Can LibDems Take South West Surrey from Hunt?

Lord Ashcroft polls has released a post-election poll of voters’ intentions for the next General Election. Based on his results, Flavible Politics has produced a map of likely results by constituency – and this shows Waverley as a LibDem gain:

Not only SW Surrey either, but also Guildford, Woking, Mole Valley, Esher & Walton and Reigate in Surrey (and a very narrow loss in Elmbridge), and eighty more gains across the country.

Is this even credible? At first glance, clearly not – but let’s look a little deeper.

In the local elections for Waverley borough three weeks ago, the Conservatives took only 38.7% of the total votes cast, against 27.3% for the LibDems, 20.5% for the Farnham Residents Association, 6.8% for Labour and 4.1% for Greens.  But there was in effect a “progressive alliance” between the LibDems, Greens and Labour, taking the total progressive vote to 39.2% – just a fraction behind the Conservatives.

Then, in last week’s EU elections, Liberal Democrats topped the poll on 35%, followed by Brexit on 28.8%, Greens on 14.5%, and Conservatives on only 11.5%! Conventional wisdom is that the EU results were distorted by the dominance of Brexit, but – “it ain’t necessarily so”. Lord Ashcroft’s poll, on which the projection is based, did not only ask about future voting intention, it also enquired about, and analysed, past voting history, in the last general election, as well as last week for the EU.  His analysis showed that while yes, some of those who has switched from Labour or Conservatives to LD, or to Farrage’s Brexit, would return to their original party for a general election – not all of them would. Hence, Conservatives would not recover to their earlier level of support – and Liberal Democrats would retain a substantial share of their newfound (or newly returned) supporters.

If this projection turns out to be sound, that would create the extraordinary situation where nationally, just 4% would separate four parties:

Of course, it’s not that simple: what voters tell pollsters they will do, and what they actually do, are often very different – especially when the next general election could be a long way off. Circumstances will change, new events will get in the way. But what is surely true, and will remain so, is that we are in a period of remarkable fluidity in British politics, where extraordinary developments have come to seem almost commonplace: who would have predicted just three months ago, that we would end up with 16 MEPs?

The idea of Liberal Democrats wining SW Surrey in the next general election may well be just too fanciful to be taken seriously – but the possibility of getting at least much closer, is surely not.

 

 

Council Diary – Week 1 (May 13th – 19th)

My first formal Council business was an induction meeting on Monday evening, with a presentation by a guest speaker from Waverley on the councillor’s code of conduct, some further information from our town clerk.

Thursday evening was the first real business meeting for the new council, We elected Liberal Democrat John Robini as our new mayor (with Jacqui Keen  as his mayoress), and Conservative Simon Dear as deputy mayor.  and the business of allocating councillors to the various council committees and working groups, and as council representatives on a range of outside local bodies.  I have agreed to serve on the planning and finance committees and the neighbourhood plan working group. I will also represent council on the  Charter Fair committee and Haslemere Health Group.

At the conclusion of the meeting, I (and the other incoming new councillors), was given a Haslemere tie, which I now wear when attending any meeting as a town councillor.

In between meetings, I had a reread of the proposed Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan. This is a document that has been six long years in the making, driven by Haslemere Vision – a local voluntary group. It was adopted by the outgoing council earlier this year, and must now go to a public consultation, followed by a referendum. If it passes the referendum, it becomes the formal Neighbourhood Plan, which must be taken into account by Waverley Borough for their planning decisions affecting Haslemere. If not – back to the drawing board.  Hence, the need for careful study. I have now gone through it twice, and will do so again. 

Also important for planning, is the controversial proposed new development in Scotland Lane, on the Red Court site – which the developers prefer to refer to as “Scotland Park”. For months, I’ve been aware of intense opposition from the local Haslemere South Residents Association, largely on the grounds that this is declared AONB land (“Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”) which they believe should not be developed. There are also concerns about the impact on traffic through Scotland Lane.  I’ve taken a first, cursory look at the glossy brochure given to me at the end of last week, but will need to give it much more careful study, and have a good look at the site, before I can reach any conclusion on this.

 

My Council Diary – Week 0 (May 6th – 12th)

This week was really just a prelude to formally taking office. The local elections had been  held on Thursday May 2nd, but ballots were not counted until Sunday 5th. Immediately after the declaration, the Haslemere depute town clerk presented me with a large purple folder of homework – documents to read, some forms to complete and sign.

By Wednesday, I had an email from our Haslemere Town Clerk, which among other things invited me to set up my formal Haslemere Town Council email address (terry.weldon@haslemeretc.org) , which should be used for any correspondence on Council business.

On Friday morning, I went down to the town hall to complete the paperwork, and at the same time took advantage of in invitation to meet the police commander for Waverley Borough, Inspector Gary Smith, who was in town to meet residents and hear our concerns. I spoke to him about the conspicuous lack of visible policing which we all know is due to draconian cuts in budget. What I did not know, was just how far-reaching those have been for neighbourhood policing specifically – but he assured me that he is fighting hard to improve ,matters, and has now had approval to double the budget for this: from two officers, to four.

Over the weekend, I answered a ring at the door, to be greeted by a lady from the Redwood property development company, with a large, glossy brochure about their proposed redevelopment of the Redcourt site on Scotland Lane (which they are choosing to call “Scotland Park”). This will require careful study and consideration.

On Sunday morning after Mass, I met with  our team of Liberal Democrat town councillors, together with Green Councillor Claire Matthis, for a discussion about our preferences for the key council posts.

My first formal council meetings will be next week, with an induction meeting on Monday, and the annual meeting to elect mayor and deputy mayor on Thursday.

 

If you can’t vote LibDem – vote Independent, or Green!

The overwhelming dominance of Haslemere and Waverley councils by one party, is not healthy. We need some fresh voices, for more constructive discussion reflecting a range of views.
For the county council by-election on May 2nd, the local Liberal Democrat team has deliberately not named a candidate, because we believe that the independent, Nikki Barton, will be a hard-working, excellent councillor. She has a strong record as a local volunteer, a town councillor, and previously, on the county council from 2013 – 2017. We know that she shares many of our concerns, and will fight hard to protect local interests – including the threatened library.

For the borough election in Haslemere East and Grayswood, you can vote for three candidates – but we have just two candidates. We recommend that you use your third vote to support the Green candidate, Gary Lloyd.

Similarly, in the town elections for Hindhead and Shottermill, I recommend that you lend your additional votes to the Green candidates, Bella Bramley and Rebecca Slama in Hindhead, and Claire Matthes in Shottermill.

Now a Council Candidate – but who am I?

Here in South West Surrey, we have local elections next month, on Thursday May 2nd, for Waverley borough council,and also for the Haslemere town council  – and I’m a Liberal Democrat candidate, for both.
For Waverley, I’m a candidate in the  ward of Haslemere East and Grayswood:
(For the town of Haslemere, I’m standing in the Critchmere ward).
So – who am I? What drives me, as a candidate?

Continue reading “Now a Council Candidate – but who am I?”

UK housing: Fit for the future? – Committee on Climate Change

This report, by the Committee on Climate Change and its Adaptation Committee, assesses whether the UK’s housing stock is adequately prepared for the challenges of climate change; both in terms of reducing emissions from UK homes and ensuring homes are adequately prepared for the impacts of climate change.

The report’s key findings are that:

  • the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings.
  • emissions reductions from the UK’s 29 million homes have stalled, while energy use in homes – which accounts for 14% of total UK emissions – increased between 2016 and 2017.
  • efforts to adapt the UK’s housing stock to the impacts of the changing climate: for higher average temperatures, flooding and water scarcity, are lagging far behind what is needed to keep us safe and comfortable, even as these climate change risks grow.

Source: UK housing: Fit for the future? – Committee on Climate Change

Angola Bans LGBT Discrimination!

Severe discrimination and harsh penalties against homosexuality in some African countries are well known in the West. Not widely recognised, is that this really is just some countries. A handful of others are the only countries in the world that have never criminalised same-sex behaviour, and still more in recent years have repealed their anti-gay laws. Angola is the latest to have done so – and in the process, went further. They have banned discrimination based on homophobia.

From Deutsche Welt:

As Angola decriminalizes homosexuality, where does the African continent stand?

Angola has done away with criminalizing homosexuality, removing a notorious “vices against nature” provision in its penal code. Other African nations still punish people for same-sex relationships.

    
Südafrika Gay Pride 2012 (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Ludbrook)

Angola has decriminalized homosexuality — 133 years after the passage banning same-sex relations was included in the country’s penal code when the southwest African nation was still a Portuguese colony. The so-called “vices against nature” provision in its law could send same-sex couples to prison.

Parliamentarians who voted to overhaul Angola’s criminal statue books didn’t just remove the passage. They also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The reform has been hailed by human rights activists who have been pushing for equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Angola and other African countries.

Read more:  DW | 10.02.2019

Three Years With No Stomach.

Three years ago today, I was in the Royal Free Hospital for surgery to remove a massive GIST (“GastroIntestinal Stromal Tumour”), and with it, all of my stomach and spleen.  So – how has life been, with no stomach?

Prior to surgery, I had been warned that I would have to make substantial adjustments to how I ate (and drank). I was told, on all the websites I checked and on-line support forums. that I would be able to eat adequately, provided that I took only small meals at a time – preferably, six small meals instead of the usual three a day, I was also advised that it would be helpful to have a steady supply of something like nuts to nibble on between meals. Two different nutritionists suggested I should avoid drinking anything at all at the same time as taking my meals, and not to drink anything fizzy – no  carbonated drinks (eg, coke, or mixers), and no beer.  I was also warned that initially at least, there would have to be a gradual adjustment to eating at all – starting with liquid foods, going on to semi-liquids like smoothies, progressing slowly to soft foods, and taking time to get to the full range of conventional solids.

In addition, the standard advice is that after a gastrectomy, there is a real risk of something called the dreaded “dumping” syndrome if ever I ate too much, or too quickly.

In practice, it’s been much easier than that.

The first surprise was that the first week after surgery was even harsher tha expected. Instead of starting on a liquid diet, I was on nothing at all – “nil by mouth”. I was allowed not even water: the closest I could get, was a wet sponge to dampen my lips. Later, earnest entreaties got me permission to take some water into my mouth, provided that I spat it out without swallowing.  However, once I was allowed to start drinking from the eighth day, to my surprise I was told that I could immediately begin eating “soft” foods – and that did not mean semi-liquids, but included things like pasta, a bean and tuna casserole, mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs.

After returning home on the tenth day following surgery, I initially avoided things like toast and roast potatoes, but  it didn’t take long before I was eating the full range of foods.  I started out trying scrupulously to stick to the recommended six small meals a day, but soon found this to be impractical. Instead, on the basis that my usual breakfast and supper are in any case small meals, all I did was adjust my midday lunch, eating half at lunch time, and the rest at mid-afternoon.

I started out avoiding all drinks together with meals, and avoiding fizzy drinks completely. In time however, I found that this precaution was unnecessary. As long as I drink slowly and not too much at a time, I now find that I can easily take any fizzy drinks I like, and also enjoy a drink with meals.  With time, I have even found that on occasion I can eat quite a substantial meal at a time. Although when at home I divide my usual meal into two portions, when away from home and this is not feasible, I can eat something close to a conventional full portion (but still avoid having three courses).

I have also been fortunate in never having experienced anything like the dreaded “dumping” syndrome.  The only problem I’ve yet experienced on the rare occasions when I’ve eaten more than I can cope with, has been a lttle mild discomfort. All I’ve needed to at those times, has been to lie down  and rest for just a few minutes (no more) and that has invariably cleared it.

Other than the small adjustment I’ve made to eating, I have continued with daily imatinib tablets (a form of oral chemotherapy, taken with my breakfast) to guard against a recurrence. Because of the sheer size of my tumour (26cm x 19cm), I’ve been told I will likely remain on the medication for life, Here too, I’ve been fortunate. Some people have difficulty just tolerating the drug, others experience some nasty side -effects. I’ve never had any difficulty taking it, and although I do have a range of side-effects, these are fairly mild and do not particularly interfere with my daily routine.

So, my experience has been quite different to the warnings given in the relevant websites (GIST SupportUK and others). Does this imply that the standard information is flawed – or am I just an “anomaly”, as one respected GIST colleague has said to me? I don’t know – but I do suggest that for anyone else awaiting a gastrectomy, take note of the standard advice, make all the preparations and adjustments recommended.  Understand though, that we all respond differently to surgery and to medicaion. Your experience may turn out to be a pleasant surprise, as it has been to me,.