Thinking back about the SDP & the parallels with the TIG

My good friend and fellow blogger Phil Holden has recently been pondering on the issue of the new Independent Group in the HofC and in doing so reflecting on the rise and fall of the SDP. His posting is accessible via this link:-

phlhldn.blogspot.com/2019/02/so-chuka-chucked-it-in-for-what.html

One particular part of Phil’s posting stood out for me and it is this:-

‘The SDP foundered in part on whether it should be a party of the left, taking on Labour in a fight to the death, as David Owen wanted, or a centre-party that cosied up to the Liberals, as Roy Jenkins wanted. Jenkins of course won that one.’

As someone who had only joined the old Liberal Party on New Years Day 1980* I was very new to politics when the SDP came along soon after and then I was swept along in the tide that was the famous Crosby by-election**. Heady days indeed but my perspective is just a little different to Phil’s.

Firstly, I think it is fair to say that we Liberals looked upon David Own as a stubborn difficult person with rather right-wing views (who seemed obsessed with NATO for some odd reason) but that the other 3 of the Gang of 4 were to the left of him and far more in tune with Liberal values. Liberals have always been at their best when they espouse radical and left of centre views. Attempts to look moderate or centrist will always fail in my book.

So I saw Owen, Rodgers, Williams and Jenkins from the other end of the telescope to Phil, indeed in my view Owen was probably a big factor in the failure of the SDP along with our appallingly warped electoral system of course. We Libs often referred to Owen as ‘Dr Death’, probably because we feared he would kill us off along with the SDP. In truth he nearly did but we survived and prospered until we tried to commit ritual suicide in the Clegg era on a worryingly moderate platform with one infamous and devastating political U-turn – Tuition Fees.

That there was no love lost between the Liberals and Owen to me is a given and it will be interesting to see whether anyone from the IG starts to fill Owen’s boots again – I hope they don’t but fear they might. And I say that because in my experience many in the Labour Party hold views that are well to the right of us Liberals.

And just to be nostalgic, my abiding memory of the Crosby By-election was a public meeting in Deyes High School, organised by the SDP/Liberal Alliance. It was packed out and standing room only. Obviously, Shirley was there as the soon to be winning candidate, along with Roy Jenkins and Joe Grimond the former Liberal leader who had saved his party from the political wilderness in the 1960s. Being in the same hall as these 3 was wonderful to a fresh-faced political lad like me. Ah memories……

And talking of SDP/Liberal Alliance memories, whilst I’m at it, here’s another story told to me by my very good friend Roy Connell. One day during the heady days of the Alliance he was asked in to drive Roy Jenkins and BBC reporter Kate Adie on an open-top tour of parts of Liverpool. It seems that at one point he had to pull up sharply and Jenkins and Adie were thrown around a bit. Roy can still hear ringing in his ears the words ‘steady driver’ from Jenkins.

* I had read the 3 main party manifestos for the 1979 General Election and concluded I was a Liberal.

** I lived (and still do) in that constituency (now named Sefton Central) and got to know Shirley Williams well. She is indeed a lovely person and the fact that she became a life-long friend of Anthony Hill the already selected Liberal candidate for the seat (who stepped down for her to be the Alliance candidate) says a lot about how well the SDP and Liberals got on in our part of the world back in the early 1980s and indeed many of my friends in the present Lib Dem Party are former SDP activists.

Climate Change is actually a far BIGGER challenge then Brexit

Whilst our mainly 2nd division political leaders grapple with Brexit a far bigger issue is being kicked further down the road because climate change will destroy the lives of millions if it is not addressed very firmly and very soon.

There is every danger that because our weak Parliamentary politicos talk of nothing but Brexit (other than Jez Corbyn who avoids all hard subjects) that it becomes the biggest political challenge – It’s NOT!

I was dragged out of watching the sad Little Englander world of Brexit by my old friend Phil Holden who sent me a link to a very interesting piece on the economics of climate change or more precisely how we will pay for trying to beat it before it kills us. Here’s that link to a blog posting by Paul De Grauwe:-

escoriallaan.blogspot.com/2018/12/who-should-pay-for-cost-of-climate.html

OK, the thrust of the blog posting was more about how we pay for saving the earth than about the desperate need to save it. And maybe we won’t save it all as we will continue to argue about who should pay……………..!

Just how bad is Northern at running trains?

A train from Preston pulling into Ormskirk Station.

Well, have a look at this chart which I gained from OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn). It shows performance on the Ormskirk – Preston Line:-

Please click on the chart to enlarge it.

This is shocking performance in anyone’s book surely. People’s jobs, livelihoods, medical appointments, schooling etc. etc. are all at risk by such appalling performance. And more to the point what on earth is the Dept. of Transport doing about this state of affairs?

Oh and as an aside, my fellow blogger Phil Holden has just posted this about train performance in Wales. It seems Northern have a rival for crap railway franchisee of the year award:-(((

phlhldn.blogspot.com/2018/11/what-way-to-run-railway.html

One thing that Phil hints at is that the franchise operators need virtually all their rolling stock to be available to run a normal timetable. To me, the lack of spare units is a key issue here when services need enhancing or when major repair work is required on more than 1 or 2 units at a time. Running on the absolute minimum number of units is asking for trouble don’t you think?

Brexit – That very sticky Irish border problem

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/11/hard-brexiteers-brexit-northern-ireland-border

The Guardian has the article on its web site – see link above

I just know the mention of Polly Toynbee will set my old chum Phil off. Yes I know Phil, she can often be all heart and little head so to speak.

Seriously, this article has a very clear point. To me Brexit pushes a united Ireland closer and that can only be a good thing – a good thing from Brexit? Well maybe, just maybe if civil war does not break out in that island first of course. Funny how the muddled thinking of the rich and powerful Brexit conspirators, aided and abetted by Labour’s JC Leadership of course, may well lead to the law of unintended consequences kicking in.

Having said that hard Brexiters want a result at any cost – bugger the economy, let jobs be lost, put the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement at great risk, break up the United Kingdom – they are all on their couldn’t care less agenda as they squeeze TM and JC in their vice like grip.

Brexit is the greatest act of self-harm the UK has brought on itself in living memory.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Liverpool Record Office – The Everton Collection

This may well interest those of you with a thirst for knowledge about the blue half of Liverpool.

The leaflet was picked up by Sheila at Liverpool Central Library for Phil Holden, a die-hard Blues chum of ours but I thought it worthy of wider circulation. So here it is:-

Click on the scanned pages above to be able to read them.

My shot of Goodison Park from a high vantage point in Bootle.

Bill Bryson & Phil Holden on the UK honours system

phlhldn.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/im-honoured-bill-bryson-agrees-with-me.html

Phil Holden has the story on his blog site – see link above

Phil’s a mate of mine and Bill Bryson my favourite author. Phil had previously posted about the honours system in the UK and how undeserving rich footballers etc. get awards inappropriately.

He then comes across Bill’s excellent recent book ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ where we are teased by Bryson about how we give out honours. Bill goes on to say how it works in the USA as well.

Both Phil’s blog and Bill Bryson’s works are well worth reading.