Sunday, 26 September 2010

New leader. New Labour?

I would like to congratulate Ed Miliband on his election as Leader of the Labour Party.

But the closeness of his victory- only made possible by the strong support of the trade unions- raises questions about whether he really has a strong enough mandate to deliver change for his party. If he now focuses on repaying the unions for their support, ditching New Labour and lurching to the left, then he will take the Labour Party on a huge backward leap. He also has to prove to the country how he can be the solution to our economic and social problems, when he was part of the team that got us into this mess, and one of the few members of the Cabinet who appeared to support Gordon Brown.

His election yesterday begs lots of questions. How he answers them over the coming months will determine whether the centre ground of British politics is a lonely place.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Liverpool FC

I have always tried to avoid blogging about Liverpool FC for fear that once I start, I will not be able to stop! But this week I feel I have to break the habit.

Wednesday night's result was desperate. Our start to the season has been awful. Roy Hodgson has inherited a club, and a team,,in a mess.

Until the ownership issue is resolved properly, and the off the field uncertainty is removed, we will struggle to find the consistency we need on the field. But we must also remember that although Roy has made some moves in the transfer market (which look so far to have been very positive) he has a huge job ahead to clear out some of the dross he was left by the previous manager.

This dross not only creates short-term selection problems, but a longer-term drain on the wage bill. We have too many overpaid, under-achieving players. It is very simple. The players we currently have (apart from a small few) are not good enough.

Liverpool fans do not need me to list the players who are not fit to play for the club, or to state the obvious areas in the squad we need to invest. What we do need is to back our new manager with time and support, hope for a speedy resolution to boardroom uncertainty, and hold our nerve through this rocky period. It is a long, dark winter ahead, but I believe there will be a golden sky at the end.

In Conference!

We are now in the midst of Conference season. Earlier this week I was in Liverpool for meetings at the Lib Dem conference; the first time I have attended our coalition partner's annual gathering.

It was pleasing on two fronts; firstly, to see Liverpool do a magnificent job at hosting such a large scale event (testament to the huge development in hotel and conference facilities in recent years), and secondly to feel a genuine mood of commitment to the coalition delivering its five year programme.

Although politics is a fickle business and the media love to talk about divisions and splits, I saw a real sense of unity and determination to finish what we have started in the national interest. I am looking forward now to Birmingham!

Heart speaks unto heart

Last week's Papal visit to Britain was a triumph. It showed the Holy Father at his best; kind, gentle and thoughtful, spreading huge amounts of joy wherever he went.

I hope that the unfair image of him as a stern and cold man will now be banished. For a man in his eighties to keep that hectic schedule during his visit with a constant smile and warmth for those who had come to see him was to his great credit.

The highlight of the visit for me was the Pope's visit to a nursing home in Vauxhall. To take time to go to see some of the oldest and frailest members of our community, who were unable to travel to see him, to spread his message of faith and love was really moving.

I hope we do not have to wait another 28 years for another visit.