Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Is going back to this really the way forward?

I grew up in the 1960's - a time of almost unbounded optimism for the future.

From science fiction to science fact the future in those days was seen to be a place where mans ingenuity would solve all our problems.

Running out of oil? No problem, we can all drive nuclear powered cars.

Running out of Planet? No problem, we can colonise Mars.

But we have grown up to the realities we face since then. For every scientific advance there is often a side-effect and mankind has had to learn to evaluate whether the gain is always worth the pain.

Which brings me to the Prime Ministers admission that Nuclear Power is 'back on the agenda' as a solution to our growing energy gap. This is worrying because it means that we are admitting a failure to find a better solution.

There is no doubt in my mind that we need a radical re-think about our use of energy and I have always believed in the power of individuals and local communities to achieve much more than grand Government initiatives.

Rather than think big over power generation, why not think small? Before we rush out and invest hundreds of billions in new power stations that may contaminate the planet for centuries why not look at ways to reduce our usage of power and encourage millions of homeowners to generate just a little power of their own?

And new technology promises to help. New ways of micro generation such as photo-voltaic roof tiles added to ever more efficient building materials and electrical equipment can, if applied across millions of homes, close the gap without recourse to a 1950's Dan-Dare technology that has proven to have side effects too terrible to risk.

The shame is that it increasingly looks like we aren't going to to give the 'small is best' option a chance.

Monday, May 22, 2006

This is todays front page from the Herald Express.

I don't think I should or could add anything to the long and detailed story printed across five pages of the local newspaper and there is no need for me to do so.

Perhaps now the Lib Dem activists in Torbay may learn that politics is not a game to be won at all costs, but a serious business about who runs our country and our borough and how they do it.

It remains to be seen where Bay politics goes from here, but perhaps after this dreadful nadir we can get on with the business of discussing the alternative methods by which each party would aim to improve people's lives. Let's hope the others are in future prepared - as Conservatives always have been - to discuss and be judged on our policies in an open grown-up and fair debate.

Conservatives have to focus on providing a decent, honest and committed alternative administration in 2007 and that is where our efforts must continue to concentrate.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Word reaches my ears that the local newspaper the Herald Express has a 'very big' political story in tomorrows edition.

Nobody outside the paper knows for sure what the story is (secrecy abounds) but what is the betting for more revalations concerning the Lib Dem council group?

Having had to put up with the Lib Dems calling them 'corrupt', I wouldn't be at all surprised if local journalists haven't pulled out all the stops to try and find out if it's been a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

We will see.

Monday, May 15, 2006

How is he doing?

On a previous thread a regular contributer to this site Barry Wood (no, we are not related) implies that I haven't been giving Nick Bye very much public backing.

This is worrying me because I think Nick Bye is the best thing to happen to Torbay in a generation - and so do a large and growing number of the people who live here - and I would hate to think that anyone thought that I had any doubts.

For the first time we have an independantly minded directly elected individual representing the population at the heart of our local Government.

In just a few months Nick has:

* Averted the closure of Upton School
* Avoided the Lib Dems disasterous budget and made sure that council tax increases are affordable next year, without dipping into the councils meagre reserves.
* Restructured the overpriced and ludicrous car park charges.
* Got the Kingskerswell By Pass on to the shortlist for funding.
* Fast-tracked a vision for Torbay into a real roadmap to regeneration including some really exciting 'think big' ideas including a casino development, redeveloping the Princes Theatre and turning the disaster of the crumbling prominade into the catalyst for another Bay attraction.

(I may have omitted other achievements - this list is just from memory!!):

But above all he has proved that it's not 'weak' to compromise- it's a sign of strength.

Listening to public opinion and then reacting to what people want - and if necessary being prepared to change plans- is something Torbay residents have wanted for a long time.

For far too long we have had poor governance at local level; we have suffered froman officer led council who have been happy to dictate on the basis that 'they know best' what is good for local citizens and more recently, a Lib dem group who have dismissed every criticism as being 'politically motivated' and therefore irrelevant.

Nick has the ideas and the passion to change this - and there is growing evidence of a real culture change in the town hall- but he can't deliver it on his own.

That is why we are working hard to ensure that next May we win enough Conservative seats to overturn the current stalemate which exists between a Conservative Executive Mayor and a Lib Dem dominated council chamber intent on blocking his every move.

Nick has exceeded even my wildly optimistic predictions when I was campaigning for him last year, and I know there is more to come in the years ahead when he will have the backing of the new Conservative Council when it arrives next May.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Letter to the Herald Express

Dear Sir
One of the reasons I give my children for being honest is that in the truth will come out in the end and lies will only ever get you into trouble. This is advice I expect might resonate with MP Adrian Sanders as he reads the headlines in your paper on Thursday “MP told to reveal all over mayor”.
He was asked about his involvement in the “NO” campaign several times last year and on each and every occasion he stated categorically that this was an independent campaign in which he was not involved.
It transpires that the Torbay First scheme was apparently cooked up by Mr Sanders in his own home.
“It was devised in Adrian Sanders kitchen…. It was formed after discussions with Adrian, Party officials … and councillors including myself and Chris Harris” says Cllr Gordon Jennings. This is backed up by Lib Dem president Andrew Douglas Dunbar: "Adrian was at the first meeting I was at when it was discussed.. Adrian was brought in because it was a political story".
The story is important not because Adrian and the Lib dems opposed the mayor (we all knew that) but because it exposes the way the Lib Dems in Torbay habitually go about doing their political business.
Mounting a campaign that clearly involved the whole local party organisation and then pretending it wasn’t theirs is a deeply dodgy and fundamentally dishonest way for a political party to operate.
Mysterious businessmen who apparently used to live in the Bay but have now moved away paying for things in cash (was it in a brown paper bag, I wonder?) may be normal procedure for the Lib Dems but to the rest of us seems distinctly odd.
Faced with perfectly reasonable questions from me the response is to first refuse to answer and second attack the questioner. More worryingly, when I queried the ownership of the campaign headquarters I was even warned off by my MP with a thinly veiled threat of legal action.
Quotes like ‘what I do dislike is losing elections, thats it.’ and ‘It would have been a poor strategy to have come out on one side as there was a 50:50 chance of the referendum going either way’ reveal so much about their real political objective; - not about improving the lives of the residents of Torbay; - not about making Britain a better country, not even about fighting for Liberal principles: but simply about winning elections -at any cost.
No wonder people are disillusioned with politics.
Yours truly

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

That reply in full then....

Dear Mr Wood

Thank you for your open letter of 1 May.

As you state you do not wish to be drawn into any bitter wrangling, I am pleased to inform you that none exists between my party and myself.

There is a genuine difference of opinion between my party and an absentee Councillor, and if your public statements are to be believed
you support the same position as the Liberal Democrats.

You will, of course, have taken legal advice before sharing your allegation with anyone that my name appears on a particular lease, not least because such a document is a commercial contract between two parties neither of whom are at liberty to share its contents with a third party without the permission of either. I am satisfied that no such disclosure has taken place because had it done so you would not now be alleging that my name appears on it. I would therefore strongly advise you to withdraw this allegation immediately.

All of the other questions you ask were answered in the article you refer too and I have nothing to add to the answers I gave.

The key issue is indeed one of trust and I am still waiting for an apology following your assertion on the doorstep at the last General Election that I and my family moved to Torbay from Manchester, when I was in fact born in Paignton and have lived in the constituency for most of my life. A person's origins should not be a barrier to election, but those who believe it does count against them should not bear false witness in order to overcome the truth. Your failings in this not only call into question your personal integrity but have undermined your electability as someone seeking public office, whether in Torbay or elsewhere in the future.

Yours sincerely

Adrian Sanders MP

Friday, May 05, 2006

Winners and losers in the local elections.

After a long night of high drama I have been reflecting on the results of last nights local elections.

LABOUR are down 300 seats which would normally be cataclysmic but in the event, and following a pretty ghastly few weeks of headlines, is probably very narrowly the right side of the figures that would have prompted the end of Blair.

CONSERVATIVES are up (at the time of writing) over 315 seats and with over 40% of the popular vote so this has been the first test for Cameron and his new style of campaigning. Even the most hostile commentator has had to concede he has passed. Sure we still have a lot further to go especially in the Northern cities but in the West Country our results were superb.

LIB DEM are up one seat. All the hyperbole and the frenzied spinning and this is the result?

I reckon that many rank-and-file Lib Dem members will be wondering how they let their MP’s railroad them into sacking a young vote-winning leader when the only available alternative was someone who is wholly wrong for the political scene in which we now all operate. Today's results prove it.

The story of the night, then, is that the voters who want rid of New Labour are bypassing the Lib Dems and voting for the real Opposition.

Good news on which to end the week.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dear Adrian Sanders,

I am writing you this open letter following the startling and rather disturbing revelations in Saturdays Herald Express under the headline ‘Mayday, Mayday, Lib Dems at War’.

I do not wish to be drawn into the bitter wrangling between your party and yourself but I am concerned on behalf of a large number of your constituents about allegations made concerning the Torbay First campaign launched last year to oppose a directly elected mayor.

Although the campaign was fronted by Cllr Ruth Pentney, one of your
employees, you repeatedly claimed that this campaign had nothing to do with you.

You were asked about your involvement several times and on each occasion you stated categorically that this was an independent campaign in which you were not involved.

It now transpires – according to your own council group leader Cllr Gordon Jennings- that the Torbay First scheme was apparently cooked up by you in your own home.

“It was devised in Adrian Sanders kitchen…. It was formed after discussions with Adrian, Party officials … and councillors including myself and Chris Harris” he says in Saturday’s newspaper.

So the campaign to stop Torbay having an elected mayor was, according to your most senior councillor, devised to ‘appear’ independent when in fact it was masterminded by you.

While you were assuring Torbay residents on the one hand that you would work with ‘whoever was elected’ you were frantically campaigning behind closed doors to stop residents having a Mayor at all.

The key issue here is one of trust. At a time when many feel that politicians need to be fully open transparent and accountable for their dealings and interests why aren’t you being open about yours?

Were you involved in this campaign as Cllr Jennings alleges?

And if you were, why did you not say so when you were asked about this by the Herald Express last year?

This is an important matter which I believe has the potential to call into question the integrity of your office as our Member of Parliament.
I therefore urge you to offer your constituents a full and open explanation as soon as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly

Marcus Wood