The Quarter Quell: July-September 2015

Not been the busiest time on the blog the past three months, but here are the most popular posts from during it:

7) Labour’s leadership election takes us into the silly season – Remember when we all thought Jeremy Corbyn might win the leadership election? What an odd time that was…
6) Equidistance is good at winning votes, but not seats – My dissertation explained, and a notion of where Liberal Democrat strategy needs to go.
5) Where did the Lib Dem voters go? – Far, far, away…
4) European liberal parties don’t alternate between governments of left and right anymore – Another bit from the dissertation, with examples of how equidistance only worked as a short term strategy for other liberal parties.
3) Compare and contrast: Kirsty Williams and Danny Alexander on the future of the Liberal Democrats – Speaking up for liberalism, or consensus-following centrist mush?
2) Guest post: Liberal Youth members on why they’re supporting Tim Farron for leader – A post with over 50 authors, none of whom was me.

And so, the most popular post here over the last three months was this one:

1) Liberals, social democrats and Liberal Democrats: The Economist joins the long list of those not understanding the difference – When journalists talk about the Liberal Democrats being divided between ‘classical liberals’ and social democrats, it’s a sure sign they have no idea what they’re talking about.


Worth Reading 179: Abgar the Great

Why I support pretty much any strike by pretty much anyone, anywhere, about anything – “If the real world sucks, we shouldn’t get over it. We should fight it. That’s what you do when something sucks. That’s what you’re meant to do.”
Osborne’s living wage won’t spare low-income families from cuts – I’m shocked – shocked, I tell you! – to discover that the Tories’ new ‘living wage’ is anything but.
Post-Youth – Tom Ewing wonders if the Budget signals the beginning of the end for the concept of ‘youth’ as we know it.
Labour’s failure – The difference between being a party for workers and a party of workers may seem small, but it has big consequences.
City cycling in London is a joke – A Dutch cyclist visited London and was pretty unimpressed with our haphazard cycling infrastructure.

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A quick break for a charitable plug

A couple of months ago, I told you about the members of my family who were walking 100km in a day for charity, and thanks to those of you who supported them on that. Now, inspired by seeing them do it, my partner Karen is giving it a go herself and will be doing the London to Cambridge Challenge at the end of August to raise money for DEC’s work in Nepal following the earthquake. If you’ve got a spare few quid, you can sponsor her here, and every donation will be very gratefully received as she works towards her target.

As well as through JustGiving, those of you in and around Colchester have another option to help her out. Karen runs Colchester Acupuncture in the town centre and one of the services she offers there is the traditional Chinese Tui Na massage. So, to raise more for charity, she’s offering half-hour taster Tui Na taster sessions for a donation of £5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous!) at her treatment room in Trinity Street.

So, please help out with a donation if you can – and if you’re in the area, come along and try a massage. Click on the image below or visit her website for more information.


The Quarter Quell: April-June 2015

Being the most popular posts on this blog for the last three months. Be warned, some of these links seemed incredibly relevant at the time, but the post-election landscape now makes them quaint relics of an earlier more innocent time.

8) On Milifandom and politics fandom in general – “Most political parties are just organised fandoms for a political ideology or slice of political history, it’;s just that they’ve been around so long people treat them as something different and respectable.”
7) Hampstead and Kilburn: Election not postponed – For a few hours at the start of the campaign, it looked like one interesting seat might have its election delayed. Then someone checked the actual law.
6) Who is (or was) Balustrade Lanyard? – The man. The balustrade. The flag. The lanyard. The legend.
5) Thoughts on the Lib Dems: Past, present and (hopefully) future – A couple of days after the election, I finally got my thoughts on the future of the party in order enough to set them down.
4) NUS invents a Liberal Democrat MP – We never did find out who Ian Cunningham MP might have been.
3) 2015 General Election Day 34: Who can answer the Balustrade Lanyard question? – The only one of my daily general election posts to make it into this list, demonstrating just what happens when you put two words everyone’s Googling into the headline capture the zeitgeist.
2) Colchester 2015 General Election result – They googled, they saw, and the result stayed the same.
1) 2015 Colchester local election results – They Googled even more, they saw, and the results still stayed the same.

Thanks to all the many visitors over the past few months, and please keep coming. I only need to keep posting regularly for a couple more weeks and I’ll have been back blogging for a whole year!

Mobile version, and other things

Some of you will have hopefully noticed that I’ve now installed a proper mobile version of this blog, which means it’s easier to read and navigate if you’re looking at it on your phone. Please let me know if there are any problems with it, so I can break more things under the hood as I try and fix it.

And just a reminder while you’re here that there are several ways to keep up with this blog. You can subscribe via email using the box on the right of the page (or at the bottom on the mobile version), you can like me on Facebook, subscribe via WordPress or just follow me on Twitter to get all sorts of other thoughts as well as blog updates.

However you come here, thanks for reading, and I hope I can keep amusing, informing, entertaining and educating you in the future – though there might be a short break from daily posts sometime after the election finishes.

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Another stop on the farewell tour

Only a few days left for me as a councillor – I’m not quite sure if my term ends when my replacement is announced on Friday, or if I’m technically still in office over the weekend – but I’ve been chatting with Jason from the Colchester Chronicle about my decision to step down, which he’s now published as a post.

And if you missed it, my original post explaining why it’s time to move on is here.


2015 General Election Day 28: Who’s ahead in Wabznasm North?

Election Sundays are notable for two things – a slight scaling down of the activity carried out on the ground by the parties, coupled with a ratcheting up of the ridiculousness of the rhetoric by the Sunday papers. Today, of course, we had the spectacle of the Mail telling us that an arrangement between Labour and the SNP would be the biggest crisis in British politics since the Abdication in 1936. It’s an odd point to use, even if you’re looking for purely constitutional crises, as the Abdication was something that was seen as completely unthinkable before it happened but then when it came, it was all handled with a minimum of fuss and the country did quite well out of it. You’ll certainly find few people who’ll argue that several decades of King Edward VIII would have been better for the country than George VI and Elizabeth II.

It’s all feeling very much like The Day Today reporting on a constitutional crisis:

But don’t worry Britain, everything will be all right:

In future election news, there was an interesting development in the next Tory leadership election battle as Boris Johnson and Ed Miliband found themselves sitting next to each other on Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning sofa. Unfortunately for Boris, his prospects of a coronation shrunk even more as Miliband showed he’s found the way to respond to Boris: stay calm, and don’t get drawn in. I suspect he might have been watching Eddie Mair’s interview with Johnson, where Mair’s refusal to get drawn into Johnson’s blustering tempo led to Boris getting progressively more flustered and open for a clever counterpunch.

Of course, Miliband impressing me on one hand had to be coupled with him annoying me on the other. During his solo interview with Andrew Marr, he casually announced that his government would find ‘back office savings’ in local government allowing him to make more cuts in its budget. There are two key points here: first, local government has been making cuts and finding savings for several years now, and if there were easy savings to be made without cuts to services, it’s be doing them already; second, it’s annoying that he’s taking the standard Westminster approach to local government of assuming it’s there to be commanded and bossed around, not free to find its own ways of doing things. He’s not being different from any government before him, but it’s just annoying when politicians of any party talk like that.

One point of interest that might explain that is that as far as I can tell there are only two Prime Ministers (and they’re the only two party leaders) of the last hundred years with any direct experience of local government. Attlee was Mayor of Stepney just after the First World War, and John Major was a Lambeth councillor in the 60s. It’s a pattern reflected across the senior leadership of all the parties – being a councillor might help in becoming an MP, but a hindrance to getting further than that.

Back to the list of minor parties in the election and we find that the Communities United Party is the next up. They’re not new for this election – though Mark Pack found them a bit of a mystery when they stood in the European Elections last year – and their website isn’t much of a help in deciphering their political stance, but it’s a bit worrying when the picture of the leader on the front has the caption ‘legend leader’ on it and a lot of the website is plastered with adverts for his legal services firm. Still, they have four other candidates standing across London as well as the ‘legend’ Kamran Malik in Brent Central, so it would be unfair to refer to them as solely a one-am band.

Today on Election Leaflets throws up a high-profile independent with a leaflet from Mike Hancock’s campaign to ensure he gets his full £30,000 resettlement allowance re-elected in Portsmouth South. His main call within the leaflet is for better pensions, which might reveal what he expects his situation to be after the election. Still, it makes for an interesting curio in this election, and the sort of thing it’s interesting for Eection Leaflets to have archived for the future.

And that’s how we leave it with eleven days to go. We’ve made it this far, surely we can do the rest?

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