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Showing posts from February, 2013

The Press puts the boot in to the Lib Dems... and we know why

The British press are having a field day with the Liberal Democrats. Day after day a little more juice is wrung out of the allegations that former chief executive Chris Rennard groped women in the Lib Dem office.  I think we are entitled to ask "Why?" It is not that such usually misogynist newspapers as the Daily Mail have discovered a new compassion for women abused in their workplaces. Similar allegations are made against journalists every few months, if one believes Private Eye . It is not even about whether the allegations were properly handled. They probably weren't. It is about politics pure and simple. The timing of the story- a few days before a critical by-election that the Liberal Democrats must win if they are to have any chance of an electoral come-back- is the real clue. The fact is too that the scale of the coverage is a real giveaway- the Press has an agenda that is overtly and implacably hostile to the Liberal Democrats: their party, their leader

Groping in the dark

I don't know if Chris Rennard is a groper or not. I don't know whether complaints against him were dealt with properly or not. At this point it seems not, but no one is sure. One thing I do know is that the barrage of negative press has been deliberately timed to try to change the result of the Eastleigh by-election which, according to the polls, looked like it was going to be won by the Liberal Democrats. For me that is the real scandal, and the tragedy of British politics today. No one cares about the real issues, they just want to renact scenes from "The Thick of it". Dirty tricks are undermining the very basis of our democracy.

Hoia, Jumal, Eestit

This Sunday is the 95th Anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Estonian Republic. 22 years and five months after February 24th 1918, the first independence ended with the overthrow of the Estonian State by the Red Army. There then followed the wholesale slaughter of anyone- from Ministers to Postmen- who had served the free Republic in any capacity. Following the subsequent German occupation in June 1941 and the return of Soviet troops in Autumn 1944, tens of thousands of people were arrested, deported to Siberia or simply shot out of hand. There was a deliberate attempt to destroy any resistance- though despite this the country was not pacified for almost a decade. There then followed 47 years of the so-called Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. The economic, social and cultural repression of Estonia and the colonization of the country by Russian speakers (who comprised less than 5% of the population in 1940, 24% today) left a shocked and fractured society. Ye

Liberalism, Luck and Responsibility

There have been two stories in the British media this week that should strike terror into the hearts of every single British Citizen. The first is the news that The UK has the smallest amount of savings put by for retirement of any major economy. The second story was that one in ten adults does no exercise and the majority of people in Britain have ceased to take any exercise at all by the age of 56 . The first story is not entirely the result of personal fecklessness: there is no doubt that the actions of the Blair-Brown government destroyed billions of Pounds in savings and re-routed that money into current expenditure; and the finance scandals, such as Equitible Life and pensions mis-selling also played their part. Nevertheless the majority of people in Britain no longer expect to be able to look after themselves in retirement, at a time when public resources to protect the elderly are already stretched beyond the limit. Equally there is little doubt that, as the second story s

The Liberal Democrats must rediscover why they even exist- or extinction is certain

The Eastleigh by-election is a must-win for the Liberal Democrats- that is a given. The party has a lock on the council, and a loss here would be devastating for internal morale and for the public perception that the party can ride out its current unpopularity in the opinion polls and survive, and even thrive at the next general election. Yet, from overseas, while I see the energy and commitment that the party is putting into the by-election, I am filled with foreboding, for this energy masks an a profound, even existential, crisis. The fact is that the burden of the by-election is falling on fewer and fewer members- I have received at least ten contacts over the past week urging me to donate, go and campaign, work on phone banks and all the other sundry by-election work. Even to a committed political, social and economic Liberal like myself it is intrusive. To the voters in the constituency it must be unbearable. To be honest, for the first time, I am genuinely irritated with th

Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain

"Jockey of Norfolk, be not too bold, for Dickon, thy master, is bought and sold".  When I was a small boy, I went to Arundel castle, the home of the Premier Dukes of England, the Howard Dukes of Norfolk. It left me with a life-long interest in Heraldry and Flags, but as fascinating as the castle is there is one thing- a simple piece of paper- that left a stronger impression upon me. On that paper were the words above, and the letter was delivered into the hands of the then Duke of Norfolk on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth Field: the 21st August 1485. The words were ominous, and as it turned out, true. Richard III was betrayed. The defection of the Stanley family, who were lured into backing Henry Tudor by a mixture of bribery and blackmail was the primary cause for the defeat of King Richard III and the accession of Henry VII. Richard was killed in battle and, famously, the crown of England was found on a hawthorn bush, before becoming the property of the second king