The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘tim farron’ tag

On Tim Farron’s performance in the 2017 Lib Dem General Election campaign…

without comments

I wrote in dispatches about this yesterday, certainly Tim’s problem with the gay sex question. I will reiterate that I don’t think it is fair that he (or anyone) gets those kind of questions when all that matters is how they vote and treat people, yet that is just the way of the world. Everyone knew the question was coming and not having a simple and straightforward answer that would have ended that line of questioning once and for all was a whopper of a mistake.

Another issue I had was his interview on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 30 April. Instead of trying to own what the party (and he) were all about, he tried to pander to a section of the electorate who would agree with many Lib Dem policies but don’t on the European Union question.

I don’t want to go off on a little bit of a rabbit hole here, but you will remember that I resigned from the Liberal Democrat front bench about 10 years ago because I am a bit of a Eurosceptic

The last seven words were poison. Instead of being the unabashed Pro-EU party that seemed to be the way the strategy was set up for, he tried to just gingerly dip a toe in the other camp. This would have surprised many who joined solely because of Brexit and wanting to fight it at all costs.

The USP for the Lib Dems in 2017 was quite simply they were looking to pick-up the Pro-EU vote. By trying to appeal to those who wanted to leave the EU, it watered down that message and did very little to help any MPs representing leave areas win. I think only Eastbourne and North Norfolk voted to leave but returned Lib Dem MPs.

By weakening that message, it didn’t appeal to gentle leavers but instead made the leader out to be less authentic. If you are leading a party that is trying to attract the vote from the section of the electorate who wanted to remain as part of the EU, don’t then try to say that deep down you understand the issues with the EU, not only that but to use the eurosceptic word. It just rankles. Own what you are (or at least what you are trying to portray). You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so it is better to try and please some of those people instead of making everyone look at you with narrowing eyes wondering what it is that you really stand for…

That authentic aspect is another where Tim fell down. I understand that he grew up in Preston. I think I heard that once or twice on the campaign trail. The ‘just a regular northern bloke’ schtick did not come across well. I know that is who he is but I have seen him perform much better than how he came across in those big important TV moments. You cast your eye across to Jeremy Corbyn and he owns exactly who he is and people like authenticity.

This is where Theresa May fell down. She didn’t come across as likeable (not that she ever expected to) but she also came across as scared. Nicola Sturgeon was taken apart by the special Question Time audience and they exposed her as a one-issue candidate. Tim looked (and sounded) like someone that didn’t truly believe some of the things he was saying. He was rarely on the front foot. I wonder why this was?

We’ve all seen Tim at Conference freaking knock speeches out of the park. He may not be the orator that Nick Clegg is but he does have great passion and he is able to win you over when he’s shooting from the hip. I felt that he was never fully unleashed during this campaign. Whether that was planned or whether it was because he didn’t fully believe in the second referendum offer I just don’t know but Tim can perform much better than he did.

Tim’s approval ratings dropped throughout the course of the campaign. Those that saw him as performing well started at 16% before the campaign started but ended at only 20%. Those on the other side of the ledger started at 34% before moving to 42% and 46% according to YouGov. This meant that he started on -18% and ended at -26%. Not great but even worse, 35% said at the end of the campaign that they didn’t know. So a third of people had no opinion, he’d made that little impact. That is a killer.

Jeremy Corbyn started at -58% and ended at -2%. Theresa May started at 24% and ended at -5%. This shows that the campaign is vital and that opinions can be swayed. By seeing a small but modest drop but still having a third of people have no opinion, that has to be put down as a big miss for Tim and the party.

Last up I was just reading some newspaper articles from mid-late April. Tim Farron himself was saying things like the Lib Dems have the ‘wind at our sails’ and that Labour were ‘holed below the waterline’. If they are both true (which seemed to be the case at that point) then how did Labour increase their parliamentary party by so many whereas the Lib Dems added only four compared to the 2015 General Election? How did the momentum shift so much? Did Labour nail it or did the Lib Dems crap the bed as it were?

I suspect it was a mixture of the two but it was Tim himself who was building up our chances and even becoming the main opposition. Instead we are the fifth most important party of government (the DUP may have two fewer MPs but they have a whole lot more influence). By his own measuring stick we have greatly under-performed.

The question is why and what lessons are being learned? Tim was not outstanding during this campaign, he probably wasn’t as awful as some are saying either. The biggest problem was it was hard to believe him at times but when you are trying to sell a terrible offer to the electorate (the second referendum) then even the best salesman would struggle.

Tim will no doubt stay leader in the short-term as we watch to see whether the Tory/DUP pact can hold up. If it doesn’t then he probably leads the party into another General Election. If it does though then Jo Swinson is looming and she has all the potential in the world to have a very bright future as the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 14th, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Politics

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On Tim Farron and his gay sex issue…

with 2 comments

Oh dear. Here we go again. It is like waking up in the morning only to find that you are in Groundhog Day (or to use a much cooler reference Window of Opportunity – Stargate SG1) and instead of hitting golf balls billions of miles through a wormhole or learn how to make pottery, once more my twitter timeline is full of conversation about Tim Farron’s thoughts on gay people. Sigh.

I have two points of view on this, the first is Tim has made a rod for his own back by constantly fudging the answer when he is asked. His voting record is superb on all these issues and he clearly has no intention of using his own personally held beliefs (whatever they are) to sway what he thinks the right thing to do is in the modern world. This I find is a grown-up way of doing things. Other people may have differing beliefs but they can all live their lives as they see fit because those differently held beliefs do not interfere with other peoples lives. Pretty simple no?

The second point of view is clearly the political one. Everyone saw this coming when Tim was running for the leadership of the party. I was told by several Christian Lib Dems that his personal beliefs should not ever be questioned and by doing so, it was morally reprehensible. The only issue with that is that isn’t the way the world works. If you are running for high political office then your personal beliefs are going to be something the media and the electorate will want to know, even if those beliefs don’t influence how you do your job. That is just the way it is. It might not be right. It might not be fair but tough shit.

Politically this should have been a non-story but instead the party (and really Tim himself) is allowing it to get oxygen and stay in the news cycle. When the leaders personal opinions of gay sex is the top story instead of the parties new membership figures or the policies for this upcoming General Election then there is a problem. This question was always going to come up. Always. Everyone knew it and bloody hell, he’s been leader since 2015, they’ve had time to sit down and actually find out what the answer is.

Personally speaking I couldn’t give a damn what Tim’s personal beliefs are and neither should anyone. If he votes for more gay rights and brings up issues within that community and stands up for them then that is all that should matter. Yet in politics that isn’t really the be all and end all.

The party broke the 100,000 member barrier today but all I’m reading is how Tim decided not to answer that question from Sky Television. That is what is getting the air play. No matter how clear you are with wavering voters or even wavering supporters with data showing how tim has voted, they’ll see and hear the sound bites and their fears will not be placated. This was a damaging story last week but instead of it being put to bed, it will stay for at least one more news cycle.

I’m 99.9% sure Tim Farron isn’t homophobic. All the data points to the fact he isn’t but if I were a floating voter and I only saw his clips where he’s been asked it on the news in recent days then I really wouldn’t know what to think.

This story takes away from the really important issues. To be honest the press should also be asking the same questions of other significant politicians. Theresa May herself has a much worse voting record on bills that are intended to make things better for the LGBT community. Yet I haven’t heard her being asked her personal thoughts on this subject. Maybe it is because it isn’t as easy and she hasn’t opened herself up to criticism on that front. Whether that is on the media or on her political savvyness is up for debate.

Still here we are. About to embark on what is in all likelihood the last chance to stop a fully fledged hard Brexit from the European Union that could cripple the country for generations and the big Pro-EU party are still floundering about this instead of leading the debate on the EU. As we saw in Richmond Park, where we stick to the script and get the narrative on our playing field we can win. If we can’t then this will be a truly golden opportunity derailed due to an issue that should not be hard to resolve.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 24th, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Politics

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On the next step for the Lib Dems and finally regaining that all important identity…

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Lets not beat around the bush. I am a Nick Clegg guy. A total Nick Clegg guy. I have always been a Liberal Democrat voter but Nick is the reason why I’m a card carrying member. Nothing against any leader before or since but there was something extremely special about Nick Clegg. He could’ve been a great leader of this country but instead it’ll be a generation before people truly understand what they’ve missed out on by essentially nailing him to the cross based mainly on the tuition fees situation and of course some voters believing that working with the Tories in any capacity was treachery.

In the past week we’ve seen much upheaval in the political sphere. A Labour Party held at gunpoint by a leader who has an army of followers but no way to ever win a war at a wider level and a Conservative Party where the big beast expected to be Prime Minister has bottled it after one of the most egregious pieces of back stabbing we’ve seen in modern political history by one of the nastiest and slimiest MPs around.

Amongst all that the Lib Dems have seen a surge in new members, over 12,000 in the past week at last count and having already spoken to a few around where I live in Southend, I was surprised (and very pleased) that none of them so far have had a bad word to say about Nick Clegg. Quite the opposite in fact. This gives me the sense that some of the stigma surrounding the party is starting to evaporate and that opens up big opportunities for the party.

I don’t think its exactly breaking news that I’m sceptical about our leader, not in his convictions, I think on that issue he ticks the boxes but in terms of being at ease in the spotlight and being a natural orator then I think there are still questions to answer. Yet his speech at Conference in 2015 was fast rate, it was passionate, it was heartfelt and it gave hope. The big question now is whether he can make enough waves to get the media attention when the party are now arguably the fifth most important in the United Kingdom political sphere behind the big beasts, UKIP and the SNP.

What the past week has shown though is the Lib Dems now clearly stand for something. They have that headline sign around their neck. The Lib Dems are very much Pro-EU. This means they are pro international business, they are pro the City of London being the heart of the world’s financial sector, they are pro small business. They are pro the freedom of movement of people across the EU, they are pro having an open and tolerant multicultural society.

It is something I think many Lib Dems have struggled with in recent years, telling people via canvassing or leafleting exactly what the party stand for. Did they stand for keeping the Tories in check (which I still think they did very well considering the electoral math against them) or did they stand for just local issues and try to ignore the national scene. The sad truth is national swings will often effect local races when they shouldn’t so I’m always been a proponent of talking about national issues as well as local ones, this isn’t something that has been widely shared amongst some that I know.

Still now is an opportunity for people to join or rejoin the party and the softening of the distrust and dislike of the party by the voters. This isn’t going to change overnight but the Lib Dems now sit at the heart of the centre-left on the ideological spectrum, a position not too far away from where Tony Blair won office in three consecutive landslides from 1997 to 2005.

The Labour Party are in complete disarray, their leader is so far left that they are now unelectable and he can’t even command his own party. Either he goes or his party splits and should that happen and a split Labour Party alliance or amalgamation with the Lib Dems and suddenly the centre-left once more has a party at the heart of it. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility and in this era of political uncertainty, things move fast and flexibility will be key but the signs are everything is in play.

Over in the blue camp, they are undergoing a leadership contest where it is assumed that a pretty hard-lined right-winger in Theresa May is set to win. Should that come to fruition then she will drag the party away from the centre ground where David Cameron has cleverly put it to win a surprise second term at Prime Minister. With the Tories potentially abandoning the centre, Labour way out left and UKIP way out right, imagine a progressive party sitting in that centre-left spot consisting of non Corbynista Labour and the Lib Dems. Has some real potential no?

Still that is a long way off, for now the Liberal Democrats now have a clear identity. They know who they are and can mix the national scene with local politics once again. The Lib Dems aren’t just Tory-lite or Tory-curbers, they have their own clear electoral platform. Whether they take this opportunity, well we’ll find out in time but as it stands they are the only party in England who firmly want to stay in the EU and aren’t placed on either extreme flank of political ideology.

If you believe in this country being part of the world and not a backwater island, want the country to be a player on the world stage, want to keep down racism and xenophobia and hopefully eradicate it altogether, want to be part of an all-inclusive multicultural society and want the next generation to have the opportunities that we had then at this moment there is one clear political party for you. I’m not saying the Lib Dems are the greatest things since Cherry Bakewells (we’re not) but we do believe in looking forward and not backwards and know exactly what direction we want to take the country in and that isn’t something either the red or blue teams can say at this juncture.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

July 1st, 2016 at 3:00 pm

On the Lib Dem position on Syria…

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This really isn’t about the Lib Dem position on Syria but more about the hysteria from the membership about our position. This evening Nick Clegg (this is apparently another bone of contention) announced/was on Sky News and said that the Lib Dem MPs would be backing the government proposal to join with our allies in bombing on ISIL targets in Syria.

I’m in a strange position here as I essentially have no position on what we should do because I quite simply do not have enough information to form a considered opinion. What I do know is these MPs have more information than I do and and therefore in a much better position to form an opinion than myself. I would also contend that they have more information than most (if not all) Lib Dem members but as I’ve found out, they all know many things, apart from those who don’t, but they are wrong.

Recently on this very blog I was called many names and told I was uneducated because I had an opinion on something. On that subject I had far more information on which to form an opinion because that is what I do. I form opinions on subjects based on the information at my disposal, those opinions are fluid depending on learning more information. Therefore my opinion can change but unless I have at least some information then I find it hard to form an opinion on a subject. Others seemingly don’t have that problem.

Over on Lib Dem Voice, the comment thread underneath the article on this news is quite something to behold. I’ve also read elsewhere of people who are seriously considering their positions within the party and whether they can be associated with the party any more. I find this puzzling, I really do. There is a difference between ideology and the real world and if you don’t believe that there is then no wonder some people are perpetually disappointed.

Next up the whole fact that Nick Clegg spoke on it, seriously why is this a fucking issue? Tim is said to be writing to all the members as I type and that e-mail could well be in my inbox before I post this. Nick Clegg is one of only eight MPs we have and if Tim wants to go and write his letter to the members then so be it. I’m surprised some people haven’t got annoyed about the fact it was on Sky News.

As I’ve said already, I have no real opinion as I don’t have any information but here is what we do know. We know that these are bad bad people. They have already murdered Brits, they have murdered allies, they have murdered their own, they take young women as sex slaves just because it makes them feel powerful. I think we are all in agreement that a way is needed to stop them, whether that is air strikes who knows? The fact is probably none of us do but we elect representatives to parliament and ask them to listen to their constituents, their party and their own conscious to make decisions for the good of the people of this country.

Military intervention is part of the world and unless we want to turn a blind eye to atrocities that are being done around the world and become a complete isolationist country then it will continue to be part of the United Kingdom. Whether it is right or not in this case isn’t clear (and trust me – it isn’t) but people revolting, leaving the party and such just for getting involved in military action (and heck, we’ve been involved in military action in Iraq and Afghanistan for ages) seems bizarre to me.

As Brian Paddick just tweeted, ‘V difficult decision with no “right answer”. @LibDems parliamentarians debated the issues, respecting different views, rightly not in public’ and he’s right. There isn’t a right answer, there isn’t a wrong answer. We can’t see into the future, it is drawback of the human mind. All our MPs can do is discuss and debate the situation with the information at hand and make the best decision that they can. I wish it was a cut and dry issue with a clearly defined right and wrong answer but it isn’t. I trust that our MPs are good people, I’m actually extremely confident that they are and they won’t have made any decision in haste without careful consideration.

Making decisions is difficult as I was typing that sentence, Tim’s letter was passed on to me. You can read it in full below. Having just read it I don’t think it will soothe the concerns of some of the party but I do believe it to be sincere and honest, which is all I could personally ask of him. Being an MP isn’t easy and when you actually have to make tough decisions, it is much harder than when you don’t actually have to make that decision.

I still have no real position on air strikes in Syria but I’m willing to trust that those with more information have a better idea of what might be the best course of action, one thing I certainly wouldn’t back is to sit back and do nothing, which I fear many people would back until terror hit UK shores and that would not be right.

The rest of the blog post is Tim’s letter:

When the government asked MPs to support military action in Syria against Assad in 2013, I refused to provide that support. I was not convinced our intervention would be effective, nor that it was fully backed by a diplomatic effort to establish a lasting peace, nor would it prevent more suffering than it caused.

In response to that deep-rooted scepticism last time I wrote to the Prime Minister last week, together with Nick Clegg, Paddy Ashdown, Ming Campbell, Kirsty Williams and Willie Rennie, setting out five principles against which the Liberal Democrats believe the case for military action should be based.

It is my judgement that, on balance, the five tests I set out have been met as best they can at this moment, and I will therefore be voting in favour of extending our operations to allow airstrikes on ISIL in Syria.

I have written in more length about how I have reached my decision below.

I am well aware that many in the party will disagree with me. I hope that, even if you cannot support me, you can support the approach I have taken, and recognise that I have taken this difficult decision after the fullest consideration.

ACTION AGAINST ISIL

Having considered the five principles I set out last week, having read the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report and the government’s response, having listened to the Prime Minister’s case for action, having listened to impassioned arguments for and against supporting military action from inside and outside the party, I am clear that this conflict is very different to Iraq in 2003 and I think it is important I explain why I believe that.

THE ILLEGAL WAR IN IRAQ

In 2003 a ‘dodgy dossier’ was used in an attempt to convince us that Saddam Hussein represented an imminent threat to international peace and security. In 2015 there is no dodgy dossier.

Instead, ISIL murdered 129 people on the streets of Paris. In restaurants, at a concert, on the pavement, those killed could just as easily have been here in Britain, in London, already a top target for ISIL.

This is before even considering how ISIL is threatening the security and stability of Iraq, a sovereign nation that has requested the help of the United Nations in protecting itself.

Unlike 2003, ISIL’s evil is apparent to the world in the beheading of journalists and aid workers for a worldwide audience, the rape and enslavement of tens of thousands of women, the summary execution of gay men and women, its brutal occupation of vast tracts of Iraq and Syria, and the terrified exodus of humanity we see in refugee camps from Lebanon to Calais.

THE UNITED NATIONS

The role of the UN Security Council should matter to us. In 2003 it was impossible to secure support for a further UN resolution to legitimise action. It was the crux of our argument against the illegal Iraq war.

On this occasion, the UN Security Council has not simply supported a passive resolution, it has made an active call for action “to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”.

UNSCR2249 was passed with the support of France and without objection from Russia and China. As members of an internationalist party that has placed great store on the framework of international law established by the United Nations, I urge you to read the text of that resolution which can be found here.

I would also ask you to consider that Article 51 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter provides countries with the right to take military action in collective self-defence.

Iraq has asked for help in defeating ISIL, now commanding its operations from Syria. Just earlier this month, ISIL launched a savage attack on our closest neighbour and ally in Europe. We know, too, that so far this year seven terrorist attacks by ISIL against the UK have been thwarted. ISIL is a direct threat to the UK, our allies and to international peace and security. We are being dishonest if, already engaged against ISIL in Iraq, we pretend that inaction now in Syria somehow makes us safer.

In 2003 there was the thinnest veneer of international support for action in Iraq. In 2015 there is a wide-ranging coalition of nations who are committed to the eradication of ISIL, including states from the region who understand the threat ISIL poses to their security and stability. Those same nations recognise that it is crucial there is a strategy for Syria beyond air strikes.

In 2003 there was no thinking about the post-conflict situation in Iraq. The result was a disgraceful corporate free-for-all that paid no heed to Iraq’s infrastructure and prioritised corporate greed ahead of reconstruction.

It is not just Iraq we should learn from. Similar criticisms have been levelled at the UK and her allies over Libya and Afghanistan. In 2015 we have a diplomatic process in the Vienna talks aimed at ensuring the world remains engaged with Syria through this period of conflict and beyond, supporting the Syrian people to rebuild in a post-ISIL, post-Assad Syria.

REFUGEES

Earlier this year I went to Calais. More recently I went to Lesbos. I saw young children exhausted and terrorised as they’d made the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean. I heard through an interpreter a terrified seven year old boy’s first words as he landed on the beach from his rickety life raft: ‘Daddy, are ISIL here?’

I saw elderly women huddled beneath thin blankets as the evening came to the camp and the temperatures dropped below zero. I saw broken and desperate people who had witnessed horrific things in their own communities including the murder of loved ones. They pretty much all had one thing in common: they were fleeing for their lives from Syria and Iraq and in particular from ISIL.

So I came home from Lesbos and I angrily tore in to the Prime Minister for his callous refusal to take any of these desperate refugees. I proposed that we take three thousand orphaned refugees from the camps, and that the UK plays its full part by accepting others. I am personally enormously moved and angry about the plight of these desperate people, who want nothing more than to return home to a Syria and Iraq that is safe and stable and where they can live the lives they wish to in their own country.

Airstrikes alone of course are not going to resolve the hugely complex political situation in Syria. But I am clear that unless something is done to remove ISIL from Syria, from where it is coordinating its actions, there is no hope of progress towards that goal of a safe and stable Syria. And there is no hope for a home for refugees to go back to.

CONCERNS

Of course I have tremendous concerns.

I have pressed these directly with the Prime Minister. I believe it is critical that the Gulf states are vocal in their condemnation of ISIL. I believe much, much more must be done to cut off the funding and supply routes for ISIL.

I think that we have not paid enough attention to the way in which extremists here in the UK have been funded.

It is imperative that everything possible is done to minimise the likelihood of civilian casualties.

I have been crystal clear that the future of Syria, after any action, must be at the forefront of the minds of all those asking for support for airstrikes, here in the UK and also amongst our international partners.

I realise, too, there is great uncertainty over the ability to command and control disparate ground forces which will be necessary to hold territory recaptured from ISIL inside Syria. All of these are reasons to question action.

None of them in and of themselves are reasons not to act.

AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

There is no doubt that military action means diplomatic failure, and the formation and spread of ISIL is the ultimate display of our failure as an international community over the last five years.

We cannot undo the mistakes of the past, but we have the chance now to take action against an organisation that cannot be reasoned with and that does not obey international borders.

There is no quick fix solution for dealing with ISIL, nor is there an easy route to peace and stability in Syria, and it would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise. The military action we are supporting is just one part of a long process that will be needed to make that happen.

I cannot promise you that this will succeed. What I can promise you is that in supporting this action, in no way am I giving my unreserved and uncritical support to the government.

I can promise you that we will be holding the government to account on their strategy, that I will be ensuring that they continue to act in the national interest and in the interests of the millions of Syrians and Iraqis who deserve a stable home in a peaceful country.

The Prime Minister has set out what I believe is a comprehensive motion which gives us the ability to take action against ISIL in Syria and also restates our commitment to a long term solution in Syria. Those of you who disagree with this decision may find little comfort in this, but it is my commitment to you as leader that if at any point these objectives are no longer possible I will not hesitate to withdraw support.

CONCLUSION

I am instinctively inclined towards peace. I am deeply sceptical of the ability of military action to achieve positive political outcomes. But I am not a pacifist. ‎Just as I was proud to stand with Charles Kennedy against the illegal war in Iraq, so I was proud to stand with Paddy Ashdown as he was a lone voice calling for military intervention to stop the massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo.

As a Liberal Democrat I am an internationalist. I believe in acting collectively with our friends and allies, and in responding to threats to our security within a framework of international law. I believe that our decision-making should be governed by what we consider to be in the long-term interests of the UK.

I believe we should not take action without considering the long-term objectives of that action for Syria. And I believe we have a moral duty to the people living in the despair of Calais and Lesbos, who want a secure and stable future in Syria, to take the necessary steps to attempt to bring that about.

It is my judgement that, on balance, the five tests I set out have been met as best they can.

I believe it is right to support a measured, legal and broad-based international effort to tackle the evil regime that has helped trigger the wave of hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees, fleeing for their lives.

I will therefore be asking my parliamentary colleagues to join me in the lobby to support this motion. I am well aware, too, that many in the party will disagree with me. I hope that, even if you cannot support me, you can support the approach I have taken and recognise that I have taken this difficult decision after the fullest consideration.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

December 1st, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Politics

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On Tim Farron struggling to answer the homosexuality/sin question…

with 2 comments

Who could ever have seen this coming? *rolls eyes*

This was always going to be Tim’s biggest problem, which is to be honest is crazy if you look at it from outside the political bubble. Tim’s fundamental Christian beliefs should not be the most posed question that he faces from the media but whoever said life was fair?

Everyone knew he’d face these questions and the fact he didn’t have a good answer for it is a big cross against the work from his inner-circle. The questions were going to come and they were going to come thick and fast and whilst it may be unfair, Tim put himself out there on the Christian ticket with two pieces in The Guardian within the past fortnight talking about it. If you are going to speak about it so openly then expect scrutiny. Don’t bleat about how other religions wouldn’t get scrutiny, that isn’t fair. I’m pretty sure plenty of politicians from around the religious fraternity have faced questions as to how their faith interacts with their politics.

Was his interview with Cathy Newman a car-crash? No. Was it uneasy? Oh yes, yes it was. In a piece entitled, On why I voted the way I did in the Lib Dem leadership election… I openly questioned whether Tim was prepared for the obvious questions that were coming on this subject. It seems as though he wasn’t. I actually took quite a lot of stick for even bringing it up and whether it was fair, my thought process was as a judge would say, ‘well counsel, you’ve opened the door…’ and if the door has been opened, prepare yourself for the onslaught.

The problem with religion is it doesn’t sound good in a sound bite. We are not a deeply religious nation and whilst in the good ol’ U S of A you have to be very public in your Christianity, over here all that will do is make people look at you with slightly narrowed eyes, rightly or wrongly.

So whilst it was a tough question to answer, he had to actually answer it and not in a wishy-washy way that he did. ‘Well all of us are sinners’ is not an acceptable response unless you want the electorate to believe that you think it is a sin. Here’s a good analogy, if someone asks you, ‘does my bum look big in this?’ and you respond, ‘well all bums look big in that dress’ then the person posing the question will infer that you think their bum looks big.

If Tim thinks that it is a sin then so be it. Part of liberty is the freedom of thought and the freedom of expression. Tim is fully entitled to believe that homosexuality is a sin. You and I may not agree with him but heck he’s entitled to that view (if indeed it is his view, which the evidence implies it probably is). The issue is whether his personal view will influence how he acts on such issues in his role as leader of a liberal political party. He has repeatedly stated that it wouldn’t and that should be the end of that in a perfect world. Still, we aren’t in a perfect world are we?

I have been disappointed by people who have said that this is a vendetta against Tim, the Lib Dems, Christianity when in fact it was a legitimate question and one that was always going to be posed. Plenty in the LGBT+ community are fully supportive of Tim whilst other do seem to have been concerned by his comments. I also think it is very fair to say that as a collective, had Nigel Farage for example made these comments then there would’ve been a more united assault on his character because of them. Some people are basing their reaction based on who said what instead of what was said and that I feel is not right.

This is a really small issue in the grand scheme of things for Tim and the Lib Dems but it is one that the media will peck at and peck at until they have a definitive answer. Tim (and his team, but in reality mainly Tim) needs to find a better answer to the question and once he does, the question will stop coming. I told him several weeks ago that he needed better answers to these questions and he chose to ignore me (which is fair enough, I know bugger all) but maybe now having seen the backlash not just within certain section of the party he now leads but also from potential voters, he’ll understand that he isn’t a backbencher any more and he will face a very different level of scrutiny (once more, rightly or wrongly on such an issue) but it comes with the territory.

Tim should be facing questions about how to rebuild the party, grow liberal values, make the party more gender balanced both in terms of councillors and MPs, what policies he wants to bring to the core of the party and the like. Instead the narrative is all about his Christianity, which is not good for neither himself personally nor the party.

So the answer is simple. Find the answer to the fecking question and then we can move on and start talking about the actual important shit.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 18th, 2015 at 11:49 am

Posted in Politics

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On ‘meeting’ and listening to Tim Farron but also thinking about leadership as a whole…

without comments

I put meeting in inverted commas because we didn’t actually meet or speak but I got to see him and listen to what he had to say. Tim did tweet me and say that it was lovely to meet me, which I laughed at on the train home when I saw it. I’ll put it down to the amount of people that he has had to meet and greet in the past few weeks but if he can tell me who I was then I’ll be impressed. I’ll give a hint at the end of this blog post.

So yesterday I had nothing on and I knew Tim was heading down to Guildford so I thought I’d pop on down to meet him (which I didn’t) and to listen to what he had to say (which I did). I had been informed by most people that had met him that he was an extremely impressive individual both face-to-face and in small groups. I have already written about how I think that he is more effective across the media than his leadership rival Norman Lamb so that wasn’t up for debate in my mind.

First things first, my gut reaction was that Tim was shattered after a long leadership contest where no doubt he has driven/been driven and leaned on the railways up and down the country for hustings and meet and greets with various local parties. I didn’t sense the energy that others had told me he had. I am happy to put this down to being at the end of this campaign though, I cannot imagine how I’d be after such a schedule and Guildford was his final stop on the road and I understand he had already had several stops on that Saturday.

The whole idea of energy being an important factor in politics in an interesting one. I don’t want an Ironman as leader. I want someone who is a leader, an effective communicator and someone who can reach out to beyond the current Liberal Democrat voter demographic. So this whole idea of needing bundles of energy I think is a newfangled thing that isn’t that important anyway.

More importantly I wanted to hear what he had to say. He walked in to rapturous applause and I glanced around to see a lot of excited faces. It reminded me of a rock star somewhat and not of a leader. When I met Nick Clegg and he walked into the room I didn’t sense he was a rock star, I sensed he was a leader. That was one distinct difference that I immediately felt.

On to what he had to say though and several things stood out that I certainly agreed with. This naval gazing bollocks that is going on (he didn’t use the term bollocks – I am) is not how you earn back the trust and the votes of the electorate. You start getting back the trust by speaking to people and telling them of what you stand for and what you’ll fight for – certainly at local level. If there are issues that effect people that councillors can help with then you need to work hard and tell people that you’ll help them. You don’t get votes without people knowing that you are out there fighting for them in this current climate.

Secondly about black holes or as he preferred to name them, Lib Dem deserts. He said that the best way to start fixing this is to ‘Pick a ward and win it’. All parties have areas where they aren’t natural territory for them but they can still win there. Locally we can see that on Rochford District Council where Cllr. Chris Black does an excellent job in his ward of Downhall & Rawreth where he is joined by Cllr. Ron Oatham. This isn’t what you’d call natural Lib Dem territory but the ward has been solidly Lib Dem for a while due to hard work by the local Lib Dem group there.

It isn’t exactly breaking any trade secrets to say that the Lib Dems in the east of Southend have issues but the PAWAWI strategy in one that needs to be and will be implemented. I’m not saying the party will win a ward out east in 2016 but you have to have a strategy to start making inroads and have a longer-term ambitions instead of just going from one election to the next.

He was asked about tuition fees and winning back the student vote, replying to this he stated that the fees weren’t the issue but the (perceived) loss of trust. The tuition fees fiasco as I like to call it was one we know Nick Clegg foresaw before the election as he wanted to scrub it from the manifesto knowing it would be hard to keep in any coalition negotiations. He knew it was something that could be hard to keep and would be something that could be used to flog him and the party going forward. Conference voted him down and the rest as the say is history.

Trust is a hard thing to regain in any form of life. Once someone betrays you then you are wary of them for a long time. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me so they say. The Lib Dems went into a coalition with the hated Tories and did an apparent public U-turn on a well publicised policy led to anger. The only way to gain that trust back is by working hard and delivering at local level.

Sadly due to time constraints at the end of the meet and greet many people didn’t get to speak to meet him. As I said earlier about the rock star line, everyone wanted to see, speak and have their picture taken with him and even though it was tried to have him split his time equally between the two tables of Lib Dem members who had rocked up to meet him, the first table wouldn’t let him go and Tim had a train to catch to breathe and see his family, which is fair enough.

I wrote last week about how I was voting for Tim, not because he really spoke to me individually but because I felt he was the right person to speak to the nation as a whole on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. I suspect Norman would be a better voice of British liberalism but people shouldn’t be surprised that I would say such a thing. I’m clearly and unashamedly a Cleggite. I am a Nick Clegg guy and watching him on Sunday Politics this morning there wasn’t one occasion where I winced or drew in breathe at something that he said. He is my guy and he speaks to me.

Yet as Harriet Harman put it so well on Sunday Politics this morning, she urged Labour members not to vote for the person they felt more comfortable with but the person who’ll be able to best deliver the message and lead to electoral success. That seemed to be a veiled (or not so veiled) shot at the rise of Jeremy Corbyn but when it comes to the Lib Dems, this is why Tim Farron is the right man for the gig.

I looked around the group of people who were enthused (to say the least) about meeting Tim and listening to what he had to say. He brought out excitement and people were eager to listen. Yes it was an audience you’d expect to listen but his effective in terms of communication and I suspect the fact he’ll drag the party slightly to the left of centre whereas Norman will stick right in the centre-ground, is something that will appeal to potential Liberal Democrat voters going forward.

I would have liked to hear more about his thoughts on being the radical party of the centre-ground but he didn’t get that opportunity and I could tell time was an issue so I didn’t bring it up. I have long believed that is part of what the Lib Dems should stand for. Sometimes you have to inch closer to where you want to be but sometimes you have to blow things up and start again as it were.

I’d like to know what areas he believes would be better served by starting from scratch and starting again to try and change the culture of an area of government. Personally I have written on multiple occasions about the education system and how I believe it doesn’t best serve the young people of this country to best prepare them for the future. I’m not expecting Tim to say that (although trust me Tim – should you agree with my education PoV then I’m your man) but he must have some gut check areas in life where he believes things would be better served by radical change.

Still overall it was a worthwhile day. I don’t think he was on tip-top form but he said enough (and got the reaction) to make me think he was the right guy for the party going forward. I shall go and post my ballot now (well I say now, I’m sitting in my boxers, I’ll do it after I’ve gotten dressed because no-one wants to see that) and I hope he wins on Thursday. The future of a liberal voice in this country is vital in this age of nationalism that is spreading not only just across this country but also across Europe. His views on the importance of the Welfare State are good and whilst he’s not Nick Clegg, not many people are.

Lastly just to solve the riddle if Tim has indeed read this, has he worked out who I was yet? Have a guess…

Backwards baseball cap, sunglasses and the most ‘outrageous’ (as a date once termed them) sunset orange/yellow Nike Air Max 95 trainers.

We’ll probably meet one day. Until then I shall continue to blog from afar…

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Written by neilmonnery

July 12th, 2015 at 11:40 am

Posted in Politics

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On why I voted the way I did in the Lib Dem leadership election…

with 2 comments

Tim Farron has been the prohibitive favourite to be the next Lib Dem leader since May 8. Norman Lamb decided to run as well as well so it became a two-man battle. They each got roughly the same amount of ‘celebrity’ Lib Dem endorsements and many people looked at them to help make up their own minds.

I’m not one of them.

For you see, I’ve always been my own man. If someone tells me that I should do something then instinctively I try and go in the opposite direction. Considering I’m not exactly a rebel this is surprising but it is the way it is. So I decided to look at the two candidates but I decided not to vote for who I thought would be the best leader of the party but who I thought the electorate would be more impressed with and who would galvanise the grass roots of the party. This wasn’t about me but about the party as a whole.

It is no secret that I’m a Nick Clegg guy. I have been for the past several years and lets be honest here, I still am. Yet I clearly see that the party and the electorate have decided that it is time to move on so I can deal with that. Nick will always be one of my guys and even when I’m old and grey I’ll look back on Nick Clegg and see him as a thoroughly decent guy, who whilst he made mistakes, his actions helped make the country slightly more liberal and his legacy, whilst tarnished with the tuition fees and the crippling defeats will always have the silver lining of actually getting shit done. That is something no other leader of the party can say.

So on to the candidates and one one huge issue that I had to struggle with – Tim Farron’s Christianity. As some of you will know but most reading this won’t, I am the son of a now retired Methodist Superintendent minister. My views on the church are clear and they are made up of my own system of beliefs. I have no issue with anyone having any faith whatsoever, we are all fully entitled to belief in whatever we do (or don’t as the case maybe) so what issue do I have with Tim’s Christianity?

In an interview in The Guardian entitled, ‘Maybe God’s plan is for me to lose a bunch of elections and be humbled’ the very title goes to the very heart of my issue. The idea that someone out there who is all powerful has a divine plan for us all and therefore the idea that we aren’t in full control of our own lives is something that is so diametrically opposed to my own that I struggle to support him.

Later in the piece Tim says, ‘Well, God is sovereign. Dreadful things happen in this world, but that reminds us that we need a saviour. I don’t go round fixating that God has some major plan for me. Maybe his plan is for me to lose a bunch of elections and be humbled. God’s plan could be that some pretty brutal things happen to you. But the one thing I fall back on is that God’s overall plan is good.’

Tim doesn’t fixate upon any possible plan but he does believe in a plan. So whether Tim or Norman wins, he believes it is part of a higher plan and not because of the free will and thought of the Liberal Democrat membership. I really (and I mean really) struggle with this and I know many people believe in a plan and that God has our lives planned out for us but most of those people believe that God puts us in positions to make decisions for ourselves but the word sovereign doesn’t allow for that. If we are but mere pawns in a giant tapestry of human existence (and indeed that of all other species that God should he exist have no doubt created) then what is the point of life?

I asked Tim last night whether he would answer to God or to the electorate first and foremost? He replied that he answers first to his constituents. Yet what if his constituents say one thing and through the power of prayer, God tells him differently? That is the issue not with Christianity but in using the term sovereign to describe God. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing then surely anything he says through prayer would be the correct form of action? Therefore should he go with his constituents (should they be on the other side of the ledger) then he would be going against an all-powerful being. I really struggle with this.

My main issue though is if I two-bit nobody like me can read that interview and see issues then I’m sure plenty of smarter people than I can (and will) as well. You can’t have a sovereign being plotting out our lives but then say that he isn’t your first point of call. It just doesn’t add up.

Yet despite all this I will vote for Tim Farron when I open the ballot paper envelope that is sitting on my living room table.

The reason is simple, despite the likelihood that he is going to get grilled on this issue and he needs to formulate a much better answer that he seems to have at the moment, Tim is able to communicate far better than Norman Lamb and rightly or wrongly, this is a key part of being a part of being a political force in the digital era. Norman Lamb is clearly a smart man but every time I’ve seen him on TV it hasn’t been too far short of a car crash. Tim, whilst not being a TV natural, is extremely good face-to-face from all accounts and indeed has a stage presence about him. This gives him the nod in one key category.

In the other key category of being able to engage and enthuse with the activist base and the electorate then this is where Tim excels. His own electoral performance in his constituency is a clear example of this but also he seems better placed to be the front man.

A month or so ago I tweeted that Norman Lamb would be my choice over Tim Farron to be a minister but that Tim Farron would be my choice for leader, mainly because of the previous paragraph. The next leader has to be the best communicator we have and not only be able to win over the electorate, but more importantly win over the activist base and get them enthused and working again. There are plenty of liberals shying away and licking their wounds at the moment. The only way the party can recover is to get these people feeling as though we are still the radical liberal voice and that to get it, we need to work for it.

In cricket you don’t always have your best player as captain. So far this year we’ve seen a cricket World Cup and a New Zealand tour where Brendon McCullum has shown us that. He is a destructive player in the short-form and a very handy player in the long-form of the game but I see little doubt that Ross Taylor and particularly Ross Williamson are better batsmen and indeed Trent Boult may well be more important to the side but McCullum’s leadership has changed the way the cricketing world views New Zealand. The brand of cricket they have displayed is exciting and aggressive but all played with a smile on their faces, win or lose. McCullum is a captain and a leader but isn’t the best player they have. Tim Farron I believe is the same.

The Lib Dems don’t need the smartest or the most experienced guy in the room to lead them. They need the person who’ll get the best out of the resources they have and put the party in the best position to grow and recover. Being a leader isn’t about policy making but it is about being the face of the party. Being the person who people listen to and see on TV around election time. I think Tim has the edge here but his big lead comes in the form of appealing to the grass roots and the activist base.

You may well read this and wonder why I’m voting Tim when I clearly have big question marks surrounding him. Well I’ll have big question marks over whoever. I think Tim needs to find some better answers to some questions that he has faced and will continue to face regarding times where his faith will not sit neatly alongside the liberal viewpoint. I also think he also needs to improve his TV appeal. He is not bad but he’s not a natural. I know we’ve been spoilt by Nick, but if you look at any recent election in the digital era then apart from David Cameron’s performance this year (when people weren’t necessarily voting for him but more voting against the others) then the big winners in terms of vote share have all had people who were strong in front of the camera (Blair, Clegg, Sturgeon, Farage) so that is still a small issue but if he can get that activist base and the stay at home liberals out again (which I think he can) then that is why I think he’s the right man for the job at this current juncture.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 29th, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Politics

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Why I’m disappointed with Tim Farron over his nuclear comments

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Tim Farron today spoke to the Huffington Post about his dismay over the new nuclear power station and why he personally isn’t supportive of it. I have no problem with this. He can have an opinion just as well as the next person. It is part of what makes being a member of this party good in my view – people can openly express opinions even if they differ from the party line. However I am disappointed because it doesn’t seem like a grown-up and mature reason for being unhappy.

The popular MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale believes that, ‘an equally ambitious investment in renewables would be a better solution,’ than investing the money in this nuclear power station. Quite possibly but that is an idealistic approach. I’m not privvy to top-level government talks but I’d be somewhat surprised if any company – either UK based or foreign – are ready to invest £16bn in renewable energy schemes in the United Kingdom. So this means that Tim is calling for the UK tax payer to fund these schemes and last I heard, money wasn’t exactly swilling around the government coffers.

Of course if the Lib Dems were in control then money could be found, heck the Tories or Labour could find the money as well. There is money but it is all a question of what people see as a priority. High Speed Rail 2 is a costly exercise and opinion seems to be split on whether this is value for money to the UK tax payer. We all know that the Lib Dems wouldn’t write a blank cheque to replace Trident so money could be found there. However that isn’t the situation as it stands but remember none of this investment is coming from the UK tax payer. They are in effect getting 7% of their electricity at no start up cost to them.

The money is coming from overseas and Tim isn’t completely down with that either, talking in the same article he did ‘seriously question what is going on when so much of this investment is going to bleed overseas.’ Now if a UK company was willing and prepared to fund the new build then good times, however the long and short of it is K businesses do not have that type of money to invest long-term. The economy isn’t strong enough and therefore foreign companies – and money – from countries who have capital to invest in long-term is the most sensible way forward. They say 25,000 jobs will be created in the construction phase of this project and the vast majority will be from UK sources. Whilst it isn’t ideal, it is the grown-up approach.

It does seem to me that Tim is talking to the left of the party and further positioning himself to be Nick Clegg’s successor. He is well liked by the left and the centre of the party. After Nick then I do think those in the left of the party will want a Tim Farron to lead, the only question is whether the left of the party will have enough members to elect Tim when the time comes or whether they’ll have given up their membership and/or departed for Labour.

Do I personally disagree with what Tim has said? No. The difference is I think these kind of deals are where the real world is at the moment and we don’t live in an ideal world. This is why I was pleased with the party at Conference to get behind nuclear power in limited circumstances. I felt it was the sound of the party growing up. Nuclear power isn’t great but is it better than fossil fuels? I’d argue that it was and it is a step in the right direction.

Also this deal means that the UK tax payer isn’t burdened with the build cost and if the costs spiral out of control then we might be extremely grateful for that. Remember how a significant number of the population were pissed off at the spiraling cost of the Olympics? Imagine what they would say at a publicly funded nuclear power plant doing the same?

Would I prefer lots of money going into renewable sources? I would but again I don’t see that the UK tax payer would be so willing and I don’t see foreign companies lining up to fund this. Renewable energies are moving forward but until they become more cost-efficient for the power they give out then the tax payer will not be getting value for money. The Severn tidal barrage started off with a £15bn estimation for cost but now it’s £25bn and would provide just 5% of all energy requirements in the country – also it would have needed thirty years of state support. It would be good long long-term but would it be value for money? No.

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project looks set to cost between £550m and £650m and would provide power for all the homes in Swansea (for 14 hours a day). It is an interesting project but they are looking for investment. Does Tim believe that this investment should only come from UK firms or is foreign investment ok for renewable schemes?

To cut a long rambling blog post short, I would love to see more renewable projects funded but when budgets are so tight it is hard to justify it. The Late 90s and early 00s was the perfect time to invest in large long-term capital projects like these and hopefully towards the end of the decade, when the economy is flourishing once more then it would be easier to get value for money for these projects. If foreign companies want to invest in the UK infrastructure then I’m all for it, whether it be for nuclear power, renewable energies or whatever.

Sometimes ideology has to take a back-seat to the realities of the world and that is where myself and the good MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale seem to differ.

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Written by neilmonnery

October 22nd, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Politics

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Vince Cable or Tim Farron for next leader? I’m not too sure about that…

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So the members of Lib Dem Voice have spoken and the write up today on the websites says that they want either Vince Cable or Tim Farron to be the next leader once Nick Clegg stands aside whenever that may be.

I don’t get this. I really don’t. Vince Cable would be a fantastic leader but he is also 69 and whilst that shouldn’t be an issue does anyone remember what the public thought of – to give him his full name – Sir Walter Menzies “Ming” Campbell when he took up the leadership and he was only 64 at the time? The likelihood is that Nick Clegg will lead the party into the next election so that’ll be another three years so Vince would be 72 by this point. Vince is without a doubt one of the most respected Lib Dems around and if you did a poll amongst members on ‘who do you think is the smartest Lib Dem?’ then I’d put significant money of Vince being in the top three at least. However at 72 surely his opportunity would have passed?

Next up we have the darling of the Lib Dem twitterati in Tim Farron. I have nothing against Tim Farron but I don’t get the love that he appears to have amongst the membership. I get the feeling it is because is doesn’t have a ministerial role and therefore has more leeway to speak his own mind compared to others but also is very much interactive with the twittersphere. He arguably uses twitter more than any Lib Dem MP with only Julian Huppert really being in the mix. The accessibility of Tim Farron is part of the reason people like him but is that a good enough to believe that he would be a good leader?

He put his name to a letter regarding the ‘prayer can heal’ issue but that got a lot of people upset but he backed away from his comments quirk sharpish and it blew over. Then he also put his name to the piece about why accreditation is vital for Autumn Conference. These are deeply unpopular issues and ones that he has successfully been able to not take the hit that others would surely have done.

For the first time in our lifetimes we have Liberal Democrat Ministers in cabinet and these people will have gained an extraordinary amount of knowledge from this. This knowledge will surely help the Lib Dems going forward but looking around the names in the cabinet I’m not sure any of these people would get the membership – let alone the electorate as a whole – excited. Danny Alexander, Ed Davey and Michael Moore all have cabinet positions but none of them are going to be the next leader of the party. They just aren’t.

So now we are searching around to find other names who could step up and first and foremost unite the party. Unity is without a doubt the most important aim of the next leader whenever they take over. The Lib Dems are fractured and bringing home some of the natural liberals who have either defected to Labour or the Greens or just left party politics altogether would surely be the A1 goal for the next person.

I haven’t hidden my admiration of Jo Swinson. I think she’s intelligent and speaks well and I would be surprised if she is not the second person on the list of people ready to step up to cabinet (David Laws is surely the first) but it is another name who has impressed me more and more as the months go on. I know he’s only been an MP for a couple of years but Julian Huppert really speaks to me as a liberal who sways towards Green issues as a large part of my politics. You never hear a bad word about him and I don’t think he’d be torn to shreds by the media or by any opposition leader.

Sadly we all know that politics is important but in this day and age personality has a larger part to play than it did in the past. John Major would struggle to win an election in this day and age and the reason Nick Clegg was doing so well in the polls in 2010 before the other parties flexed their financial and media muscles was primarily that he spoke well and people looked at him and thought they could trust him. Being adapt at public speaking – certainly with the Prime Ministerial Debates – has changed the game significantly.

The next leader will need to be trusted, respected, liked and be able to withstand a barrage from the media and the general public. That has long been the case but now if you don’t have those things then the likelihood of winning is greatly diminished. Margaret Thatcher was hated by great swathes of the nation but she was respected enough by the other part of the country to continue winning. These days fewer and fewer people are entrenched into the party that they would vote for so there are more votes up for grabs in any election time.

So the Lib Dems need to find someone who can hit all those points. Not exactly an easy job but whilst I love Vince and respect Tim I don’t see either of them as the man. Vince would be respected but would a 72 year-old really want to take on that role and Tim for me tries too hard to be all things to all men (and women). Here is the full results from the members survey on Lib Dem Voice:

28% – Vince Cable
21% – Tim Farron
6% – Jo Swinson
5% – David Laws
4% – Edward Davey
4% – Simon Hughes
4% – Steve Webb
3% – Chris Huhne
2% – Danny Alexander
2% – Norman Lamb
2% – Lynne Featherstone
1% – Michael Moore
5% – Other (please specify)
13% – Don’t know / No opinion

Jo has long been my horse in this race but Julian is starting to really pick up steam. The rest of the list shows a couple of men who’d be brilliant but sadly other issues will make it highly unlikely they can (or would even want) the job in David Laws and Simon Hughes.

Picking a leader is not an easy job but it is one of the most important. Labour made the error of Ed Miliband over his brother two years ago and whilst the polls say it wasn’t a bad decision today. I still can’t see Ed standing up to the pressure of a General Election campaign. When it comes down to it I think a lot of people would struggle to vote a man into the top elected office in the land who in your heart of hearts you know isn’t even the most capable of doing the job within his own family.

One day the Lib Dems will cross this bridge but I don’t think it’ll be before the 2015 Election so in a way this 1,159 word (to date) ramble is pretty pointless because many things could change between now and then.

Still it gave me something to do…

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Written by neilmonnery

June 7th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Politics

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Just who are we to look down on Tim Farron believing in the power of prayer?

with 4 comments

The twittersphere is up in arms. Tim Farron – who was formally the darling of all Lib Dems everywhere – believes openly in the power of prayer. Well good for him. However apparently that isn’t good and him signing a letter asking for clarification for why a spiritual group cannot say that ‘God can heal’ any more after a ruling from the Advertising Standards Agency is very very bad indeed.

Here is the letter is full for you to peruse:

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury
Chairman, Advertising Standards Agency
21st March 2012

We are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical conditions.

We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.

On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?

You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.

It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?

We invite your detailed response to this letter and unless you can persuade us that you have reached your ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, we intend to raise this matter in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Streeter MP (Con)
Chair, Christians in Parliament

Gavin Shuker MP (Labour)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament

Tim Farron (Lib-Dem)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament

Now let me stress here that I am in no way religious. I was brought up within the church and spent two years at a faith school and my mother is a retired Methodist superintendent but I don’t believe a word of it. I just don’t. However I fully believe that those who believe in the power of prayer can believe that. I know first hand of many Christians who believe that the power of prayer works. I believe that things just happen but who am I to stop them believing and who are they to say that I’m wrong?

Many people think this letter is promoting people ignore medical advice and put their faith in God but I know of no Christians who have ever said this. When my then still preaching superintendent mother got breast cancer did any of her parishioners tell her not to go into hospital and sit at home and the power of prayer would get her through? Hell no (well not to my knowledge anyway and I suspect I’d have heard if any of them did) instead my mum was in hospital within the week and the whole Christian community of the Isle of Wight had her in her prayers hoping that God would help her get through the cancer.

Did they think that God himself would swoop in and accelerate the destruction of the cancer? I don’t know but I know of no Christians personally who put the power of prayer over medical treatment. We all know some of these fundamentalists are out there but I don’t exactly see Tim Farron MP as one of them.

He believes in the power of prayer? So what? I can’t say that the power of prayer doesn’t work and nor can anyone say that the power of prayer does work. We all have our beliefs and who are any of us to tell anyone what to believe?

As far as I read this letter all it asked for was clarification (and scientific evidence – which was a dumb line as no-one can prove either way this subject) for why the ASA made their decision. Can the power of prayer heal? Yes of course it can. Does it? I have no idea and nor does anyone else.

If people want to believe in God and the power of prayer then great but I don’t think these people really tell people that prayer alone will heal. If Tim really believed this then why was he voting against the NHS changes? If the power of prayer can heal all then he’d just tell everyone to pray and we’d all be 100%.

I’m just stunned that people are so unhappy that he believes in the power of prayer. I really am. If we are entitled to our opinion then why isn’t he (and other Christians?)

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Written by neilmonnery

March 26th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Posted in Politics

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