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Day: December 6, 2012

Liz Cohen wins the Shenfield by-election for a second Lib Dem gain in the ward in seven months

I wrote last month that Liz Cohen and the Lib Dems had a legitimate chance of making a gain in Shenfield on December 6 2012. Well it is now December 6 (at the time of writing – probably December 7 by the time I post this) and they have indeed fulfilled my expectations as Elizabeth Clare Cohen was this evening duly elected as one of three councillors for Shenfield ward on Brentwood Borough Council with a majority of 171.

The full results are as follows:

COHEN, Elizabeth Clare 728 – Liberal Democrat
MAY, Stephen Edward 557 – The Conservative Party Candidate
MILLWOOD, Richard 31 – The Labour Party Candidate
WATT, David 119 – UKIP

Here in a photo of the result being read out courtesy of the ‘Liz Cohen for Shenfield’ Facebook page:

Liz Cohen Lib Dems Shenfield
Liz Cohen winning the Shenfield by-election. A Lib Dem gain in the ward. One of several across the country tonight.

Shenfield last saw a Liberal Democrat councillor in 1996 if I recall correctly before the real shock of victory in May by young Graeme Clark and when this by-election was called after the Tory candidate quit to look after his sick wife then it became a Lib Dem target due to their win in May.

Well the team did good and have got another Lib Dem councillor on to the borough council. The old Lib Dem adage for the Lib Dems is ‘where we work, we win’ and in all honesty this victory is testament to that. I was getting many e-mail from Karen Chilvers et al from the team to help with the campaign but due to working full-time and the shocking train service between there and here I was unable to help but they have a great organisation and showed that working hard actually leads to good results.

Apparently the Lib Dems are kicking ass tonight and showing that reports of the death of the party may have been exaggerated and whilst council seats in by-elections don’t mean a lot in the great deal of things I think most Lib Dems – and most politicos – will admit that the strength of the Lib Dems has always been at local level. This took a huge hit in 2011 and another hit in 2012 but maybe people are starting to listen once more and if that is the case then maybe local election results might not be as depressing in the future as they have been the past couple of years.

From all I’ve read about Liz she’s an exceptional candidate and should be an exception councillor. I think a lot of Lib Dem groups could have a long hard look at Brentwood Lib Dems as a template for how to be successful. I’ve said it before but it is worth saying it again. A lot of admiration for the team there and I hope they toast their hard work tonight or over the next couple of days. They’ll have thoroughly deserved it.

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Bob Costas uses his Prime Time TV audience to talk gun control laws after NFL murder-suicide.

If you have any knowledge of the US Sports scene then you’ll know of Bob Costas. He has been one of the faces and voices of sports broadcasting in the country for over 30 years. Part of his duties is to front NBC’s NFL TV coverage and on Sunday he worked the nationally televised Prime Time game as per usual. Just over 24 hours earlier a Kansas City Chief had killed his wife, driven to the stadium and thanked his coach and the general manager of the team before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide in front of them. Yet the next day the Kansas City Chiefs played their scheduled game.

It was a tragedy that a young two-month old baby girl lost both her parents. That a young woman was slayed in her prime. It is hard to feel any sympathy for the man who committed these crimes but you have to sense that he was deeply troubled. This though isn’t the point. The point is would these two people still be alive today if the second amendment to the US Constitution wasn’t in place.

Now Bob Costas used his privileged position to further his thoughts on this subject following a piece by noted columnist Jason Whitlock. In his piece ‘In KC, it’s no time for a game‘ Whitlock speaks first of all about why the game should have been cancelled but goes on to make the wider point about gun culture. Whitlock is a middle-aged black man and Costas is a older generation white man. Many think this is a racial issue and have slated Costas for his views but he was referencing Whitlock’s work.

To view Costas’ monologue please watch the inserted video below:

Here is the important part of Whitlock’s piece that Costas was referencing:

In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

I personally do not have an issue with either Whitlock writing what he did nor Bob Costas using his position to talk on the subject. A large majority of the American public seem to. A significant proportion of people believe that Costas was ripping on black people as a lot of young black men in America believe that guns are an important part of their culture. So an attack on guns is an affront to them.

I disagree strongly. If Jevon Belcher didn’t own a gun then the likelihood is that two people would not be dead today and a young baby girl would not have been orphaned on Saturday morning. Over here in the UK we see an increasing amount of young people carrying around knifes to protect themselves but of course what we see is the likelihood of you using a knife is vastly increased if you have one on your person. When the adrenaline kicks in we as human beings do not make the best choices. You are more likely to be stabbed if you possess a knife when out and about than if you do not. It is the same with guns. If you don’t have one to hand then you are far less likely to ever use one.

The right to bear arms is an antiquated law but is one that will never change because of deep rooted beliefs. If guns were illegal then a few people with illegal guns would be able to carry out more crimes but with guns being so readily available it means that many, many more people will be shot and die at the hands of someone in a moment of passion or pique of anger. If you don’t have a weapon to hand then you are far less likely to go out and get one after the red mist has dissipated.

This was a terribly sad moment but alas it is all too uncommon. A friend of mine in New York was called up to do jury duty a while back and it was a murder case. He didn’t have to sit on it but I enquired saying that murder is a pretty big crime so it must be a big case and his response was cold saying that ‘it probably wouldn’t even make the papers.’ When a murder isn’t even a crime that makes the newspapers then something is wrong.

I think my view is pretty clear but I just wanted to defend Whitlock (whom I often do not agree with) and certainly Costas who used the largest TV audience of the night to hammer home his thoughts on the issue. Gun control is an issue that no American President will ever tackle because they are too scared to do so. This is a sad state of affairs but would an frank and open national news debate about gun control be a good thing? It sure would but it will never never happen. This is the type of news story I’d want Will McAvoy and his team to take on but I doubt anyone will.

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