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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Leaders should beware the tower. 

Don’t walk through the arches under the Birmingham University tower!

That’s the tall brick structure shown on all the scene-setting shots of the University Campus, today’s Leaders Debate venue.

The student superstition is that anyone who walks under the tower is about to fail their exams. Imagine the gleeful postings on diverse blogs if one or other of the party leaders could be tempted to take a guided tour of campus… and just happened to pass under the tower…

And of course the press wouldn’t go to town on such a triviality when serious matters are being discussed… not.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cry Havoc! And let loose the dogs of Anti 

Not a metaphor for the Tory press pack. Some voters in MK are showing displeasure at getting canvassed by the LibDems by letting their dogs speak for them. Others swear when they see us, other doors slammed in our faces.

But the great majority of residents seem pleased to see us and many actually want to talk on the doorstep (which does slow down progress of course).

The negative people do seem to be Tories. Many also seem to be angry at their own party – after the first debate we were told ‘Cameron has let us down!’.

Lets see if he has won those people round in the last couple of days..

An interesting sidebar is on how people describe themselves. For years now, ever since the late 1990s, known Tories have tended to be shy to describe themselves as such. As if supporting the Tories was an embarrassing inconvenience on a par with halitosis. . Over the last couple of years that embarrassment seemed to be dying out and in the early weeks of this election we were meeting more openly self-describing Tories. Not just people simply saying, as in the past, ‘I am not voting for you’. But in the last week the shutters came down again. ANTI is the word.

This doesn’t of itself mean that Tory votes will be reduced. There are a lot of angry people out there who will be voting against us with hot conviction because of the pain we have caused them in shaking them out of their complacency. One consequence of this election is to define ourselves to Tories more clearly than before as a political enemy. This could have consequences in future local polls, for example.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

How many people nationally registered to vote in the last week? 

In Milton Keynes, over two constituencies, there were 1500 late registrations for the vote.

Almost all came in the last few days, after the First Leaders Debate.

The word is most of these are young first-time voters.

I wonder what might have prompted this surge?

How are other parts of the country doing in terms of late registrations? Milton Keynes does have a high proportion of young residents so it might not translate out pro rate UK wide... if it did it implies over 400,000 more voters on the rolls than this time last week.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Face to face campaigning with online geeks 

One of the things about having a major University in your patch is that there are a lot of bright and committed people around who are not necessarily easily contacted through classic campaigning.

In Milton Keynes the Open University is holding a special hustings with a theme. That theme is "Technology and the next 4 years, how my party will utilise it and how we will interact with an increasingly online population”.

The meeting will be an opportunity to make contacts with politically interested OU staff, which will be of value in this election and the future. Showing that face to face interaction will still be important perhaps?

Jill Hope, our candidate for Milton Keynes North, will be our representative. She would welcome all suggestions and advice.

Contact on:

jillhopelibdem@btinternet.com


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Friday, April 16, 2010

At last the 1983 show? 

Maybe we will see at last what might have happened in 1983.

In that general Election campaign the ‘Liberal-SDP Alliance’ was running close to Labour in the opinion polls, the Tories of course heavily leading. Then a couple of Alliance campaign miss-steps led to Labour being seen as still the main challenger to the Tories and the fight was over. Despite the widespread dislike of Mrs Thatcher, the majority had as top priority keeping Labour out of office.

The smell in the air was that if the Alliance could have pushed Labour into third with two weeks to go the Tory position would have been a lot weaker. Then anti-Thatcher voters would have found somewhere congenial to escape to, and the Alliance would have been in the zone to come second in seats and become the official opposition. I recall being briefed at the time that the Tories had a well-oiled Plan B all ready to go to spend a ton of money attacking the Alliance with pretty grimy tactics expected. In the event we never had to face that bombardment. The alliance leadership was pretty nervous about this prospect, apparently.

Expect a bombardment on the LibDems this time though, from both Tory and Labour. Neither can afford to let us fill the Official Opposition psychological slot. We need to draw on all our reserves of calm…

One question in 2010 is however this: Have the Labservatories actually done the necessary preparation for such a plan B (as the Tories did well before the campaign in 1983) or will they have to do things on the hoof?

Incidentally, one of the 1983 mis-steps sadly was a messed up interview by Roy Jenkins. The Alliance ran him as ‘Prime-Minister Designate’ and he went into an hour long grilling by Robin Day (The Paxman of those times) with all sorts of solid and lofty themes to discuss, only to be ambushed by half an hour of nagging on the Wasted Vote theme that he didn’t have the long Liberal training to handle. Clegg has leaped over the equivalent hurdle with ease this time…

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Resources for contering the drugs panic Labour want to trap us with 

There are rather more ‘legal highs’ out there than the currently controversial mephedrone. Shooting down one named ‘drug’ will not solve a much wider complex of issues. As an article on the US site SLATE noted back in 2007.

over the last two decades, the pharmaceutical industry has developed a full set of substitutes for just about every illegal narcotic we have. Avoiding the highly charged politics of "illegal" drugs, the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, and citizens have thus quietly created the means for Americans to get at substitutes for almost all the drugs banned in the 20th century. Through the magic of tolerated use, it's actually the other drug legalization movement, and it has been much more successful than the one you read about in the papers.
Tim Wu SLATE October 2007 'American Lawbreaking' articles

The technical name for this process is Avoision 'achieving a forbidden outcome as a by-product of a permitted act'. (More on this theme in an old post of mine here).

You may also like to see the US website EROWID which ‘documents the complex relationship between humans and psychoactives’ and particularly its ‘experience vault’ on individual reports on specific substances. Cant find an entry for mephedrone there though… but I am not a chemist.

Jock Coats recommended as a resource the Schaffer Library of Drugs Policy Research. I suspect (looking at his recent posting) that he would again like to call our attention to the paper on the economics of the black market.

On Jocks current thoughts, (see this debate), my pennyworth. Making a rational case on these themes calmly while the LibDems political opponents look for a way to manufacture a Littleworth And Saddleworth 'soft on drugs' scare will take the care and attention of all of us. Lets remember this 'Clare Short Gaffe' moment from way back in 1995. Labour are trying to ambush us with a carfully nurtured panic, no doubt about that.

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Comments:
Yeah - there's definitely something at Erowid's vaults about Mephedrone. One wouldn't touch anything one couldn't find some reasonable reports on at Erowid!

On your last point though - I really do wonder about whether to stay out of that ambush or not. At the very least, I expect a large proportion of our population would vote for a "sensible debate policy" rather than the regular panics we see under the current regime.
 
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