Choosing an illustration for an article on Page Three

As part of my preparations for my Monday stint as editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, I am having to consider an image to illustrate an article on Page Three.

The mind boggles. Obviously, I don’t want to be salacious. I did look for a fully clothed picture of Linda Lusardi (yes, some of us are old enough to remember her modelling career). Unfortunately, there are none I could find which are available through the Creative Commons Licence.

So I think I will resort to an old favourite of mine. A photo on Flickr of a bloke reading The Sun. Funnily enough it comes from the photos of someone’s Stag weekend in Majorca.

"What is the deal on Wales?" – I don't know, what is the deal on Wales?

On “Late night with Letterman”, David Cameron got praised for mentioning Texas and Nebraska. He knew the date of the Magna Carta and the place where it was signed, why it was signed and where a copy of it is now. He spoke eloquently about Wales, the Irish problem, the Olympics, the banking collapse, the Euro etc. He was copiously praised for a “flawless” Olympics. He was warmly applauded for the fact that political advertising is not allowed on TV in the UK. – Really warmly and lengthily applauded. He knew very specific details about Sebastian Coe’s athletic record and the names of both the cats in Downing Street.

This was all in answer to prompting from Letterman which confused the British Empire with the UK, asked questions like “What is the deal on Wales?” and “Northern Ireland is part of England – right?”.

“What is the deal on Wales?” I like that.

I thought Cameron did quite well. In all this rapid-fire chat, he’s got slated for not knowing the literal translation of “Magna Carta”. I would have said “Big piece of paper”. As Cameron confessed he didn’t know, there was a large noise in the background. The sound of his old Eton Latin teacher spinning in his grave. But it’s not a massive fail.

And can I ask: What is the deal on Rule Britannia?

It’s probably fifth on the list of songs that Cameron should know about. Would Obama know who wrote “America, My country ’tis of thee”?

Oh and by the way:

What’s the deal on the cat?

Read my lips: Party – good. Leader/coalition – not so good. Is that clear enough for everybody?

This week at Brighton I was asked two interesting questions by friends. The first was easier to unravel than the second.

1. “I thought you ripped up your membership card didn’t you?”

No. I said I was “done defending this” government. The rest of the post made this extremely clear. My beef is very firmly with Nick Clegg andthe Coalition as our part in it is being managed, not the Liberal Democrats.

2. “You’ve really got in for the party haven’t you?”

No. I disapprove of a number of Nick Clegg’s judgments. I have actually never said anything negative about the party in the last several years. In fact, I am not sure I have ever said anything negative about the party.

I first donned orange to support the Liberal Party in 1970 when Nick Clegg was 3 years old. (I am extremely proud that my Grandmother campaigned for the Liberal MP for Liskeard, Isaac Foot in the early 20th century.) I joined the Liberal Party in 1986. Both those actions were inspired by Cornish MPs, John Pardoe and David Penhaligon. I joined the Liberal Democrats shortly after its inception. God willing, I will be in the party when Nick Clegg has taken up a highly paid job elsewhere for a much deserved breather. I am damned if I am going to be riled into leaving the party by someone who was three years old when I started supporting it.

Is that unequivocal enough for everybody?

Nick Clegg’s speech had some very good passages on:

-Green issues

-Deficit reduction

-Announcement of £500 for pupils who struggle at Maths/English on leaving Primary school.

-Announcement of Paddy Ashdown as 2015 campaign chair. The bones in my hands almost fractured – I was clapping so hard at that one.

But his speech contained a passage with a fundamentally ridiculous, nonsensical false choice: Between being in the coalition and not being in it. No, Nick. There is a third choice, we could stay in the coalition and you could stop cocking up so many judgments!


Clegg apology – the view from the Man on the Brisbane omnibus

Last night I took an evening off from Liberal Democracy, to enjoy a pie and a pint in one of Hove’s finest hostelries.

At the bar I got chatting to a man who arrived in the UK last Sunday from Brisbane with his family. I heard his accent and mentioned to him that I had recently been “Down Under”.

He then asked what I was doing in Brighton and Hove, and I told him.

He was then very curious, and said that he had seen a bit of ITV “Daybreak” about the conference. Then, with a brow furrowed with curiosity he asked:

Hey, what is your guy having to say sorry about?

I took a deep breath and explained the situation in just over 60 seconds.

After listening intently to my explanation, our man from Brisbane said:

Jeez mate, I thought he’d actually done something wrong

Shake that BOTY!

“The home of the single entendre” – once again Stephen Tall’s gat phrase got a welcome run out last night.

Hearty congratulations to fellow Berkshire resident Mark Thompson on his very well deserved win.

Well done to the Liberal Youth team for their wins!

And well done to Alex Folkes for his win with “A Lanson Boy”. I felt his BOTY when I was asked to pose with it(in the absence of Alex), being the only Cornishman in the room – I think.

Is Bergen really the nearest railway station to Shetland?

I’m in Hove Actually. Not Brighton.

Dorms and cold showers at 7am. That takes me back! 35 years to be precise.

This rude shock was considerable softened by a very civilised vesperial chat last night with the Liberal Democrat legend that is Erlend Watson.

The term “walking encyclopdia” is over-used. But it certainly fits Erlend as far as political matters are concerned. You press his button and he regurgitates the most extraordinary minutiae from by-elections and political personalities stretching back eighty years.

Last night’s featured tale from Erlend was about where he hails from – the Orkneys. Jo Grimond was MP for the Orkneys and Shetlands and was said to have coined the witty remark that Bergen is the nearest railway station to Shetland. In fact, Jo did include this in his auto-biography, but it was in the process of telling the tale of a volunteering soldier on Shetland at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was sent a form to fill in by the army which asked him to state his nearest railway station, so they could send him his call-up papers to it. The soldier replied to say that his nearest railway station (Bergen) was in enemy hands.

In fact, like many of these sorts of stories, the truth behind the story is not as much of a “slam dunk” case as the story would suggest, as relates:

Is it true that the nearest railway station is in Bergen, Norway?

It’s an appealingly romantic notion, but a modern Norse myth. The railway stations at Thurso and Wick in northern Scotland are both closer to Shetland, though not by very much if you’re in our northernmost islands. Bergen does, however, distinguish itself by having the nearest branch of IKEA – the next closest is in Edinburgh.