Norman

Some years ago I heard Michael Palin being described as ‘the nicest man in England’ and he may well have been given an award to that effect. At the time I thought yes I can see that, you can’t think of Palin doing anything but good.

But in politics few people are thought of as being nice, yet one man stands out for me – Norman Lamb MP. Now don’t get me wrong, like many other Remainers, I have struggled with Norman’s struggles over whether he would back a Brexit Deal. His agonising over Johnson’s deal, which from an economic assessment perspective was worse even than May’s deal, befuddled many of us. Why on earth was Norman drawn to the deal in any way? Sadly, some folks frustration with this lovely man boiled over and things were said about him which clearly hurt.

We say we want MP’s who are independent thinkers and who don’t just slavishly follow the party line but when we then see such MP’s in action, particularly when they are drawn to supporting/not supporting a cause which means a lot to us, we get upset.

Former Lib Dem MP for Southport John Pugh

Locally, the former MP for Southport John Pugh could be said to have approached his time in politics with an independent mind and at times he caused frustration in Liberal ranks for that independence of mind. The problem with being a Liberal MP is that Lib Dem supporters expect those MP’s to have libertarian views about every subject, but of course we are all flawed so sometimes a Liberal MP will come up with a stance which makes other Liberals stand up and shout at them.

But back to Norman Lamb because other than his agonising over Brexit deals which virtually no other Liberal could get their head around he really is the kind of person anyone would want for their MP. His work to raise the profile of metal health issues whilst being an MP has been tremendous and it’s clearly such a big matter to him that he will be continuing to campaign for those less fortunate after he steps down from Parliament at the December General Election. Indeed, he’s already set up a mental health charitable trust primed with a significant amount of his own money to get it going.

I met Norman when he visited Liverpool in 2017 and he really is the kind of person who has time to talk with people. He’s pictured above with my daughter Jen. Here’s a link back to my previous posting about that visit to Liverpool:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/21/norman-lamb-the-mp-who-gives-voice-to-mental-health-issues/

MP’s like Norman are sadly few and far between with so many of them being sheep following the crowd and/or their party. What we need are more independently minded MP’s who despite driving us mad when they, in our view, go off the rails on a particular matter are actually sound, decent and will stick two fingers up to the political charlatans rather than fall in behind them.

Norman Lamb MP

By the way what is Palin’s flaw, he must have one?

PS. I’m presently Reading Palin’s 2018 book ‘Erebus – the story of a ship’, it is as you might expect a great read.

Liverpool – Alfred Waterhouse – His imposing Royal Seaman’s Orphanage (Newsham Park Hospital)

Sadly one of Liverpool’s most significant historical buildings (listed in 1966) is presently not doing so well. If you use Facebook the link below from the Victorian Society may be of interest as it details the present state of affairs:-

www.facebook.com/thevicsoc/posts/2323380524377359?comment_id=2323688381013240&notif_id=1562955401694127&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

I’ve blogged about Waterhouse and his Liverpool connections previously and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/25/liverpool-alfred-waterhouse-the-citys-very-own-world-famous-architect/

My thanks to Jen Robertson for the lead to this posting

Merseyrail – Encounters on a suburban rail network

Merseyrail Class 508 EMU at Maghull Station

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/things-only-happen-merseyrail-commute-15367569

This Echo article made me think of a journey from Liverpool to Maghull late one night a few years ago. There was a guy so stoned that he kept falling asleep whilst he was trying to eat his chips. He was a happy drunk but trying to stay awake long enough to find his mouth with a chip was a challenge and he entertained a number of his fellow travellers. I guess he would not even be allowed to get on a train in that state now, which is probably for the better I might add.

Also, our daughter Jen is not someone you should get on a Merseyrail train with because there seems to be a remarkable chance that if you do the train will break down. It’s happened to her a number of times whilst so far it’s not happened to me at all. Jen thinks Merseyrail is unreliable and she can’t understand why it has such excellent on-time stats for its trains.

And yes I’ve seen the electronic on-train indicator panels that are in all the carriages showing duff information. I recall once that no matter which station we stopped at on the way into Liverpool it kept saying each one was Aughton Park!

Merseyside Maritime Museum – A woman navigating a STEM* career in the 18th century

History is a overwhelmingly male thing and women rarely get much of a mention so it’s interesting and informative when someone digs into our history to find out how a woman, working in Liverpool, was helping sailors to navigate at sea in the 18th Century.

The story is on Jen’s Blog on the National Museums Liverpool (NML) – Merseyside Maritime Museum web page which is linked below:-

blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2018/08/a-woman-navigating-a-stem-career-in-the-18th-century/

I hope you’ll agree that Jen’s investigations into the life and works of Ann Smith helps to redress the balance and bring to the surface the enterprising and important works which Ann was a very big part of.

*STEM – Yes I had to scratch my head over that too. It stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics as Jen explains in her blog posting.

Jen is my daughter I should add

That Corbynism thing – An American perspective

I’ve been trying to get a better understanding of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers who idolise him so much. By chance my good friend Bob sent me this link to an article about him and wider UK/USA political matters. It comes from an American perspective and its a very long read indeed, but it is one of the best insights into what Corbynism is all about that I have come across:-

nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/08/andrew-sullivan-on-jeremy-corbyn-face-of-the-new-new-left.html

Yes I know, if you have read it by now, some of the points are a little odd from a UK perspective. A Radical, for example, in British political terms is a socially progressive Liberal – Corbyn is no Radical but of course the word is used in American terms.

In turn I asked Bob and another deep political thinker, my daughter Jen, what they thought of the points made. This is what they said:-

Bob‘this [is an] excellent essay on Jeremy Corbyn and the influences that shape his views. The Tories appear to think in the same way although from a right wing perspective. It is both interesting and disturbing that terms such as “entryism” now are being used about both of the major parties in this country.’

and

‘I had not read such a coherent analysis of Corbyn’s strengths and weaknesses before. The danger is not so much that we become a polarised country but that we become bi-polarised – in the hands of parties that appeal to populist sentiment by detaching themselves from economic realism.’

Jen

‘I do not understand people who find Corbyn charismatic, sincere or meek.

The parallels between him and Trump are interesting, they do both seem to be the product of populist politics that values slogans over substance and seems not to care who their chosen saviour allies himself (because it’s always HIMself) with, no matter how misogynistic/racist/homophobic they turn out to be.

Corbyn is exactly the kind of man to start invoking the idea that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing and yet when those who identify themselves as his tribe hurl misogynistic and racist abuse that is exactly what he does.

But seriously what the hell is it with the British public suddenly deciding they want to run by characters from a knock-off PG Wodehouse novel?!

“When he isn’t politicking, he gardens on the British equivalent of a Victory Garden. He loves animals, particularly pigs. He has a passion for cricket, the football club Arsenal, and railways (he refuses to drive a car for environmental reasons). He also has an obsession with manhole covers and takes photos of them across the country.”

Between him and Rees-Mogg we’ll be living in the bloody 1920s never mind the 1970s! I love Wodehouse, but let’s be honest his is a world of white men, class divides, and women being viewed as distant figures of lust or terror that can never be understood. Not a world I really wish to inhabit.’

From my own perspective I get why Corbyn’s social policies are so popular even though they may well be economically unworkable particularly with the Labour Leadership also bizarrely backing a Brexit that can only make the poor poorer. The money that they would struggle to find for their huge spending plans in good times will certainly not be there in the bad times that Brexit is bringing to our table. So big social spending whilst backing Brexit simply does not add up and it never will.

The point I really see though is that Jeremy is a 1970’s-type left wing politician and like some socialists that I have known (many of whom I would consider my friends) through my many years working in the trade union movement he seems to live almost to re-fight the battles of the political past. Thatcher and Thatcherism is the usual go to for socialists who spend more time looking back than forward. It’s not that those times were insignificant, they were indeed very significant but harking back to those dark days does not really help solve the political challenges of today. To put it simply Jeremy seems to me to think that if everything that was done under Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown was undone then all will be well. Indeed, he may even want to undo things Harold Wilson did too! But I think you get my drift here; re-fighting the battles of past will not cure our troubles of the present.

And yet despite all these issues there are many who would walk over hot coals for Corbyn.

Plimsoll – The man, the MP and the line

Via Jen Robertson’s research I have become aware of the man behind the famous Plimsoll Line on ships.

He was clearly a fascinating chap and no ordinary campaigner, indeed he was an extraordinary campaigner for the rights of seafarers. The line on ships was indeed the result of his campaigning against the overloading of ships which led to them capsizing. Wikipedia has this to say about him:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Plimsoll

It’s interesting to learn that Plimsoll shoes were so named because of the line around them, not because Samuel invented them, which of course he didn’t.

But one aspect of his time in public life, probably more than anything else, singled him out as being a Liberal to his core. The story comes from a book The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea by Nicolette Jones

Charles Bradlaugh was an MP who fell foul of Parliament because of his lack of religious beliefs. Elected for Northampton in 1880, he was banished from the House of Commons because he would not say ‘So help me God’. Plimsoll was a very religious man but never the less he wrote to Bradlaugh and The Times newspaper backing the banished MP.