Friday, 29 October 2010

This week's by-election results: holds all round

Camden LBC, Kentish Town
Lab 1411 (53.0; +17.7)
LD Nick Russell 715 (26.9; -3.6)
Green 349 (13.1; -4.7)
Con 186 (7.0; -5.1)
[Other (0.0; -1.7)]
[BNP (0.0; -2.7)]
Majority 696
Turnout 26.02%
Percentage change is since May 2010

South Lanarkshire UA, East Kilbride West
Lab 847 (41.4; +0.8)
SNP 571 (27.9; -2.4)
Con 403 (19.7; +5.7)
Green 82 (4.0; +0.2)
East Kilbride Alliance 71 (3.5; -0.7)
LD Gordon Smith 70 (3.4; -3.7)
Turnout 17.44%
Labour HOLD
Percentage change is since May 2007

See here for the breakdown of votes for each stage of the count.

Cheltenham BC, Springbank
LD Chris Coleman 722 (66.4; -2.9)
Con 188 (17.3; -13.4)
Lab 142 (13.1; +13.1)
Green 35 (3.2; +3.2)
Majority 534
Turnout not known
Percentage change is since May 2010

See the article in This Is Gloucestershire.

Great Aycliffe Town Council, West
Lab 388 (46.7)
Ind 286 (34.5)
LD Janine Mawson 156 (18.8)
Majority 102
Turnout 19.19%

For full commentary, and details of forthcoming by-elections, visit the ALDC website.

View this article at its original location.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Tom Brake writes to David Cameron on control orders‏

Tom Brake MP wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday, to push for the scrapping of Control Orders, and for a reduction in the pre-charge detention period. The letter is co-signed by the other Liberal Democrat Co-Chairs of the Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Parliamentary Party Committee: Baroness Sally Hamwee and Lord Martin Thomas.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

We believe we represent the broad view of the Liberal Democrat membership, both from past policy statements agreed at Conference and set out in the Lib Dem Manifesto, and from current soundings within the Party.

We have been delighted by the Coalition Government’s commitment to re-claiming our civil liberties. You will appreciate of course, that the continuance of Control Orders is quite inconsistent with the thrust of those assurances. In principle, as we argued many times during the administration of the last government, Control Orders should be scrapped.

In practice, in any event, there is no evidence to suggest that Control Orders are effective in preventing terrorism on our streets. Even if a marginal security advantage is gained from their use, it is wholly negated by the adverse impact of Control Orders on Muslims, both individually, and as a community. You will know that we depend on the goodwill of the widest possible cross-section of that community to ensure that the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy is effective.

It is our view that a package of counter-terrorism measures - which would be much more effective and have lesser impact on civil liberties - could and should be constructed: the withdrawal of travel rights; more surveillance; unannounced home visits; where appropriate the use of intercept evidence to bring cases to the level where effective prosecution may be carried out through the courts. Other safeguards can no doubt be discussed and developed.

As for pre-charge detention, we are convinced (as is the stated view of the Home Secretary) that 28 days pre-charge detention should be reduced to 14 days.

We believe a maximum of 14 days pre-charge detention gives wholly adequate time to bring charges, even in the most complicated cases of multiple attack. We will regretfully advise opposition to the introduction of draconian bail conditions, which would seek to impose restrictions equivalent to Control Orders as they currently exist.

We look forward to your response on these issues.

Yours sincerely

Tom Brake MP, Baroness Sally Hamwee, Lord Martin Thomas

View this article at its original location.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Making short political videos: three top tips

Candidates and councillors find videos a real complement to their other campaign methods and, done well, they can be a powerful way for voters to get to know issues and personalities. They're especially useful in internal party elections where candidates may not be able to meet all of their large electorate in person. They're also great for campaigners at a local level, where there's usually a lack of good quality information on hyperlocal matters.

Recently I've noticed a surge of interest from people who are keen to try it themselves, so here are my top tips for making your own short political videos, and they all begin with "V".

Your videos should be:
  • Valuable: Video should add something to your message. So don't just sit at your desk reciting something you could have written in a blog post. Have a reason to head out - a successful campaign, a grot spot, a special event, a look behind the scenes. Make sure your video is a must-see, adds value, shows something that only video can show. If your video doesn't add value, it's probably not worth the effort.

  • Visual: i.e. not just a static talking head shot. If you're talking about the new children's playground then go there and show it. Sounds could also add context - traffic, a carnival, etc. Heatmap studies have found that viewers' eyes wander very quickly away from the video box on the YouTube page if the video just features a speaker's head and shoulders. People either start reading the rest of the page or look at another window that they've got open on the screen. Make it interesting to watch and keep their attention.

  • Visible: Make sure it gets seen or no-one will watch it. It sounds obvious, but you need to put your video about. Embed it on your website or blog, and encourage others to do the same. Link to it in your local emails or on Twitter. Add relevant tags to help it to get picked up in YouTube's search results and related videos.

  • The good news is that videos don't have to be long, in fact three minutes feels epic and one minute or just under is ideal. You don't need fancy effects or equipment. Keep it simple, with one strong point/message. Remember (as with Twitter) to put a short biography on your YouTube profile and a link to your website.

    This is how Sir Archibald Sinclair did it in 1945, and while informative in its day and delightful to watch, his formal style wouldn't set YouTube on fire today:


    Click on the image above to watch the newsreel clip, also available at British Pathe here.

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Monday, 25 October 2010

    London Lib Dems! Come to the party presidential hustings in Redbridge

    There will be a hustings at 7:30pm on 3 November for Liberal Democrat members to quiz Susan Kramer and Tim Farron - the candidates in the current Lib Dem Federal Presidential election.

    All Liberal Democrat members are welcome, from around London and beyond.

    I'll be chairing the meeting, and after a speech from each of the candidates, will take both written questions and questions from the audience.

    The hustings will take place in Wynndale Hall at Woodbridge High School, St Barnabas Road, Woodford Green, IG8 7DQ.

    Use the school entrance beside house number 205 St Barnabas Road. Car parking is available on-site. Woodford Underground Station (Central Line) is a 7-10 minute walk from the school. Map here.

    For more details, and to offer or request a lift, see the event's listing on the Liberal Democrats' Flock Together website.

    Woodbridge High School was the scene of another high-profile political visit in 1952, when Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the crowd in front of the Mallards Building of the then St. Barnabas county secondary (modern) school.

    Click on the image below to watch the newsreel clip, also available at British Pathe here.

    You can see the new Broadmead Road Viaduct in the background, as well as the backs of the houses on St Barnabas Road, and rough grassland where Scoter Close was later built.

    Sunday, 24 October 2010

    Floella Benjamin - I want to be judged on my actions in a political place

    Today's Independent on Sunday features an interview with Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham - Floella to the rest of us - which ranges over a variety of topics, from Floella's childhood, her work on stage and TV, her charity and campaigning work, to her future ambitions.

    Some of the stories featured in Floella's recent maiden speech in the House of Lords, but there are some unfamiliar ones, which she has included in her new book about her teenage years Arms of Britannia:

    Any treasures in Nick Clegg's Desert Island Discs?

    Nick Clegg appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs this morning, and revealed his eight essential tunes, as well as a book and a luxury item with which to be marooned.

    You can listen to the whole programme on iPlayer here but for the record, here's Nick's list:

    1. Chopin's Waltz in A Minor (played by Idil Biret)

    2. Sunday Morning Coming Down (Johnny Cash)

    3. The Cross (Prince)

    4. Petit Pays (Cesaria Evora)

    5. Street Spirit (Radiohead)

    6. Life on Mars (David Bowie)

    7. Waka Waka - the theme to the 2010 World Cup (Shakira)

    8. Schubert's Impromptu No.3 in G Flat Major (played by Alfred Brendel)

  • Book: The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

  • Luxury: A stash of cigarettes

  • As guilty pleasures go, it's a pretty safe list; Desert Island Discs is a chance for famous people to judiciously bury treasure for the listeners to find, and from there to form their impression.

    Kirsty Williams on what the Comprehensive Spending Review means for Wales

    Kirsty Williams AM has written a piece for WalesHome on the implications of the spending review for Wales:

    THE CSR settlement means that for the Welsh Government, revenue expenditure will be down by less than 2 per cent in real terms each year, less than the three per cent they were planning for. Overall, the budget will be reduced by 12% over 4 years; the Government were planning for 16.5% over 3 years. Despite the obvious glee with which ministers have been playing the victim card, Wales has a better settlement than the UK overall.

    This week, we have seen crocodile tears from a Labour party that is in denial both about the mess they created and the measures needed to get us out of that mess. It is pretty clear that the Welsh Government had decided what its response would be before the announcement was even made. Now it needs to get on with making the best of it in the interests of the people of Wales.

    The next five years will be tough, of that there is no doubt. But this is not the doomsday scenario that many were predicting. It is three years since Labour’s Finance Minister admitted that cuts would be coming. WAG’s own plans would suggest that they have considered more substantial cuts than they now find necessary.

    The First Minister now needs to show some leadership and ensure that his Ministers concentrate on making the savings required, in a way that minimises the impact in Wales.

    Kirsty goes on to push for more efficient spending and an end to gimmicks at election time - what she calls "happy meal politics".

    She also stresses the need for the Welsh government to show that devolution can work in advance of the referendum next year.

    Read the full piece at WalesOnline.

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Saturday, 23 October 2010

    Video: Susan Kramer and Tim Farron's online Presidential hustings

    Tim Farron and Susan Kramer took part in an online hustings this week, taking questions from a live and online audience. Play the video below to watch the two candidates explain why they want to be Party President and discuss what they would do in the role.

    Video also available on YouTube here.

    Susan and Tim also answered questions on retaining a distinct Liberal Democrat indentity, on youth and diversity matters, as well as current issues facing the party.

    You can watch the rest of the clips on YouTube here.

    Ballot papers were despatched by second class post on Monday 18th October. Don't panic if yours hasn't arrived yet, it should be with you shortly. If your ballot mailing hasn't arrived by next Monday (25th October) and you are sure that you were a paid-up member on 28th September, please email Remember to include your name, postcode and membership number (if you have it) in the message.

    Make sure you return your completed ballot by Wednesday 10th November.

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Wednesday, 20 October 2010

    Crossrail gets the go-ahead in Comprehensive Spending Review

    Today’s Comprehensive Spending Review includes the announcement that Crossrail will go ahead.

    Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said:

    This is good news for London and Londoners. When difficult short term decisions are having to be made in so many areas it is excellent news that long term plans to improve transport in London have not been compromised.

    Crossrail is needed to provide improvements in London's transport capacity. It will play a critical role in helping London's economy to continue to grow and it will ensure that London remains attractive for international investment for many years to come.

    Just as importantly it will play a key role in regeneration of some of London's poorest communities, including Thamesmead and the East End of London. Crossrail proceeding is good news for London and Londoners.

    Tuesday, 19 October 2010

    London Liberal Democrats announce GLA shortlist for 2012

    London Region Liberal Democrats have announced the candidates for the London Assembly top-up list for the 2012 election. The shortlist is now final and London members will now be issued with a ballot to place the candidates in order of preference.

    The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

    Jeremy Ambache (M)
    Steve Bradley (M)
    Emily Davey (F)
    Merlene Emerson (F)*
    Bridget Fox (F)
    Stephen Knight (M)
    Ajmal Masroor (M)*
    Caroline Pidgeon (F)
    Marisha Ray (F)*
    Nick Russell (M)
    Shas Sheehan (F)*

    Those marked with an asterisk are Black and Minority Ethnic for the purpose of the ethnic preference rule.

    There will not be a ballot for the Mayoral candidate for the time being. Nominations for the Mayoral candidate have been postponed.

    Helen Duffett is Membership Development Co-ordinator for London Region Liberal Democrats

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Expressive traffic lights

    Video also available on YouTube here.

    I spotted this recently in Kentish Town: someone (possibly motorist rather than pedestrian) has added their editorial on some pelican crossing lights on Kentish Town Road, London NW5.

    There's a similarly-adorned set of lights on the A406 North Circular Road.

    A smiley face for the green traffic light, and progressively sadder ones for amber and red. From the pedestrians' point of view, the red and green man remain as enigmatic as ever...

    Online presidential hustings this week: send in your questions

    This Wednesday the two candidates for Liberal Democrat President will take part in the official Federal online hustings at party headquarters in Cowley Street, London.

    Susan Kramer and Tim Farron will answer questions which have been submitted online, and a video of the event will be posted afterwards on YouTube for all party members to refer to.

    I'll be chairing the hustings, so please submit your questions via email to by 5pm Wednesday.

    If you'd like to attend in person, a limited number of places are available. It's on Wednesday 20 October at 7pm. Please contact Johnny LeVan-Gilroy at to register.

    Otherwise keep an eye on Lib Dem Voice for a link to the video afterwards.

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Monday, 18 October 2010

    Tube maps with a twist

    Video also available on YouTube here.

    I spent a gloriously geeky afternoon last week, helping Geoff Marshall (former world record holder for travelling around the entire London Underground system in the fastest time possible) make the above film about psychologist and designer Max Roberts.

    Dr Roberts' exhibition of alternative London Underground maps is on until the end of this week (Friday 22 October 2010). It's free and is a must for tube and map fans, as well as anyone interested in usability.

    Underground Maps Unravelled: Explorations in Information Design explores the use of Beck’s basic design rules: replacing chaotic, twisting routes with straight lines, horizontal, vertical or diagonals at 45 degrees only. The exhibition explores the usability of schematic network design. Using the London Underground map as a framework, it explores why traditional design rules help people, whether they are adequate for today's complex networks, and whether we can improve design by taking fresh approaches, breaking the rules.

    The exhibition presents a selection of Dr Roberts’ own work: maps that break all the rules, maps that are easier to use, maps that teach us about good design, maps that challenge our preconceptions, and maps that are just intended to be decorative.

    He explained: “With today’s emphasis on using public transport, and the ever-increasing complexity of networks around the world, it is vital that designers create the best possible maps. All too often, the general public is faced with designs that are poor quality, off-putting, and perhaps barely useable. We need to take a good look at whether fresh approaches are required.”

    Still plenty of Thames-less Tube maps left; will they become collectors' items, like Frost Fair programmes?

    Londoners have made it clear that designers tinker with the Tube map at their peril. There was outcry a year ago when the Thames was removed from the Tube map (see photo above) in an attempt to declutter the design, and it was hastily reinstated.

    However, it's the familiarity of Harry Beck's iconic Underground map that makes it a great place to experiment and challenge accepted design ideas. It's led to parodies such as Barry Heck's anagram tube map and Simon Patterson's Great Bear.

    Should the Tube map take a radical new turn, and could it change the way Londoners and visitors perceive the city itself?

    Underground Maps Unravelled is on at Scott Brownrigg architectural practice, 77 Endell Street, London, WC2H 9DZ until 6pm Friday 22 October 2010.

    Saturday, 16 October 2010

    London Liberal Democrats postpone Mayoral candidate selection

    London Region Liberal Democrats have postponed the Mayoral candidate selection, possibly for up to a year - although it's hoped that nominations will be reopened much sooner.

    The Local Government Chronicle said this week:

    A selection had been due this autumn after which the party hoped it could get its candidate well enough known to take on incumbent Boris Johnson (Con) and Labour's Ken Livingstone in May 2012. But regional chair Jonathan Fryer said the process had been halted because an insufficient number of approved applicants were available to put before party members.

    "There will be a reopening of nominations in about a year's time," he said. "Obviously that means we will be fighting a different kind of campaign over just over six months."

    Mr Fryer said the party would go ahead this autumn with choosing a list of candidates for the London Assembly.

    "We will be focusing on the GLA list and I am delighted with the both the quality and diversity of the candidates we have for that."

    London party members will vote this autumn to determine the order in which these candidates are ranked.

    The shortlist of 11 candidates for the Liberal Democrat GLA top-up list has been finalised and is expected to be published early next week.

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Wednesday, 13 October 2010

    Tory leaflet shocker: someone who isn't the candidate doesn't support the local football team

    This comes courtesy of the Conservatives in Kentish Town, where there is currently a by-election.

    Kentish Town resident and Lib Dem blogger Rocky Lorusso writes:

    "I recently received through my door an astonishing first – a locally-focused Tory campaign leaflet.

    There’s a by-election campaign underway in Kentish Town in another close fight between the Lib Dems and Labour, so the fact that the Tories made an effort to get something out this time is very novel indeed. However, their lack of campaigning experience in the area is noticable from the poor quality of their leaflet.

    Most bizarrely of all is this odd section on Ed Miliband’s apparent betrayal of North London football..."

    Rocky reproduces a snippet of the leaflet which says:
    LOCAL BOY ED MILIBAND NAILS HIS COLOURS TO MAN UNITED. So much for Ed Miliband's links to North London. Which football team does he visit in his first trip after becoming Labour Leader? Manchester Utd. Maybe singing the Red Flag went to his head...

    As Rocky points out, "I mean, that always come up on the doorstep. Definitely. All the time."

    Liberal Democrat candidate Nick Russell knows the real issues much better, having previously been a councillor in the ward.

    See Nick in action around the ward here on YouTube.

    For more on how to help the campaign to elect Nick, see his Facebook page here.

    Tuesday, 12 October 2010

    Essential blog for global election geeks: Who Rules Where

    Who rules where is a fascinating new blog by my friend and sometime colleague Fred Carver, which will become an essential resource for election geeks around the globe.

    Fred says:
    "This is a forum for discussion of the politics of the world. If you have strong views on the elections in the Philippines, or feel that Bingu wa Mutharika could be doing a better job then this is the website for you."

    It has sections on recognised states (United Nations), de facto states, colonies and dependencies, as well information on all the upcoming elections. Fred has started blogging each country's political system and issues in a detailed yet highly readable way. He'll be working his way through the list over the coming months.

    Visit the website at

    You can also follow whoruleswhere on Twitter here.

    Monday, 4 October 2010

    Jeremy Ambache joins the race to be Lib Dem London Mayoral candidate

    A third person has come forward in the contest to be selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London in the 2012 London elections.

    Jeremy Ambache, who was fourth on the top-up list for the London Assembly elections in 2008, has launched his campaign website: Jeremy Ambache for London.

    Jeremy joins the two other candidates who have so far declared: Duwayne Brooks and Lembit Opik.

    Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

    Ingrid Chetram to stand for Lib Dems in Lewisham

    Liberal Democrat campaigner Ingrid Chetram has been selected as the party's candidate in the Ladywell by-election, Lewisham on 4 November.

    Find out more about this inspiring woman: check out her Facebook page here. Also, visit her website, Ingrid for Ladywell.

    Ingrid has lived in Ladywell for over 20 years. She was born in what was once British Guyana in South America. After a childhood defined by poverty, where her richest asset was her loving family, she started work as a teacher.

    Ingrid arrived in the UK initially to further her education and settled in Ladywell, which she now regards very much as her home community.

    Ingrid has worked as a Counsellor for 2 Drug and Alcohol agencies in Lewisham (supervising work in rehabs across the Borough and particularly 2 Supported Houses in her ward). She has also managed a Homeless Crisis Day Centre in Deptford, worked with groups of young people/gangs/prisoners, ex offenders, victims and perpetrators of domestic violence/sexual abuse and now work with mental health residents who are in supported housing.

    Ingrid says:

    My work experience has taught me how degenerating communities can implode and how individuals can become delinquent, abuse substances and become criminal, which in turn can create victims.

    I am also a realist and know that services have to be paid for from what we can afford. The issue is to get our priorities right and this requires local consensus.

    If selected and voted in as Councillor for Ladywell Ward, I believe that my knowledge, experience and judgement will enable me to serve you as your local community representative.

    For more information on the Ladywell by-election, see the Lewisham Council website.

    Video: Nick Russell campaigning in Kentish Town

    I had a great day campaigning in London on Saturday: in the afternoon I was back in Tower Hamlets with John Griffiths, the Lib Dem candidate to be the Borough's elected Mayor. (I was thrilled when a number of people there told me they had come to help after reading my blog post on Friday.)

    Before that, there was just time for a trip to Camden and a delivery round in Kelly Street, one of Kentish Town's prettiest streets. I also caught up with Nick Russell, the Lib Dem candidate for the by-election, who also showed me some of the local landmarks.

    He's campaigning to save one of them, the grand Pizza Express building on Kentish Town Road, which is under threat from developers. You can sign Nick's petition here.

    To keep up with campaign news, and to find out how you can help elect Nick Russell on October 28, visit his Facebook page here.

    Friday, 1 October 2010

    Nick Russell to stand for Lib Dems in Kentish Town

    Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Russell has been selected as the the party's candidate in the Kentish Town by-election on October 28.

    The Liberal Democrats have previously won two by-elections in this ward, one of which Nick won in 2008. And in May 2010, our two top-placed candidates were only 101 and 196 votes behind Labour.

    Visit Kentish Town Lib Dems' own blog for local news.

    If you're a Camden resident you can find your polling station by entering your postcode here.

    For more information on the Kentish Town by-election, see the Camden Council website.

    Lib Dems! Come to Tower Hamlets tomorrow

    Campaign HQ is buzzing in Tower Hamlets as volunteers from all over London come to help John Griffiths' Mayoral campaign.

    Tomorrow (Saturday 2 October 2010) there's a big delivery day with the help of Sarah Ludford MEP (2pm) and Susan Kramer (11am), who is one of the candidates for Liberal Democrat President.

    To meet them, as well as Lib Dems from all over London, come along tomorrow:

    1a Peel Grove, London E2 9LR (a short walk from Bethnal Green Tube, map below)

    You can keep up with Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats on Facebook here and follow Liberal Democrat candidate John Griffiths on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

    View Larger Map