Tuesday, 9 March 2010

My New Blog

Process Guy is no more, but if you find yourself here, you may be interested to know that I have started another blog:

Why not have a look?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The end of Process Guy

You may or may not have noticed that things have been rather quiet on this blog lately. Well, it hasn't been because there hasn't been anything to write about!

I have been very busy and have found it difficult to find the time to update it, even when inspiration has struck, or more accurately when something has wound me up. However, more recently it has been because a few weeks ago I made the decision to close Process Guy down.

When I started blogging in September 2006, inspired by the success of the bloggers at that year's autumn conference, it was really just an experiment. My aim was to have a platform to sound off about things that interested or outraged me and to see if I could improve my writing skills. I didn't set out with the ambition to achieve a significant readership.

I am pleased to say I have managed to achieve all three aims!

As things developed, through leadership crises and presidential elections, I began to use the blog more consciously to attempt to influence opinion. Although, only within the online membership of the Liberal Democrats and with some, if limited, success.

However, the erratic nature of my blogging and the lack of focus in my choice of topics may have limited my ability to make a real impact. Also, let's be honest, many people have found the name confusing or off putting.

I have learnt a huge amount from writing this blog over the last two and half years but I have reached the limit of what I can do with it. It is time to say good bye to Process Guy.

However, this isn't the end of the story. I am not done with this blogging lark just yet. I intend to return with a new domain, a new blog, a move to WordPress, and a new approach.

Until then, good bye and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

International summit or jelly and ice cream?

There are media reports today that Gordon Brown has prepared some goodie bags for the world leaders attending the G20 summit. Apparently this is an attempt to "showcase British creativity".

Hang on a minute? Why on earth are world leaders getting goodie bags?

Surely it can't be some kind of inducement to ensure a high turn out? Do the presidents and prime ministers of the world make decisions on whether to attend based on the free gifts they get?
“Mr President, we need to discuss your forward engagements.”

“Ah yes, right OK. I will do NATO. Good chocolates. Yes to the UN conference, I got an excellent bottle of champagne last time. I'll send the foreign minister to the OPEC thing, they don't give you any booze. But I am not going to London again. Last time I went all I got was a ***** tea towel!”
Some how I think not.

I think we need to question whether the people of this planet are being served by the way international summits conduct themselves. Particularly, as they appear to be organised around the same principles as a six year old's birthday party.

Do they all get to take a piece of cake home wrapped in a paper serviette?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Why does Moran cost Luton taxpayers ten times more than Hopkins?

I live in Luton and work in London.

Like many thousands of others I do a regular commute each morning to get to the office and one each evening to get home. Because I have the benefit of living close to the rail station and the relatively good service provided by the Thameslink line I can be at most central London locations within an hour or hour and a half of leaving my home. This comes with a cost in money and in occasional frustration when the service is busy or disruptive, but this is the choice that I have made.

Another Luton resident that has made a similar choice is my Labour MP, Kelvin Hopkins. He, like me, lives in Luton and works in London. His office is likely to be somewhat grander than mine but we catch the same trains. I occasionally see him on my journey and, him being the decent chap that he is, we have had one or two pleasant chats as we have travelled through the Hertfordshire countryside. While the working patterns of most commuters are unlikely to be the same as a member of Parliament my impression is that the living and travel arrangements of the MP for Luton North mirror that of many of his constituents.

As a result over the past 5 years Kelvin Hopkins MP has claimed a modest £8,894 in second home allowance. One assumes for the occasional night in a London hotel after working late.

This is not the case for the neighbouring Labour MP for Luton South, Margaret Moran, who has claimed £87,206 over the same period.

Why should this be? Particularly, as Duncan Borrowman points out, they have houses in the same Luton road.

I have only seen Margaret Moran MP doing the London commute on one or two occasions. I suppose I shouldn't rely on such anecdotal evidence to judge how much time she spends in her constituency. But I do know that, through her second home allowance claims, she costs the taxpayers of the town almost ten times more than Hopkins does.

I think we are entitled to ask if we are getting value for money?

More on this

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Looking up from the bottom of the sea

I've a number of things that I've been wanting to write about here for the last few days, and some for the last few weeks, but I'm finding it difficult to fit it in. Usual story.

But I have got time to say a very well deserved congratulations to Alix Mortimer for being shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. She says she is "dumbfounded, and a bit shuffly" about it. There really is no need. As she goes on to prove by inventing the "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea effect".

Read Alix for an explanation, but it is essentially an illustration of the limits of ideology and a warning to beware of political fashion and the effects of "studying PPE instead of history" at university.

It reminds me that one of the things I haven't got around to writing about is my "liberalism as a philosophy versus liberalism as an ideology" post. I know, head in the clouds stuff again. But, when I do get round to it, it will be a much better post for having learnt about the "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea effect".

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Mental health issues need to be a priority

The lead story in the Luton News this morning is reactions to the welcome life sentence given to the murderer of PC Jon Henry who was stabbed to death in Luton town centre while on duty in June 2007.

The murderer, Tennyson Obih, is a paranoid schizoprhenic.

It is a reminder that so often at the centre of the most shocking and senseless of violent crimes is someone who suffers from a severe mental illness. While, sadly, you could never prevent every tragedy from happening, we have to keep asking whether our mental health services are currently adequate to protect the community. Let alone provide the care that those with a mental illness deserve. Mental health is an issue we have to keep talking about.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Can Labour win?


Oh. You want more? then go read this.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Ed Miliband stops funding for solar power

The Government have closed its grant programme for solar energy.

Part of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme provides grants for solar photovoltaic projects on public buildings. This has been so successful that the allocated share of the £50m for these projects has been used up. So what does the government do? Invest more money into the programme so that they can build on its success? No. It closes the scheme to new applications.

As the Renewable Energy Association's Director General says "This latest disaster in the Low Carbon buildings Programme is completely at odds with the Green New Deal we hear so much about."

Difficult not to agree. Given the climate crisis we face and the economic circumstances you would think that government should be going out of its way to support such an important and growing industry. Unfortunately we seem to have a Labour government incapable of making rational decisions.

We all know that if they hadn't wasted £12.5bn on a VAT cut they could be funding more of this and other similar schemes. Just like Nick Clegg has proposed.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Harrogate 09: The last word

Well I've got to Thursday and I am still writing up the weekend's events at Conference. Time to knock it on the head.

I broadly agree with what James Graham has written over at Comment is Free about the political impact. No need to say much more. I was impressed with the Leader's speech. Not only with the content itself but with the implications it has for the message and strategy of the Party. My cautious optimism has become less cautious.

Personally it was a very enjoyable and energising weekend. I have had a rough couple of months so it was restorative to be metaphorically clasped to the bosom of my extended political family. Thank you to all those friends and colleagues, old and new, that I had a chance to catch up with. Hello to all those who I didn't get a chance to say hi to.

Here is a handy index of all my conference posts:

The Leader's speech: Clegg does an Obama

I thought Nick Clegg's speech to the Liberal Democrat spring conference on Saturday was one of the best leader's speeches I have heard for many years. I thought it was a speech of gravity, of great political intelligence, one that has altered my view of Nick and his leadership, and has strengthened my optimism for the future. My companion (as they say in restaurant reviews) was less impressed. He, the cynical bastard that he is, hummed and hawed and the best comment that he could come up with was "it had some highlights". But I think he was listening to a different speech to me.

Clegg's tone was one of seriousness through out. A seriousness befitting of a crisis. He went on to lay out, in a reasonable amount of detail, what the Liberal Democrat response would be to that crisis. He also sought to contrast this with the failings in the response of both the Labour government and Conservative opposition. But crucially he wanted to go further. He sought to characterise this time of crisis as an opportunity to take radical steps to build a better, and different, world in the future. Seriousness in a time of crisis. A message of hope for the future. It doesn't take a genius to spot the echoes of Obama.

The following passage of the speech was where I most strongly felt those echoes. It was also the part of the speech that made me sit up and go "ooh, this is getting good". It was this bit;
"This is the part of the speech where convention dictates I make some jokes
about Labour and the Conservatives. But I'm not going to.

There is a time for knockabout mockery - there's plenty every Wednesday afternoon at Prime Ministers Questions - but this is not it.

People deserve better. They will rightly not forgive politicians keen only to score points off each other...

When what they desperately need is money in their pockets, job security,
a roof over their heads, and hope.

There is only one big dividing line that matters in British politics right now.

On one side, there are people who want to patch up the old way of doing things. Keep our economy dependent on financial wizardry. Keep power among the old elites. Cling to those old 80s ideas with a tweak here, or a nip and tuck there.

And on the other side, there are people who want to build something truly new, truly better. An economy that's stable, green, diverse. A society built on freedom, compassion and enterprise. A politics that puts the opportunity for a better life into the hands of every woman, every man and every child."
This passage says "I am different - I am serious - I am a more grown up kind of politician - I offer change from the past - and hope for a different and better future". This is very much what was at the core of the Obama message. It was what I think Clegg was trying to convey in his speech.

In going beyond an immediate response to the crisis but looking forward, with a kind of determined hope, to this better future Neil Stockley believes that in this speech Clegg was outlining a "vision story". He sees progress towards that elusive goal of a Lib Dem 'narrative'. I agree.

This is Britain not America. But this message does fit in well with that old traditional third party message of "a plague on both your houses". Against the current political background that message could work well for us as it has done in similar circumstances in the past. Clegg seems aware of this and sought to reinforce that message but talking about how Labour and the Conservatives are very much the same. An argument that Liberal Democrats have also often used in the past. He talked of the need to "replace the failed politics of Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown". This is the end of a kind of politics that Labour and Conservatives have shared. Something else is needed. This was the message of Clegg's peroration:
"A never-ending cycle of red-blue, blue-red government has got us into this mess - it is never going to get us out.

Try something new.

Now is the time to think big.

If you want better, choose different.

Choose the Liberal Democrats."

More on this: