A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The not so progressive history of the Conservative Party

The Tories have issued a video about how "progressive" they have been over the last 200+ years: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/08/progressive-history-of-conservative.html

Stirring stuff but even my rusty memory of A level History suggests there are some bits of Tory history missing from the video:

  • Pulling together a coalition of every reactionary monarch in Europe to oppose the French Revolution
  • Pitt's suspension of habeas corpus, Seditious Meetings Act, and Combination Acts banning groups supporting political reform
  • His introduction of Income Tax
  • Lord Liverpool's Corn Laws, yet another suspension of habeas corpus, the Peterloo Massacre, the Six Acts limiting free speech and gatherings, his opposition to Catholic Emancipation
  • Wellington's opposition to the Great Reform Act and any expansion of suffrage
  • Peel's reintroduction of Income Tax
  • The split in the party over Corn Law repeal, with most Tories wanting to keep protection despite the horrors of the Irish Famine
  • Opposition to Irish Home Rule
  • Joe Chamberlain's campaign for Tariff Reform (i.e. more expensive food!) and attacks on free trade under Balfour
  • Mass unemployment in the '30s
  • Appeasement of Hitler by Baldwin and Chamberlain
  • Voting against the creation of the NHS
  • Ending free school milk
  • Two recessions in the '80s and '90s
  • Increasing VAT
  • High interest rates
  • Cuts to education and housing spending in the '80s
  • Destroying manufacturing industry
  • Closure of 150 mines, devastating whole communities
  • The GCHQ union ban
  • Thatcher's opposition to sanctions against South Africa
  • Abolition of the GLC and Mets because the voters elected Labour councils
  • City de-regulation
  • The Poll Tax
  • Black Wednesday
  • Cash for Questions
  • Infighting over Europe under Major

Would someone with better video-making skills than me like to turn this little list into a YouTube riposte to the Tory video?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Education in Hackney

Education in Hackney used to be synonymous with notorious failing schools like Hackney Downs, Kingsland and Homerton that let down generations of inner-city children.

The City Academies programme - there are going to be five in the borough - has helped transform that.

This week Mossbourne Academy, on the old Hackney Downs site, which is co-educational, non-denominational and has a comprehensive, mixed-ability intake, scored an extraordinary 84% A*-C GCSE pass rate. This is a school with a catchment area including estates like the Pembury with some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK.

The Guardian has more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/28/mossbourne-academy-gcse-results

Congratulations to the pupils and staff on their achievement.

Council by-election

There was just one yesterday:

Starbeck Ward, Harrogate BC. LD hold. LD 886 (63.4%, -8.8), Con 252 (18%, +5), Ind 178 (12.7%, +12.7), Lab 82 (5.9%, +0.8). Swing of 6.9% from LD to Con since 2007.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons of the summer

Daniel Hannan's attack on the NHS gave us a great open goal and we proceeded to pour heavy fire at the Tories on this issue.

Net result: we (Labour activists) all felt great and remembered why and how much we hate the Tories but the electorate was singularly unimpressed, the polls didn't budge an inch and we remain 16% adrift.

Trouble is, this is the politics of our comfort zone and most of the people whose voting patterns are determined by love of/expected immediate need for the NHS, or well-funded schools, or inner-city regeneration, or greater equality, are already in the hard-core 24%-28% of voters who are sticking with us in every opinion poll.

After all, we had great policies in these areas in every one of the four elections when we got soundly thrashed by the Tories. Too many voters don't expect to be sick (admittedly a stupid position for them to take, writing as I am from my hospital bed), haven't got kids of school age, don't live in the inner city and don't feel underprivileged for us to win on these policy areas alone. Others do care about these issues but weigh them up, and trump them with concerns that the economy ain't in great shape, they feel over-taxed, they are worried about crime and immigration, or our armed forces are over-stretched in Afghanistan.

We can't win next year by just focusing on the easy issues that make Labour activists feel good.

Yes we should bang the drum about issues like the NHS but we won three times and we might stand some chance of winning again if, as in the last three elections, we come out of our own corner and take ownership of the range of issues that otherwise default to their historic pre-1997 status as Tory strengths. So we need to:
  • explain how ID cards, which the Tories oppose, are central to combating illegal immigration
  • cut taxes for the lowest paid
  • get people from welfare into work to help cut the deficit
  • reinvigorate the respect agenda on crime and anti-social behaviour, which has not been high-profile enough since 2007
  • put more money into buying the defence kit the troops in Afghanistan need - which has the useful side effect of creating high quality industrial jobs
  • above all explain how our economic decisions are driving the ongoing recovery from recession - decisions the Tories opposed

These should all be OUR issues. We have to address them and loudly if we are in anything other than "circle the wagons and pray for a miracle" mode.

Just for the record, the August MORI issues poll has the following as the issues rated most important by the public:

Economy 54%

Crime/ASB 32%

Unemployment 30%

Immigration 25%

NHS 16%

Education 12%

And further down the table for all the anti-Trident self-described "populists", nuclear disarmament scores under 0.5%.

Where the Tory money is going

A quick bit of analysis of today's 2nd quarter political donations report from the Electoral Commission reveals an interesting league table of the Tory constituency associations receiving donations of over £4k in the single quarter. Note that £10k is usually about the legal limit you can spend in the actual month of a General Election, so the bigger guns here must be employing professional agents or call-centres or churning out skip-loads of pre-election direct mail. Also, this doesn't include funding channelled through Central Office or regions.

Perhaps any millionaire socialists or trade union political officers reading this (I know you all do!)can ensure appropriate resource reaches the Labour-held CLPs targeted in this list?:

Hampstead & Kilburn £40,273
Ealing C & Acton £37,940
Meon Valley £26,750
Ipswich £25,000
Hereford £21,500
Nottingham S £18,411
Watford £18,000
S Basildon & ET £13,500
Surrey Heath £13,250
NW Leics £12,324
Beaconsfield £11,750
Rugby £11,749
Huntingdon £11,400
Basingstoke £11,225
Corby £10,000
Crewe & N £10,000
Poplar & Canning Town £10,000
E Hants £9,750
Tatton £9,000
Wimbledon £7,670
Westminster N £7,000
Bath £6,620
Hemel Hempstead £6,540
Witney £6,123
Dagenham & R £6,000
Selby & Ainsty £6,000
N Tayside £5,500
Eastwood £5,340
Windsor £5,275
Nottingham E £5,151
Camberwell & Peckham £5,000
City of Chester £5,000
Darlington £5,000
Daventry £5,000
Dudley S £5,000
Eltham £5,000
Maidenhead £5,000
Tynemouth £5,000
Scunthorpe £5,000
Somerton & Frome £5,000
Thornbury & Yate £5,000
W Dorset £5,000
Chorley £4,900
Wellingborough £4,471
E Surrey £4,400
Angus £4,000
Calder Valley £4,000
Colne Valley £4,000
Dewsbury £4,000
Hove £4,000
Milton Keynes N £4,000
Milton Keynes S £4,000
Newbury £4,000
Penistone & S £4,000

Billionaires for wealthcare

http://billionairesforwealthcare.com/HOME.html

worthy of a link.

Mass membership of Compass swarms to polls

Compass, the vibrant , pulsating soft-left faction named after a catering out-sourcer (and if you believe the Guardian, setter of the future agenda for British politics), has announced the thrilling results of its internal elections: http://www.compassonline.org.uk/news/item.asp?n=5207

Compass is very keen on lecturing the rest of the Labour Party about internal democracy and membership participation.

I was therefore delighted to note that out of several thousand ballot papers dispatched, a number inflated by sending them to non-members and indeed Compass' opponents, precisely 237 people could be bothered to vote. Presumably this represents Compass' entire active membership: about 0.4 people per CLP. No wonder most people never report seeing one of these rare creatures operating at grassroots level in their local Labour Party.

This enabled people to get onto the Compass Management Committee with as few as eight first preference votes. Chuka Umunna, the man hailed as Britain's answer to Barack Obama by the New Statesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2009/01/chuka-umunna-labour-obama) got er... 16 votes. Guardian mega-pundit Neal Lawson topped the poll with 90 votes, equalling the number of readers of his new book campaigning against that great social evil, shopping.

Nice to see all the ex-NUS opponents of Labour transferring to each other just like they did when they were fighting against Labour in student politics.

The election to Compass' Youth Committee was even more of a non-event, with candidates requiring 4.77 votes after transfers to get elected. Noel Hatch topped the poll with 10 votes. Ben Soffa (a name I could swear I had heard connected to another rather more leftwing organisation) got elected with 4.04 votes after transfers. Unless I have misunderstood the rather confusing results sheet, some candidates were so overcome by the experience of participating in this exercise in participatory democracy that they failed to vote for themselves and got zero first preference votes.

Keep up the struggle, comrades, the forces of capitalism tremble in the face of your advancing hordes...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Iran

I was reading the horrific accounts in Saturday's Times of torture of young pro-democracy protesters in Iran (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6805885.ece) and then stumbled across this video on YouTube which sets images of the protests in Iran to "Bella Ciao", the song of the wartime anti-fascist partisans in Italy:


video

Friday, August 21, 2009

Council by-elections

Some interesting results yesterday:

Hucknall Central Ward, Ashfield DC. LD gain from Ind. LD 463 (32.3%, +19.6), Lab 392 (27.3%, +1.7), Con 320 (22.3%, -5.7), UKIP 181 (12.6%, +12.6), Ind 79 (5.5%, -28.2). Swing of 8.9% from Lab to LD since 2007.

Stanley Ward, Blackpool UA. Con hold. Con 648 (32.8%, -28.3), Lab 602 (30.5%, +5.2), LD 332 (16.8%, +3.1), UKIP 203 (10.3%, +10.3), BNP 192 (9.7%, +9.7). Swing of 16.8% from Con to Lab since 2007. Tory vote hit by allegations about donations from a local property developer.

Mitcheldean & Drybrook Ward, Forest Of Dean DC. LD gain from Ind. LD 638 (55.1%, +36.2), Ind 239 (20.6%, -18.3), Con 195 (16.8%, -5.8), Lab 86 (7.4%, -12.2). Swing of 27.3% from Ind to LD since 2007.

Saxilby Ward, West Lindsey DC. Con gain from LD. Con 722 (60.6%, +22.4), LD 407 (34.2%, -27.6), UKIP 62 (5.2%, +5.2). Swing of 25% from LD to Con since 2008. The Tory winner had been the LD councillor and stood down to fight a by-election when they defected.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SNP release of Lockerbie bomber

Why on earth is a decision about release of a terrorist mass murderer a matter for the devolved administration in Edinburgh?

Surely in any sensible scheme of devolution national security issues should be dealt with at a "federal" not "state" level and terrorism should be a "federal crime" punished by the UK government not the Scottish Executive?

Kenny MacAskill's disgraceful decision shows that in this area devolution was pushed too far and needs to be rescinded.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More nonsense from Compass

My reaction to the Compass High Pay Commission proposal (http://www.compassonline.org.uk/campaigns/campaign.asp?n=5246) is that I could not care less what the super rich earn - it's seeing the least well-off in society properly rewarded for their labour and free of poverty that gets me politically fired-up.

It seems a very odd political priority to push the punishment of a very small number of the extremely financially successful rather than focus on the betterment of the least well off. In tax terms punishing the super rich few would not generate enough to be useful for practical redistribution, might indeed lower the tax take due to evasion and emigration and might stuff the economy even more than it already is by stifling entrepreneurialism. I.e. the only benefit would be to placate the feelings of the jealous or politically angry, not to make the poor richer.

Have Compass never read John Rawls' "Theory of Justice" (summary here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Theory_of_Justice), which makes the logically impeccable case that social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that "they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society" i.e. an unequal distribution of wealth or other resources can be just when it maximizes the benefit to those who have the lowest allocation of resources - the Maximin theory?

All this political energy should be going into anti-poverty pay initiatives like the London Living Wage campaign, not wasted on bashing a group of people who are so small in numbers as to be statistically irrelevant and already paying vast sums in tax.

Ordinary hard-working people want a better life for their families and not to be exploited. My guess is very few of them subscribe to limiting the wages of the people at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Can anyone name a free society where a maximum wage has successfully operated without leading to massive offshore tax evasion? Why wouldn't the people threatened just go and work and earn in the US or some other country without these kind of remuneration restrictions?

And who are Compass' targets? Just bankers, if so how many? FTSE 100 ceos get mentioned in the text but surely some of these in sectors outside finance don't deserve bracketing morally with Fred the Shred et al? What about TV and pop stars and footballers - my hunch is the public don't mind their heroes earning vast amounts if they have a unique talent? And what about entrepreneurs or inventors who create jobs and bring wealth into the country - does Compass think it would be a good thing to cap their earnings?

And why pick on capping pay, as opposed to all the other ways the very rich get income (e.g. return on investments)?

The whole idea is puerile and the worst kind of bandwagon jumping, but that's Compass for you.

Three cheers for Rep. Barney Frank

Fruitloop at town hall meeting: " Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy, as Obama has expressly supported this policy, why are you supporting it?"

Congressman Barney Frank (D, Mass): "When you ask me that question, I am gonna revert to my ethnic heritage, and answer your question with a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time?...You want me to answer the question? As you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler, and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is as I said before, it is a tribute to the 1st Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table - I have no interest in doing it. "

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Top Councillor Blog 2009

According to Total Politics, this is the UK's top blog by a councillor: http://www.totalpolitics.com/blogs/index.php/2009/08/15/top-30-councillor-blogs

Not bad going considering output has been light this year due to my five month stay in hospital.

Leyton & Wanstead

I was quite surprised to see the Telegraph reporting that Labour Party Treasurer/Unite TGWU DGS/spouse of Harriet Harman Jack Dromey "is being lined up to fight a safe Labour seat in London at the next general election".

The paper says he "is "very likely" to be chosen as Labour's candidate for Leyton and Wanstead, according to senior party sources."

I know a bit about Leyton & Wanstead CLP because it's in the patch I represent on Labour's London Regional Board. It's a fiercely independent-minded CLP and won't take kindly to "senior party sources" thinking they can drop one of their own number into the vacancy created by Harry Cohen's retirement, or to any insinuation that the democratic process by which local members pick a candidate is being pre-empted. Nor can it be other than in seats selecting at the very last moment before a General Election.

From what I understand of what's going on, there are several strong local candidates running, notably Leytonstone Councillor Marie Pye, Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing on Waltham Forest Council, a formidable campaigner, and former Parliamentary Officer of the Disability Rights Commission.

I love the bit in the Telegraph article where it says "A senior Labour source said: "Leyton and Wanstead is perfect for Jack. It's in London so he and Harriet wouldn't even need to buy another house."" I would have thought the domestic arrangements of Jack and Harriet will be a fairly low-order priority criterion for Leyton & Wanstead members when picking a candidate.

Anyway, surely Harriet will, in the interests of consistency, be pushing for a safe-ish seat like this to have an All Women Shortlist?

Friday, August 14, 2009

NHS curing Americans without them becoming Marxists

Daniel Hannan MEP should meet the US citizen (though currently a UK taxpayer) who is a patient on my ward at the National Hospital for Neurology this week.

He's just had surgery here on the NHS to help deal with a longterm neurological condition. His US private health insurance scheme refused to pay for the op to be done privately while he was outside the US.

He tells me the operation was done better at an NHS hospital here, with fewer after effects, than the two times he has had it done privately back home.

Also, from the BBC website today:

Expenditure on health as % of GDP: 16% in USA, 8.4% in UK
Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 in UK, 78.1 in USA
Infant mortality per 1,000 live births: 6.7 in USA, 4.8 in UK

Council by-elections

Yesterday's council by-election results:

Gaywood Chase Ward, Kings Lynn & West Norfolk DC. Con hold. Con 202 (28.7%, -17.4), Lab 194 (27.5%, -10.2), LD 167 (23.7%, +23.7), BNP 90 (12.8%, +12.8), Green 52 (7.4%, +7.4). Swing of 3.6% from Con to Lab since 2007.

Hertford Ward, Scarborough BC. Green gain from Con. Green 894 (66.5%, +41.7), Con 356 (26.5%, -9.3), Ind 94 (7.0%, +7.0). Swing of 25.5% from Con to Green since 2007.

Streonshalh Ward, Scarborough BC. Ind gain from LD. Ind 246 (45.3%, +12.1), LD 95 (17.5%, -29.6), Con 80 (14.7%, -4.9), Lab 74 (13.6%, +13.6), Ind 48 (8.8%, +8.8). Swing of 20.9% from LD to Ind since 2007.

Holsworthy Ward, Torridge DC. Ind gain from LD. Ind 537 (53.3%, +18.8), LD 471 (46.7%, +2.8). Swing of 8% from LD to Ind since 2007.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bright on Luke

Martin Bright, ex-New Statesman and now at the Spectator, has this to say about me:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/martinbright/5257676/akehurst-v-harris-the-labour-battlelines-are-drawn.thtml

"I take my hat off to the man for his heartfelt rage that clearly comes from a deep political conviction. I have never known anyone to be quite so fired up by the politics of the centre-left (except perhaps Jessica Asato at the Blairite think-tank Progress).

I can't quite decide whether this level of passion will save the Labour Party or destroy it."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life & death Mr Harris? Too right

Compass' John Harris has helpfully set-out the Labour left's strategy for destroying the party for the second time in 30 years in the Guardian today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/09/labour-leadership-mandelson-cruddas

His narrative is:
  • write off all the achievements of Labour in government as "outrages and disappointments" - the betrayal myth
  • casually attack and insult the PM for "serial failures and Neanderthal style" - without naming the failures, possibly because there haven't been any?
  • write off the General Election now and start planning for the mother of all faction fights
  • drive false ideological wedges between leading figures in the party to exacerbate the factional split
  • crudely smear your enemies as believing in "genuflection to business, an insistence on the market-driven reform of public services, a belief that Labour should dispose of its residual belief in equality"
  • make veiled threats about leaving Labour for "a new life alongside a few potential allies: Lib Dems, Greens, the unreconstructed Old Left" (I'm tempted to react with an anglo-saxon invitation to do so)
  • then, with complete hypocrisy, falsely accuse cabinet ministers with roots in the party going back generations of plotting a "realignment of the centre-right via the ultra-Blairite split that some Labour insiders have been mischievously predicting for a few years"
  • elevate Jon Cruddas to the messianic status accorded to Tony Benn last time round - the problem being that like Benn he will probably lose his seat if Labour loses as badly as Harris seems to be willing us to

Mr Harris is right, and Lord Mandelson wrong, in just one regard - that Labour faces a life and death struggle just as it did in the early 1980s.

But the internal battle can be averted if for the time being we focus on an external battle - the General Election - which remains winnable if we have the will to win it.

And then if we do face an internal battle Mr Harris and Neal Lawson and their rag-tag and bobtail army of student Trots and dinner-party activist Guardianistas won't be facing the chimerical enemy of their dreams - market-crazed ultra-Blairites - but the broad coalition of moderate mainstream, sane Labour MPs and members - people who don't wallow in ideological debate because they are too busy delivering socialist values in their roles as councillors or trade unionists. People who understand that Labour's core working class supporters want a party to vote for that can deliver sensible policies on crime, tax and defence, as well as social justice and greater equality.

We have had this battle before and won it, long and difficult though it was. If we have to have it again, so be it. We will take on the John Harris's of the world and the nonsense they spout at every ward meeting and GC and conference until we prevail. The alternative is endless Tory government and all its attendant horrors.

Dave's Militant Tendency

Interesting, given David Cameron's efforts last year to identify himself with Obama, that his nauseatingly rightwing henchman Daniel Hannan MEP is busy running round the USA attacking Obama's flagship healthcare reforms.

Personally as someone who has been in hospital for five months receiving a fantastic level of care from the NHS, I cannot begin to express my disgust at this man attacking it and the dedicated people who work in it.

Here's what Hannan has been saying:
  • Army & Navy Club, Washington DC: "Ponder our example, and tremble, you see a grizzly picture of your own country's possible future. . .. Do not make the same mistakes we have. I see this massive encroachment of the state... this huge power grab by the state machine... squeezing the private sector, to engorge the state... It is exactly a Marxist system. You are treated as a supplicant and expected to be grateful for what you get."
  • On Fox News: "I find it incredible that a free people living in a country dedicated and founded in the cause of freedom and independence could seriously be thinking of adopting such a system in peace-time".
  • Of the number of NHS staff: "That is the electoral block that makes it impossible to get rid of... "

and there was me thinking that it was the millions of patients receiving healthcare free at the point of need that made it impossible to get rid of.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Cause and effect

The Sunday Times is confusing cause and effect in its article (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6788780.ece) saying that "more than 50 prospective candidates chosen by the main parties are already working as lobbyists and public relations executives".

It isn't "that parties were recruiting lobbyists" as the article says, it's that there aren't many other careers that are compatible with the pressures of running for parliament.

In my case I had to resign as a local government officer when I was selected to fight un-winnable Aldershot in 2001. I made myself unemployed by becoming a PPC because of the Widdecombe rules restricting political activity by public servants and was lucky that my current employer, a public affairs company, stepped in.

Not many "non-political" employers would accept someone saying they needed a month's annual leave all in one block, couldn't predict when this would be, and would have to down tools at the minute the PM's car left for Buckingham Palace in order to leaflet returning commuters. Nor would many conventional employers tolerate months of early starts and 4.30pm finishes in order to get out to the constituency in time for canvassing or party meetings.

The publicity can scare "non-political" employers too - I know one PPC in a winnable seat who was laid off by a major corporation because they did not want their company name linked in the press to a political party.

So given the need for parliamentary candidates to feed their families and pay the mortgage, unless they are self-employed (e.g. barristers) or already working in quasi-political jobs (unions, think-tanks etc) yes a lot of them end up working in public affairs jobs between selection and election - it doesn't actually tell you that much about the composition of parliament.

Friday, August 07, 2009

“I can only go one way. I've not got a reverse gear.”

... yet.

I just walked for first time since April ... only 20 steps, on a frame and heavily splinted, but gotta start somewhere.

Quotas for factions

As regular readers will know, I support the concept of All Women Shortlists and quotas to ensure political representation of women.

Until Harriet Harman floated it this week though, it had never occurred to me that a 50% quota could be applied to the two separately elected and dramatically unequal posts of Leader and Deputy Leader (the Leader can get to be PM, the Deputy doesn't even necessarily get to stay in the Cabinet in the case of the politically sound but often tired and emotional George Brown).

But I'd be prepared to accept Harriet's cunning and entirely selfless plan if in return we could also have the Australian Labor Party's system of factional quotas for Leader and Deputy: the right of the party always get the Leader, the left (with the right deciding whether to do a deal with Compass-style soft lefties or Campaign Group-style hard lefties depending on mood and just to show who calls the shots) always get Deputy.

This would of course render Harriet permanently ineligible to be Leader and remove choice from party members.

In fact my little antipodean flight of fancy could be denounced as a blatant attempt to fix and gerrymander a future leadership election. But then so could Harriet's and at least I don't have the prejudicial interest to declare of promoting a scheme that I would be the main beneficiary of.

PS can Harriet have been thinking of the last woman deputy leader who undermined her boss, ran for both leader and deputy and then lost both, Mrs Beckett, when she advocated this change?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I will agree to Totnes-style primaries ...

... when the electoral registration process includes the facility for voters to register as supporters of a party in the US way so that:

- supporters of other parties can be excluded from Labour primaries so they can't deliberately back rubbish candidates
- canvassing gets a lot easier because a large slice of the electorate self-canvasses when they register to vote

And when a way is found to square primaries with a role in selections for local party members and affiliates that still makes it worth their while joining (control of the shortlist?).

Oh, and when they are, as in the US, administered and paid for by the same body that runs general elections, using the same polling stations, staff and counting facilities, in our case local authorities, because:

- if the general public want a say in candidate selection they shouldn't expect the party members whose powers they are usurping to pay for it - no representation without taxation
-and unlike Totnes Conservative Association there are hardly any Labour or Lib Dem constituency organisations with the £40,000 to run a postal ballot.

Carry on neurology

Genuine quote overheard last night.

Nurse: "Wake up John, wake up, it's time for your sleeping pill".

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Medical Bulletin

Occasionally this blog drifts from political commentary into being a way for me to update friends about what's going on in my life.

As it's been a funny few days, this is one of those posts.

On Thursday I had the gutting news from doctors that contrary to expectations, I won't be able to walk when I get home on 28th August. My quads (thigh muscles) are not recovering fast enough for me to get from sitting to standing or to bend my knees when standing unsupported - basically because the speed of nerve repair is too slow. The Rehab team here at the National want me come back in at the point when they can really help get me walking again - which could be any time in the next two years. A longer stay now won't help. They also sounded a note of caution that if I am unlucky the nerves will never quite repair right and I won't walk again.

Big problem - going home in a wheelchair to a flat on two floors with 10 steps to the front door means going home to be imprisoned there for an indeterminate sentence. The medics recommend that we rent out our flat and rent an accessible one.

To the rescue comes my fantastic and extremely organised partner Linda, who within 48 hours found a great new flat (wheelchair-friendly), in the same street we already live in, and available for when I go home on the 28th. So today I checked it out in my wheelchair for door widths, turning circles, toilet and bath accessibility etc., then sat outside my old house unable to get in due to the steps thinking how on earth did it come to this... went on a bus for first time since March (the ramp only broke once - thankyou to the kind driver who helped carry me off!) ... felt elated being back in wonderful Stoke Newington and eating outside at the Z Bar for first time since going into hospital... discovered that the only restaurants locally with ramped or level entrances appear to be Yum Yums, Il Bacio Mare and Nando's...

Next question to ponder ... is there a CLP out there ready for a PPC in a wheelchair?

 
Free Hit Counters
OfficeDepot Discount