidate rather than include people. 

Some of the most important things I have done without pomp and circumstance, no car, no driver, no civic regalia, indeed on my bike

Ernest Jones near death, waiting for Legion d’honeur in his bed in hosp bed. I got a phone call, at short notice that all was at last in place. At his bedside I read the citation that came with his medal:  'As we contemplated this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.'

South Sefton Adult Ed centre, pouring rain, I turned up on my bike -drivers day off- dripping wet, penetrated my allegedly waterproofs cloths.I was to present certificates to adult learners, many who had not flourished at school and to the world their lives may have look unsuccessful. But I met folk determined to turn around their lives. Often in difficult personal circumstances, they had achieved. Education was the golden key that unlocks a better future.

In your year, Your Worship, you will meet many folk who enrich our communities: volunteers, gardeners, youth groups, faith organisation, foodbanks the list goes on and on. You will discover the vibrant music scene in the borough including vol choirs who sing in nursing homes, Musical theatre, full-scale choral societies, and small-scale chamber choirs of amazing quality. All of them enrich our communities and make this a good place to live.

Like me, you will take part in solemn acts of remembrance for those who died in two world wars and conflicts since. During your year you will mark the 100th anniversary of Sandgrounder R G Masters gaining the Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery. We owe an enormous debt to that generation.

Back to my little list: 

Mental Health 1st Civic Reception on World Mental Health day
1st Civic visit to the mosque
1st Civic reception for the LGBT+ community

Migrant workers World cake day celebration
Homeless- Christmas day lunch at the Shelter, Life for life and this week Emmaus

All on my little list

One item not achieved. One item on my little list I have not ticked off. I sometimes sit in the Mayor's Parlour and look at the list of those who have had the Freedom of the Borough conferred on them.

After 40 years there is not one women's name. I have politely pointed this out and made a firm suggestion to the powers that be. I got no response. I think now is the time that this should be rectified. 

Since the Sefton was established in 1974 only soldiers and sportsmen have been given the highest honour that the borough can bestow. Surely there are people from the Arts, Science, Industry, Academia and other walks of life who deserve this recognition. Above all else surely there ONE are women who deserve this honour.

Jean Alexander was an active citizen of the borough as well as being known to British television viewers as Hilda Ogden in the soap opera Coronation Street, a role she played from 1964 until 1987, and also as Auntie Wainwright in the long-running sitcom Last of the Summter Wine from 1988 to 2010. For her role in Coronation Street, she won the 1985 Royal Television Society Award for Best Performance, and received a 1988 BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actress.

During her acting career, she has received many accolades. It is surely time that her hometown honoured her.


To everything, there is a season, and my time as Mayor has come to an end. It is a privilege to serve. I have tried to do it to the best of my ability with the help and support of my family. It only remains for me to wish you, your worship, and Wendy, every success in your endeavours and when your course is done I am sure you will look back on the twelve months as a rewarding and fruitful time in public office

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Time there was a women with the Freedom of the Borough in Sefton , sign the petition


Please support this petition to make Jean Alexander the first individual women to be given the Freedom of the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton. Follow this link to SeftonSays to sign the petition.
When I became Mayor of  Sefton a year ago I had a little list of things I wanted to do. I had a vision that the Mayoralty could reach out and confer civic recognition and thanks to people in our community who have often been excluded. I was delighted to be the first Mayor to visit the Mosque, to host the first civic reception for the LGBT+ people, visit projects for the people who are homeless and to hold a reception to mark World Mental Health Day.
One item on my little list I have not ticked off. I sometimes sit in the Mayor's Parlour and look at the list of those who have had the Freedom of the Borough conferred on them. After 40 years there is not one women's name. I have politely pointed this out and made a firm suggestion to the powers that be. I got no response. I think now is the time that this should be rectified. 



Since the Sefton was established in 1974 only soldiers and sportsmen have been given the highest honour that the borough can bestow. Surely there are people from the Arts, Science, Industry, Academia and other walks of life who deserve this recognition. Above all else surely there are women who deserve this honour.

Sign the petition here

Jean Alexander was an active citizen of the borough as well as being known to British television viewers as Hilda Ogden in the soap opera Coronation Street, a role she played from 1964 until 1987, and also as Auntie Wainwright in the long-running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine from 1988 to 2010. For her role in Coronation Street, she won the 1985 Royal Television Society Award for Best Performance, and received a 1988 BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actress.




When I responded to the vote of thanks moved at the Mayor Making for the new Mayor I once again drew attention to this omission. I informed the new Mayor that I would be moving a motion at the next meeting of the Council that no more men should be added to the list until there is an equal number of women. I went on to propose that the first women to be granted this honour should be the late Jean Alexander. Jean lived in the borough for many years and was well known in the area. Her fame came from her role as a TV actress, she was for 23 year Hilda Ogden in Granada Television's Coronation Street. During her acting career she has received many accolades. It is surely time that her home town honoured her.


Sign the petition here
1st LGBT+ reception
with the Imam and Rabbi
Christmas Day serving lunch at homeless shelter

engaging with employers on World Mental Health Day


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

70th Anniverary of the Birkdale West by election

Our special history blogger writes:


This week seventy years ago voters went to the polls in the Birkdale West By-election.  The Ward had remained a Tory “Rotten Borough” for years. It had gone unopposed since 1912 .Indeed  Sir Herbert Barber, the one- time  Council leader, once  told me that the Liberals actually signed a nomination paper on behalf the Conservative candidate. It was felt that this Ward was simply not worth contesting. It was claimed at the time that the St James’ parish church,   which covered the Ward, had more millionaires than any other in England.



Earlier in 1946 the Liberal party’s Reconstruction Committee , which had been set up after the 1945 General Election, had made a number of proposals including the celebration of Foundation Day on 31st May each year and the setting up of a Liberal Party newspaper known as the Liberal Newscard, later re-named Liberal News. Councillor Ted Tomlinson, the Constituency Chairman visualised 1,000 people locally ordering the new publication.    Whilst the  Agent, Harry Edwards saw Liberal News as the counterpart of the Labour Party levy. It is doubtful whether the paper every had a substantial  readership. Although when I was Liberal News Officer between 1971 and 1973 I managed to build up a round of 30 copies for delivery each week.



John Sharp Higham
Back in 1946 the Liberal Party were undergoing their first post-war revival. It was short-lived but in Southport ex England International footballer Billy Watson gained Sussex Ward  and  Bank Manager Roly Wood  gained Ainsdale Ward in the November Municipal Elections The meant that the Liberals had sixteen members on a Council of 60. It was felt that if the Party could continue to attract high calibre candidates they could make further gains.




John Higham was the son of  John Sharp Higham, a former MP for Sowerby  who had repudiated the Coupon in 1918 when he was defeated. The Highams were related to the Hartleys  of Jam of Christianna fame {Southport's first female Mayor and a staunch Liberal) . Higham Snr. had  been President of the Southport Liberal Association until his death in 1932.  Young John and his wife Pat were  well known charity workers  in Southport . They lived at 50 Oxford Road  where they had an outdoor swimming pool in the garden( probably the first in Southport). Their home was” open house” to all manner of charitable events in Birkdale. When I was preparing the constituency  Centenary Exhibition in 1977 Pat Higham lent me her husband’s scrapbook of the campaign. It was apparent that the Tories were furious when Higham announced his candidature at a meeting of the Ward Association  held in the Birkdale Liberal Club. The Ward Chairman, John Sanders explained that for too long the Liberals had been prepared to compromise their principles  but there was a need to fight and get younger  people elected to the Council. Higham was forty-two and considerably younger than Jean Brookes, his Conservative opponent.  The Tories accused the Liberals of deliberately trying to prevent more women from gaining election to the Council. The Southport Guardian in one of its last political Editorials refuted the Tory claims pointing out that  he Liberals had always supported women’s rights and  Mrs Margaret  Wintringham was one of the first women to be elected to Parliament in 1921 as a Liberal.



Such was the interest shown that more than 63% voted on a cold December day. The Southport Guardian referred to the “whispering campaign” as few voters were prepared to admit that they intended to vote Liberal. John Higham was obviously a hard-working candidate and it was reported to he had canvassed a few houses in each road in the Ward. All the Liberal team wore red roses on election day instead of rosettes. Despite the fact that at the time Birkdale West was solidly  Conservative the Tories scraped home by just 69 votes. The Birkdale West returning officer  Alderman Ernest Charlton, though a Tory,  commented after the count that he was sure that John Higham would soon be elected to the Council. Although Higham vowed to fight  the seat  again he never did citing pressure of work in his Manchester textile business. By 1949 the Higham family  had moved to Styal in Cheshire and it was  not until 1961 that Jack Smith-Hughes finally won Birkdale West for the Liberals but that is an altogether different story.


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Delivering with wiches and warlocks in Richmond

All Hallows' Eve and I am trudging round Richmond with addressed letters to deliver.  The clocks have gone back and the street are in the darkness. I struggle to read the addresses or to fathom what filter has led these letter to be in the order they are in. To make things more challenging the numbering is not consistent; some streets are consecutive others odds and evens, some have a number 13, others don't, some of these houses are divided into flats (although from the outside you would have thought they weren't big enough) and some doors and gates have no number. None of this is new to me , I have been doing it for over 45 years, but I have never shared the evening pavements with crowds of excited children in fancy dress who precede me to every door.

I fully understand that individually addresses letters have more impact than a mass leaflet but problems arise when you get the letters out of order. For the most part the doors are unlit, some have a guttering candle in a hollowed out pumpkin which sheds little light so an unexpected missing 13 or the presence of a flat in a house which would struggle to accommodate one man and a dog can throw you. Every so often a bright security light flashes on and allows the opportunity to sort the delivery out. Quite often in those illuminated porches there are large boxes of sweets so that the wannabe witches, warlocks and skeletons can help themselves without disturbing the residents. For the most part there is darkness and long experience has taught me to watch out for low walls purposely built for the canvassers to trip over but nothing had prepared me for a new hazard, which in my experience is unique to Richmond, namely the trailing lead of power cable charging a Tessler eclectic car overnight.

I completed the three deliveries given me at the HQ by Mortlake station (anyone thinking of going to help should be reassured that it is easy to find) and retire to a pub for a pint of Youngs Bitter. I shall go again next time I am in London. The place looks well organised as befits a campaign that has been in the offing for some time. The biggest difference from the by elections of my youth is that now the HQ is full of computers, but some things do not change the candidate, Sarah Olney, was doing a great job meeting and greeting the volunteers and spending time chatting to them and one of the first people I met was Colin Rosensteil .

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Interesting email from COMPASS



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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.
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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
September
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







Friday, 23 September 2016

Realighnment of the Left





Realignment of the Left is back on the agenda. It is not hard to understand why. Already the idea has spawned books, public meeting and a lot of debate. This was the great project of Jo Grimond's leadership of the Liberal Party. Today with a Corbyn led Labour Party few people can see that party winning seats from the Tories at the next elections. They may well pile up bigger majorities in some of their existing seats but it is hard to see where they can win seats especially after the boundary review. Our first past the post electoral system doesn't help. It does look as if we are in for a period of uninterrupted Tory rule, even  people like Neil Kinnock doesn't expect to see another Labour government in his lifetime.  Left wing former Labour Minister Chris Mullin has come out in favour of a pact explaining that for the Tories to be defeated it requires Lib Dems to win seats Labour have no chance in. So the question is : can a progressive programme be agreed between the competing parties compelling enough to make some electoral arrangement acceptable.

One initiative that has been launched is the publication of a book The Alternative edited by Lisa Nandy, Caroline Lucas and Chris Bowers. It is significant because it does not spend all its pages discussing how and electoral arrangement could be achieved, rather it begins with ideas around which common agreement can be reached.

The Social Liberal Forum (SLF) sponsored a meeting at the Lib Dem Conference this year and put together the three editors of the book along with David Howarth a former Lib Dem MP for Cambridge. (David stood down without being defeated) The SLF has heard from Ms Lucas before alongside Neil Lawson from COMPASS and few doubt that with goodwill and common-sense a deal could be done with the Greens-despite some of their obvious difficulties. Labour is a harder issue. The electoral reality is dawning on some folk in Labour. The fear of grammar schools, welfare cuts, the NHS, a hard Britex  are combining to focus minds. Nevertheless too many Labour activists think pluralism and compromise are dirty words. Their monopolistic view of power and their right to exercise it makes it hard to see where agreement may come-or maybe I'm just scarred by having spent most of political life in the NW. And therefore the meeting was genuinely interested to hear Lisa Nandy's pitch.

Now, without dwelling too long on the point, it should be said that Ms Nandy has some Liberal antecedence in so much as her Grandfather was a Liberal MP and Leader of the Liberal Party in the Lords for 17 years. There was much agitation in radical ranks about his relationship with Rio Tinto Zinc, the mining company, and its activities in Africa . None of that is Ms Nandy's responsibility .

I thought she was convincing and indeed impressive. She is clearly of the left, which was a relief, too often we see Labour MP's at odds with their party who are by inclination reactionary and authoritarian-John Reid, Jack Straw et al- ( and some of the people who fancy themselves to be on the left John Mann or Dennis Skinner are the personification of tribalism)  She acknowledged the stand we took on civil rights and accepted Labour's failure in that area and pointed out Labours challenge to the coalition over welfare (at which point she had a more sympathetic audience than she might have imagined-as the following days votes on welfare confirmed).

In so much as she used her family connection she did so to in relation to Frank Byers Liberal politics having been fashioned by his opposition to fascism . I am always impressed by the record of those Liberals who came back from the war determined to build a new international order. Lord Rea who led the Liberal Peers till Byers took over was one such case  David Dutton writing in the Journal of Liberal History recordsAs Liberal leader in the Lords Rea found himself obliged to speak on a wide range of issues. But, with the Cold War at its height, he was especially concerned with reducing the risk of nuclear war and for Britain to abandon her pretensions to great power status. The country ‘seemed to find it difficult to realise that her nineteenth-century position in the world was not in abeyance but actually gone. Britain must adapt her ideas to the modern world.’ Such thinking made him particularly contemptuous of the notion that Britain remained an independent nuclear power. ‘Why should we attract an onslaught on this undefended island by the provocative possession of a virtually useless contribution to American nuclear arms? That would be the very reverse of a deterrent. ’ It was that approach which led Liberals to embrace federalism and the European project.

Lisa Nandy's proposition was that the prospect of long term Tory rule requires us all to think again and explore thoroughly the alternatives.

The video clip at the top of this post shows a little of David Howarth's contribution. I think it is important to assert that any agreement must be based ideas and values. I have felt for some time that the divorce between values and class loyalty is overdue. David make the case better that I can.

There are those who dislike the term Left. I am not one. It is a short hand for those dissatisfied with the status quo. For a season it came, somewhat perversely, to mean political ideas that championed state ownership and regulation. Hence tyrannical Communist states were seen as Left. The coming down of the Berlin war changed that although the statist Left still clings to loyally to some models. Eliot Dodds, who would have been well known to Ms Nandi's grandfather, robustly defends the Liberal position as on the  Left in his chapter in The Unservile State (1957)  when he wrote: by any strict use of language Liberals are the true Left, the real progressives'. He wanted men and women to be in charge of their own destinies with the aim of 'giving more abundant life, to the individual person. So those of us that are angry about the mal-distribution of power and wealth in today's economies should at least try to work together.

Let me leave you with a bit Grimond-who after all can be claimed as the Granddaddy of the idea:


In an interview in the Observer immediately after the 1959 election, Jo Grimond, the Liberal leader, called for radicals in the Liberal and Labour Parties to make a new appeal to ordinary people to take an active part in political life. Asked how a Socialist party could cooperate with a non-Socialist one, he replied that ‘there might be a bridge between Socialism and the Liberal policy of co-ownership in industry through a type of syndicalism coupled with a nonconformist outlook such as was propounded on many issues by George Orwell’.1 Industrial democracy and a tolerance of dissent, which were also distinctive marks of the New Left, were symptoms of a change in ideological thinking in Britain which was not confined to the socialist movement

Monday, 12 September 2016

Trevor Jones, Sutton and Cheam by election and being fed at the NLC

Back in 1972 I was an undergraduate in London. I was active in the YL's and was one of the small group who started going to Sutton and Cheam to help deliver the first Focus leaflet soon after it was announced the Tory MP Sir Richard Sharples was to be Governor of Bermuda.  On more than one occasion Trevor arranged to drive me back in to central London and fed me at the NLC. I learned a great deal from those meal time conversations.

I have never lived in Liverpool or been involved in the day to day politics of the city but , like many of my generation, took a keen interest in in what was going on there. Unlike some folk who copy some of their practices Trevor and his team drew on the radical tradition in the party and as such was a natural ally for YL's battling against some of the less progressive forces around in the party. Trevor may well be remembered for his electioneering but I recall that he was a man of political ideas as well.I found he was someone you could always just ring up for advice

I recall travelling in the back of his Triumph Stag (?)  from Liverpool to a Party Council in Cardiff when there was some business that we were keen to oppose.

In his role as Party President he did shake up the party and transform it into an operation that believed it could win elections.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dan Dare and the Mekon return to Southport


As readers of the Mayoral blog will know I have been spending some time at The Atkinson recently. On my way out this afternoon I passed through an exhibition I had not noticed before and part of it featured the adventures of Dan Dare. As readers of a certain vintage will know the Eagle comic was a remarkably successful publication. The stories , in the main, were written by a Birkdale Clergy man the Vicar of St James's Marcus Morris and the artwork was produced by a lecturer at the Southport Art College Frank Hampson.

They have some excellent exhibits including some of the original artwork. If you are an Eagel fan it is well work a visit.