Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Liberal Demolition

Just as I was bemoaning the lack of a national site that brings together the collective lunacy of LibDems in local government, Gateshead's Jonathan Wallace draws my attention to Liberal Demolition.

Whilst the main site is admittedly focussed (if you'll pardon the pun) on unsavoury goings on in far-away Streatham and Lambeth, the newsletter has some astounding revelations.

Can it be true that LibDems in Islington are distributing pro-drugs materials to teenagers outside schools? That LibDems in Hull have scrapped Labour's ground-breaking policy of allowing free school meals for all? Or that LibDems in Edinburgh have slashed budgets devoted to some of the most vulnerable in the city?

The main Lambeth Liberal Democrat Watch can be found here.


Mike Barker said...

1. The drugs leaflet in Islington was distributed by the Liberal Democrat Youth and Student organisation. We are a broad church and our young colleagues do not always agree with federal party policy. While I'm sure the Young Socialists (do they still exist?) are all upstanding, full-on supporters of nu-Labour, init?, our youth group is a bastion of free speech and displays the open, enquiring attitude that we all love to see in our young people. The leaflet provided the contact details of both pro- and anti- drugs organisations, in order to encourage young people to explore the arguments fully and reach their own conclusions.

2. Free school meals in Hull: this was the key battle ground at the recent local elections, when the Lib Dems stormed to victory over Labour. Given a choice between spending £5m on universal free school meals, or £5m on front-line services, the electorate in Hull supported the Lib Dems.

The city council could not afford to subsidise school dinners for families who can afford to pay the £1.10p it costs for a meal.

The government originally gave the council permission to run the universal free meals scheme as a three-year pilot.

If the scheme is as good as Labour is saying then the education secretary should be rolling this out across the country and providing councils with the money to do so.

The problem for local councils is that the scheme is cost prohibitive when the government is giving most councils below inflation increases in grants this year.

Any plans to introduce universal free school meals in Darlington, Nick?

3. Edinburgh: This is a Lib Dem - SNP coalition, not a Lib Dem authority. However, after years of Labour mis-rule, the scale of the challenges that the new coalition was left to pick up was staggering. The financial position which they inherited was so grave that the Director of Finance took the unprecedented step of formally warning that serious action was required as a matter of urgency to bring expenditure within budget.

The new Administration has secured maximum value for taxpayers' money.
It is acting decisively to bring spending into line and to get the Council's finances on to a sound footing this year.

This will allow them in future years to progress their vision for creating a prosperous, enriching and sustainable future for Edinburgh.

I'm sure, Nick, you appreciate the necessity of living within your means: something the outgoing administration in Edinburgh, in their desperate attempts to bribe the electorate with unaffordable spending, did not.

Chris Close said...

Now if I were a politician then that would seem to me to be 'game set and match' to Councillor Barker, with reasoned argument rather than yah boo stuff.........

But then again I would prefer his type of approachment because instead of 'damning' my views without checking, he actually came to see me to ask what issues I was raising and why.

He was interested in evidence and not demonisation unlike Labour Councillors who appear no matter what the evidence to accept the unsupported 'word' who for want of a better phrase have gotten this Town in the 'clarts' on more than one occasion.

Still awaiting word on Victoria House but my understanding is that the Council is decommissioning its service and moving residents into independent living because of the poor standards of care being delivered there and Darlington finally employing a Senior Social Services officer with a bit of integrity and who wants to work with independent voices of the same ilk.

Pan said...

Searching the web today I wondered; has anything ever happed in Blanchland since ‘The Blanchland Murder’ on January 1st 1880?

It seams not, and the result for all of us is that the ‘fixed in the character or disposition as if inherited’ Blanchland peoples’ have nothing better to do than look to the town of Darlington to quench their exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Welcome Chris!

Faunus said...

Not Pain again!

Wht don't you reval who you realy are?

Or are you happy being the anonymous coward?

BNP Volunteer said...

Are you still thinking of keeping chickens?
Check out this link to an organisation called The Battery Hen Welfare Trust - http://www.bhwt.org.uk/index.php
Apparently they hold auctions around the country for freed battery hens and they can be picked up for half a quid each!
Obviously with a large run around they will think they have died and gone to Heaven and you will get a reasonable amount of eggs for a couple of years out of it too.
I have heard that Ex battery have trouble with their legs though.

Another good site worth checking is Omlette - http://www.omlet.co.uk/homepage/homepage.php

Anonymous said...

Half a quid each ...ideal for Sunday dinner and cheaper than Asda,

Every little helps.

Darlington Councillor said...

Mike - thanks for the reply. It was a bit long, though, so I'll summarise the answers;

(1) So that's a "yes" then. Unbelieveable - what were the 'pro-drugs organisations' - local drugs pushers?! And it's all very well to say that these were "just" Young LibDems, but they grow up into big ones eventually. It's all of a piece with the relaxed attitude the LibDems have towards drugs which sets you apart as a party from the vast majority of people in this country.
(2) That's a "yes" too.
(3) And so is that.

Edinburgh is a case in point as to the values that LibDems bring into local government leadership. The excellent Aitken's Edinburgh blog (I'll be providing a link soon) is a real eye-opener - it was only because of Labour's opposition that cuts to elderly home care were avoided, and "only" 50% of the city's creches will now be closed.

Incidentally, I understand that beleaguered Edinburgh LibDems are blaming the cuts on the hoary old chestnut of central government finance, rather than any profligacy from the previous Labour adminstration.The truth is that under Clegg the LibDems are lurching rightwards, and slashing services for the most vulnerable is second nature to many in your party.

Truly, chickens are coming home to roost for the Edinburgh LibDems. Which leads me seamlessly to confirm that fowl at Meadowfield Cottage are still on the agenda, but as Sandy, James and AJ are vegetarians, none will be destined for the pot!

Chris Close said...

Lurching to the right!!! where they will eventually meet you and the Tories?

Still no reply from you on the VH matter.

How can you dare talk about the LDs cutting budgets when you served in the Labour administration which closed ALL Darlington Council run care homes; closed Linden Court only to reopen it with less accommodation.

This was not something the Council had to do. It chose to close them and let people live in squalor in places such as Victoria House or to have bolts put on the outside of their doors at Rydal Road or for one noteable woman, be "imprisoned" in her bedroom in another Private home because her wheelchair could not get through the door and whose money was then "misappropriated" by the management?

Supported the development of 'private care homes' on cut price Council land at Hundens Lane and North Park wherein convenants to repay the Council the reduced rates of sale prices if and when the Developers cashed in on their guarranteed 'profits' was never enforced?

The council who gives away major parts of the Town Centre to private enterprise which never benefits the residents?

The Council who entered into secret negotiations with Tescos to give away the Town Hall in return for a new one without asking anyone?

How do you dare criticise anyone else?

Or has no-one told you about any of this either?

Anonymous said...

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. A 2 minute trawl of the internet for the Labour party brought up an illegal war, corruption at the highest level and the usual incompetence Cllr Nick (I cocked up the Eastern Transport corridor budget) Wallis will be familiar with. Care to comment Cllr WALLIS?

The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the BBC the US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter.
He said the decision to take action in Iraq should have been made by the Security Council, not unilaterally.
The UN chief said in an interview with the BBC World Service that "painful lessons" had been learnt since the war in Iraq.
"Lessons for the US, the UN and other member states. I think in the end everybody's concluded it's best to work together with our allies and through the UN," he said.
"I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time - without UN approval and much broader support from the international community," he added. When pressed on whether he viewed the invasion of Iraq as illegal, he said: "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."

Labour chairman accepted campaign money from secret donor
Harriet Harman, the chairman of the Labour party, who accepted a donation for a her own leadership campaign David Byers and Greg Hurst
Gordon Brown said today that secret donations to his party through middlemen were "completely unacceptable" and promised they would be repaid, as the funding scandal engulfed his party chairman and two Cabinet Ministers.
Questioned during his monthly press conference, the Prime Minister insisted he did not know until Saturday night about £600,000 of donations made through four intermediaries to the Labour Party by property developer David Abrahams.
In a day of turmoil Harriet Harman, the Labour party chairman, admitted she had received a £5,000 donation through Janet Kidd, a secretary, during her campaign for the Labour deputy leadership. She said she had not realised Ms Kidd was acting for Mr Abrahams and that she would return the money.
Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, was also forced to deny any wrongdoing after it emerged his old department gave Mr Abrahams the go ahead to build a business park shortly after a large donation to the Labour party.

Homes wrecked under Loony Labour
12.47.00pm GMT Tue 4th Mar 2008

Labour Lambeth are to wreck this home rather than see it brought back into use
Loony Labour-run Lambeth council has wrecked two homes in Streatham because money is not available to do them up - while not far away they have more than £100,000 of public money to spend converting three flats into a single house worth an estimated £1m.
Meanwhile Labour have been quietly ramping up their sell-off of council homes - at a single auction last week they raked in £3.4 million with the sale of flats and houses, having previously claimed they were halting the sale of council homes.
The contradictions in loony Labour's housing policy are shown first by the stark contrast between Lydhurst Ave and Kirkstall Rd, both in Streatham Hill. The council says funds are not available to carry out repairs, so they will just be left empty again - the answer, says the council, is to wreck them so that squatters will not reoccupy.
At 87 Kirkstall Rd, in the sought after Telford Park conservation area, a property divided into three flats, the squatters have been removed but the council has so much public money to burn that it is proposing to lavish an estimated £100K to turn it into a seven-bedroom house for rent by a single family - it says the house can accommodate 11 people. If restored the house is likely to be worth in the region of £1million.

Number of new British citizens under Labour hits 1.2m mark
Richard Ford, Home Correspondent, Times on line
A record number of foreigners became British citizens last year, bringing the total since Labour came to power to almost 1.2 million, according to figures published yesterday.
Three quarters of those getting a British passport came from Asia and Africa with the main nationalities being Indian, Philippine, Afghan, South African and Pakistani.
The figure is 7 per cent up on the previous year and was the highest number ever granted in any year.
A series of reports released in Whitehall showed that 164,635 foreigners became British citizens last year, which followed a slump in numbers in 2006.

2,300 applicants were refused a passport because they had insufficient knowledge of English or failed the test on life in Britain.
Damien Green, the Tory immigration spokesman, said: “These figures are extraordinary. Given the Government’s proven record at granting passports to people like Muktar Ibrahim Said — ringleader of the July 21 plot — the public will be alarmed that passports are being handed out at such a rate. Given the Government’s ineptitude, how can they guarantee they are being granted to suitable people? The largest number of citizens were Indian with 14,490, Philippine 10,840, South African 8,150, Afghan 10,555 and Pakistani 8,140.
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka made up 80 per cent of net migrants.

Law and principle are lost in the crazy politics of 42 days
Detention without charge tramples rights won over centuries. Labour MPs must resist prolonging it just for party posturing

Shami Chakrabarti
The Guardian,
Friday June 6 2008
Article history
Who would be a Labour MP this week? After brutal whipping and endless spin about "toughing it out" while "offering concessions", it still boils down to this. Is it right, or necessary, or productive to our safety, to detain a suspected person for six weeks without charge - without knowing what they are accused of?
Some view this as a trial of political machismo. Liberty does not. Political parties play a part in democracy, but I respect the conscience, courage and conviction of individual parliamentarians more. I will always regret the crazy politics that "42 days" has become and our inability - despite endless efforts - to persuade the Brown government towards a break with the recent past.
Liberty colleagues have had discussions with Labour MPs who have been thoughtful in their engagement. My confidence is such that I believe on a free vote in the Commons, the 42-day measure would be easily defeated. But at the fag end of the misnamed, misjudged "war on terror", abortion time limits are left to the conscience and detention time limits are not. The margin will be tight.
Some MPs have expressed fears that this issue might become a running sore for their party. As Europe split the Conservatives in the 1990s, so civil liberties might create a fault line through Labour. Government admissions that there is no need for an extension have left many angry about being forced to revisit this issue so soon after the vote in 2005.
In democracies where people are presumed innocent, we arrest on suspicion, charge with evidence and convict after proof. These principles were built on centuries of struggle. Even this tradition risks hundreds or thousands of people being plucked from their beds and detained under terror laws. A smaller number will be charged with something, and some eventually convicted.
Humans - including policemen - are imperfect. Hence the age-old wisdom of prompt charging following arrest, so even the most heinous murders must result in charge within four days. Hence the one-day limit in Canada, two in the US, and periods of a week or less all over the free world. Ministers have been quick to try to rubbish my organisation's extensive research into comparisons but have produced none of their own. The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, is in no doubt where the UK stands. He says the "British government's suggestion to allow terrorism suspects to be detained for 42 days without charge would be way out of line with equivalent detention limits elsewhere in Europe".
After charge, innocents may still be held for months pending trial for a complex conspiracy, but at least they know why. At least they and their family and lawyers can prepare a defence in the hope of vindication in court. Contrast the nightmare of a thousand hours in custody followed by unceremonious release back into the community. How will that help social cohesion and national unity? Ministers claim to have consulted "senior Muslims". My concern is with the junior ones who become alienated and radicalised.
The security minister Admiral Lord West was both provocative and practical when he said people should "snitch" on those they suspect of involvement in terrorist activity. How much intelligence might be lost in the anxiety that providing information risks an innocent neighbour disappearing for six weeks? I debated this on the radio with a government loyalist. "Six weeks' detention is not so long," he said, "a school holiday". Before I could react, the Irish-born broadcaster cut in: "I was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act." It clearly hadn't felt like a holiday to him.
So, on the government's own case, there is no need for this power; but they wheel out selected policemen who say there may be a need one day. They are slow to explore a range of less sexy alternatives to the constant escalation of the detention arms race.
Serving police officers have also told Liberty of their opposition to the government's plans. But most fear recrimination if they go public. The former chief constable of the West Midlands, Lord Dear, is no stranger to terrorist threats. He was personally targeted by the IRA and yet calls extended detention a "propaganda coup for al-Qaida". In his experience the "best course for a terrorist was to provoke a government to overreact to a threat by eroding civil liberties, increasing executive powers and diminishing due process by the denial of justice".
One week from the vote, we are told ministers can have their authoritarian cake and eat it with sugar-free "concessions". The home secretary even says her last-minute amendments transform the 42-day power into a liberal enhancement of existing emergency powers. The joint parliamentary committee on human rights disagrees: "The safeguards in the bill, even after the potential government amendments, are inadequate to protect individuals against the risk of arbitrary detention."
Confidence tricks catch only those unwilling to look beyond the smoke and mirrors. First, the "grave and exceptional terror threat" is broad enough to catch any suspected terror plot anywhere in the world, rather than a genuine emergency in Britain.
Second, the threat is a phrase for a statement to the Commons, not a legal precondition for detention. That means that the power to extend detention is still triggered by individual cases rather than general emergencies. Parliament becomes a farcical star chamber charged with discussing individual cases without prejudicing potential trials.
Finally, there is no judicial review of the decision to turn on the power. The only role left to a judge would be to authorise detention week on week without evidence or charges to examine.
On morning radio Jacqui Smith asked for our trust. Since when was trust in today's home secretary a basis for suspending the rule of law? It is part of her job to plan for horrific scenarios. It is the job of her parliamentary colleagues to consider her proposals in future home secretaries' hands. This is not a vote of confidence in this government, but about confidence in parliament's ability to hold all governments to account.
Who would be a Labour MP next week? Vote against this posture and face the whips in the morning. Or vote for it and face your grandchildren forever.
• Shami Chakrabarti is director of Liberty liberty-human-rights.org.uk

Chris Close said...

Can I just say, the last post wasn't me - but I wish it had been!!

I know that from time to time, I regret some things I say to people but then I do apologise when I go OTT.

One does wonder how Councillor Wallis gets through life with his size 9s permanently stuck in his mouth with the rubbish he puts out as logical or factual comment.

I certainly cannot see how he describes seriously, actually either the LibDems or even the Tories as 'lurching' to the Right because that ground is very firmly occupied by Nulabor.

Chris Close said...

And I forgot to add, I saw George Osborne from the Tories seem genuinely angry at the poverty of Children under Labour and much to my surprise actually believed him.

The Darlington Tories also seem to fight hard to stop injustice.

As for the LibDems, in the Town they seem pretty good and I would take Nick Clegg any day over any Cabinet minister currently in post in terms of a committment to Social Justice.

Ex-Labour said...

Just a thought...If I was getting "donations" to fight this and that election I personally would be curious as to where they came from, wouldn't you?

Paul Leake said...

Nick: There's a difference between distributing pro-drugs leaflets to schools and encouraging students at an FE college to make their views in favour of decriminalising cannabis known to their MP. As Mike points out LDYS or whatever they are called these days makes their own policy just as Unison or the Co-op Party does.

Martin: Hull is not Darlington and the things that work in Hull are not necessarily what's best for Darlington. From what I hear the Hull scheme was working for poorer families. In many of those parts of the UK where there is no Tory presence Lib Dems have defended the interests of their middle class constituents over the wider needs of society.

Anon: That we have so many more _citizens_ rather than just immigrants is something to commend the Government for, as is the recognition that people need to be able to function in one of our national languages to play a full part as a British citizen.

Chris Close said...

Another day, Nick still no answer about Victoria House.

You have claimed I am delusional so why not reply and put everyone right?

Is it because I am entirely correct in my assertions and DBC has at last employed someone with integrity unlike philandering Cliff Brown who has none?

Chris Close

Chris Close said...

[color=red][size=18]For the avoidance of doubt, if Nick Wallis now knows I am correct, how can he continue to act as a Councillor of as a Cabinet member since he will be subourning neglect by refusing to act against Cliff Brown whose actions have brought about the unnecessary deaths of people who could not speak for themselves?

If Wallis now knows I am correct then why have I not received a massive apology and Cliff Brown the sack?

I am correct and so if Wallis does not address this situation then he is making himself out to be an even bigger liar than he has proven to be in the past.[/size]
Chris Close