UK Parliament and your right to vote.

Voting in the UK has been fought for (sometimes quite literally) over the past 150 years and beyond. It is an entitlement that should not be taken lightly but used wisely. It was only 87 years ago that everyone over the age of 21 was allowed to vote.

Historical facts on your vote:

  • Just 46 years ago In 1969 all 18 yr olds given vote
  • 87 years ago in 1928 all men and women over 21 given vote
  • In 1918 women over 30 and all men over 21 given vote
  • In 1884 only 60% men and no women could vote.
  • In 1780 less than 3% of population could vote.

(For more information lookup UK Reform Acts – Google, Bing etc.)

Different party’s have different views on how the Country should be run and the political spectrum goes from Fascism (dictatorship) on the far right to Communism (everybody equal – though not, in reality) on the far left. Traditionally Conservatives are to the right, Labour to left, LibDem in centre with a leaning to left. Greens left of of Labour, UKIP right of Conservatives (all open to conjecture). Check your political compass, also factored in is Authoritarian and Libertarian.

It is impossible to agree with any party’s (or person if you favour an Independent candidate) policies, or manifestos, but it is advisable to pick the one that best matches your thoughts and feelings.

Your vote is for one person, to represent your views (or some of them) and their party’s in parliament and should be for the best person on offer to do that. That person may be swayed by their party’s manifesto though.

Many constituencies are won by just a few votes, so the thought that a vote doesn’t count is actually wrong.

Many people disagree with their MP (Party, or person), if you don’t vote, how is that going to change? not voting is actually voting for a person, or party you don’t like as you are not voting against them. Under first past the post the person with most votes wins the seat. Elections are the chance for you to have your say.

Some think that they won’t vote as it doesn’t affect them. The Government decide on the laws of the land, the budget and taxes we live by. It affects all of us.

Don’t waste your vote, use it wisely…

There are so many elections, understanding who does what etc. seems complicated…?

General Election: selecting Member of UK Parliament

County Council: Education, Social services, Highway Maintenance, Waste disposal, Emergency planning, Consumer protection, Town and country planning (to do with minerals, waste, highways and education).

District Council: Housing, Planning Application, Leisure and Recreation, Waste collection, Environmental health, Revenue collection.

Town Council (or Parish): Buildings and Civic matters, Grounds and General Maintenance, Planning and Licensing, Policy Resource and Finance, Promotions and Activities.

From Yeovil Town Council website:


Buildings and Civic Matters

Management of recreational and leisure facilities including a number of community halls and the redevelopment of an artificial ski slope. The Committee also manages the award-winning public toilets in Peter Street, and oversees a variety of community safety initiatives, traffic regulation, traffic calming and the management, repair and maintenance of The Town House.

Grounds and General Maintenance

Management of most of the open spaces and play areas in the Town and the management of over 300 allotment plots on a number of sites owned by the Town Council. The Committee also keeps a watching brief over the Sunningdale Doorstep Green and Yeovil Cemetery, of which the Town Council is principal owner.

Planning and Licensing

Consideration of all planning applications within the Town area. Responsibility for the licensing of taxis, private hire vehicles and their drivers, street trading, street canvassing, busking and charitable collections.

Policy, Resources and Finance
Dealing with matters concerning policy, resources and general finance decisions on behalf of the Town Council. Determines applications for grants from local groups and organisations, oversees personnel issues and generally advises the Town Council on corporate matters.

Promotions and Activities

Overseeing the delivery of a variety of related activities, initiatives and events directly and in partnership with other stakeholders in the Town, including Yeovil in Bloom, the Annual Flower and Gardeners’ Market, the Yeovil Town Centre Partnership, the Town Centre Streetscene, and the Christmas lights display. The Committee also has responsibility for the publication of the Town Guide and other promotional literature, customised souvenirs, and the Town Crier.

I hope this helps to clarify things for you.

Politics from the doorstep

As I walk from door to door, asking questions, discussing political opinions, wondering about the opinions of those who are out, or not answering the door, I have to wonder what actually influences people’s decisions.

To vote, not to vote, which way to vote.

The Liberal in me looks at their argument and sees their point, sometimes knowing that they won’t be persuaded otherwise, sometimes countering and changing their mind.

Some people are just disillusioned with politics on the whole “it doesn’t concern me, crooks the lot of ‘em”. Well yes it does concern you, actually and would crooks put themselves so obviously in the public eye? Everyone is open to scrutiny.

Without politicians, no decisions, either good or bad, would be made. There would be no hospitals, schools, housing, rubbish collections etc etc.

But the budget, the deficit? Again without a budget (whether it is set at right limits is a different discussion), or taxes, there would be anarchy, looting etc. We would be back to bartering, which lets face it, didn’t work before (hence currency was established) and couldn’t work in a modern world.

Around 100 years ago women were fighting to be allowed to vote…

“They’re all in it for themselves!” Are we? Well as the majority of the people knocking on doors are voluntary and most of the people who enter politics take a pay cut to do so, that can’t be the case. There will always be the odd rotten egg, but they are discarded very quickly once discovered. They leave a bit of a smell for a while but as with rotten eggs, the smell soon fades.

Your Party was wrong to… (insert own criticism). All party’s get things wrong and get things right. If this were not the case we would not need elections, or different party’s, everyone would agree and live happy ever after. In reality we all want different things and have different priorities, hence different party’s and we all want politics that match our thoughts, whether that is thinking of others or ourselves, as some do.

I personally, believe in what the Liberal Democrats stand for and wholeheartedly agree with our preamble. How we achieve that is open to question, the Libdem Party is a broad church and covers a wide political spectrum. We cater for all, if only everyone could see it, but unfortunately some are not interested or don’t care, ingrained in their ways, or blinkered by perception and media.

Libdems open the floor at conference to let the membership decide on policy, unlike most other party’s.

Everyone should be given a fair chance and be free to make their own choices.

So what of the other Party’s…

I guess if I had to write a whole description, from my view of all party’s it would be too long, so here’s a few anecdotes:

What would the Tory’s have done if we weren’t in coalition? The headline that explains this best, apparently from David Cameron “I’d govern like a true Tory if it wasn’t for the Libdems”. We now hear they would cut deeper etc etc. The Tory controlled County Council locally, have spent money, with nothing to show, apart from failed OFSTED reports in the local schools. In an article in The Argus (Sussex) recently, the local Conservative PPC for Lewes called the Libdems campaign  negative because it pointed out that the facts the Tory’s used in their literature were wrong, which they admitted. That’s negative?

On the local doorstep, from people I have spoken to, Ed Miliband is a non starter, they just don’t see him as a credible leader. Labour try hard, but are not making the impression they would like. I still recall the interviews years ago with mining families stating they would always vote Labour because their families always had. Do wonder if that had changed with the demise of the mining towns, or do they remain partisan. We should never be ‘told’ how to vote, should we?

We hear from some on the doorstep that UKIP has the right idea, looking after Britain. Really? Nigel Farage does appear to say what some people want, to some it sounds good. In reality it could never work and being as his party are on the right of the Tory’s politically that probably wouldn’t appeal either. If we left Europe, who says they would still trade with us, how many UK citizens would lose their jobs etc. Thankfully the message on the doorstep is that not many buy it.

My view on Mr Farage is akin to the Pied Piper. He plays a good tune to the electorate, tells them what they want to hear, but as with the Pied Piper it can’t have a good ending for those that follow him, can it?

A brief mention for the Greens. I originally come from Brighton and know many people who still live there. I have yet to find someone who thinks they have done a good job. In fact a friend recently asked if there would be an ‘anything but green option’ on the voting slips.

My opinions are just that, but use your vote, use it wisely, but USE your vote, please.

I am standing for Liberal Democrats in the District, and Town, council elections, but my politics for those Councils is the same, I want everyone to have their say, everyone to have a fair chance and if elected will represent the whole District and Town in that vein. I am not ‘in it’ for the money, I live in an ex council house and just want to try and make a difference. I am one person, without a magic wand, but won’t give up trying…

My Councillor site

As some of you who read my infrequent blog posts will know, I have taken the big step of standing as a candidate. Not just for Yeovil Town Council, but for South Somerset District Council too.

To accompany this I now have a new blogsite, to run alongside this one.

It can be found at http://robstickland.mycouncillor.org.uk/

I will still, as infrequently as usual, write the occasional blog on here too.

Thank you for your continued support dear reader (an assumption, of course).

 

Rob

Cover me, I’m going in…

Up until recently, as my blog title suggests, I have sat on the sidelines and observed, commented and followed the Lib Dems.

I have been a Party Member for the last few years and although I have been an activist, it has pretty much been from the safety of a keyboard and mouse. I have always had an interest in the community where I live, though in bygone days it was through youth football. In the last couple of years I have attended LD AGM’s and became local ward secretary, with little to do and what I did was still from the safety of my keyboard. Readers of my blog will recall I did venture out for Yes to AV and Police Crime Commissioner elections, but even then concentrated on web based campaigning. Recently I have joined the local residents association, took up the post of secretary and am now chairman.

The role of chairman has brought me out from behind my keyboard and meant that I met with actual people, face to face. I have been asked to look at community problems, ask questions and generally put my name ‘out there’ in the community.

This piqued my interest and after discussions with friends and local councillors, I have been persuaded (didn’t take much arm twisting, I must confess) that it is time I left the comfort of my keyboard and stood for Council.

Without going in to detail, as I write this, I am now a selected Liberal Democrat candidate for the District Council election in May 2015.

So though I will still very definitely need the keyboard, I am leaving the sidelines and will need a good pair of walking shoes instead!!

Yeovil Town FC (a Club in crisis?)

So after yesterday spectacular loss against Rochdale, the Club are 3rd from bottom of Division 1 and let’s face it struggling.

Is YTFC punching above it’s weight? Yes probably… What is worrying is that the attendance yesterday was 3,601. Which obviously means that much needed funds won’t be found anytime soon. Yeovil has always had a very low fan base, compared to others in the Leagues we are competing in and the fans tend to march with their feet when results are bad.

I do wonder if this trend is tainted by ticket prices. The average price is in the region of £25, which I am guessing the average fan is not going to pay to watch a poor game with an ultimate loss, as seems to be the case at the moment. So, if the ticket prices were lower, would we then see a bigger crowd to cheer the boys on?

Maybe, but the funds coming in would be the same as now, so the same players would be all the club could afford, queue the same dismal results, or would a bigger crowd spur on the lads, raise their game and produce better results. One thing is for sure it wouldn’t be worse.

Last year YTFC played in the Championship and by all accounts held their heads high and almost made a good fist of it. In the games I attended we did play our part and only lost by the odd goal. It was never going to be sustained and every game was going to be a cup final which we should enjoy while it lasted, and we did.

At the play-offs we took enough supporting fans to fill Huish Park and some… This points to the fact that on any given day the fans are there (albeit what are called fair weather fans). This adds fuel to the argument that if the price was right, the fans would be there, or is it chicken and egg, the team needs to play well before the fans come and support etc.

Are the Club blinkered? Maybe, but unfortunately these days football is a business and has to run as such. This is going to take the personal involvement away from the fans, to a certain extent and does. As far as he can GJ does a good balancing job with the money at his disposal, you can always use more, can’t you, But that will never be enough to pacify the hoards. We have tasted Championship football and that is where we want to be.

Unless we can fill a bigger stadium than Huish on a regular basis paying more than we do at the moment and attract big money sponsorship that isn’t going to happen. Same old then…

Oh well, COYG!!!

Why I vote Lib Dem!

I have always and will vote Lib Dem again. I believe you have to look beyond the policies to the core values, what we as a Party have as our principles, do you agree with the Libdem values?:

  • Do you want a fair, free and open society, with a balance of liberty, equality and community in which people within can help run?
  • Do you believe that no one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity?
  • Should all individuals have freedom, dignity and well-being, with freedom of conscience and the right to develop any or all of their talents?
  • Do you think that everyone is equal and power should be dispersed and creativity nurtured?
  • Do you believe that the state should give citizens the right to contribute fully to their communities and decisions which affect their lives?
  • Should the world live in peace and all have the same basic rights and be allowed to develop their own cultures?
  • Is it the responsibility of each generation to safeguard the balance of nature and environment for the benefit of future generations?
  • Do you agree that there should be no prejudice based on race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex and sexual orientation and everyone has the right to enjoy privacy in their lives?
  • Do you believe that for the benefit of social justice we should have human rights and open government?
  • Do you agree that government decisions should be made at the lowest practicable level, with fair voting systems?
  • Do you believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people?
  • Do you think we should fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services?

Well?

That is why I vote Liberal Democrat and will continue to do so!!

The Instant Society

Is patience a thing of the past?

In all walks of life these days we seem to be more and more impatient. We turn on our computers and expect it to boot straight into a screen that we can click on and use, immediately. We go to the shop and expect to be served right away, how many people don’t look for the shortest checkout queue at a supermarket. If things go wrong with our homes we want a trade professional to drop out of the sky and fix it. If the TV doesn’t work, its the end of the world. If we have a toothache, headache etc. it can’t wait till Monday…

Need I go on.

Years ago shops shut one day a week, Sundays and some on Saturday afternoon. Did we go without food? Was there a repair company around the corner to fix every problem, or did we either do it ourselves or wait until things could be fixed? Cars used to have a very slow top speed (horses even slower), people still reached their destination.

Why have we become so reliant on other people, and become an instant society?

Is patience a learnt behaviour, or is it in the genes?

One thing is for sure, unless it is a life and death situation it CAN wait (in my case three weeks, family joke). It’s good that we strive to prevent situations from getting worse, but at what cost? There is always someone worse off, and sometimes to my detriment the LD in me gives them preference, I would rather wait…

In my mind there is too much me, me, me. One thing the flooding has taught us, is that there are people a lot worse off and a lot of people who are willing to go the extra mile to help. There is no them and us on the Somerset Levels, everyone is affected, the big house and the small, everyone is equal.

We all want everything, we all want it now, but sometimes…

Life is just too short…

(and as the saying goes patience is a virtue)

Somerset Levels – it is a disaster…

I have listened to many reports and comments, regarding the Somerset Levels, and thought it was probably about time I put my twopenneth in.

On BBC Radio Fivelive yesterday morning, the phone-in (Your Call) focussed on the flooding. Some of the comments had me shouting at the radio, others almost had me in tears. Here are a few of the comments (not word for word):

  • They knew it would flood so why live there
  • Its not a natural disaster, nobody died
  • They don’t need money, or a National fund, should have insurance
  • I live in Cheshire, its appalling, if there is donation phone number, I will donate today
  • Why are we sending aid to Third World when we need the funds here for this disaster, charity begins at home
  • It’s global warming, we should stop carbon emissions, wouldn’t need to dredge then

and so on…

People seemed to fall into two camps, those who saw the disaster for what it is and are sympathetic  and those who thought it didn’t concern them, as they live far away from the problem.

The fact is that whether it is global warming, or not is irrelevant, the problem is now. We can talk about dredging the rivers, we didn’t. We can say it is not in our back yard, why should we care…

The point that is being missed, in my opinion, is that it will take a lot of money to repair the damage, when the floods eventually subside and although the residents/victims may have insurance, we will ALL pay. The insurance companies are going to take a big hit on the flood damage across the Country this winter and where are they going to get that money from? It won’t just be the locals of Somerset, whose monthly payments will rise (although I am guessing that residents of the Levels won’t actually be able to afford insurance after this, as the excess will be through the roof, no pun intended), it will be everyone, in order to refund their coffers, the insurance companies will have to recoup their funds from you and me.

To say that it is not a disaster because nobody has died, really. I guess that person hasn’t read and seen the devastation of peoples homes, businesses and animals/livestock. Personally I don’t know how much produce goes to shops and supermarkets nationally, but let us suppose a proportion does. What will that mean for food prices? I think we know…

I applaud the lady, and guy, from Cheshire who wanted to donate, their attitude was just so refreshing.

To the person who asked why they live there, although the Levels have a tendency to flood, normally this can be managed, dredging the rivers and giving them about 40% more capacity, for a start. I would urge that person to visit the area when things are back to normal and to appreciate the countryside and open spaces. I appreciate there are those people who prefer built up areas and can’t see the point, but coming from a large town myself originally, I would not go back to city life.

Whether we divert funds from overseas aid, whether the £100 million that has been pledged by Govt is enough etc. is open to question. I agree with those that are saying we should start to help our own, wherever in our great country they live. It is right that the PM, Prince Charles etc. visit and show solidarity and respect, we would expect no less. What we also need is to learn lessons for the future too and listen to the locals. They asked for dredging and were ignored, just because someone far away thought they knew better. We really should listen to local knowledge. It may not have prevented this disaster totally, but it would have at least alleviated the situation.

If you saw a person, or animal in a river, or the sea drowning, human nature would tell us we should help and not turn our backs and walk away. Somerset levels at the moment has lots of people and animals metaphorically drowning (not literally, I hope), are we now going to help, or walk away?

Here is the Somerset Community Foundation homepage for more details and how to donate, http://www.somersetcf.org.uk and their just giving page http://www.justgiving.com/Somerset-Community-Found-Flood-Appeal at time of writing £123,427.78 raised of £200,000.00 target from 809 donations.

addendum… Donations of provisions etc. can also be given via https://www.facebook.com/groups/FLAGsomerset.

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GPS for dementia suffers is more than a stigmatisation…

In the news this week it was released that Sussex Police are rolling out a plan, that was trialled in Chichester, to equip dementia sufferers with a GPS tracking device, so that they can be traced quickly, and more cheaply, should they go missing.

The main crux of peoples argument against it, appears to be that this would equate dementia sufferers with criminals, effectively tagging them.

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Mindme is about the size of an electronic car key and can be worn on a belt, as a pendant, a key fob or in a pocket. It is neat, discreet and very easy to use.

According to reports in The Argus:

Sergeant Suzie Mitchell said: “The scheme is only costing Sussex Police a few hundred pounds but, comparing this to police time, resources, potential risk to the missing person, let alone the anxiety and worry for their family, it is, in my opinion, a few hundred pounds well spent.”

From personal experience, and I am not sure how this didn’t happen in the trial, the device would never leave the house.

Many times I have had to turn my mother’s flat upside down to find her keys. So that they don’t go missing, she puts them away safely, which as she has dementia she can never remember putting them away, let alone where she put them.

The same thing would happen with the GPS device. In her mind it would be far too valuable to take out with her, so she would treat the same as her keys and put it away ‘safe’. The only good thing would be that if it was attached to her keys, I may find them easier.

Whilst I am sure that the Mindme alarm would be very good in some circumstances, I’m not sure dementia is one of them, especially in my mothers case.

The only way, in my opinion, for the GPS system to work, would be a non-removable tag, or an implant. Both of which would infringe all the civil liberties that have been well stated.

The Alzheimer’s Society statement:

‘In some circumstances and when appropriate consent is given, GPS tracking can enable a person with dementia to remain independent for longer, providing them and their carer with peace of mind. But we must balance the potential advantages to the individual and the protection of a person’s civil liberties. Any tracking system must support and never replace good quality care.

‘Alzheimer’s Society understands the safety of people with dementia is an important issue to address and people with dementia and carers have told us that they welcome technology like this if used in the right way. We’re working with organisations such as the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Missing Persons Bureau to ensure people with dementia feel secure and included in their communities wherever they live.’

Personally I think they are missing the point.

Why the Liberal Democrat Party exists (in my opinion)

This post was prompted by a comment:

“Clegg days the Lib Dems are no longer a protest party? No longer a need for them then.”

No doubt an ad hoc comment on (via Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian/Observer):

Nick Clegg is delivering his main speech to the Lib Dem spring conference later this morning and, from the extracts that have been released overnight, it may well be the most upbeat, optimistic speech that he has ever delivered. Here are the key points.

• Clegg will say that the Lib Dems are now longer a protest party.

In the days after the [Eastleigh] by-election, even though we won, I was asked how I feel about our party no longer being a magnet for the protest vote. No longer the automatic ‘none-of-the-above’ choice. But the truth is: the Liberal Democrats are not a party of protest, we are a party of change. A party that is for things, not simply against things…

The Liberal Democrat Party is not going to disappear anytime soon. Regardless of sweeping statements.

If other Party’s (or members thereof) wish us to disappear, one has to ask why?

Are we a thorn in their side keeping them from inflicting their will on the Country, unchecked? or, do they just want to annihilate anyone who doesn’t agree with their views? (isn’t that a dictatorship?). Whatever the reason, we simply must remain to give voters an option for change, at local and national levels.

As I have previously stated, I do not agree with every decision the Party makes, that goes for everyone in any Party, I guess, but my views are more in line with the Libdems, than any other Party in our political spectrum.

To quote Paddy Ashdown from his speech at conference yesterday:

“I was not born a Liberal. I became one nearly 40 years ago. When a man in a bobble hat knocked on my door and asked for my vote. To be honest I told him I wasn’t interested. I was fed up with all politicians. But he was insistent. So I told him if he could persuade me Liberalism was different, he could have my vote.

What happened next, changed my life.

What he said was a million miles from the paternalism of the two then dominant parties that had so spectacularly failed 1970s Britain. The state socialism of the Labour party. The casual and heartless incompetence of the Conservatives.

He convinced me there was something different. A vision that has driven our party and its predecessors for more than 150 years. The Liberal promise to enable and empower every citizen – to fulfil their potential – regardless of wealth, or gender, or colour or creed.

To enable them to be who they want to be…”

We may disagree, like brothers and sisters and argue between ourselves, no other Party has a conference like ours! We all have different ideas how to achieve those ideals (as I write this the “secret courts” debate is running at conference), but we do agree that we want “to enable and empower every citizen – to fulfil their potential – regardless of wealth, or gender, or colour or creed”

So there is a need for the Liberal Democrats, no longer as a protest party, as party that has achieved 75% of its manifesto, as a party that makes up the coalition government and can do so again in 2015, as a party who CAN also make a difference locally. Somewhere my political views can be achieved, which could never happen under Tory, Labour, UKIP et al.

The more other Party’s tell us we are not needed, actually tells us we are very much needed.

see also: (Independent Editorial: The Lib Dems are walking tall -They have made a difference as a junior coalition partner, which the voters recognised)