Thursday, 27 August 2015
I asked around about the where abouts of the statue of the town's Radical MP Charles Bradlaugh. I was mostly met with blank looks and offered to the directions to the pub named after him
Finally, at the tourist information office-and after some research, I was directed to a small traffic island close to the cricket ground where the yellow statue stands.
Bradlaugh's battles rumbled on through Gladstone's second government and apart from boots and shoes he remains the most remarkable thing about Northampton. There is a portrait of him in the town museum
Saturday, 8 August 2015
Nobody else was about when I arrived but during the next couple of hours -before most people's breakfast- two more plot holders cycled by.
Having lifted the potatoes already ( salad variety Nicola and a poor crop of Shetland Black) the second two beds are empty except for some leeks that the sharp eyed observers will have noted. The front bed with the fine meshed insect barrier around it contains a fine crop of carrots and parsnips. The great danger to carrots comes from the carrot fly. It is not a very athletic bug and cannot get more than 18 inches off the ground-hence the open top barrier arrangement. Mind you it is reputed to have a magnificent sense of smell and will home in on a carrot patch from great distance.
The first bed with the blue hoops which supporting netting is strawberries -variety Maris de Bois. They have been excellent this year and really do live up to their billing.
The next bed -again with blue hoops is for winter brassicas-cabbage (Durham early) kale, cauliflowers and sprouting broccoli. Beyond that the onions and garlic have been lifted. On the right hand side are the runner beans and borlotti beans followed by a gooseberry bush and then dwarf purple beans . And beyond that are my three Ben Sarek Blackcurrant buses. Alongside them are the pumpkins-Crown Prince(the best culinary squash/pumpkin) and Sumo. Mollie and I won first prize in the Ainsdale Show with s Sumo pumpkin one year. At the back are the Raspberry canes Joan J and at the very front right is my red currant bush bought from Wilkos in an end of season sale-the variety is unknown.
It is amazing how a couple of hours on the plot can revive my spirits and take my mind of the pain in my shoulder-mind you I have no doubt that my aches and pains will return to trouble my sleep tonight
Friday, 24 July 2015
A worrying number of incidents have taken place in an area of Birkdale
510 Shares Share Tweet +1 LinkedIn Felix, 17, was found covered in a mystery liquid and said to be acting 'like he was on drugs' Southport pet owners have been warned to keep an eye on their cats after reports of 'intentional poisonings and cat abductions'.
Joanna Worsley, of Jaspers Alley Cats shelter said: "There have been a shocking number of incidents in a small area of Birkdale."
Owner Jacqui Elizabeth says her two cats were fed salmon doused in weed killer a few weeks ago. She said: "I'd just gone to bed and I heard one of my cats making a strange noise.
"I rushed outside and there was a man at the end of the drive, but he fled as soon as he saw me. My daughter chased after him but he got away.
"There were chunks of salmon on the floor and my cat, Georgie, had eaten some. The other cat, Felix, was covered in some kind of liquid and was acting like he was drunk or on drugs
Thursday, 9 July 2015
Commenting on the budget last night Jonathan Calder wrote: Tax credits are a way of subsiding bad employers from the public purse and are a move towards the intermeshing of the power of the state and the power of capital that Belloc warned about in The Servile State.
There is new interest in the ideas promoted by Chesterton and Belloc in The Servile State that became known as Distibutism. The list of Liberals who have been influenced by them includes Elliot Dodds (and the Ownership for All movement) Jo Grimond who launched many of the ideas that fuelled the Liberal revival in the collection of essays edited by George Watson entitled The Unservile State. Later E F Schumacher drew on his ideas in Small is Beautiful. David Boyle over on the Real Blog often champions distributism and most recently he made the case for a radical housing policy:
I've come to believe, as a modern Distributist, that the way forward has to be building new homes and then giving them away - on three important conditions:
- They do not go back onto the open market and fuel house price inflation (ownership need not imply the right to sell).
- They stay at the same nominal price they were originally sold for, ratcheting down the rest of the market, perhaps for a generation or so.
- They are built in sufficient numbers to satisfy demand.
There are many reasons why the reformist suggestions put forward by Belloc and Chesterton under the name of distributism were largely ignored when first published and have since been almost forgotten. The Pre Raphaelite outer garments of peasant smocks, the idealized mediaeval impedimenta of maypole and village tavern with which their proposed reforms seemed inextricably tangled, can only have discouraged 'political economists' from taking them seriously....
Nevertheless their ideas and those of Catholic Social policy were very influential in the Liberal Party in the inter war years. Dodds, a Congregationalist lay preacher, read widely the works of continental thinkers such as Jacques Maritain. This school of thought was the motivation behind Father José María Arizmendiarrieta who established the Co-ops in Mondragon that so impressed Jo Grimond and Robert Oakeshott.
But back to the budget. In 1983 at a meeting of the Policy Committee chaired by Richard Wainwright a paper was tabled that was written by James Meade- this was in the day when we took advice from Nobel Prize winning economists rather than self interested City folk. If my memory serves we well it was about a New Keynesian Approach to Full Employment.. Amongst other things it advocated Profit sharing (much beloved of the then Liberal Party) and now regrettably out of fashion, and taxing inflation (equally beloved of John Pardoe). The main focus was how you maintained full employment and fix wages and how that interacted with social security. I cannot remember all the details but it did look at how you took account of folks who required higher incomes to live decently because of responsibilities like caring, child care etc, which brings us back to tax credits. The trouble is that I can't remember Meades conclusion save that it did include the state picking up some of the cost
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
This policy grew out of the Liberal Party Report 'Ownership for All' chaired by Eliot Dodds published in 1938.
This policy was part of a wider approach which sought to radically redistribute wealth/ownership including taxation on land values, profit sharing, as well as graduated death duties levied depending on the wealth of the recipient not the giver. This is the alternative approach to equality not based on state doles
Monday, 29 June 2015
Last week on Lib DemVoice I remarked that when great social reforms had been enacted liberals had the support of many Christians. I was thinking of Roy Jenkin's Homosexual Law reform,when Michael Ramsay was in the front line of supporters and David Steel's Abortion Act passed at a time when he was regularly introducing Songs of Praise. This was not just a phenomenon of the 1960's you could go back to Josephine Butler's work on the Contagious Diseases Act. My point was that such Christians who are today working to celebrate same sex marriages in churches and for women to play a full part in the church are a natural constituency for Lib Dems but we do not seem able to attract them in decent numbers .
Step forward the Provost of Glasgow Cathedral to shed some light on this matter- with thanks to Andrew Page for drawing my attention to his posting via twitter.
I have been mildly disconcerted by the debate that has arisen around Tim Farron's faith and how it impacts on his suitability to be Leader. In particular I wonder what is the motivation of those who have focussed on this issue. In past generations Liberals have had no difficulty in reconciling Liberalism with faith. Mr Gladstone, T H Green and Zoroastrian Liberal MP Dadabhai Naroji (Finsbury Central 1892-95) all made a pretty good fist of it in their time. Equally those without faith like Bradlaugh and Mill found no difficulty.
I cannot say that some Christian supporters of Tim have always dealt with the challenge at all well seeking to present themselves as a persecuted minority. I suspect they would be better served 'turning the other cheek' and considering the advice of Rowan Williams. At the other end of the spectrum politeness may stop people robustly analysing Tim's views on these issues.
In recent days a new voice has entered the debate and I thought it ought to be more widely heard as it addresses the central criticism that is be implied by Tim's distractors (although not often openly stated) as one elector put it: "Can you reassure us that if elected you will conduct yourself as a Liberal rather than according to a Christian agenda?”
This new voice is Kelvin Holdsworth who fought Stirling as a Lib Dem at the 2005 election. His day job is as Provost of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow. You may be surprised by his conclusions. I recognise that such religious reflections may be unfamiliar to some readers so I have transported him to the pulpit of St Asquith's in the hope that in such familiar setting readers may feel more comfortable and will not be distracted by the incense or the uncomfortable pews. I need to start, in the time honoured way, with a confession. I have not asked his lordships permission to occupy his church . I hope he will forgive me. Now pick up your cushion and your back rest and follow me to a pew under the north widow and let us consider these matters from a different perspective.
St Asquith's congregation quietly leave the church and head to the Parish Hall for morning coffee. They are deep in thought. The parish's Patron announced to them recently that there are going to be changes. It has all come about because of the departure of Rev Hughes, as his lordship confided to diary :
Change as we know can be disconcerting and conditions have been laid down about the locum's behaviour. He is due to arrive on the 16th July and in the meantime they have a visiting preacher, no lesser personage than the Provost of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow the Rt Rev Kelvin Holdsworth who has kindly shared his sermon online entitled Providence and Vocations for Liberals in Public Life.
The Right Reverend gentleman has struggled with the issues that now confront the young Mr Farron as he stood in a recent General Election the Liberal interest at Stirling.
The most difficult question that I had when I was a candidate came from a couple who were obviously thinking very deeply about how they would cast their vote. Their question was along these lines: “We are disposed to vote for a liberal candidate but we hesitate to vote for you because we know from your profession that you are a Christian. To be honest we are worried about the values that you hold and we presume that your values are not our values. We don’t think Christian values are particularly nice values. Can you reassure us that if elected you will conduct yourself as a Liberal rather than according to a Christian agenda?”
It was a great question and made me think a lot. I did engage with the couple and in the end they told me that they did indeed intend to vote for me.
I was lucky in being able to talk to them about the issues they were concerned about and put my own position over which in the end was not that different from their own. There was no alternative but to go through things issue by issue. As it happened, being able to talk at first hand about being a gay member of the clergy did give them some reassurance.
But the point is, they had come to the view that Christians have a considerably more unpleasant ethical position than decent people in society.
And I fear that this is increasingly the case and that most Christians neither believe that others hold this view nor care about it either. .......
The full posting is on Kelvin Holdsworth's blog and it is well worth reading. I should say before you leave that I have (eventually) decided to vote for Tim Farron. It is a compromise but my perfect candidate is not on the ballot paper and in an imperfect world that is often the case.
Thursday, 18 June 2015
|Byron Dawson's watercolour of a Lancashire village|
|The Smoke Room, Ashopton Inn, by Kenneth Rowntree (1915-97). Watercolour. Ashopton, Derbyshire, UK, 1940.|
There was rooms for more additions like that, the John Piper from the permanent collection would not have been out of place or the very fine watercolours of the dunes and slacks where the natterjacks and the sand lizards noisily breed that are randomly displayed around the Town Hall in rooms the public never get to visit.
|Holy Trinity Church and the new Allotments, Clapham Common, London; Recording Britain (April 1940) Watercolour painting on paper Stanley Roy Badmin|
|Sunset Monksdale Rd Allotments Valerie Pirlot|
These unassuming pictures drawn with the skill of an accomplished draughtsman summon up a distant England but whereas Clarke seemed to be motivated by an inward looking vision of England that he feared was under threat Rivilious, for all his choice of quintessentilally English subjects, sees himself as part of a European tradition. I recalled that one of his drawings hung on a wall at Farnborough Rd School. The same print was on display at my school 50 years ago. It has certainly stood the test of time.
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Wednesday, 3 June 2015
On Spring nights you can hear them
two miles away, calling their mates
to the breeding place, a wet slack in the dunes.
Lovers hiding nearby are surprised
by desperate music. One man searched all night
for a crashed spaceship.
For amphibians, they are terrible swimmers:
where it's tricky to get ashore, they drown.
By day they sleep in crevices under the boardwalk,
run like lizards from cover to cover
without the sense to leap when a gull snaps.
Yes, he can make himself fearsome,
inflating his lungs to double his size.
But cars on the coast road are not deterred.
She will lay a necklace of pearls in the reeds.
Next morning, a dog will run into the water and scatter them.
Or she'll spawn in a footprint filled with salt rain
that will dry to a crust in two days.
Still, when he calls her and climbs her
they are well designed. The nuptial pads on his thighs
velcro him to her back. She steadies beneath him.
The puddle brims with moonlight.
Everything leads to this.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
From more that half a century ago comes news of membership surge. I know the world was different then. These were the days before lettraset and spray glue, well before DTP and yes it was an age when all the political parties had much greater memberships. The factors which caused that surge can be analysed and adapted to meet today's world.
There was community campaigning but in addition there was an excitement over political ideas. Page 4 of this newsletter laid out the key Liberal messages.
How often do we bemoan the lack of clear political identity that our party has achieved. Back in the day when we truly had a mass, membership 351,300 in 1964, member knew what they stood for.
I think we can identify the author of this statement on a Southport Liberal Newsletter of April 1964 as Jack Coleman. Jack fought Southport in the General Elections of 1964 and 66. The emphasis on Industrial Partnership was typical of Liberals of the period. This was a much more radical policy that the 'lite' version preached occasionally today. It comprised of compelling by law companies to share their profits and give workers an equal say with shareholders. How far we have travelled that a Liberal Dem Business Secretary of State merely proposes giving shareholder all the decision making powers and just suggests the work force is consulted.