Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas



It's traditional to do a round up of the year  - my personal goings on have been that I've fallen in love, got a new job and moved this year - not in that order but in order of importance!

So a year of change on a personal level - but OMG as they say, what a year from the global POV. I don't think any year is particularly boring, mind, but with the Arab Spring, the eurozone collapse, our one shot this generation at voting reform (well... maybe not....), there's been a lot packed into 12 short months.

Here's to an interesting 2012 - I think with the eurozone/global economics, that's one prediction that's bound to come true. I can see we should have a good time with the Olympics and happy to have a ticket to the eventing myself - let's do what we can to enjoy the people around us and what we can influence, whilst we watch our leaders wrestle with some of the biggest problems of this generation.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

And what about the kids?

Twice this last couple of weeks I've asked "what about the kids" and people have either reacted with surprise or confusion.


I was at a folk gig & book reading (of a kind) last week. They were creating and recreating folk memories - with descriptions of the British Isles and old folk songs sung and played on traditional British instruments. I really enjoyed the evening so at the Q&A session afterward I asked the leader of the group if he'd thought of taking his show into schools.


The answer came that if children were interested then they would be welcome - all very well but why not proactively go out and seek them?


At another event, I was told the average reading age in this country was between 8-14 years. So, to me, if we want to produce anything to be read, we better get 8-14 year olds to proof-read it - again this was met with surprise- but this time the speaker took the idea on board - good on him!


I think we should talk about the kids more :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Is economic literacy improving with the economic crisis?


As the economic and eurozone crisis goes on, a number of people have remarked to me that "nobody understands the eurozone anyway". I've heard this before this year "nobody understands the Alternative Vote anyway" Hmmm....


What I'm wondering is economic literacy improving with the economic crisis? I believe the BBC does a good job of explaining terms. But does it get read? Is it still  "boring" or "scary" ? Or is it that nobody understands it so nobody pays any attention to it?


One of my Liberal Democrat colleagues George Kendall wrote this blog to explain the deficit terms in layman's language which I thought was a useful go at the problem. I'd also argue for a degree of complusory economics - at my school we did not have any education on what the government did with our money. It could be thought of as dull but even kids pay VAT on their pocket money purchases!


This is asking for more explanation of Macro, or "large scale" economics - that is what affects whole economies.

Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert is pushing for financial education in schools which is important and I totally back him and the Government has recently responded to his e-petition


Martin Lewis is arguing for infomation that will help understanding of Micro or "small scale" economics - that is which affects individual actors such as firms and households in economies.


In order to make an informed choice at the next general election we need to have the economic judgement to judge the current government on it's merits, instead of screaming about "cuts" incoherently *glares at Labour*


So I argue for a better explanation of the terms we hear every day at the moment, and as dull and dry as it is - this can be helped by relation of large scale problems to household finances, because essentially they are interrelated. 


I would argue that better information makes for better markets, and it follows that better understanding makes for better politics.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Occupy Movement and a mention!

I feel the urge to post because I’ve just been mentioned on a proper blog and everything!

The lovely Kate Feld – mentioned this blog on her blog, Manchizzle.
I'd like any readers generated from that link to see a new post, so I thought I’d share the benefit of some of my thoughts on the Occupy movement, as I’ve been thinking a lot about it the last few days.

I’m not sure, as some people have said to me, that globalisation is at the root of the problem. To my mind, the way the establishment acts in defence of the status quo and against the democratic will of the people, without even bothering to explain itself (knowledge being power), is the main issue. Added to that, is the lack of trust in the financial sector, which to a great extent, they have brought upon themselves. This isn’t just the banking crisis, it’s a systematic abuse of people’s trust or taking advantage of their ignorance time and time again (PPI mis-selling, insurance mis-selling, Credit Card charges, “cheap” debt, overdraft charges) and moreover, an arrogance which is coming over loud and clear.

You can almost hear “Let them eat cake”.

Martin Lewis really hit home to me a few years ago with his consumer rights crusades – he both taught people the value of their rights and that it was up to them to exercise them, but also gave them the tools to do it (A Lib Dem ideal as it goes - community politics, surely?) and also pushes for legislation that both improves the spread of information (APRs to be published on statements, or compulsory financial education in the curriculum) and tries to forces companies to behave better.

There seems to be a prevailing sense that the financial sector can do what they want, privatise the profits and socialise the losses, and that, even to me, doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps it’s simplistic, perhaps it’s populist, but they do well to ask us to consider if there might be another way.

What I’d like to know is what threatens the establishment so much about the protestors that they spend time, effort, money and apparently in the end will use force to get rid of them. And also why some on the right are resorting to talking about where the protestors choose to get their coffee (Louise Mensch), mocking them for wearing masks (?) and other ad hominem attacks…. The most coherent objection against the protestors was more on the basis of if we reduce the banker's pay, they will pay less tax into the system - and that belongs in proper debate, but it’s about the only objection I would characterise like that.

I’m making rhetorical points, obviously, but to sum up there is the leftist position, clearly, but I see it as us as Liberals should be against concentration of power in a particular area, and pro improvements in equality of opportunity (with long-argued disagreements within the party about equality of outcome).

We should certainly be pro freedom of speech, and the campaigner in us should admire their ability to frame the debate and grab attention – tho as expressed disagree with some of their methods or the incoherence of their aims. I think we should still be proud of them for doing it, and besides, some enterprising Lib Dems might find a candidate, campaigner, deliverer amongst their ranks… maybe unlikely but won’t know till we try.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

"Education is the silver bullet"

The narrative about taking hard decisions when in government troubles me.

There are two conclusions to why we could be different and promote "populist" policies that people actually wanted, but when in government had to take different decisions from the ones we were voted in for.

a) There is a disconnect between the people and their representatives. What the people want (low tax, more public services) is not achievable.

or

b) What people want is achievable but because the establishment only exists to protect itself, when people get into power they only do what suits them and the establishment/lobbyists etc.


I think it's probably a lot a) and a little bit b) but the public in general think it's a lot b). In order to align what the public want with what is achievable, then we need to explain more, educate more, so that what people want is more achievable. The narrative of community politics, and indeed decision making, balancing, opportunity cost and whatever else people need to understand how the government works, should be the answer - I fear it's a little too subtle and not aligned to any particular power base for anyone to give a stuff tho.

Props to anyone who knows the title's origin

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Pros and Cons of AV



Pros of AV


- You can vote for who you really want as a first preference without thinking your vote will be wasted if you live in a safe seat


- Proportional Representation would be more representative of what the electorate wants. By changing the voting system this time, it will make it easier to change to Proportional Representation in the future. Keeping FPTP will mean it's harder to make the argument in the future for Proportional Representation


- Fairer representation for everyone makes it more likely more people will vote, which improves democracy.


- Parties will have to appeal to others outside their core support as a 2nd preference, which is a good thing as they will have to make better arguments which have more support - it will improve democracy. For instance, if a hospital is up for closure in your area, the mp standing for re-election (say for instance Tory) will have to acknowledge it and have a position on it if there is a single issue candidate standing on that ticket. Why? As the single issue candidate is likely to come close to last, so the candidate will have to appeal to that party or risk splitting his vote or losing out to another major candidate standing with that policy.


- Have a look at http://www.voterpower.org.uk/ to see how AV will affect the power of your vote



- The last election was effectively decided by 1.9% of the electorate in marginal seats - AV will increase this "effectively decides" number



- The candidate who wins will need 50% support from people who vote in all rounds (i.e. put a number against each candidate on the ballot paper)



- FPTP suits a 2 party system which we used to have back when it was brought in and would suit the previous 2 party system of Labour and Tories. Now there are 6 parties with a significant share of the vote - Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP, BNP and Green.


As the three smaller parties don't stand everywhere it really depends who stands where (certainly in council elections, and local councils run our country, as well as companies and the media that is). So, we have to eliminate the split vote effect. The best way of doing that out of the two is AV, FPTP means you have to make all sorts of crazy calculations to vote tactically.


AV keeps the constituency links and therefore provides someone who can be a champion for the local area.



Cons of AV


- It will take slightly longer to count the votes


- People will have to get used to a different system. This may require education.


More information on the claims by either side of the campaign is available at FactCheck and on the AV briefing paper


I think the argument makes itself TBH but that's the argument without any of the lies. There is no need for counting machines - ignore the £250 million figure as it's a lie.



Happy to answer more questions

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Delivery Rounds

I've just been out delivering. It's tiring on the feet but as apart from getting your message distributed for free, it's also a great way to see the patchwork of an area. I really think more members should do it - especially when it's not raining.

Right, I need a brew now!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

my tips on twittering

Wrote some tips on tweeting for another forum and thought I'd share them here!

If you've come here from twitter you'll know this but my twitter is @bubbalou

Anyway..... Here are my tips

1. Engage. Write @ replies to lots of people and have conversations

2. Follow people who you like, about half will follow back.

3. Celebrities probably won't follow back. but if you write them a question, make it relevant and you'll get a lot of followers from that if they reply.

4. Retweet content that interests you.

5. Vary what you talk about. Politics is important but put some human interest in there too.

6. Try and spice up the content every so often with a pic or joke.

7. Don't obsess about losing followers, it's not facebook.

8. Use something like Tweetdeck to manage columns of hashtags (when people put # before topics of conversations like #bbcqt for Question Time)

9. Talk about things as they are happening. For instance use the hashtag #bbcqt when it's on and tweet relevant thoughts and opinions. People will probably start either retweeting or @ replying to you, and then you're on your way

10. Check in regularly, nothing more offputting when following to see someone hasn't tweeted since july 2010 Wink


11. You can only follow 2000 people until...

12. ....if over 1900 people follow you, when you can follow more than 2000 people.


Good luck and happy tweeting

Sunday, 16 January 2011

back to the future....

Haven't updated this blog for ages!!!

Since I last posted, I have joined the Liberal Democrats, and made a lot of contributions to the tuition fees debate, local campaining, going to my first conference very shortly as well!!

I've made friends within the Lib Dems and also gained a lot more facebook and twitter friends from it as well.

I am currently writing an article which I hope to be published on the main site on Lib Dem Voice which is a good forum for all Lib Dems and others wishing to discuss the party.