Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Consistency and Integrity

I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday so took a few hours off in the afternoon. Having nothing much to occupy myself, little on TV, and a mug of tea to hand I curled up and tuned in to Gordon Brown's closing speech for a few minutes.

Five minutes in to listening he had my full attention! Having failed, last week, to be persuaded by Eric Pickles that my true home was in the Conservative Party, I was dumbstruck to realise that Gordon Brown wanted to join the Lib Dems. I'm sure that unless my hearing was out of synch yesterday I heard the words "Referendum", "Alternative Vote System" and "Scrapping ID cards" all uttered in quick succession.

As Lib Dems we often get criticised for our approach. We don't go for the easy option, we don't come out with glib soundbites. And we often shy away from the easy: look at our fight for the rights of the Gurkhas and our refusal to support an illegal war in Iraq. Instead we pride ourselves on consistency and integrity. Politics is a funny old world but I find it deeply unedifying at the moment to see two of the main parties ditching most of their policies in the hope of getting elected next year. Makes you wonder what they'll offer us next week!

Monday, 28 September 2009


10 years ago I lived in an old farm house in Holland. The insulation was non existent and we had no central heating – but we were used to wearing layers of jumpers and taking exercise to warm up. To be fair we did have a gas fire in the living room and a tiny heater on the wall of the bathroom which coughed out enough heat to prevent frostbite when bathing small children. In fact my son, who was four when we moved back to England, was thrilled at the sight of radiators on the wall in our house and thought they were “a very good idea”.

I have finally given up any optimistic hope of a late summer and begrudgingly accept that autumn is well and truly here this morning. I am trying to remind my now softened offspring, who endured one spectacularly snowy winter when the temperature dropped to -11 without heating, that “No” I am not about to turn the heating on, and that if they are cold they should wear a jumper and put slippers (or even socks) on their feet.

It’s character forming I remind them – and we are doing our own little bit to reduce our carbon footprint now that we have signed up to the 10:10 initiative. This means that we will try to reduce our footprint by 10% by the end of 2010. Next step is to use my bicycle (I’d like to add the word “more” but it’s probably more accurate to just say "use"!) and stop my sons leaving things on stand-by.

If you’d like to know more about 10:10 have a look at:

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Acknowledgement for our campaigning!

Sometimes I dread looking at my Inbox: 70 unread messages in less than 24 hours is not unheard of. For once though, I opened my Inbox this morning and got a really nice and totally unexpected surprise. Having sat through all the awards at our Bournemouth Conference, and cheered for the very worthy recipients, I was stunned to discover we’d won something too!

Without telling us, our Agent, Martin Land, submitted our Hardwick By Election Campaign for the newly constituted ALDC Campaigner Awards 2009. Our category was for the 'Best Ward Campaign 2009'.

The award was won by Kensington & Chelsea who recently won their first ever borough council seat with an excellent campaign. However, we were Runners Up.

"Commended - Hardwick County Division of Cambridgeshire, with campaigning organised by Martin Land and with Cllr Fiona Whelan as candidate."

All I can add is that the Boss – aka Martin – really knows his stuff, and a great team worked their socks off to get me elected. The candidate is always the public winner in an election, but as anyone who has ever stood for election knows, it takes a lot of people in the background to win it. My heartfelt thanks to all those who grazed their knuckles on letterboxes and wore their shoe leather out on our behalf.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A grumpy Hal9000!

The Blog is back – and how I have missed it. After a very relaxing summer holiday I returned to find that just about every electrical item in my house has either given up and self destructed or just developed a bad attitude and begun an irritatingly slow work to rule. Most prominent of these has been my laptop ("affectionately" named Hal9000) which is currently refusing to log me on to certain sites in a timely fashion – most irritatingly my BLOG! With the reassurance of tender words and the promise of extra memory, a harmonious relationship seems to have redeveloped. On a side note, for 2001 fans, I was over the moon to meet someone recently whose uncle's first names were Hal David!

I’m full of the joys of autumn this morning having just come back from a great conference in Bournemouth. It’s always good to catch up with colleagues when you have time to actually discuss things and look at future issue with a bit more time. One of the additional benefits of attending conference has been the stunning array of free, high quality training on offer which I have made full use of.

So I’m back, re-energized, and ready for action!