Foundation Stone Ceremony

Trustees and photographer, Eddie Brown

Today I attended the foundation stone ceremony for Spinners Court, as a Trustee of Bridgnorth Housing Trust. It has been a tremendous effort of the Clerk, the Chairman & all of the Trustees, particularly those including myself on the development committee and on the finance committee.

Spinners Court is the biggest project in the charities 400+ year history. The name Spinners Court was suggested by me to reflect the history of Low Town it, the ‘Spinners’ who worked at the town’s carpet factories and lived in the area and the roots of our charity. Whilst it hasn’t been easy, once the development is finished we will all be able to look back on this site with tremendous satisfaction and pride.

Spinners Court Foundation Stone

The future is bright, the future is… Liberal

Interesting couple of articles that illustrate the challenge ahead in today’s politics following the 2015 General Election. A Threat for Labour that conversely has presented an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.

1 The Practical Guide to Centre Left schisms

2 The strange death of Labour Britain has a worrying precedent

Both articles explain how a party can fall far from grace in a short time. The Liberals in the Former and potentially Labour in the latter.

Despite the drubbing in the 2015 election the Liberal Democrats are on fire and rejuvenated. How is this possible?? To understand this you need to understand the context of British Politics today.

Society has changed beyond recognition over the last twenty years and the pace of change is faster and more dynamic than the ability of political parties to change.

The fragmentation of politics has become very pronounced where once it was a simple left and right. The big two parties of the modern era are but shadows of their former selves, leaving the ground open for other parties and for single issue campaign groups.

This isn’t just being felt by Politics. The Internet and technological changes are allowing people to interact in unimaginable ways just 10 years ago. The media faces some of the biggest challenges, more often than not having to reinvent themselves or die.

Household institutions across the board are being similarly tested. Many who stay true to what they were and carry on like they always have, have withered and died in the face of upstart competition that has adapted to today’s consumers.

The most effective and successful party in the modern arena will be the one best able to adapt and work with the natural flow and not stick to old habits that mean they are working across the public grain.

A century ago, the Liberals fragmented when they couldn’t adapt quick enough to the changes in society. Changes in society initiated by the industrial revolution and the Victorian era, fanned by the flames of the Great War and trouble in Ireland, through to the labour movement and votes for Women, were all unprecedented. Yet the Liberals changed little, failed to adapt and ultimately perished as a party of government.

Many commentators lampooned the Lib Dems immediately after the election, claiming that the Liberal Democrats had suffered a similar fate to their Liberal predecessors, destined for obscurity for a generation of more.

However, this overly simplistic narrative forgets that politics is driven by the society of the day, the effects of which can not be immediately felt or seen.

So quite perversely, some might say, the Liberal Democrats may now be in the best place to make changes and adapt their party the quickest to today’s society.

Britain at its core is a Liberal Country

YouGov-Left-Right

Britain at its core is a Liberal Country that has enshrined fairness and freedom in its values for generations. A recent poll by YouGov shows just how much the middle ground of politics has opened up for the Lib Dems. British values are generally Liberal values. Yet the electorate have for decades been presented by a simplistic choice of left and right when really most people are in the centre, in the same space that they believe the Lib Dems to exist.

Today’s society believes in a less over bearing state, individual freedom and choice, fairness and compassion, tolerance etc. These are all Liberal values.

Liberals believe in individual freedom, a less interfering or oppressive state, fairness for all – empowering everybody to be the best they can be, whilst ensuring this is applied to everybody… not just the many and most definitely not just a lucky few.

Liberalism needs reuniting. Liberalism needs reiterating and explaining.

The Lib Dems through their enforced rebirth now have a golden opportunity to win over hearts and minds of the British Electorate. No small task but recent by-election wins and the rapid surge in membership and shown the field is open for the Lib  Dems to permanently break the mold of British Politics. Lib Dems across the country now have new hope. Hope that they must enshrine through the country.

Bridgnorth Lib Dems launch new website

Bridgnorth Liberal Democrats have launched a new website at http://bridgnorthlibdems.uk/

Despite a drubbing at the General Election last May, the Lib Dems have seen a massive surge in membership, both nationally and locally. Between the Election and the close of registration to vote for the new Lib Dem Leader, there was over a 34% rise in membership – the vast majority of which had never been a Lib Dem before or been politically active. Over 18,000 have now joined the Lib Dems. Click here if you would like to join the Lib Dems and the #libdemfightback

Last week the Lib Dems elected their new Leader – Tim Farron MP – watch Tim’s first speech following his victory:

The Lib Dems are going from strength to strength at the moment. Despite only having 8 MP’s, they have already galvanised opposition blocked Conservative Legislation in the Commons and will use their strength in the Lords to do more of the same. Labour so far have been divided and weak. Since May the Lib Dems have had several by-election wins – gaining seats from the Conservatives and Labour (3 last week alone).

With renewed energy and hope the Lib Dems will be rebuilding at quite a pace.

Election Leaflet hits doormats

With the elections for Shropshire Council in full swing and postal votes imminent for those who have opted to vote that way, our elections leaflets are hitting the doormats over the next few days.

Here is Helen Howell’s and my first leaflet currently being delivered:

Salute to Mrs T

On a human level you have to applaud Mrs Thatcher, she was undoubtedly the iconic figure who defined Britain for a generation, who’s impact is still felt today and will be far into the future. As a leader she had drive, character, charisma, conviction and a host of qualities the Conservatives have been trying and failing to replicate in their leaders ever since.

She had great successes, like taming the unions, liberalising business and the Falklands.

She had great failures like the Poll Tax or allowing today’s rampant irresponsible capitalism to take root.

She had policies which were both… giving tenants the right to buy was a huge plus, but denying Councils the power to replenish their housing stock was a mistake. Social housing still performs a vital role but the crisis in the supply of affordable housing was born under her watch. Privatisation was also a success and a failure. Some worked very well, others failed spectacularly. As they say: if the cap fits, wear it.

Recent issues over Press Freedom, the Banking Crisis, Political Scandals have all shown us that rampant Freedom is not always a good thing. With Freedom comes great responsibility. Recent history is littered with irresponsible Freedom. Better regulation is coming about. At the end of it all we will still be Free but we will also be more responsible and hopefully more compassionate.

Thatcher got her own ism which is no mean feet. Many of her changes have been attacked by the left but ultimately adopted and expanded upon by Labour.

On a human level she was an iconic Britain – love her or loath her – you have to respect that. RIP Mrs T.

Tossing my hat back into the ring

Today Shropshire Council has released lists of Candidates Nominated for the Unitary Election on May the 2nd. I can confirm that my nomination papers were accepted and my nomination now appears on the list for Bridgnorth West & Tasley Division. I am once again standing for the LibDems along with my dear friend and former Mayor of Bridgnorth, Helen Howell. In a few days once the window for people to withdraw from the election closes, the field will be set and the election will begin in earnest.

7 sitting Councillors are unopposed, so they will be returned without an election. No great for democracy but I am sure they will be chuffed to bits.

Why am I standing? Well, it is 8 years since I lost my County Council seat. In that time, all the fundamental issues that Bridgnorth faced then have remained in place, un-addressed by Bridgnorth’s Unitary Councillors – a rapidly ageing population in part due to a lack of suitable affordable housing and local jobs. Our younger people are leaving Bridgnorth for further education or work, many not returning. This is unsustainable and means that those older people that remain have to shoulder more and more of the council tax burden.

Tough times continue to roll

No sign of the economy turning round completely any time soon.

I have been fortunate to have had a few shares during this recession. Bye and large these shares have done OK and have helped me through the recession. But as the down turn stretches ever longer – even that extra income can’t keep coming to my aid. The only way this country’s ship is going to turn around is through growth.

The Coalition Government have been right to cut back the excesses of the previous wasteful government – even if it was painful. It has been painful for me personally, with reduced hours followed by redundancy. But the Coalition needs to remember it has to be a two pronged attack to turn the economy round. So far they have done some things to encourage growth. Some things here… Some things there. But now they need to pick up the pace, set the agenda and set the pace!

They have the talent. Now is the time to show us what you have got and show this whole enterprise has been worthwhile.

Swan song today… retirement tomorrow

Today is Civic Sunday & I will be participating in the parade & service at St Mary’s church to usher in the New Mayor, Val Gill, into office. On Thursday we had the Annual Council meeting in the town hall where she officially took office for the next municipal year. Today we will parade from the Town Hall in the high street, lead by a band, to the Civic Service at St Mary’s church.

This will be my last Civic Sunday & my last act as a councillor. Tomorrow I will retire. I have been proud to have represented the public of Morfe ward since I was first elected in 1999. During this time I have used my expertise as a surveyor on planning matters to ensure our beautiful town is enhanced by quality applications & our rich heritage protected. I have campaigned for road safety improvements & speed limit reductions in Quatford & The Hermitage. Worked to establish community groups. Campaigned for fairer funding for schools. Improvements on the riverside & in Low Town. Worked to see the cemetery improved & extended – including undertaking a survey of the site for the council. I have campaigned for the introduction of technology to councils to make them more efficient. Amongst many other things for individual people & businesses in my ward.

It has been a honour & a privilege.

So here we are… new dawn… new politics

Well the Polls showed the public were overwhelmingly in favour of a hung parliament & parties working together. Now we have a hung parliament, with a coalition government the colour of which few probably expected. Personally I don’t think this new government will fall apart as some predict. The early indications are that quite a broad program of agreement has already been established between the LibDems & the Conservatives. rules of engagement have been drawn up to cover areas of disagreement.

There is inherent danger for the LibDems in any coalition deal. Of the offers on the table yesterday only the Conservative one was credible & however desirable the Labour ‘offer’ would have never worked. Now that agreement has been reached then there is a modicum of stability for the foreseeable future, at least at parliamentary level. There may yet be some blood letting in both the LibDems & the Conservatives, but I believe both parties will, largely, be much more pragmatic than the commentators give them credit for. Both sides have given up a lot to makes this deal stick.

BBC: Cabinet: A guide to who’s who
LibDem Voice: Statement from the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP

Dear Gordon, errrr can’t think of much to say so will just say… Goodbye. Toot toot hooray

Disappointing result for the LibDems last Thursday but the main story over the last few days has been the hung parliament.

Gordon Brown resigned… well nearly! Only in a few months. What a farce!! He should have resigned as Labour leader there and then whilst staying on as PM until the new Government was in place.

The Con/LibDem deal is the only viable option on the table & I hope this deal comes to fruition today. Time is marching on and a deal now needs to be struck.

The resignation of Brown upset the whole apple cart yesterday. Labour talks have taken place today but a Lab/LibDem deal is a none starter. Labour can not carry their own MPs in votes as it is & the vibe is that many would rebel & even vote against their own queen’s speech! There can be no confidence in Labour figures adding up to a minority government of what ever coalition colour. Rejecting this is the best way of dumping Brown now & not in September.

The Con/LibDem coalition option is the only stable one that can get to grips with the issues facing the country. If this can not be hammered out then the LibDems should walk away but that is a very unpalatable position. The referendum concession from the conservatives is a big one.

So chaps… best you get on with it!!!