Crosby – Sainsbury Store not to be built

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-19213963

News that the Sainsbury supermarket chain is not to build a new store in Crosby can be seen as a victory for locals who did not want a larger Sainsbury store or a lost opportunity to bring in much needed private sector investment into a shopping centre that needs to be upgraded.

My good friend Peter Hough, a former Crosby Councillor, clearly thought the investment trumped the argument so he stood up and questioned the campaigners who were fighting against the new store. Peter lost his seat on the Council for his trouble but you have to wonder where else Crosby will find another investor in its future.

I fear that Crosby’s principled stance against significant private sector retail investment could well bring it a much bigger challenge as there is little if any public sector money to turn around Crosby’s shopping centre.

If I have understood what the Crosby campaigners want of their shopping centre it seems to be more small shops offering what you could call a traditional shopping experience. I wish them well as it strikes me that a number of private sector investors need to be brought together who share this vision. I hope they succeed having turned down a single large scale investor who had a different vision.

Oddly, nearby Maghull is in a similar position. Here there is a small Morrison’s Store that the retailer and I think most of its customers want enlarged. My view is a larger Morrison’s would be good for Maghull shopping Centre and I hope that it gets built sooner rather than later.

Parish Councils – Long live what Governments can’t control but local people can

In the past couple of weeks I have been helping Lydiate Parish Council to find a replacement for the soon to be retiring Clerk to the Council. We had quite a lot of applications for this part time post and interviewed 7 people.

Over on next door Maghull Town Council I have also been involved in interviewing a couple of applicants for a 6 month fixed term job supporting the present Clerk.

I have interviewed for such roles before and what always strikes me is how little folks know about the world of Parish and Town Councils, their powers, activities etc. I suppose that is partly because it is difficult to find two Parish/Town Council that are alike.

Whilst localism is one of the prominent political themes of our time (as a Liberal I have of course always been on that agenda) the fact is that Gladstone set out the road to localism back in 1894 when he split C of E Parochial Church Councils away from governance of communities (rural ones in particular) and set up Civil Parish Councils. It was a huge step forward in its time but one that has not really been developed to its full potential. Indeed, I think that Parliament frightened itself to death after passing the Act and ever since has been looking to keep power at the centre – It’s a fault line in our politics.

Governments of whatever colour want to control as much as they can and micro managing councils is one way they have done it. Instead of realising that Gladstone was starting a process of setting local communities free from Westminster (whether he realised it or not) they have seen his localism initiative as something to be held in check – It’s dangerous to let the natives control their own communities and services you know!

But despite all that control freakery Parish and Town Councils have developed across England, done their own thing within quite open ended legislation and most of it under the Government’s radar! I am sure some MP’s would shudder to realise that they really can’t boss Parish and Town Councils about like they do Borough, District and County Councils. The reason for this is that Government does not financially support the activities of Parish/Town Councils but it does provide around 2/3rds of the funding for higher tiers of local government. It’s easy to control organisations you fund but when you don’t have your hands on the purse strings there are no strings to pull.

But I digress, the point I was making is that Clerks to Parish/Town Councils hold a unique type of job in the public sector and there are few folks that really understand them. It shows when you do interviews that many applicants really do not know much about England’s grass roots level of democracy.

Hall Lane canal bridge – An update

Just a brief update about the canal as the Canal and River Trust have been in touch to let me know what is going on at this presently closed bridge. This what they have told me

****

Tony,

The reasons for the work being carried out at Hall Lane Swing Bridge are twofold:-

· Maintenance – The mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems are nearly 30 years old and so require a major overhaul and bringing up to current standards.

· Automating traffic control – The bridge is one of the older types on the canal network which requires swing arm barriers to be moved manually. After the works, the bridge will be operable from a tow path pedestal. The user will simply need to insert the key and press the appropriate button for full operation including traffic lights, barriers and bridge movement.

The actual bridge itself is not being touched.

Leeds Liverpool Canal through Lydiate & Maghull

There is no doubt in my mind that the canal is a huge asset to the community and now British Waterways has gone to be replaced by the Canal and River Trust (a ‘National Trust’ type organisation) I hope that new opportunities will be found to further develop it.

One of the problems during the BW era was that there was no local organisation to talk to or lead person and it could take an age or longer to get responses from them. As an example I know that Maghull Town Council has been trying to locate an historical plaque next to one of the swing bridges in the Town for a couple of years now and still the matter rumbles on with no sign that BW or its successor is going to get its act together.

But on another level it would be good to know who local councillors should speak to so that we can build working relationships with the new Trust. Maybe this could be a volunteer but it needs to be someone who knows what the Trust is doing and can do locally so that real partnerships can be created. Only recently my colleague Cllr. Bruce Hubbard was complaining of being unable to make any progress with regard to a canal bank problem that is in need of repair in Maghull.

My friends the volunteers at Maghull in Bloom clean up the canal tow path throughout Maghull & Lydiate but it was hard work getting this organised in a way that the old BW and indeed Sefton Council were happy with. It’s a good job they were determined to see it through but the end result is a very clean stretch of canal in our part of the world.

Recently I was asked about the steps leading down from Pilling Lane Canal Bridge to the tow path as they have been closed for a while and fenced off. This stone bridge has had its problems in the past as the land around it has been found to be unstable and just one look at the stone steps shows you that they have settled, are uneven and unsafe. So whilst I can see the reason for the closure of the steps I want them back in use ASAP. After all they are the only link from the canal to Lydiate Village Green and the shops/pub and cafe around it which canal users will want to use and the businesses need to gain the benefit of the user’s trade. I am now chasing this through to see what can be done to hurry the repair work along.

Above is me at the Pilling Lane steps looking a little grumpy it would seem!

Finally, we have seen the closure of Hall Lane Canal Swing Bridge in Maghull but the background to the closure is not well known and a chat with our local Champion newspaper reporter indicated that he knew little about the big job that had broken out because the Trust had not been in touch about the works.

All this makes me think that we really do need better local communications with the new Trust so that knowledge is spread and community projects developed. Let’s hope for progress on these fronts. I would love to hear from the Trust and start the process of building a new and lasting relationship/partnership locally.

Fairtrade an update for Sefton Borough

I have always been a supporter of Fairtrade so below is the latest directory of retail outlets in Sefton that sell Fairtrade products:-

Retail Outlets

Ainsdale
Somerfield, 1 Station Road
Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Bananas, Chocolate Bars,
Honey

Aintree
Asda, Ormskirk Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Apples, Pears,
Oranges, Pineapples, Grapes, Mangoes, Cereal Bars, Drinking
Chocolate, Honey, Rice, Ice Cream, Cut Flowers, Mango
Chutney, Wine, Beer, Rum
Altway Food Stores, 191 Altway
Coffee, Ice Cream, Fruit Juice
Marks And Spencer, Aintree Racecourse Retail Park
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Cocoa, Chocolate bars, Bananas, Jam,
Marmalade, Honey, Lemon curd, Ice Cream, Cotton goods
Mothercare, Aintree Racecourse Retail Park
Cotton wool balls, Cotton bud sticks
Next, Aintree Racecourse Retail Park
Cotton goods
The Local, 3 Altway
Wine

Bootle
Asda, 81 Strand Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Apples, Pears,
Oranges, Pineapples, Grapes, Cereal Bars, Drinking Chocolate,
Chocolate spreads, Honey, Rice, Ricecakes, Ice Cream, Mango
Chutney, Wine, Rum,
B & M Bargains, Medway, New Strand Shopping Centre
Cookies, Flapjacks, Rice
Bootle Bus station, New Strand Shopping Centre
Orange Juice, Cereal bars
Gregg’s, 120 The Palatine, New Strand Shopping Centre
Apple juice, Orange juice
Holland & Barrett, 10 The Palatine, New Strand Shopping Centre
Cereal Bars, Chocolate Bars
Lidl, 356 Stanley Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Orange Juice,
Cotton shopping bags
Marks & Spencer, 283-289 Stanley Road
Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Drinking Chocolate, Sugar, Bananas, Honey,
Jam, Marmalade, Lemon Curd, Chocolate Truffle Sauce, Cookies,
Cotton goods
Tesco, 127-130 The Palatine, New Strand Shopping Centre
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Bars, Fudge, Drinking Chocolate,
Bananas, Cereal Bars, Nuts, Ice Cream
The Local, 50 Aintree Road
Wine
Thorntons, 157 Parkside, New Strand Shopping Centre
Chocolate bars

Crosby
Alexandra’s, 144 College Road, Crosby
Chocolate Bars, Chocolate boxes, Cut flowers
Barnett’s, 133 St John’s Road, Waterloo
Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Dried Fruits, Cereal
Bars, Honey, Pulses, Grains, Nuts, Quinoa, Rice, Tahini, Fruit
Juice, Spice, Jewellery, Greetings Cards
Cafod, 46 St John’s Road, Waterloo
Coffee, Tea, Chocolate Bars, Muesli, Sweets
Gillions, 128 College Road, Crosby
Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Marmalade, Jam, Sugar, Cereal
Bars, Chocolate bars, Orange Juice
Gregg’s, 100 South Road, Waterloo
Apple Juice, Orange Juice
Gregg’s, 9 Moor Lane, Crosby
Apple juice, Orange Juice
Co-op, 1-3 Mersey Road, Crosby
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate bars, Chocolate box, Chocolate
Cake, Brownies, Bananas, Orange Juice, Jam, Cookies, Wine,
Beer
Olive Tree, 84 College Road, Crosby
Retail: Coffee, Sugar, Cocoa, Drinking Chocolate
Oxfam, 3 Crown Buildings, Liverpool Road, Crosby
Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa, Honey, Peanut
Butter, Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Boxes, Muesli, Smoothies,
Biscuits, Fruit Juices, Flapjacks, Cereal Bars,
Bombay Mix, Dried fruit, Nuts, Banana chips, Greetings Cards,
Cotton bags
Rocktopia, 115a St John’s Road, Waterloo
Cotton Clothing, Hats, Gloves, Handbags, Gifts, Flags, Jewellery
Sainsbury’s, 1 Liverpool Road, Crosby
Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Cereal Bars, Rice,
Sugar, Ice Cream, Cut Flowers, Honey, Jam, Nuts, Baby Food,
Wine, Banana beer, Cotton cleaning cloths, Cotton shopping
bags, Cotton tea towels, Cotton oven gloves
Somerfield, 4 Brighton Road, Waterloo
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate bars, Honey,
Tesco Express, Crosby Road North, Waterloo
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate bars, Nuts
World of Flowers, 106-112 St John’s Road, Waterloo
Cut Flowers

Formby
Cassidy’s, 33 Chapel Lane
Bananas
Julian Graves, 23 Chapel Lane
Coffee
Oxfam, 4 Halsall Lane
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Drinking Chocolate, Honey, Chocolate Bars,
Cereal Bars, Biscuits, Nuts, Dried Fruit, Bombay mix, Mountain
mix
Marks & Spencer, Cloisters
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Bananas, Honey, Marmalade, Jam,
Chocolate Truffle sauce, Cookies
Tesco, 88 Altcar Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Bananas, Oranges, Pineapples, Mangoes,
Chocolate Bars, Cereal Bars, Biscuits, Orange Juice, Jam, Wine,
Vanilla pods, Spices, Banana Beer, Cotton clothing
Waitrose, Three Tuns Lane
Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa, Honey, Chocolate Bars,
Selection Boxes, Vegetable Chocolate, Bananas, Pineapples,
Mangoes, Sugar, Rice, Muesli, Cereal Bars, Muffins, Cookies,
Brownies, Vanilla Pods, Spices, Marmalade, Ice Cream, Coffee
Sauce, Chocolate sauce, Fruit Juice, Orange Juice, Smoothies,
Wine, Beer, Cut Flowers, Cotton cleaning cloths, Cotton tea
towels

Litherland
Lidl, Bridge Road,
Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Orange Juice, Cotton
shopping bag
Somerfield, 73 Linacre Road
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Bars, Honey, Wine

Maghull
B & M Bargains, 10 Central Square
Rice (lines vary, other products may be available)
Co-op, 99 Deyes Lane
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Cake, Biscuits,
Fruit Juice, Wine
Gregg’s, 24 Central Square
Orange Juice, Apple Juice
Lidl, 89 Northway
Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Orange Juice, Cotton
shopping bag
Oxfam, 14 Central Square
Greetings Cards
Netherton
Gregg’s, Marian Square
Orange Juice, Apple Juice

Southport
Alldays, Unit 1-3, St James Place, St James Street,
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Cakes, Chocolate Bars, Wine
Asda, 12 Central Shopping Park, Derby Road
Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Honey, Chocolate Bars, Cereal
Bars, Bananas, Oranges, Clementines, Grapes, Pineapples,
Mangoes, Cut Flowers, Mango Chutney, Basmati Rice, Wine
B & M Bargains, Lord Street
Chocolate, Rice (lines vary, other products may be available)
Birkdale Health Food Store, 35b Liverpool Road, Birkdale
Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Honey, Chocolate Bars
Boots, 31-37 Chapel Street
Chocolate Bars
Brian Park Chocolates and Cards, 14 Liverpool Rd, Birkdale
Chocolate Bars, Selection boxes
Debenham’s, 583-595 Lord Street
Cotton Goods
Dobbies, Bentham’s Way
Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa, Chocolate Bars
Holland & Barrett, 12 Station Arcade, Chapel Street
Chocolate Bars, Cereal Bars
Julian Graves, 325 Lord Street
Coffee
Co-op, 115 Marshside Road, Marshside
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate bars, Chocolate cake, Biscuits,
Fruit juice, Wine
Lidl, 4-18 Virginia Street
Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Orange Juice
Marks & Spencer 34-38 Chapel Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate Bars, Honey, Jam, Grapes,
Pineapples, Chocolate Truffle sauce, Cotton Socks, T-Shirts and
Jeans, Cut Flowers
Monsoon, 365 Lord Street
Cotton Goods (women and children’s)
Morrisons, Winter Gardens, Lord Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Cocoa, Bananas, Oranges, Pineapples,
Grapes, Avocadoes, Biscuits, Cookies, Chocolate Bars,
Flapjacks, Cereal Bars, Ricecakes, Jam, Marmalade, Honey,
Spices, Nuts, Cut Flowers, Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Wine,
Oxfam, 26 London Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa, Chocolate Bars,
Chocolate boxes, Honey, Cereal Bars, Flapjacks, Muesli,
Smoothies, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Bombay mix, Fruit Juice,
Sainsbury’s, Lord Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Cocoa, Drinking Chocolate, Honey, Jam,
Marmalade, Chocolate Bars, Flapjacks, Cookies, Bananas,
Oranges, Coconuts, Rice, Cut Flowers, Cotton cleaning cloths,
Cotton shopping bags, Cotton tea towels, Cotton oven gloves
Somerfield, 117 Fylde Road, Marshside
Coffee, Chocolate Bars, Bananas, Tropical mixes, Dried Mango,
Wine
Southport Christian Book Shop, 3 Wesley Street
Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Sugar, Honey, Jam, Chocolate
Bars, Biscuits, Cookies, Muesli, Cereal Bars,
Chocolate Cake, Cards, Jewellery, Cotton Wool, Cotton T-Shirts
and shopping bags.
Spar, 23 Liverpool Road, Birkdale
Coffee
Spar, 113-115 Cambridge Rd, Churchtown
Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Chocolate Bars
Stanleys Fruit Store, 9 Liverpool Rd, Birkdale
Tea, Coffee, Fruit Juices
Starbuck’s, 221-223 Lord Street
Retail: Coffee, Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Cake, Shortbread
Tesco, Town Lane
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Cocoa, Drinking Chocolate, Honey,
Chocolate Bars, Chocolate boxes, Jam, Marmalade, Fruit Juice,
Orange Juice, Cereal Bars, Cookies, Bananas, Oranges,
Mangoes, Pineapples, Lemons, Nuts, Muesli, Wine, Cotton
clothing
Tesco Express, Esso, Preston New Road, Churchtown
Chocolate bars
Tesco Express, Esso, 5 Albert Road
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate bars
Tesco Express, Liverpool Road, Birkdale
Tea, Coffee
Threshers, 8 Weld Parade, Birkdale
Wine, Chocolate Bars

Home Delivery
Northern Harvest.
This Warrington based farm/shop will home deliver a wide range of goods, including Fairtrade Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Bars, Bananas. Their delivery area includes all of Sefton.
Phone: 01942 608299
e-mail: orders@northernharvest.co.uk
Web-site: http://www.northernharvest.co.uk/

Supermarkets making home deliveries include:
ASDA: www.asda.com
Sainsbury’s: www.sainsburys.co.uk
Somerfield: www.somerfield.co.uk
Tesco: www.tesco.com
Waitrose: www.waitrose.com

Catering Outlets
Aintree
Marks & Spencer, Aintree Racecourse Retail Park
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate
The Rocking Horse, 1 Ormskirk Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar

Bootle
Bootle Town Hall, Oriel Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar (on request when hiring rooms)
Latte Lounge, 227 Stanley Road
Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Sugar
Tamarillo’s, St Martin’s House, Stanley Road,
Coffee
The Mons, 36-38 Breeze Hill
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate

Crosby
Café Barista, 9 Glenn Buildings, Moor Lane
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Sugar, Orange Juice, Chocolate
Bars, Brownies
Copper Kettle, 149 St John’s Road, Waterloo
Tea, Coffee, Sugar
Costa Coffee, 8a Moor Lane
Coffee
Crossroads Centre, 71A Liverpool Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Biscuits
Dominos Pizza, Coronation Road
Ice Cream
The Courtyard, Delph Road, Little Crosby
Tea, Hot Chocolate, Sugar
Moose, 157 College Road
Coffee, Sugar
Olive Tree, 84 College Road
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Chocolate cake
Waterloo Town Hall, Great George’s Road, Waterloo
Tea, Coffee, Sugar (on request when hiring rooms)

Formby
Formby Pool, Elbow Lane
Tea
Waitrose, Three Tuns Lane
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Drink, Cookies, etc (on request)
Ince Blundell
Weld Blundell, Scaffold Lane (Formby By-pass)
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Sugar, Wine

Maghull
Maghull Town Hall, Hall Lane
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Sugar (available when hiring rooms)

Netherton
Netherton Activity Centre, Glovers Lane
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Sugar
Odeon Liverpool Switch Island, Dunningsbridge Road
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Ice Cream
Park Hotel, Dunningsbridge Road
Coffee, Sugar

Southport
Aphrohead Tea and Coffee, 11c Hoghton Street
Tea
Costa Coffee, 461-463 Lord Street
Coffee
Dobbies, Bentham’s Way
Tea, Coffee
Dunes Splash World Café,
Coffee
Internet Café (Get-Wired), 11 Hill Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Bananas
Marks And Spencer, 34-38 Chapel Street
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate
Morrisons, Winter Gardens, Lord Street,
Coffee, Tea
Southport Arts Centre, Lord Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Biscuits
Southport Town Hall, Lord Street
Tea, Coffee, Sugar (on request when hiring rooms)
Starbuck’s, 221-223 Lord Street
Coffee, Cookies, Chocolate Bars
Tea Rooms, 10 Liverpool Road, Birkdale
Tea
Vivesco, Christ Church, Lord Street (open Tuesday to Thursday and
Saturday)
Tea, Coffee
Vue Cinema, Ocean Plaza, Marine Drive
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Ice Cream
Catering Contractors
Gillions, 128-130 College Road, Crosby
0151 924 4057, www.gillionsofcrosby.co.uk
Tea, Coffee

Wholesalers (Trade Only)
Parfetts, Unit 7, Valentine’s Building, Topham Drive
Tea, Coffee
Mail Order
The Fair Trade Store is an on-line retailer, based in Southport, selling
Fair Trade crafts, accessories, and food and drink
http://www.thefairtradestore.co.uk/
Traidcraft: is the most well known of the mail order firms and supplies
many community groups, churches, caterers and individuals in the area:
www.traidcraftshop.co.uk
There are many other mail order retailers selling Fairtrade goods;
for an up to date list see the Fairtrade Foundation website retailers
section at: www.fairtrade.org.uk/suppliers_retailers.htm
Further details about the Fairtrade movement can be found on the Fairtrade
website at www.fairtrade.org.uk

Sefton Council has pages of information about Fairtrade in Sefton on its website
at www.sefton.gov.uk/fairtrade, where further copies of this directory can be
downloaded.
Further information can be requested by e-mailing Sefton Council at:
emap@environmental.sefton.gov.uk
or contacting: Sefton Plus on 0845 140 0845
or writing to:
EMAP, Sefton Council Environmental Protection Dept,
Magdalen House, 30 Trinity Road, Bootle, L20 3NJ
Sefton Council and the Sefton Fairtrade Steering Group accept no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this directory. You are advised to view the Scores on the Doors website for recent ratings of food hygiene in catering establishments in this directory http://www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk/
Inclusion in this directory does not imply endorsement by Sefton Council, the Sefton Fairtrade Steering Group, or the Fairtrade Foundation.

The Left – What is its future?

I don’t often sit down to discuss national politics. Yes, politics is something that I do i.e. I work in a party political world but it can be boring at times you know. When I meet friends the last thing I want to do is debate the political crisis of the day especially if the right wing tabloid press have already given it a good spin. One thing that has always amused me though is how in a constituency like Sefton Central where in recent times we have consistently elected socialist MP’s you can watch folks coming out of local paper shops who are invariably carrying a right wing newspaper such as the Mail! How does that fit together? Maybe that was Tony Blair’s trick i.e. understanding that conundrum……

Of course, many folks are turned off by politics these days particularly with regard to party political slanging matches – Prime Minister’s Question Time comes to mind for me; what a childish affair that can be.

But politics is important as it shapes all our lives whether we take part in the democratic processes or not. I have always seen myself as being left of centre but I am the first to admit that the right wing of British politics has always been better organised than the left which has more factions than you can shake a stick at. The mainstream left starts for me with Social Democrats, through Liberals and on to Socialists of numerous sects. And thereby hangs the problem i.e. the individual freedoms that Liberals in particular stand for against the collectivism socialists believe in. Of course you can find some Liberals and Social Democrats who may more easily fit with the right of British politics economically but are socially left. This latter category seemed to me to be where Tony Blair was coming from and whilst I did not fall under his spell his mixture of right and left politics was why he was so successful – plenty of Daily Mail readers must have voted for his New Labour!

The untimely death of John Smith, a Labour Leader whom I thought could possibly have brought the mainstream left under one large umbrella and in doing so pushed the Tories out of Government for a couple of decades is something I have commented on before. I imagine him being the Labour Leader working with someone like Paddy Ashdown or Charles Kennedy as Lib Dem Leader – our world may have looked very different to what it does now. Ashdown and Blair had a go at this but the chemistry between them was not really there.

Political parties can be a force for good and sadly a force for bad as well because they are so tribal. It is only with political leaders who can gain some respect amongst those who did not vote for their party or whose votes they borrowed from elsewhere that we move forward. Sadly in recent times such political leaders have been few a far between. Perhaps Charlie Kennedy, before his alcohol problems, was one such well respected leader across the spectrum and I hope I don’t say that just because he is a Lib Dem politician. I will be back to John Smith again soon but have you noticed that the political Leaders I most respect have all been from Scots or Celtic stock?

Hard economic times are always tougher for the left as desperately hard economic decisions have to be made as is the case now. Yes, we all know that if Labour were in office they would be doing 95% of what the Coalition is doing and they would be just as unpopular but the agonising of a left wing government trying not to do what needed to be done but then being forced to do it anyway would do little to encourage the money markets. So the Coalition, troubled as it is at times, is the best way forward because if the economy is not sorted out we are all going to hell in a hand cart.

But will these harsh economic times lead to another realignment of the left? It may well do after the next election especially if we end up with a right wing Tory party with a majority, which must be a possibility. Trouble is Labour would probably lurch further left in such circumstances, Social Democrats within Labour would be unhappy and everything would fall into the Tory/right wing hands. The alternative i.e. a Labour Government being elected with high hopes but then needing to continue to pursue harsh economic policies would also favour the right as Labour would become hugely unpopular, the left would kick lumps out of itself (as it always does in tough times) and the Tories would eventually win that way. Is there any wonder that the Tories see themselves as the natural party of government? They may not be liked, be rather unpleasant and superior but they have still spent many years running our small islands! If only the left could sort itself out.