Every so often you hear a bit of a song that you love but you don’t know who is singing it. However recently I have heard a bit of a song and I know exactly who is singing it, but they have yet to release it and all you can listen to is a minute of the song, and most of that has the singer and producer speaking over most of the song. That song is The Writer by Goldsmith.
I mentioned Goldsmith the other week as it’s a collaboration between Under The Sheets singer Ellie Goulding whose first single I love, and record producer Starsmith. The only thing you can find about The Writer is the video teaser and no hint as to when or if the full song will be released. Even worse it finishes with Goldsmith waving and saying “bye” as if to taunt you. I just hope the release is soon though as the song sounds as though it could be incredibly beautiful and may grow in to one of my favourites.
You can listen to a tiny bit of the song here.
The Liberal Democrats today launched Act, their new network for members and supporters website where you can interact with other members and get involved in groups set up within the party. It has the potential to transform how the party operates online, although we will have to see if it really takes off as these things can sometimes start slowly. I got a preview of it last week and so have been playing round with it a bit since then, and it looks pretty professional but until it has a critical mass of people and also includes non-members, it is difficult to know whether it will have been worth the work in creating it.
But if I have one piece of advice for people who join the site it’s this… change your settings as soon as you join. The site is automatically set to email you whenever you get a friend request or a group invite or any other way in which the site or its users want to interact with you. Half and hour and 40 emails later you are sick of the site already. So do this:
- On the right hand sidebar click on Settings underneath where your name is.
- Then click on Email on the left hand sidebar.
- Then untick whichever items you don’t want emails about.
- Then click Save at the bottom of the page.
Once the site has become more established and the initial flurry of enthusiastic people all joining has calmed down you may want to change your settings back. But for now, and for the sake of your own sanity, I suggest you get your settings right at the start.
It’s the question that was always going to come around again at some point. So, who would the Liberal Democrats work with if there was a hung parliament? The problem is that whatever Nick Clegg says about it, the press is inevitably going to try and read between the lines and claim that he means something that is different from what he actually said.
There are two reasons you cannot answer a question like this – one is that until you know how many MPs any party will have it’s impossible to say, and the biggest one is that if a Lib Dem expresses any preference towards another party that will be on the opposition party’s leaflets before you can say “losing seats.” But despite the difficulty of the issue for Lib Dems if the press is talking about it it could actually be a good thing for the party. My argument is that the more the press and the other parties talk about the Liberal Democrats, the better it usually is for our poll ratings. After all, even after a badly received party conference such as the one we had in September, the fact that we were being covered in the press reminded people we exist and so gave us a boost in the opinion polls. Surely the same will happen if the press is obsessing about how the Lib Dems could be kingmakers and how we might find ourselves in government.
The Liberal Democrats have to avoid answering the question on who they would work with. After all, my ambition (and I am sure that of many other Lib Dems) is that the Lib Dems are the biggest party in government not some junior partner, and with the ambition that Nick Clegg is now publicly declaring it may just be possible. But also, it is a genuinely difficult question to answer. Do you support a Labour party that has just lost huge numbers of seats and is on the way down and out? Do you support a Conservative party that many Lib Dem activists hate with a passion and who are certainly not the liberal party they like to sell themselves as? Do we even want to form a coalition with anyone and would we be better off just picking and choosing what policies to support? If electoral reform is the big issue that we want to see progress on, which party would support it, or would we even be wise to make it the deal breaker as it could look like complete self-interest? Or even, would Labour and the Conservatives find it easier for them to work together with the Lib Dems remaining in opposition?
But despite the difficulty for Lib Dems on talking about the issue, and we really must resist the temptation, the more that others talk about it, the better it could be for us.
I’ve seen this video now on a few people’s blogs, but even though I heard it on Radio 4 last week it’s still amusing. It’s fair to say that Ed Balls isn’t exactly the most popular government minister, although to be honest I don’t have stronger feelings about him than anyone else, but I do think this is quite a clever retort to the argument that exams are getting easier. Michael Gove is said to be one of the cleverest and brightest of the Conservative MPs, but unless he was absolutely sure he knew the answers he was probably best keeping quiet.
Liverpool is a great city, and a great place for a conference. So, I’m glad that the Liberal Democrats are going back there in September 2010, after being the first political party to have a conference in the city in Spring 2008. But this week’s mailing from the Mersey Partnership is not exactly going to help with selling the city to Liberal Democrats or people in other parties.
The glossy mailing that arrived at work included a flashy brochure selling the delights of Liverpool and why it makes a great place for a conference. All good so far. But the enclosed letter opened with the line “Have your heard the Labour Party Conference is coming to Liverpool in September 2011?” Well, no, but now you mention it maybe I should avoid the city to avoid bumping in to them.
OK, I accept this is a generic mailing to everyone on their mailing list, so I am being a little unfair. But given the popularity of Labour at the moment I am still not entirely convinced how much this is going to sell any city to anyone at the moment.
Whilst the identity of the first European President has grabbed the attention, the process of appointing a new set of European Commissioners is already underway. Although European Commissioners are expected to stay away from party politics, especially of their home country, that is changing as the decisions they take are political and it is inevitable that they will take their own personal opinions with them to their role. So from a Liberal Democrat point of view, the more liberals there are fulfilling these roles the better, although I accept that liberal parties vary tremendously across Europe.
If Wikipedia is right, then the current European Commissioners are comprised of six from the left, seven from the right, nine liberals and four independents. So we do pretty well out of it considering that liberals are only in government in a handful of European countries. Whilst the identities of the new commissioners are still largely unknown, (with of course much speculation as to their identities), it looks likely that four of the liberals will retire or be replaced by their home countries. With the numbers severely depleted it is therefore good that there is at least some positive news for liberals.
Sweden announced yesterday that they are going to appoint liberal Cecilia Malmström as their new commissioner replacing retiring social democrat Margot Wallström as their new representative. The Swedish government is currently a centre-right coalition, but this is still considered a magnanimous gesture by the conservative prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. As a popular Swedish politician and the country’s current European Minister this is considered a good move in Sweden, but as a well regarded former MEP it will be popular in other parts of Europe too. And as someone who, like Malmström, is a liberal, Swedish and from Gothenburg, I was also pretty pleased.
It hasn’t been good being a Conservative in Sheffield Hallam for many years. Not only have they failed to make any significant progress in a General Election since they lost what was once one of their safest parliamentary seats back in 1997, but since then Nick Clegg has consolidated the party’s hold on the seat. He continues to work hard and stand up for local residents in parliament, and now has an even higher profile as party leader which was always going to make it difficult for the Conservatives to make progress. But even worse was to come when the Conservatives lost their last remaining councillor in the constituency in 2008 – an achievement which which I am proud to have played a large part in as constituency campaign organiser. This is the first time there haven’t been any Conservatives on the council in Sheffield since at least the 1870s.
After years 0f dithering, whilst any keen activists they had followed their former PPC Spencer Pitfield to the new Penistone & Stocksbridge seat, earlier this month the Conservatives finally selected a PPC in Daniel Gage. Despite starting off in a blaze of publicity saying how he’d moved to the seat and how he was working in a local pub and apparently receiving a warm welcome from local residents, the campaign has already come to a shuddering halt.
First, was the news that he had been kicked off Dronfield Town Council in Derbyshire for non-attendance, which he had good grace to admit was “obviously not the best timing”, but now after just 10 days he has been forced to resign as PPC too. It seems as though the local Conservatives didn’t take kindly to the bad publicity and there are allegations that the resignation letter was written for him and he was made him sign. He is now threatening to run as an Independent.
OK, so the Conservatives don’t stand a cat in hells chance of winning back Sheffield Hallam any time soon – they would have had to start campaigning and delivering leaflets to even start thinking about that one – but being back to having no PPC only around six months from a General Election and facing a long drawn out dispute about whether their candidate resigned or was pushed, is certainly not going to improve their chances.
Nick Clegg will be smiling today.