Month: January 2009

Changing jobs

There’s something very strange about seeing your current job advertised as I did in today’s Liberal Democrat News.  It’s probably ridiculous, after all I am the one who handed in my notice so I could move to a new job.  But it makes it feel more real and the end of an era.  It’s been great working for the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield Hallam and with Nick Clegg and his team, but my new job was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

For those who don’t know, I am moving to be Senior Political Officer with ALDC.  And to answer the two questions that everyone has asked ever since I said I told them I was changing jobs.  No I am not moving to Hebden Bridge and yes I am still going to be part of the Lib Dem team in Nether Edge.  The new job will keep me working for the Liberal Democrats (albeit in a separate organisation) but with more responsibility, more variety and without the pressure of having to be at the beck and call of every local councillor and campaigner in the area.  There are lots of things I will miss about my old job, but I am also excited about my new one.

If anyone reading this might be interested in applying for my job then here are the details.  I am not involved in the recruitment process and so if you need more details then please contact the local party chair.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Eurovision disappointment

One of my guilty pleasures is the Eurovision Song Contest.  I still like it, but at least I am slightly less obsessive about it now than when I was younger.  Perhaps it should have been an early signal of my sexuality.

I’ve just finished watching the final of the contest to choose the UK entry and I am astonished that after all the hype the song chosen is so mediocre.  It isn’t bad, it’s just a so what song and I just can’t see how it will stand out.  The only hope is that it is so repetitive that if it gets radio airplay across Europe over the next few months it might get somewhere.

To be honest the song is such a disappointment I have no idea who would be the best option to sing it.  They are all actually good singers.  Mark seemed to stand out the least in the performances tonight, although that could be because he was first and the hook in the song hadn’t got in to my brain yet.  I would vote (if I was really that fussed) for The Twins because they seemed to make the song a bit better.

After tonight though, I won’t get my hopes up of a stunning UK performance in Eurovision.  The only consolation is that we won’t have to listen to Terry Wogan’s rubbish commentary in Moscow.

Blogging 2008

I don’t know what it is with January, but it seems as though for the second year in a row my blogging has gone very quiet in the first month of the year.  At least by this time last year I had done my two ‘reviews’ of the previous year.  So despite being very late, here is my first one.  The other (I hope) will follow in a day or two.

At the end of 2006 I had reached 3,000 views in a year on my blog.  In 2007 I achieved 13,800 views.  I was pretty impressed.  So imagine my surprise when I saw that in 2008 I had 28,978 views.  Whilst I genuinely don’t write this for popularity, I can’t deny that I like the feeling that so many people actually bothered to read my ramblings on all sorts of subjects.

Yet again, whilst the majority of my posts are about politics, the ones that have the highest number of views are those that have nothing to do with politics.  I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise.  After all, they are usually about big things that are happening in Sheffield and my blog must be one of the easier ones to find as I am part of that community of political bloggers who all link to each other.  So it makes sense that for most of last year, the popular postings were me writing about the demolition of Tinsley Cooling Towers.  Other popular ones seem to be about local politics and bizarrely a review of Roisin Murphy playing a gig in Sheffield over a year ago.  This all changed in November, when I posted about the death of Neil Trafford.  Despite feeling paranoid that people would resent me writing my personal feelings on it, I seemed to make the right decision from both the views and the number of people who said they appreciated reading it.

I posted a year ago about some of the strange search terms people use to find my blog and that continues.  However, the search time that keeps recurring is still Roisin Murphy, (I have no idea why as loads of people must have posted something about her and my post isn’t one of the top posts when you Google her name), but I also find lots of people searching ‘Camden Town Fire’, (which was basically me linking to someone else), ‘Tinsley Cooling Towers’ (which I have already explained), ‘Bohemian Mods’ (the name of a local unsigned band that I love) and  ‘Stanley Spencer’ and ‘Patrick Caulfield’ (both of whom are painters whose paintings in the Graves Art Gallery I really like).  So a nice eclectic mix, which I think is a good thing.  It makes me seem slightly more rounded as a human being than my blog would usually suggest.

A year ago I made a New Year’s Resolution that I would have a revamp of my website and that I would try and write less on politics.  Well that hasn’t really happened as intended.  I have had a revamp and changed the look of the site.  Something I planned to do in January, but didn’t happen until September.  Such is my life.

So here’s to another year of blogging.

MPs expenses – let the chaos begin

I am all for publishing MPs expenses.  After all, MPs are there to represent the people and so the people should have the right to see how they spend the allowances they get for doing that job.   But one thing I guarantee now is that when they are published the inefficiency of the administration of the House of Commons will make MPs look even more dodgy than people already think they are.

I say this is having just a glimpse of the inner workings of the House of Commons Department of Resources.  For example.  It is not unusual for train tickets to be paid out of the wrong MP’s allowance.  It is almost impossible for anyone to find out the cost of their mobile bills each month.  Many MPs find it difficult to get out of the Department of Resources the amount they still have in their budget each year.  And some things get paid from the wrong budget by mistake.  That is to say nothing of some of the bizarre and inconsistent rules they have on how MP’s allowances can be spent.

So I am just waiting for journalists to run an article exposing certain MPs as dodgy, but it then turning out that they weren’t it was just that the House of Commons Department of Resources made a mistake that resulted in ruining and MPs reputation.

Promotion or demotion?

Reshuffles are never going to satisfy everyone.  I don’t mean for the MPs involved, I mean party members and political commentators.  You only need to look on Liberal Democrat Voice to see that.  For every person who praises a move, there are several who criticise it, and then of course there are those who complain that someone hasn’t been put in the Shadow Cabinet (i.e. Charles Kennedy) without knowing whether that person wants to be; and there are criticisms that some are taken out of the Shadow Cabinet (i.e. Susan Kramer) without acknowledging that the MP involved asked to leave so she could concentrate on other things.

But what has been even more bizarre is the mixed coverage of Steve Webb’s move from climate change to work & pensions.  There is obviously history to this part of the reshuffle, as I posted before, but the press all has a different take on it:

The Daily Mail says:

Nick Clegg was forced to eat humble pie by using a surprise reshuffle to promote an MP he previously dismissed as a ‘pain in the ****’.

The Liberal Democrat leader risked accusations that his authority was dwindling after Steve Webb was given the work and pensions post.

But The Independent seems to take the opposite view:

Nick Clegg has ousted Steve Webb from his post as the Liberal Democrats’ energy and climate change spokesman, in a reshuffle aimed at sharpening the party’s performance…

…although Mr Clegg later reassured Mr Webb he had been misquoted, his reshuffle suggests his reported remarks did reflect his views.

Whereas The Guardian appears to approve of the move regardless of whether it was a promotion or a demotion:

Nick Clegg has delivered what is expected to be his final reshuffle before the next general election, strengthening his economic team by appointing Steve Webb, a professor of social policy, to become work and pensions spokesman

It’s hardly surprising some people get confused.

Prescott does YouTube, or “A Lesson in How Not to Use YouTube”

OK so I suppose at least John Prescott has decided to do an online video.  But I am not entirely sure that this is going to help Labour win their council by-election in Hull this Thursday.

It is clear that their (quite possibly normal) candidate starts off on-script, but John Prescott’s random mutterings throughout the rest of the video, the general slagging off of the Lib Dems, the people shouting random words in the background and the endorsement of who I can only assume is the candidate’s wife, don’t strike me as vote winners.

Finally, best of luck to Linda Chambers, Cllr Adam Williams and the rest of the team.  All the Lib Dems I know in Hull are a pretty impressive, hardworking, down to earth group of people and seem to be doing a great job of running a council that perhaps would not be expected to be natural Lib Dem territory.  So here’s keeping the fingers crossed for an impressive result in Drypool on Thursday.