Ladywood’s MP says Commons votes are “pointless”

Ladywood’s current MP, Clare Short, has said that taking part in House of Commons votes is “pointless”.

New figures show Clare took part in less than one in eight votes over the past 12 months. She is quoted in the Birmingham Post:

"Most MPs automatically vote for the government or against the government depending on which party they are in.

“I am often in the building when a vote takes place. But everyone knows the Government is going to win the day whether I take part or not.

“I will vote on an issue where it is a matter of principle, or where my independent vote might make a difference to the outcome.”

Although I understand her reasoning, by not voting it means her constituents views are not being represented.


Queer Question Time – The Verdict

Queer Question Time Birmingham

An all lesbian and gay panel took to the stage in Birmingham last night for Queer Question Time.

Peter Tatchell (Green) - Human rights activist and Parliamentary Candidate for Oxford East
Nikki Sinclaire (UKIP) - MEP for the West Midlands and candidate for her party's leadership
Iain Bowen (Lib Dem) - Birmingham City Councillor for Acocks Green ,
Philippa Roberts (Lab) - Parliamentary Candidate for Hereford
Gareth Compton (Con) - Birmingham City Councillor for Erdington

Chairman Steve Ball kicked off the debate, in the style of BBC's Question Time, in front of a decent crowd of around 150 at the Hippodrome's Patrick Centre. Audience members were asked to submit questions on the way in and as these things often do, the panelists and audience members then veered off into other directions during the debates. Some of the subjects discussed included equalities legislation, tolerance, gay pride events, the BNP, homophobia, education and section 28, the media and the police.

The panelists agreed on a lot of issues but there were some interesting clashes throughout.

Peter Tatchell was the clear winner for me. He barely touched on Green party policy, concentrating more on gay rights in general. He also spent much of his time picking up on the policies of the Labour government, doubtless with one eye on the political situation in Oxford East and Brighton Pavilion. Peter spoke well and was well received by members of the audience from every political hue.

Nikki Sinclaire caused less upset than her last "appearance" at Queer Question Time, but was still controversial. She appeared to defend her UKIP MEP colleague Mike Nattrass when he was accused (by both Gareth Compton and Iain Bowen) of being involved in the controversial New Britain Party (he stood as the "New Britain" candidate in Dudley West in 1994). She also did her best to dodge what specific policies UKIP have on LGBT rights. I found her overall attitude a mix of confrontation and naivety, which for someone with leadership aspirations surprises me.

Iain Bowen spoke well with good local knowledge and personal thoughts, rather than towing the party line, which I always like to see. Although he struggled with one or two questions I felt he put the Liberal Democrat position on equality across well. He was also passionate about the community and the police needing to work closer together, which prompted some heckling from the audience.

Philippa Roberts performed well defending the record of the Labour government on gay rights, for example civil partnerships, provision of goods and services, etc. However, she was uncomfortable when challenged (mainly by Peter Tatchell) on the current Equalities Bill working its way through Parliament.

Gareth Compton began very well but faded towards the end as he got drawn into bickering with Nikki Sinclaire. On more than one ocassion he made the verbal assumption that the next Government would be a Conservative one, which did not sit well with the audience. He also made the mistake of heckling Nikki Sinclaire for UKIP's European partners, not sensible considering the company the Tories keep.

For me the most interesting question was whether "gay pride" had replaced "gay politics". A lot of the battles have been won and therefore politics has fallen down the ladder when it comes to Pride events. But Birmingham Pride this year was far more party political than I remember it being for a long time. I helped to organise the Liberal Democrat presence, LGBT Labour also ran a stall and some Green party activists were in attendance too. In addition to this no less than THREE candidates in the upcoming European elections were there, Liz Lynne (Lib Dem), Nikki Sinclaire (UKIP) and Neena Gill (Lab).


Why The Tories Won’t Win Here

I nearly choked on my porridge this morning as I was reading the latest post from LadywoodBlue, in which he claims the Conservatives could take Ladywood at the next local election.

You can play with statistics and pie charts all you want, but the facts from the European elections were: The Labour AND TORY vote went down. The Liberal Democrat vote went up.

For the Tories to be losing votes at a time when they should be roaring ahead on the back of national swing, shows Ladywood will not easily be turned blue.

Meanwhile, as the Tories are playing with pie charts, the Lib Dems (and even the Greens) are out regularly on the streets of Ladywood knocking on doors and actually engaging with the public.

To be talking about potentially winning a seat in public before you've put one idea forward to the people of the ward is sheer arrogance. And if there's one thing the folk of Ladywood despise, it's arrogant Tories!


The New Labour Disaster In 4 Minutes

Here’s Liberal Vision’s take on the rise and fall of New Labour - set to the unmistakeable beat of 99 Red Balloons by Nena. Contains graphic violence.

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Private Iraq Enquiry Is Not Acceptable

So we finally get our full enquiry into the Iraq debacle war. But quelle surprise, it will be held entirely behind closed doors.

With everything that has happened over the last few months, with all Gordon Brown's promises to the people of this country about making politics more transparent and accountable, this announcement is nothing short of a disgrace.

So here's an open message to Gordon Brown - Open up this enquiry and prove to the British people that politics CAN be open and transparant. There are questions that need answering - and any answers that are the result of a secret enquiry will simply not be trusted.

Take Back Power


Labour hold Lozells & East Handsworth

Experiencing a by-election in a ward as culturally diverse as Lozells & East Handsworth was a real eye-opener. Some of the stories that were coming back to the committee room were interesting to say the least, but having spent most of the day there, I have no idea what was actually going on on the streets. Having been relatively quiet during the campaign, Labour ran a full polling day operation and obviously did very well getting their vote out.

On the plus side Sabirul was an excellent candidate, went down well on the doorstep and we increased our vote in real terms.

We welcomed our Director of Campaigns Hilary Stephenson to our committee room and I’m pleased to say she pretty much left us to it, and went out door knocking!

The Final result was:
Lab 3,018
Lib Dem 2,000
Con 1,622
Green 209
UKIP 208
Turnout 38%