Saturday, 23 September 2017

Dog Bin on serving Hartley Rd/ Cres, has been reported for emptying

Thanks to all those pointing out that this bin was disgusting and needed emptying. It has been reported

Friday, 22 September 2017

Your a bunch of lefties, can I join

This conversation happened at the Lib Dem Conference when I was on the SLF ( Social Liberal Forum ) stand. I was approached by a man who was attending his first conference. He had won a prize in the raffle. He explained that his son was on the Liberal Reform stall and they had told him we were a 'bunch of lefties'. He wanted to know about joining....

Left is often one those words which creates more confusion than clarity. So we should be clear that SLF stand in a long tradition of radical Liberalism as this article in the New Statesman shows its origin is traced back to the early C20th and thinkers like L.T. Hobhouse and T. H. Green, it progressed through the thinking of Keynes and Beveridge in the middle of that century and later by economists and thinkers like John Rawls and James Meade.

There is a very useful wiki page


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Dillie Keane of Fascinating Aida sings her anti Brexit song at Lib Dem Glee Club

The undoubted highlight of the Glee Club was Dillie Keane sing Fascinating Aida's pro Remain song Thank You Scotland. She was ntroduced by that disgruntled radical David Grace, for him, he said, it was like when Nelson Mandela met the Spice Girls.

After the usual rendition of The Land the packed hall fell silent, frankly stunned by the quality of the performance, it didn't last as the video shows. Enjoy

Monday, 11 September 2017

Thank you for the help you gave me 20 years ago says women at Lib Dem surgery

Cllr Hands and I were at our monthly surgery in the Redbrick Chapel on Liverpool Rd -as we usually are on the first Saturday of the month -when we were greeted by a women keen for our help. She began: "20 years ago you helped me and now the problem has returned. Can you help me again? Thankfully she was looking at Cllr Hands when she spoke, because I freely admit I could not place her.

True to form Richard engaged with the women and after some reminiscing  the problem was identified and a plan of action agreed.

We've been holding regular surgeries in Birkdale since 1980 so there is scope for someone to come along and test our memories from further back-mind you there are some folk who have better long term memories, Now where did I put my car keys

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Norman Lamb done in acrylic and hanging in central London

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice  and in Liberal England's  'Six of the Best'

I was killing time between meeting on Monday so I popped into the National Portrait Gallery. I have to confess that one of the reasons I chose that above other central London venues was because it is one of the few places that will accept my Brompton bike into their left luggage complete with its Harris Tweed bag.

I went to see the BP Portrait Awards for 2017 Exhibition, after checking that Mary Wollstonecraft had made it safely back from her loan visit to Russia.

I have viewed the annual exhibition in previous years when I have been waiting for meetings. When I was Mayor one of the duties was to pick the pictures for the Mayor's Parlour in Southport from the collection held at The Atkinson and I chose a local Lancashire artist Peter Layzell. His self portrait was hung in the 2010 exhibition.

Back to 2017 and the time I spent waiting. The picture that caught my eye was that of the MP for North Norfolk Norman Lamb. I don't think I have seen him without his spectacles but the Norfolk artist Paul Smith obvious felt that their absence produced a better portrait. As I was looking at it a man joined me , he was wearing the identical scarf that Paul Smith the artist had put round Norman's neck. It was my companion explained created by the designer Paul Smith. Such things , when they have to be explained to you, are not as funny.

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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