Category Archives: General Election

William Wallace: Be careful about Canvasser’s Heel (via Lib Dem Voice)

Lord Wallace of SaltaireI’ve gone down with Canvasser’s Heel.   Well, the doctor called it plantar fasciitis: her first question to me after I had described the symptoms were, ‘Does your job involve a lot of standing and walking?’

The NHS defines it as ‘excessive, constant abnormal pulling and stretching of the fibrous bands that support the arch, [which] causes the heel bone to become inflamed and painful. This constant irritation can sometimes lead to a heel spur (bony growth) forming on the bottom of the heel bone.  The patient usually complains of pain with the first step in the morning, some relief following activity, but the pain returning after extended amounts of time standing or walking.’

I’d thought I’d bruised my heel somehow, and had gone on canvassing (and limping) over several weekends, until it was clearly getting worse rather than better.  The cure starts with icepacks applied, then rest, physiotherapy, walking gently, and wearing well-padded shoes.

This used, apparently, to be called ‘Policeman’s Heel’.  Brian Paddick hadn’t heard of it, and the policeman I spoke to in Liverpool during our Spring conference only said that ‘we spend most of our time sitting in cars these days’.  But the officer on duty outside the Commons as I left last Thursday said he’d suffered from it: too much walking around on hard pavements, made worse by standing for long periods on street corners.  Road runners often suffer from this, too, I’m told.

So what should the dedicated Liberal activist do to avoid succumbing to this in the course of an election campaign?  Wear comfortable lace-up shoes with thick soles and heels, for a start: Clark’s shoes, or trainers, are much better than thin-soled shoes.  Sit down from time to time; twiddle your toes, flex your feet by going up on your toes and back every now and again.  Put padded insoles in and arch supports, if that helps more.  Think about the risks of spending too long on concrete and tarmac; walk on the grass when you can.

The full article is here

Kate Parminter makes 1000th constituency visit (via Lib Dem Voice)

Kate & Lucy
Baroness Parminter & Lucy Hurds, PPC for Hereford

Early Friday morning, as others made their way to Liverpool for Conference, I set off to Hereford, following in the footsteps of a large number of my colleagues in the Lords. Our local candidate Lucy Hurds has been hugely successful in getting our Peers out of the House of Lords and onto the streets of Hereford including John Shipley, Jenny Randerson, Nigel Jones, Sally Hamwee, Shirley Williams and Chris Fox. She’s clearly been effective in getting others out too and it was great to see a good number of Lucy’s campaign team out with us and working hard to reclaim the seat for the Lib Dems.

Dick Newby, our Chief Whip, called for 1,000 visits to be made before the election. After many months of hard campaigning this was our 1,000th.

On my visit we got a chance to discuss what can be done to help local dairy farmers, supporting renewable energy & rural services and, as the party’s spokesperson on DEFRA matters in the Lords, I got a chance to highlight all the things the Liberal Democrats have been doing over the last 5 years.

The visit gave me an opportunity to talk to local Councillors Anna Toon and Polly Andrews who were keen to hear how local retailers can support local environmental charities and groups as a result of the 5p levy on plastic bags, due to come in this Autumn, which Liberal Democrats have championed in Government.

It was great too to meet newly selected PPC Jeanie Falconer, from the adjacent constituency of North Herefordshire and talk about our evidence based approach to tackling bovine TB and the pilot badger culls.

I also got a chance to visit the local RSPCA branch with Lucy, after Duncan Starling, the local RSPCA chairman and LD campaigner had invited me, as a Vice-President of the organisation. It was fantastic to talk to the local volunteers who are rescuing and rehoming local animals and raising funds through their shop for the vital ‘4th emergency service’ that the RSPCA is. Having had the Control of Horses Bill safely complete its passage through the House of Lords the day before it was good to talk about how Parliament and local action together can help voiceless animals.

Later on in the evening I joined Lucy, Jeanie and the Herefordshire team at spring conference in Liverpool at a reception they’d organised to campaign for fairer funding for rural areas. With some of the best refreshment the county offers (Jeanie runs a vineyard) it was a happy ending to a day spent with some of our indefatigable campaigners!

But there is no rest for the wicked and Dick has now called for a new target, 50,000 doors knocked by election days. Something that our team of 100+ Lords should be able to achieve (with a few cups of tea and some elbow grease). If you want to get a Peer to help out in your campaign, then contact our visit organiser Louise Furness (louise.libdems@gmail.com).

The original article is here

Tony Greaves: Can’t poll, won’t poll? (via Lib Dem Voice)

Lord Greaves
Lord Greaves

I wrote about prospects for a minority government if no party gets an overall majority at the General Election, and some of the things that might need to change at Westminster if it’s to work. Moves away from its majoritarian and adversarial culture to one based much more on negotiation and mediation, compromises and trade-offs, and an acceptance of a more dominant role for Parliament as against the government. But will it last?

Traditionally the Prime Minister asked the Sovereign for a dissolution. In the modern era such requests were always granted. Sometimes the government had lost the confidence of the Commons (1924 and 1979), run out of steam (1951), or politics had been turned upside down and the new arrangements needed popular endorsement (1931).

But in most cases in the past 100 years the decision was in the hands of a PM who was looking to call the election at the best time for their party, as when Harold Wilson in 1966 and 1974 went to the country for a bigger majority. That is no longer the case. The date of the election on 7th May was set down in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA) and, so long as that Act remains in force, all future elections will take place on the first Thursday in May in the fifth year after the last election – subject only to two special circumstances that are in the hands of the House of Commons.

The first is that MPs vote for an “early parliamentary general election” by a special two-thirds majority of the whole membership – 434 members or more. The second is a vote of no confidence in the government. If that happens there is a breathing space of 14 days in which an alternative government can seek the confidence of the House – if that occurs, the early election is off.

The question is this: if the numbers in the Commons are anything like I used as a basis for my previous piece (Con 275, Lab 275, LD 35, SNP 40, UKIP 5, Green 2, Speaker 1, all Northern Irish 17) what is the likelihood of the Commons voting for an early election?

The full article is here

Tony Greaves: What happens if …? (via Lib Dem Voice)

Lord Greaves
Lord Greaves

There’s growing talk in Conservative and Labour circles about a minority government. Let’s make an assumption about numbers – not a prediction, just approximate numbers based on current polls: Con 275, Lab 275, LD 35, SNP 40, UKIP 5, Green 2, Speaker 1, all the Northern Irish 17 (of which the present numbers are DUP 8, SF 5, SDLP 3, All 1).

Take out the Speaker and assume that Sinn Fein get five again, and the target for an overall majority is 323. On these numbers a majority Coalition looks hard to achieve – though don’t underestimate the ability of politicians to moderate or even overturn pre-election statements when it comes to getting into government. But add the heightened level of distaste in both Conservatives and Labour for both the concept of coalition and recent practice (at least in Westminster) and the idea of a minority government is not a fantasy.

Of course, a Labour or Conservative minority administration will still need to find a majority in the Commons, whether by positive votes or abstentions, but that’s a different issue. And the PM in a minority government does not need to be leader of the largest party, as indeed the Labour leader Ramsay Macdonald was not in 1924. We should also note – something else that the British media has so far not noticed – that a minority government may itself be a coalition of two or even more parties. On the figures above a Lab-SNP government would still be 18 votes short of a majority, and either a Con-LD or Lab-LD government 23 votes short.

Full article here