A dose of reality in the heart of one of the states that swung it for Trump in 2016

Last year I had the privilege of boarding the Amtrak Hiawatha special from Chicago, Illinois to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to enjoy a visit to friends there. “Don’t mention politics” warned my host beforehand “My husband voted for Trump”. A lovely time ensued with only a tangential mention of Bernie Sanders, followed by a hasty subject change onto the safe topic of the excellence of Milwaukee’s many and varied beers.

But, of course, my host’s husband was not alone in Wisconsin. Whereas Obama won the Badger State by a handsome 205,204 votes in 2012, Clinton lost its ten juicy electoral college seats to Trump by 22,748 votes.

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Paddy rallies the troops at Lewisham

It was great to spend a day campaigning for Lucy Salek in Lewisham East yesterday. It was my second time helping the campaign, greatly assisted by an off-peak Travelcard, which allowed fulsome use of the train, tube and bus. Tragically, there was a fatal incident on the line yesterday around Hither Green and Lee stations, meaning that I ended up, to my surprise, in New Eltham, at one point.

Anyway, our enormous HQ was brimming with volunteers all day. A hive of industry. There were people there from as far afield as Falmouth. It was particularly good to join in the traditional Blue envelope addressing work! Continue reading

Time to back the Communication Workers Union campaign to outlaw low level letter boxes

We can afford to laugh about it. You’re delivering 200 Focii, and you come upon a floor level postbox. Oh dear. Do you kneel? Do you stoop down? Stooping down brings the blood to one’s head and risks back pain. I have about 40 floor level letter boxes on one of my delivery rounds. I usually need an extra shredded wheat in the morning before I do that round.

But there is no reason why new houses and flats should be built with low level letter boxes. British Standard BS EN13724 on mailboxes(which reflects the EU standard) says:

The height of the lowest mailbox aperture should be no lower than 700mm from delivery floor level and the height of the highest mailbox aperture be no higher than 1700mm from delivery floor level. Special circumstances allow aperture heights to be between 400mm and 1800mm from delivery floor level.

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Time for the party to apologise to Norman Scott

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Like most others, I have enjoyed “A Very English Scandal” on BBC1. It’s been a really superbly-made series.

What packed more of a punch, for me, was “The Jeremy Thorpe scandal”, Tom Mangold’s updated documentary, shown on BBC4 on Sunday night.

Having watched that, as a matter of conscience, I find it disturbing that the party has never properly faced up to the Jeremy Thorpe affair.

OK, Jeremy Thorpe was a leader of the Liberal Party, not the Liberal Democrats, and never held any office in the new party. However, the Liberal Democrats did treat Jeremy Thorpe with quite some praise/privilege.

As a conference steward, I remember, briefly, having been asked to do so, guiding Mr and Mrs Thorpe around the conference centre in Harrogate, at the annual gathering. I think that was in 1999 when he attended conference to sign his book and there was talk of him doing well in the forthcoming poll to choose the party’s peers. (As an aside please see my report of a Liberal History Group meeting about the man).

From 1997, there is a report in the Independent on the Eastbourne conference entitled “Lib Dem conference: Thorpe returns from the wilderness” which included this effusive quote from a “spokesman for Mr Ashdown” (Paddy Ashdown was then leader of the party):

Jeremy Thorpe’s leadership at that time was tremendously inspirational and so the party is very pleased to see him here.

When Jeremy Thorpe died there were fulsome tributes from party figures.

Tom Mangold’s documentary brought things into clear focus for me. For years I suppose I have tried not to think of the whole affair in judgmental terms. It is now quite clear what happened (I am sorry I didn’t realise this earlier). The party should somehow acknowledge this and owes an apology to Norman Scott for not acknowledging the truth of the situation much earlier.