Month: September 2010

Richard Livsey

I was sad to hear earlier tonight about the death of former Liberal Democrat MP Richard Livsey.

I never really knew Richard, although I do remember standing up to disagree with him in front of loads of other party members at a post-election wash-up meeting in Llandrindod Wells in 2003.  I don’t think he minded.

What was clear was the huge respect that people across Wales had for him.  Not only did he manage to win Brecon & Radnor in a 1985 by-election campaign, he then stuck with it despite losing in 1992 and won it back in 1997 before retiring four years later.  That was a real commitment to the cause that people remember, and his legacy lives on with the decent majorities now enjoyed by Roger Williams MP and Kirsty Williams AM.

Cyril Smith’s death last week will have a resonance across the UK and not just in his own local area.  Richard Livsey’s death won’t have quite the same impact, but within Wales it will be as real.  A thoroughly nice man and a real, yet unassuming, giant in Welsh politics.

Also read Mark Cole’s excellent post.

Thoughts from Labour Leadership Question Time

I watched the Question Time tonight with the five Labour leadership contenders.  I’ve already done the Labour Vote Match questionnaire, which showed me that Diane Abbott should be my choice followed by Ed Miliband.  So what did I think after tonight?

Ed Balls – everything I don’t like a modern Labour. Smarmy, convinced he’s always right and shows it.  I never understood why so many people hated him so much until the General Election and what I’ve seen since doesn’t make it any better.  He also seems to be oblivious to the need to make any cuts now.  OK, so you can disagree with the scale, but trying to deny that there aren’t any we can do now is ridiculous.

Andy Burnham – I always thought he would do better than he has done.  OK, so he’s a bit blindly New Labour, but he sounds sensible and he seems a bit different from the others as he wants to express an opinion (and not just because he was the only one not wearing a purple tie – Hat Tip: Jamie Matthews).  Maybe it’s because he’s a Northerner, but to me he sounds more normal, or maybe it’s because he’s a Northerner that’s he’s been ignored.

Ed Miliband – from what he’s said recently he sounds like someone who genuinely might enthuse a grassroots campaigning organisation and do something a bit different.  However, before this campaign I thought he came over as a New Labour automaton and I still think he comes across as too polished, except for one thing – his voice.  I just find his voice a bit strange and it might soon grate – just as Tony Blair’s did.

David Miliband – people often said that it was Ed who was the lesser known but more talented brother.  I never understood why as I think David Milband comes over as more normal and more Prime Ministerial.  I can’t say I know much about his views compared to the others, but he does talk about building up a different type of Labour movement that isn’t all about the unions, which I think is positive.  Would perhaps be my choice if I had a vote (I won’t say if I was a Labour member as I know lots of people who have had a ballot paper despite being members of other parties).

Diane Abbott – I’ve always had a soft spot for Diane Abbott despite my previously mentioned concerns.  I also enjoy This Week a lot and so don’t want her to stop being on it.  But of course she isn’t going to win.  She’s a pleasant distraction in this campaign and is putting across a point of view that might not have been there otherwise.  Too left wing for me, but speaks with some conviction at least.  You wouldn’t want her running the country though.

I suppose on a programme like this when people don’t get a lot of chance to really expand on what they believe, then part of your judgement is superficial.  I gave this away a bit with my comment on David Miliband, but unless there is a huge ideological divide, and given that I am not Labour anyway, you perhaps go far more with first impressions and on that, David Miliband and Andy Burnham were the winners.

Shortlisted for the Lib Dem “Blog of the Year Awards”

Well what can I say, other than that I’m absolutely astonished.  Given that I wasn’t in the Total Politics list of 75 top Lib Dem Blogs for the first time since this blog first appeared in the list in 2006, I wasn’t expecting to be shortlisted for the Tim Garden Award, (Best Blog by a Lib Dem holding public office).  Even more so given that I’ve blogged less this year than usual, I was only elected in May and I only really write about being a councillor on a different blog.

Given I’m up against Alex Folkes (my choice for winner), Lynne Featherstone MP, Mark Valladares (AKA, Mr Ros Scott) and Birkdale Liberal Democrats in Southport, I’d be astonished if I won, but it’s nice to be nominated.  You don’t really do blogging for the accolades, but it’s nice to get them.  If there’s one thing though, it really makes me feel that I must get on with blogging more.  I enjoy doing it, I can always think of what to write, I just never get around to it.

Labour Leadership Vote Match

As so many other Liberal Democrats that I know have tried Vote Match, I thought I should.  It’s the questionnaire that shows how closely you match the views of the various Labour leadership contenders.  Also, like many Lib Dems I came out as closest to Diane Abbott.

The full figures were:

Diane Abbott – 71%
Ed Miliband – 49%
David Miliband – 37%
Ed Balls – 29%
(Andy Burnham doesn’t get a comparison as he didn’t provide Vote Match with the relevant information in time)

I suppose Diane is reasonably liberal on some things, (although I still always remember her controversial comments about Finnish nurses) and we would also agree on some key issues like Trident, academies and student tuition fees, to name a few.  But unlike Diane I would never describe myself as a socialist.  These surveys are of course never accurate, but I do like the way this one also gets you to rate how important or unimportant you think certain issues are.  It may help give a more accurate result.